Doug Ford plans to extend Ontario's state of emergency yet again
It's been more three months now since Ontario Premier Doug Ford first declared a province-wide state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — a drastic, yet necessary move that likely saved tens of thousands of lives.
The declaration (and most orders made under it) has been extended no less than five times since March 17, most recently for a 28-day-long period ending June 30.
Given that most of Ontario has now been approved to enter Stage 2 of the province's reopening plan, that active case numbers are dropping fast, and that testing rates have been deemed sufficient to detect new outbreaks quickly, one would think that the end of our official lockdown living phase is in sight.
One would be wrong for thinking that, however, as the government is once again moving to extend its emergency declaration — this time, until mid-July.
A PC motion tabled Wednesday night at Queen's Park asks the legislature to extend Ontario's ongoing state of emergency until July 15.
Should the motion pass (and it likely will, given that the PCs hold the majority of seats), Ford's government would retain its expanded powers under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until that time.
"Thanks to the collective efforts of every Ontarian, the COVID-19 trends in our province are moving in the right direction and the Premier is hopeful that this will the final extension," reads a statement issued by the Premier's Office in response to the extension motion.
It remains to be seen if the government will once again extend all emergency orders made under the declaration, as it has been doing every two weeks since April, with various modifications as the public health situation improves.
On Wednesday, Ford announced that the emergency orders would be once again be extended until June 30, noting that the orders are necessary to give healthcare providers the "flexibility to rapidly respond to urgent needs and protect our most vulnerable."
"Even though we're seeing decreasing infection rates with increased testing levels, we can't let our guard down just yet," said Ford on Wednesday.
"We need to keep these emergency measures in place to support our frontline heroes and we must all continue following the public health advice, so we can reopen more of the province safely and gradually."
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