July 24, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, announced support for York University’s new Markham Centre Campus. The campus expansion, which will be the first university campus in York Region, is proceeding under the government’s Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework and is expected to open in 2023. Construction on the campus will begin this month and will support York Region’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by creating over 2,000 jobs.
Premier Ford and Minister Romano were joined by President and Vice Chancellor of York University, Rhonda L. Lenton; Mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the Regional Municipality of York, Wayne Emerson; and MPP for Markham—Unionville, Billy Pang.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford responded to questions from media and provided an update on the province’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Questions from Media – Ongoing COVID-19 Response
As seven more of Ontario’s public health regions entered stage three today, Premier Ford informed Ontarians that an update on the three regions remaining in stage two – Toronto, Peel, and Windsor-Essex – will be coming on Wednesday, July 29. At this time, he hopes to be able to announce that these regions will be permitted to move into stage three.
In response to questions about businesses such as large cinemas which are unable to open at full operating capacity in stage three, Premier Ford agreed that stage three restrictions can make it difficult for cinemas or large banquet halls to justify reopening. He said he continues to rely on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and hopes that the government can introduce more flexible guidelines for these types of businesses once the number of new COVID-19 infections decline.
Surging Case Numbers Among Young People
In response to questions about recent surges in new COVID-19 infections among people under 40, Premier Ford called the numbers “disturbing.” He added that while the vast majority of young people are cooperating, a small percentage have not been adhering to public health protocols. He also urged regional medical officers of health for large urban areas to consider putting in place more stringent public health restrictions in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 within their regions.
Outbreak in Windsor-Essex Agri-Food Sector
Of the 195 new cases of COVID-19 reported today, 57 were in Windsor-Essex, which has experienced numerous outbreaks among migrant workers in the agri-food sector. Premier Ford confirmed that he was looking into the possibility of mandatory testing for migrant workers and urged farmers to have their migrant workers tested.
When asked whether he would consider moving the Windsor-Essex region back to stage one, Premier Ford said that the COVID-19 outbreaks within the agri-food sector are separate from the rest of the region’s population. Instead of punishing the entire region, the government is looking at ways to isolate the affected group and ensure they are supported.