State of emergency extended to June 30

TORONTO – The Ontario government has extended the current state of emergency until June 30.

Premier Doug Ford has also floated the idea of a regional approach to reopening the province.

On June 2 Premier Doug Ford asked the provincial legislature to extend the state of emergency in the province for another four weeks. The PC majority easily approved the request.

Ford originally declared a state of emergency in Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 17. It has now been extended three times.

“Extending the provincial Declaration of Emergency will allow us to safely and gradually reopen the province, while we continue to use every resource at our disposal to battle this deadly virus,” said Ford on June 2.

“We are not out of the woods yet, so it is critical that we exercise caution to keep everyone safe, including protecting our most vulnerable citizens in long-term care homes, retirement homes and group homes.”

The previous day Ford would not speculate on whether the declaration would be extended a fourth time at the end of the month.

“We have no plan right now. Four weeks down the road … We’re just going to do what we feel is right to protect the people,” he stated.

“Four weeks is a long time … So a lot of things can happen in the four weeks, especially if we see the numbers come down.”

Health minister Christine Elliott said four factors would influence the province’s decision to further reopen the economy:

  • a continued downward trend in the number of new cases of the virus;
  • assurances that hospitals have the space for a sudden surge in new cases;
  • confirmation that there are enough tests being conducted throughout the province; and
  • adequate contact testing being in place.

“We need to take a careful and measured approach to any further opening up of the economy,” said Elliott on June 1.

Regional approach

The premier has now stated he is considering a regional approach to reopening the province, which represents an about-face on the issue from the premier.

“We’re looking at a little different approach because the numbers are a lot higher in the GTA,” Ford said during the June 1 press conference.

It is unclear exactly what that reopening would look like, but Ford reiterated on Monday it is an option, noting other jurisdictions have done something similar.

“Everything’s on the table … because it’s so fluid … things can change rapidly,” said Ford.

He added he will base all decisions on the advice of medical experts.