Premier Ford has declared a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).
“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home-order. We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments. By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives,” The Premier told Ontarians.
The News release provided by The Ontario newsroom says the “Provincial modelling shows growth in COVID-19 cases has accelerated, leading to increased hospitalization rates and ICU occupancy. ICU occupancy by COVID-19 patients is now over 400 beds and is projected to be as high as 1,000 beds by early February which has the potential to overwhelm Ontario’s hospitals.”
What came to my mind upon hearing of the Premier’s concerns about overwhelming Ontario’s hospitals was – what happened to the money that’s been spent to create additional critical care beds in Ontario?
In October, CTV news reported on Ford’s second investment by the province to create additional beds in Ontario for a total of 116.5 million dollars. This is in addition to the initial investment of 234.5 million dollars Premier Ford made to create 139 critical care beds and “up to” 1349 other beds.
The question needs to be asked – have we created this bed capacity? If we have – what’s the cause for alarm?
The changes made today were made by the Ontario government “In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes.”
Here’s what the changes look like
- Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions.
- Individuals are required to wear a mask or face-covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. This one isn’t exactly new – but made the list anyway.
- Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.
- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
- Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health had this to say about the new measures;
“By strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures, we can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and keep our loved ones and our communities safe. It will take the collective efforts of us all to defeat this virus.”
It’s worth noting that countries that haven’t enforced lockdowns like Sweden are outperforming some nations that have enforced lockdowns like the United States, Italy, France and the UK.
Sourced from Statista.com
New Enforcement Measures
“Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce.”
What will enforcement of these measures look like? Will tickets be doled out to businesses that choose to recognize mask exemptions? Are retailers now being expected to “police” their businesses or face a fine?
The measures enacted today also give enforcement authorities the power to disperse individuals and temporarily close a premise;
“all enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.”
So if a bylaw officer sees a group bigger than 5 people gathering outdoors, socially distanced at a park – they now have the authority to disperse the individuals under the new measures. This is despite evidence that outdoor transmission is less likely.
Required Mask-wearing for students outdoors
Perhaps the most appalling of the changes (in my opinion) is the requirement for students attending in-person learning to wear a mask while outdoors. This is being required by students even though it is only recommended for the general public when physical distancing isn’t possible.
Province is concerned about mask wearing in workplaces
The Ministry of Labour said that the vast majority of employers and workers are following Covid-19 safety protocols while they work. The ministry expressed concern however that “when in a break room, a vehicle or not on the clock, there is a tendency to forget about the importance of wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and hand hygiene.”
That’s right, the ministry of labour is concerned you may not be masking while not working or when in a vehicle. This assertion has been made even though we now have a randomized control study on masks.
Here’s what the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons had to say on the RCT Danish mask study;
“Study authors note that results are compatible with a 46% reduction in COVID infection—which could translate into big numbers if you multiply the 0.3% absolute decrease by the total population. But results are also compatible with a 23% increase in infection. Adverse effects of masks are ignored.
Despite the lack of evidence that public health measures such as masks, lockdowns, and “social distancing” measures work, one can always say that they were insufficiently strict. But a study in Marine recruits, in which measures ere enforced with military rigour, showed that about 2% of recruits who at first tested negative became positive by day 14.
Epidemic control measures might have some protective effect although they have obviously not stopped the spread (see graphics below.) Enforcing Marine Corps discipline will not work either. Instead, we urgently need early treatment with cheap, available measures.”
For more information:
Taken from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
Diverge Media is an independent Canadian news outlet dedicated to bringing you the stories that matter. We do no receive any funding from the government and therefore rely on donations from our generous readers/viewers. If you would like to support our work – please do so by donating in the form below. All the best – The Diverge Team.