Toronto leaders call on Ford to impose stay-at-home order in Ontario and ensure paid sick leave for essential workers

As Ontarians wait to hear Premier Doug Ford’s latest plan to halt a roaring surge in COVID-19 infections, Toronto leaders know what they want him to do.

Coun. Joe Cressy, chair of the Toronto Public Health board, said that when Ford makes his announcement Wednesday, he needs to lay out a “consistent provincewide approach” including a new order for people to stay at home.

“That means increased restrictions to reduce (physical) contact,” plus “actually supporting those who are essential workers,” with government-guaranteed paid sick leave for those infected or awaiting test results, Cressy said Tuesday.

“Without quick action, the medicine will only be harder to take later. We need all this now.”

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, urged the province to impose a stay-at-home order on Monday with counterparts in Ottawa and Peel Region, or risk “large-scale” sickness, death and “irreparable strain on the health-care system.”

Mayor John Tory, in an email, said he would “support a provincial stay-at-home order if public-health officials believe it is needed in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its (virus) variants right now.”

The mayor also said he would back new capacity limits on “some workplaces and retail if this would assist in addressing these urgent health concerns.”

Tory renewed his call for federal and provincial governments to “make sure that a sick-pay system is in place to help protect essential workers.”

De Villa ordered in-person schooling in Toronto halted from Wednesday until at least April 18, joining Peel Region, despite Ford government assurances that schools remain “safe” with most infections happening outside them.

Toronto Public Health said Tuesday: “Stronger public-health measures are required to reverse the surge of infection that the province currently faces.”

Toronto’s seven-day average for new COVID-19 infections was 702 on March 27, according to TPH data. That’s the highest since the end of January, before the infection rate started dropping amid a Jan. 14 to March 8 stay-at-home order.

In Brampton, Mayor Patrick Brown said that, with students out of school, now is the time for the Ontario government to ensure teachers are vaccinated.

“Currently, they are slated for June. This makes no sense,” Brown tweeted. “Vaccinate educators NOW so that we can reopen schools.”



David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider