September 9, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Quebec Premier François Legault addressed media after the conclusion of the first-ever Ontario-Quebec summit. During this week’s summit, the governments of Ontario and Quebec agreed to collaborate on job creation and accelerating economic recovery from COVID-19, as well as to share lessons learned from the pandemic and to prepare provincial health systems for a potential second wave.
In addition, as COVID-19 has exacerbated existing pressures on provincial health systems, both premiers called on the federal government to significantly increase the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) in order to ensure fair, flexible, and sustainable funding for provincial health systems.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premiers Ford and Legault responded to questions from media regarding the ongoing response to COVID-19 in Ontario and Quebec.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Public Reporting of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Ontario
Premier Ford confirmed that Ontario would begin reporting outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools moving forward, similarly to the reporting of outbreaks in long-term care facilities.
When asked whether the province would also commit to publicly reporting workplace outbreaks, Premier Ford said that he did not believe in targeting struggling companies that need the support of the government. He added that the media is already playing the role of reporting massive workplace outbreaks.
Rolling Back Reopening Measures
Premiers Ford and Legault were asked about whether they would consider rolling back certain reopening measures in their respective provinces, due to the recent growth in new cases of COVID-19.
Premier Ford responded that he is concerned as a result of Ontario’s growth in new cases, but reiterated that he continues to rely on the advice of Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, pertaining to decisions to roll back reopening measures. Premier Ford added that he does not want to punish regions of Ontario without a significant number of COVID-19 cases by moving the entire province back into stage two of reopening. He also emphasized that regions experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19, including Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa, can choose to re-impose stricter public health measures based on the advice of regional mayors and health officials, and that the province would be supportive of any regions that decide to do so.
Premier Legault responded that he is not currently considering re-closing businesses such as bars and restaurants because private gatherings are the main source of outbreaks in Quebec. He added that the government does not want to return to an environment where it is necessary to close businesses and urged Quebecers to adhere to public health guidelines by wearing a mask, respecting social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings.