Amid Ford government tumult, Ontario is "dissolving into chaos": Horwath

Ford government reels as chaotic COVID response leads to new highs in cases, overwhelmed ICUs.

CNC News

The Ontario government of Premier Doug Ford reversed position yesterday, suddenly announcing the closure of all Ontario schools amid rapidly growing COVID-19 spread, less than 24 hours after pledging to keep them open.

In an open letter released Sunday afternoon, Education Minister Stephen Lecce told parents "all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools will remain open for in-person learning with strict health and safety measures in place, except in those regions where local public health units have directed schools in their areas to pivot to remote learning."

But after a twice-delayed press conference finally held at 4:00pm Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced all schools would remain closed after the current week-long break is done. No reopening timeline or criteria was offered.

Opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwarth said the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic were leaving parents scrambling and accused the Conservative government of failing to make schools safer with reduced class size and improved ventilation. "People are feeling like out province is dissolving into chaos," she said.

The school closures are the second recent u-turn from the Ford government.

Late last week, public outrage caused the Ford government to overnight create a "hot spot" strategy after data from ICES, a clinical evaluation agency, showed some of the most infected neighbourhoods had the lowest levels of vaccination while more affluent neighbourhoods with low infection rates had the highest vaccination rates.

The day following the data release, the Premier pledged the new hot spot strategy to bring vaccinations to working class neighbourhoods and workplaces. Experts say infection rates in lower-income neighbourhoods is higher because of many more households with multi-generations and roommates and a higher likelihood to work in "essential" jobs, which prohibit working from home.

But Conservative's hot spot strategy was thrown into chaos Monday as CBC News reported many of the postal codes with the highest infection and hospitalization rates had been excluded from vaccine targeting while some areas were included even though they had better than average infection and hospitalizations.

The CBC analysis also showed the areas excluded were in ridings held by opposition parties while four of the five areas included were in ridings held by the governing Conservative Party.




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