On May 2, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski announced ongoing efforts by the Ontario government to prepare for and respond to flooding across the province during the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Ford and Minister Yakabuski were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
Following this afternoon’s announcement Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from media regarding Ontario’s COVID-19 recovery plan.
Preparedness Measures for Flood Season
This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry John Yakabuski announced ongoing efforts by the Ontario government to prepare for and respond to flooding across the province during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario has taken the lead on identifying suitable locations to host evacuees if necessary, as well as to minimize the reliance on municipal support resources at a time when many municipalities are struggling financially due to COVID-19.
Premier Ford reassured Ontarians concerned about imminent flooding that the government is engaged with federal, municipal, First Nations, and non-governmental partners to ensure that support resources, such as the Canadian Red Cross, can be quickly deployed. At the same time the Ontario and federal governments are working to support First Nations communities staying on their lands as long as it is safe to do so.
Minister Yakabuski also provided an update on provincial flooding projections, which show a moderate-to-high risk of flooding for northern Ontario and the James and Hudson Bay coasts. There is also a risk of shoreline flooding in southern Ontario along the Great Lakes.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from media regarding Ontario’s COVID-19 recovery plan.
In response to questions about protests taking place at Queen’s Park today, Premier Ford expressed disappointment and said protesters were putting themselves in jeopardy by taking part. He added, however, that he is unable to direct by-law and police officers to issue fines and will leave decisions around issuing fines to these officers.
When asked to provide a general sense of what the summer months in Ontario might look like in the new COVID-19 reality, Premier Ford explained that Ontario health officials are beginning to identify a gradual downward slope in the number of new cases of COVID-19. He said that while he remains unable to provide Ontarians with exact timing, things will be able to return to a “new normal” much sooner than originally expected if Ontarians continue to follow public health recommendations.
In response to questions about further support for businesses that continue to struggle to attract customers once restrictions are eased, Premier Ford reiterated that the Ontario government will do anything it can to help kickstart the economy and support business.
When asked about a possible drop in child vaccinations due to school closures and the inability of children to access school-based vaccination clinics, Minister Elliott confirmed that the government is working with public health units to address this issue.