TORONTO — Another region in the Greater Toronto Area is "on the border line" of requiring stricter restrictions to combat COVID-19, Ontario's top doctor said Monday, but more data is needed before the province decides on the move.
Dr. David Williams said while neither he nor Halton Region's local medical officer are ready to make a decision on tighter measures for the area, they will be watching case counts and other metrics closely in the coming days.
Halton Region borders Peel Region, which has been under tougher restrictions for weeks along with Toronto, Ottawa and York Region.
"In my mind, Halton was on the border line edge, they're not in the same category as the other four," Williams said. "Let's wait and see how (the) data flows over the next week or two."
Halton Public Health reported 18 new cases on Monday. It had recorded 34 new cases on Saturday, and 31 on Sunday.
William's comments came after Premier Doug Ford said on Friday that the province was considering tougher measures for Halton.
The premier's remarks prompted three Halton mayors and two of Ford's own Tory legislators to write to Williams on Saturday, asking him to provide data to explain any new restrictions on that region.
They said businesses and individuals needed "predictability and stability" and argued that without specific justification for restrictions, people will start to ignore public health advice.
Ford acknowledged the pushback from local politicians.
"This is unique because we have none of the mayors agreeing, we have the regional chair not agreeing, we have our MPPs not agreeing," he said on Monday.
Williams stressed that the restrictions introduced in the four other regions, which closed gyms and banned indoor dining, are not as sweeping as measures used in the spring.
"People sometimes misuse the term that some are in lock down," he said. "No one's in lock down."
Meanwhile, the government announced Monday that it will deliver its delayed budget on Nov. 5.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the spending package will focus on pandemic-response measures.
The budget will be a three-year action plan that lays out three scenarios in its financial outlook given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, Phillips said.
The province delayed its budget, which was originally scheduled for release in March, because of the pandemic and instead unveiled a COVID-19-focused fiscal update.
The Progressive Conservative government said in March that the deficit would reach $20.5 billion by the end of 2020-2021. Phillips then said in August that due to billions more in spending required by the ongoing pandemic, that number is set to reach $38.5 billion.
He said Monday that the province will not layout its plan to return to a balanced budget in next month's spending package, and will instead do that when it tables its next fiscal update in March.
Ontario reported 851 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and six new deaths due to the virus.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2020.
Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press