Ford silent as vaccine roll-out stalls, Minister breaks travel advisory

Ford silent as vaccine stalls and news breaks that finance minister has been vacationing out of the country since December 13, despite Health Canada warnings. "We are all making sacrifices this Christmas" wrote minister Phillips last week.

CNC News

Though the holiday weekend is now over, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has made no public statement in response to data showing Ontario's vaccine roll-out has faltered or news that a key Minister is out of the country on vacation.

Premier Ford has repeatedly appealed to Ontarians to stay home during the holiday season to prevent COVID-19 spread. The federal government has been advising against all non-essential air travel.

Yesterday, Rick Hillier, who Ford tapped for the $20,000 a month job of leading Ontario's vaccine roll-out, made an appearance on CTV and took the blame for shutting down vaccination clinics over the Christmas break. Hillier said the shut down was driven by a desire to give more health care workers a holiday break after a difficult year.

The Premier made no public appearance on Monday and was not available to respond to questions of whether he or his Minister of Health decided the shut down vaccinations, or whether Hillier's task force had the authority and made the shutdown decision.

Ontario has distributed the fewest vaccines of any province, measured as a per cent of population. Ontario received more than 90,000 doses recently, but on Tuesday the Ford government said it had administered only 13,200.

Despite having almost 80,000 doses in storage, Hillier blamed the slow roll-out on the federal government's small purchase of vaccines.

And the Premier remained silent on Tuesday as news leaked that Rob Phillips, Ontario's Minister of Finance, travelled for a vacation on about Sunday December 13 and remains out of the country. A week ago, Premier Ford said international travel was an "extreme risk" and encouraged people to stay home during the Christmas break. The federal government has asked all Canadians to not undertake "non-essential" international travel.

In response to the breaking news, Phillips released a media statement confirming his travel but not his location or return date. Global News today confirmed the Minister remains outside the country. While away, a post on Phillips' twitter account that said "we are all making sacrifices this Christmas" and thanked front line workers for their effort.

Though Minister Phillips' statement said he had participated in cabinet meeting while away, the has been no statement from the Premier Ford clarifying whether he was aware of his minister's out of country location during those meetings.


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