Ontario extends emergency orders for at least 3 more months
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario has voted once again to extend Premier Doug Ford's special powers to keep all pandemic-related emergency orders in place — this time, until March of 2022.
This effectively means that the current PC government can "amend and extend" any emergency orders in effect under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA), without vote or debate, for at least three months longer than planned.
Last extended in May, the government's special powers were scheduled to expire on December 1 of this year.
A motion put forward by Solicitor General Sylvia Jones requesting the extension (at the recommendation of Premier Ford) passed at Queen's Park on Tuesday, though it "carried on division," meaning the vote wasn't unanimous.
"Certain orders made pursuant to section 7.0.2 or section 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act were continued pursuant to section 2 of the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (the Act)," reads the motion. "The powers to amend and extend the orders may be extended only by resolution of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario."
"Whereas the Premier has recommended that the powers to amend and extend the orders be extended further to the end of the day on March 28, 2022... the powers to amend and extend the orders referred to in subsection 8 (1) of the Act are extended until the end of the day on March 28, 2022."
While the Ford government maintains its powers to extend emergency orders until late March, each specific order under the ROA must still be extended by cabinet every 30 days.
Currently, 28 orders remain in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) and the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA), including those that give government officials the power to enforce COVID-19 orders on businesses and individuals.
As of September 22, 2021, all Ontarians are required to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) with proof of vaccination along with a photo ID to enter specific indoor public settings and facilities deemed to be high-risk for the transmission of COVID-19.
Capacity limits also remain in place for some meeting and event spaces, including film sets, bath houses and nightclubs, among other settings.
Plans to lift remaining lockdown restrictions in Ontario and open all venues to full capacity were "paused" on November 10 amid an uptick in new cases of the coronavirus across some parts of the province.
"An increase in cases was always expected as more people move indoors due to the colder weather and as the province eased measures," said the province at the time.
"However, out of an abundance of caution, existing capacity limits and physical distancing requirements for higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required will remain in place to ensure the province has the required time to better understand any potential impact on hospitalizations and ICU admissions."
A spokesperson for the Solicitor General told CTV of the extension that it still aligns with the provincial government's plan to lift all remaining pandemic restrictions by March 28, 2022 — though only time will tell if this proves true.
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