Toronto throws subtle shade at Ford government with new Section 22 workplace order
Following in the footsteps of Peel Region, Toronto Public Health just announced new safety measures that will require workplaces in which COVID-19 is found to be spreading to close for 10 days — even if they've been deemed "essential" by Ontario's standards.
"As easily transmitted COVID-19 variants of concern spread quickly throughout Toronto and the GTA, outbreaks are increasingly linked to workplaces, where the virus can spread through close contact between workers," reads a release from the city issued Tuesday afternoon.
"To reduce this significant risk to the city's health, Toronto Public Health (TPH) will issue a Section 22 order for workplaces. This Order is a necessary tool to break the chains of transmission within Toronto workplaces where COVID-19 is determined to be spreading."
While she doesn't have the power to mandate paid sick leave, as many experts have been calling for in recent days, Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa does have enhanced regulatory powers under the province's Health Protection and Promotion Act to protect the public.
Like Dr. Lawrence Loh has done in Peel, de Villa is using these powers to issue a Section 22 Class Order pertaining to workplaces as outbreaks ravage factories, warehouses, construction sites and similarly high-risk settings.
We're taking action to reduce workplace outbreaks. But our essential and frontline workers still need paid sick leave to be safe.— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) April 20, 2021
As our Medical Officer of Health @epdevilla has recommended, we immediately need 10 paid sick days for all workers during the pandemic.
Under the order, which is scheduled to come into effect this Friday, April 23, workplaces with five or more confirmed cases of the virus will be shut down by Toronto Public Health for at least 10 days.
There are exceptions and caveats, of course, but the general rules state that closures will affect "certain workplaces, or portions of workplaces, where five or more confirmed cases are identified within a 14-day period and where cases could reasonably have been acquired through infection in the workplace."
Workers within any affected business will be required to isolate for 10 calendar days, according to the city, but health care facilities, schools, child care centres, and workplaces providing critical services "may be exempt" from full closure requirements.
As Ford hides, #Toronto joins Peel Public Health and uses Section 22 to try to halt the spread of #COVID19 in workplaces. Local public health stepping up to fill the leadership void at the provincial level. #WhereIsDougFord #onpoli #COVID19Ontario pic.twitter.com/3qQwSz99QA— Cheryl Fullerton 🇨🇦🏳️🌈😷⚾️🏈 (@CherylFull) April 20, 2021
Toronto's leaders have not been shy in the past to criticize the province for its handling of the pandemic, but the move to implement their own measures on top of Ford's latest restrictions (again) suggests a lack of confidence in Ontario's current plan.
"And so the anti-Ford rebellion gathers strength. Ford's downfall may be days away," commented one Twitter user in response to Toronto's announcement.
"Once again, Ontario's municipalities are forced to take the lead to stop surges of infections while our Premier continues to refuse to provide sick days or even name workplaces," tweeted NDP MPP Wayne Gates.
"How many more mayors and doctors will have to do the job Premier Ford should be doing?"
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