'Just keep it up folks': Ford backs 'surgical approach' to future COVID-19 lockdowns during Barrie visit

·2 min read

Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 29, 2020

Premier Doug Ford patted Simcoe County residents on the back Oct. 26 for helping keep COVID-19 cases here from getting out of control.

“I give credit to the mayors and our MPPs, but it’s the people. The people here are following protocols. They are doing great. Just keep it up, folks. You’re doing great,” Ford said.

The Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit reported more than 450 COVID-19 cases in October, a monthly record for the region.

Ford was at Napoleon, a Barrie fireplace and barbecue manufacturer, to announce the creation of a Made in Ontario campaign when he made the comment.

Simcoe County remains in Stage 3, which allows modified opening for nearly all businesses, while York Region to the south was forced to revert to Stage 2 when its positive cases started to climb.

Ford told reporters during his daily media briefing that he prefers a “surgical approach” when considering future shutdowns.

“I’m a business guy. I can’t stand closing any businesses with these poor folks trying to keep their heads above water,” he said. “I want to take more of a surgical approach and not paint a broad brush across an industry, no matter if it’s gyms or restaurants. We gotta help these people out.”

Ford applauded Ontario’s manufacturing sector for its resilience during the pandemic, saying 51,700 new jobs last month pushed manufacturing employment above pre-COVID levels by 17,000 positions.

"As local manufacturers have proven time and time again during this pandemic, they can make anything," he said.

Napoleon, which sells gas fireplaces, barbecues, and heating and cooling systems, increased its workforce, now boasting 1,100 employees provincewide.

“With a new way of doing things, we quickly returned to highly productive levels while ensuring safety,” co-CEO Chris Schroeter said. “We have had unprecedented demand for our in-home products. To keep up, we’ve hired 200 more full-time employees since June.”

Ford pointed to the Barrie-Innisfil area as a great place to live, urging anyone hoping to move out of the city to consider the area.

“Things are booming here in Barrie and Innisifl. They really are,” he said, urging local municipal politicians to fast-track new housing development.

Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance