The premier says Ontario will take action on sick pay as the province's top doctor orders a halt to non-emergency surgeries
6:55 pm The federal government is suspending commercial and private passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said today.
The ban will take effect at 11:30 pm tonight. Canadian citizens and foreign nationals heading to Canada who depart after that time and are taking an indirect route will have to obtain a negative COVID-19 pre-departure test from a third country before continuing their journey.
Cargo flights, medical transfers and military flights are not included in the ban.
“The Public Health Agency of Canada has been monitoring case data, and through mandatory testing upon entry into Canada, has detected a disproportionally higher number of cases among individuals travelling on flights originating from India and Pakistan,” the government said in a statement.
Our government’s top priority is protecting Canadians’ health and safety, and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is guided by the latest science and research. pic.twitter.com/I5DXENULsw— Omar Alghabra (@OmarAlghabra) April 22, 2021
6:30 pm More people are dying of COVID-19 at home because the virus affects them so quickly they cannot seek out medical treatment, Ontario’s Chief Coroner Dirk Huyer said today.
“We have been seeing a number of people dying in the community outside of the hospital, which is new, unfortunate and sad,” Huyer said during a news conference at Queen’s Park this afternoon. “These people have not been able to obtain health care because the disease affected them so quickly and so seriously leading to deaths in the community, which we did not see in the Office of the Chief Coroner in the first wave.”
Huyer said approximately two people per day have been dying at home over the past two weeks. The people range in age from 30s to 70s, and many either tested positive or had associated with people who tested positive.
“They have had symptoms and those symptoms have been present, not to the extent that were recognized as necessarily requiring hospitalization, and then they were found deceased later in the day or in the morning,” he explained.
“It’s notable in the fact that this is a younger population, this is a population in the community, this is a population that is suffering serious consequences in the form of death in a quicker period of time than we saw in the past,” he added.
The province reported 40 deaths today, the highest daily death toll since February 19. The average daily death toll is now 27. There is a record-high 806 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
11:10 am Ontario is reporting 3,682 new cases of COVID-19 and 40 deaths on April 22, the highest daily death count the province has seen since February 19.
The province detected 4,212 new cases on Wednesday, 3,469 on Tuesday and 4,447 on Monday. The seven-day average has dropped slightly from 4,327 on Wednesday to 4,176 today.
An additional 134,920 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the past day, bringing the provincial total to 4,266,802, with 351,354 people fully vaccinated.
With 54,246 tests completed in the past 24 hours, the province’s positivity rate is at 6.8 per cent.
Active cases have decreased for the second consecutive day with 41,962 cases being reported, down from yesterday’s count of 42,917.
However, hospitalizations continue to grow, reaching 2,350 patients today and 806 patients in intensive care – the first time the province has ever seen more than 800 patients in the ICU due to COVID-19.
Of the deaths reported today, one was someone between the ages of 20 and 39 and five were people between the ages of 40 and 59.
To date, there have been 432,805 total COVID-19 cases in Ontario and 7,829 deaths.
10:45 am Premier Doug Ford has apologized for giving police the power to randomly stop people on the street under emergency pandemic orders.
“I know that some of those measures, especially around enforcement, they went too far,” he said on Thursday morning. “Simply put: we got it wrong. We made a mistake. These decisions left a lot of people very concerned. In fact, they left a lot of people angry and upset. I know we got it wrong. I know we made a mistake and for that, I’m sorry and I sincerely apologize.”
During a virtual press conference from his Etobicoke home where he is self-isolating following a workplace exposure to COVID-19, the premier also said the province is “bridging the gap” in the federal sick pay program, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).
“I experienced a workplace exposure from a member of my team, who despite their best efforts, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. I assure you that it is not lost on me that, unlike many people, I am able to isolate and continue working. For too many people right now that’s not the case,” he said.
He admitted that Ontario’s current measures to protect people who get COVID-19 from losing income are not enough. “It isn’t enough that you can’t lose your job. You also need to know that you can’t lose your income,” he said.
Ford said the province was hoping Ottawa would address criticisms that the CRSB is too slow and doesn’t cover the cost of living in major cities in Monday’s budget. “We are now working on our own solution to fill those gaps for everyone in Ontario,” he said.
Pressed for details on what legislation his government would introduce, Ford didn’t give specifics.
The premier frequently appeared emotional during his opening remarks, pausing a few times to sip water as his voice cracked.
It’s been a bad week for Ford. With COVID-19 patients overwhelming hospitals amid delays in vaccine supply, the third wave is hitting the province hard. Ford’s decision last Friday to shut playgrounds, step-up police powers and not bring in sick pay program so vulnerable essential workers to stay home when sick drew harsh criticism, including calls for his resignation.
Many of the measures he brought in were not recommend by health experts, who advised the province to target vaccinations at hot spots and beef up financial support for workers. Ford explained he was trying to curb mobility since vaccinations alone will not reduce transmission during the third wave.
Over the weekend, he walked back a decision to shut playgrounds and clarified that police would not be given added authority to randomly stop people and cars in order to ask Ontarians for their home addresses.
In response to the calls for his resignation, Ford said: “Columnists and media have the right to voice their opinion… I’m not one to walk away from anything. We’re going to continue to lead throughout this pandemic.”
Results from an online poll by Innovative Research Group published this week said Ford’s personal approval rating has dropped to 24 per cent – only three points ahead of NDP opposition leader Andrea Horwath.
The poll found 30 per cent of Ontarians would vote for the Liberals, 26 per cent would vote for the PCs and 23 per cent would vote for the NDP.
10:40 am Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams has ordered hospitals to immediately stop all non-emergency surgeries to preserve health-care system capacity.
In a directive issued this week, the province said “decisions regarding the cessation or postponement of non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures should be made using processes that are fair and transparent to all patients.”
COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions are at an all-time high in Ontario and Toronto. Earlier this month, the province said hospitals should wind down elective surgeries to boost capacity for COVID-19 patients. Hospitals also now have the authority to transfer patients without their consent.
The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:
Toronto = 1,131
Peel = 507
York Region = 436
Ottawa = 279
Durham Region = 200
Niagara Region = 165
City of Hamilton = 144
Halton Region = 129
Middlesex-London = 113
Region of Waterloo = 94
Simcoe Muskoka District = 69
Eastern Ontario = 64
Windsor-Essex County = 47
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 46
Brant County = 38
Haldimand-Norfolk = 34
Southwestern = 24
Grey Bruce = 18
Porcupine = 17
Sudbury & Districts = 16
Lambton = 16
Northwestern = 14
Renfrew County and District = 12
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District = 10
Hastings Prince Edward = 9
Peterborough = 9
Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 8
Thunder Bay District = 7
Algoma = 6
Timiskaming = 5
Huron Perth = 5