‘We got it wrong:’ Ford says about COVID-19 police powers to arbitrarily stop people
Published Thursday, April 22, 2021 7:47AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 22, 2021 11:30AM EDT
Premier Doug Ford says he “made a mistake” after implementing new restrictions last week that gave police special powers to arbitrarily stop people outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ford held a news conference in Etobicoke Thursday while in isolation after possibly being exposed to COVID-19 earlier this week, after a staffer in his office tested positive for the virus.
Ford said “we got it wrong” when enacting new measures to reduce coronavirus transmission, amid a third wave of the pandemic.
“We moved fast to put in measures in place to reduce mobility. But we moved too fast. And I know that some of those measures, especially around enforcement, they went too far,” Ford said.
“Simply put, we got it wrong. We made a mistake.”
Ontario introduced the restrictions on Friday to curb the spread of the deadly virus as daily infections and hospitalizations have been on the rise.
One of the new measures included the power for police to legally stop individuals on the street or in vehicles to question why they are outside of their homes.
However, shortly after the new measures were announced and widely criticized, police services across the province were quick to issue statements saying that they would not randomly stop people or vehicles.
The next day, the government backtracked on the measures amending the police powers to allow officers to stop individuals only if they are suspected of participating in an organized event or social gathering.
Ford acknowledged today that the police powers “left a lot of people angry and upset.”
“Because as premier, as I said right from the beginning, the buck stops with me. Again, I'm sorry and I apologize to each and every one of you,” he emotionally said during the conference.
Another measure announced on Friday- the closure of outdoor recreational activities- was also amended on Saturday allowing playgrounds to reopen, but other activities such as golf courses and basketball courts remain closed.
Several health officials have said that outdoor activities are linked to minimal virus transmission.
Ford says government is working on ‘the best’ paid sick leave program
Reporters pressed Ford about provincially funded paid sick days as health officials continue to say that virus transmission is driven in congregate and workplace settings.
Ford said the government is “working on solutions” and planning to make the “best program anywhere in North America.”
“...We are going to take action ourself. And we will have the best program anywhere in North America, bar none."
The government has been increasingly under fire for not implementing its own paid sick day program as Ontario’s health-care system is struggling to combat the virus.
The government has insisted for months that it would be redundant to introduce its own paid sick leave initiative while workers are eligible to receive payments through the Canada Recovery and Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
The federal program provides sick workers up to $500 per week but requires that they go without pay until their applications are approved.
Ford said his government was counting on Ottawa to enhance the program in its latest budget, which was released on Monday, but no changes were made to the CRSB.
"We worked [for] months, publicly coming out, again our minister of labour, our minister of health, myself [have] come out numerous times,” Ford said.
“There is $700 million dollars that had been sitting there from the federal government since September and the system was broken. They made a quick little fix but it wasn’t there. We kept asking them to tweak the changes and when the budget came out, there wasn’t any changes,” he added.
Ford did not say when the government will make its announcement about paid sick leave.
On Tuesday, a science table that advises the Ford government on COVID-19 released a report calling for a provincial emergency benefit that would immediately apply to all essential workers “when they are sick, when they’ve been exposed, need time off to get tested, or when it’s their turn to get vaccinated.”