After intense backlash, Doug Ford's government on Saturday retracted some of the COVID-19 measures that he announced for Ontario a day earlier.
Along with allowing playgrounds to now remain open, Ontario is walking back the increased powers it gave to police. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says police won't be allowed to randomly stop any pedestrian or driver to ask for their home address and reason for being out of their residence. Police will only be allowed to ask people for that information if they believe they're participating in a "organized public event or social gathering."
The change comes after backlash from medical professionals, residents and police services across Ontario, who said they wouldn't comply with the new powers.
The latest restrictions were announced late Friday afternoon amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Along with extending the stay-at-home order for an additional two weeks, the Ontario government introduced these increased measures:
On Saturday, April 17:
All outdoor social gatherings are limited to people in the same household only, but someone who lives alone can join one other household
All non-essential construction workplaces are closed
Capacity limits at retail settings reduced to 25 per cent capacity
Outdoor recreational amenities, golf courses, basketball courts, playgrounds and soccer fields are closed
Police officers and other provincial offences officers have the authority to require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence
On Monday, April 19:
Weddings, funerals, religious services, rites or ceremonies limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors
Check points will be established at interprovincial borders, limiting access to border crossings between Ontario, and Manitoba and Quebec, except for work, medical care, transportation of goods, or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights
Following the Friday announcement a number of Ontario medical professionals took to social media to respond to the Ford government's latest moves — and most were not happy.
Quite disappointed with the decision to close playgrounds and limit outdoor activities. Unintended consequence is this going to drive people indoors where risk of transmission is higher. Not a good risk mitigation move in my opinion. Fraught with “visibility bias”.
— Sumon Chakrabarti (@TorontoIDDoc) April 16, 2021
If the Ontario government cared about saving lives, they would take the necessary steps to do that.
More policing will not stop essential workers from getting sick at work.
We are being gaslighted.
Paid. Sick. Leave. Now.#COVID19ON
— Naheed Dosani (@NaheedD) April 16, 2021
Ontario's leadership is no longer fit to manage the pandemic.
They repeatedly abandon science, common sense and the advice of experts.
This is not about politics—this is about preventable suffering and death.
History will judge the complicit who have overseen this catastrophe.
— Nathan Stall (@NathanStall) April 16, 2021
Today I learned:
- @fordnation doesn't care about my patients or that they are primarily poor & racialized Canadians
- essential workers will continue to die
- triage will happen
- Ontarians have not only been abandoned, but also blamed by @ongov for our collective situation
— Michael Warner (@drmwarner) April 16, 2021
Ford owns this disaster.
He has repeatedly refused to do what he needs to do.
Elect a clown, expect a circus.
I'm fucking done.
— David Fisman (@DFisman) April 16, 2021
Today, ICUs are on the verge of triage and our hospitals are dealing with a humanitarian crisis.
But Ontario instead chose to send more police to hotspot communities where essential workers live, rather than providing #PaidSickDays & enhanced workplace protections.
— Amit Arya (@AmitAryaMD) April 16, 2021
just so that everyone is clear on the public policy lens — Ontario desperately needed a public health/evidence informed response and we got a police state where anyone can be stopped to show their address. this is a human rights calamity none of us could have predicted.
— Andrew Baback Boozary, MD, MPP (@drandrewb) April 16, 2021
I've never been more ashamed of @ONgov. Despite clear advice from experts & pleas from doctors: No paid sick days, min extra vaccine to hotspots, no closure of non-essential workplaces. Only more blaming & policing of Ont citizens who are largely *not* responsible for this mess.
— Dr. Kamila Premji (@PremjiKamila) April 16, 2021
So we’re going to have increasing police enforcement and restrictions on outdoors which account for as low as 0.1 percent of transmissions. What’s going to happen?
Indoor gatherings outside of enforcement perhaps?
— Zain Chagla (@zchagla) April 16, 2021
Ontario's new measures to curb #COVID19:
1. Limiting non-essential travel - helpful
2. Prolonging stay at home - helpful
3. Increasing hotspot vaccine - helpful
4. Defining essential work - helpful
5. Support for essential workers - absent
6. Limiting outdoor recreation - huh?
— Isaac Bogoch (@BogochIsaac) April 16, 2021
The criticism also extended to other Ontarians, who echoed similar disappointment in the policing powers added by the Ford government and the lack of paid sick leave support.
So they used this to legislate carding back. Black, Indigenous and racialized communities are going to be directly targeted by this. https://t.co/sVTOwIJr9H
— Farrah Khan (@farrahsafiakhan) April 16, 2021
Police in Ontario now allowed to inquire why anyone is outside. Expect racial profiling and immigration enforcement.
Hundreds of thousands of people have to choose between going to work and feeding their families, or going out for emergency healthcare and potential deportation.
— hussan (@hussansk) April 16, 2021
— ❄️✨Tiny Terror✨❄️ (@ChrissieGee) April 16, 2021
the ontario government should be embarrassed at this point. instead of supporting those who are mostly impacted by covid with paid sick leave, u put no supports in place + police carding https://t.co/bC6MjkAsEv
— 🐝 (@MelissaCalma) April 16, 2021
COVID case counts in Ontario are out of control and climbing, so the government enacts "stop and frisk" police powers, refuses help from the Federal government, and announces no measures to protect workers at risk (where nearly 70% of transmission is happening).
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck pic.twitter.com/Mat4qiRClf
— Ryan Merkley 🍁 (@ryanmerkley) April 16, 2021
Doug Ford says he listens to the experts.
Anyone recall all the public health officials and medical experts who have been pleading for increased police powers in Ontario?
No...I didn't think so.#covidontario #DougFordResign #onpoli
— Jeff Brown (@jwbrown556) April 16, 2021
Even former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has started trending on Twitter, with some people comparing Ford with how Wynne governed the province and speculating about how things could have possibly been different now.
Is anyone else thinking that voting out Kathleen Wynne for a buck a beer maybe wasn't such a good an idea as it (never) seemed?
— J.P.Byrne (@killkildare) April 16, 2021
I'm just so mad we lost the @Kathleen_Wynne government. Paid sick days was such a game changer that the public short-sightedly saw as costly and ineffective.
If Wynne was still our Premier we wouldn't be living in this worst case scenario. Thousands would still be alive.
— Christine Duong (@christineduongg) April 16, 2021
Honestly, SHAME on you if you voted for @fordnation and the @OntarioPCParty. He had no platform other than buck a beer and not being Kathleen Wynne. You need to do some deep personal reflection as to why that was enough for you. This train wreck is on you.
— Tracey Nolan (@misstraceynolan) April 16, 2021
— Allen Priest 🇨🇦🏳️🌈 (@allenpriest) April 16, 2021