Ontario Premier Doug Ford puts his mask on after speaking at a news conference at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Friday, April 16, 2021. Ford became emotional as he apologized Thursday for making a mistake with COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ontario Premier Doug Ford puts his mask on after speaking at a news conference at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Friday, April 16, 2021. Ford became emotional as he apologized Thursday for making a mistake with COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Variants surge: Leaders urge Ottawa to beef up restrictions for travellers to Canada

Health Canada says about one per cent of arriving passengers are testing positive

Ontario’s premier got emotional today as he apologized for a mistake and some leaders urged the federal government to tighten restrictions for travellers returning to Canada as rates of COVID-19 variants continue to surge across the country.

Doug Ford choked up talking about how people were angry after his government increased police enforcement powers and closed playgrounds last Friday, decisions which have since been reversed.

“I’m sorry and I sincerely apologize,” Ford said from his home where he is isolating after being exposed to COVID-19.

“Because as premier, as I said right from the beginning, the buck stops with me.”

Ford said there are no easy choices left as a devastating third wave of the pandemic washes over Ontario. There were 3,682 new cases reported today and 40 more deaths.

Ford also promised a paid sick-leave program. He did not provide details but said people forced into quarantine shouldn’t have to worry about their jobs or income.

Quebec reported 1,248 new cases and seven more deaths. Premier Francois Legault called for tougher quarantine rules for passengers on international flights and people driving into Canada after a variant that appears to be wreaking havoc in India was detected in that province earlier this week. B.1.617 is considered a variant of interest.

Legault said a number of premiers are writing to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for more restrictions.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said those conversations are ongoing and changes to the border are coming imminently.

“Now is not the time to be traveling abroad,” he added.

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole took the call a step further. He said the federal government must temporarily suspend flights from hot-spot countries immediately.

“We have to make sure that we stop the risk of these dangerous variants getting into Canada, or getting further into Canada, while our vaccination levels are so low,” O’Toole said during an announcement at a downtown Ottawa hotel.

Health Canada says about one per cent of arriving passengers are testing positive, but can’t say how many have tested positive after 10 days.

Elsewhere, Nova Scotia closed its provincial boundary today to non-essential travel from all parts of Canada — except Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador — as it deals with a spike in COVID-19 cases.

When asked about travel within Canada, Njoo said he felt discouraged by people making the choice to cross provincial boundaries for things like ski trips or holidays. He said too many health-care systems are overwhelmed and more people still need to get vaccinations.

“This is not the time for that,” he said. “There’s a crisis going on.”

READ MORE: Canada eyes policy on travel from India due to massive COVID surge

Canada passed a vaccination milestone Thursday morning with more than 10 million people receiving at least one dose — about 30 per cent of the adult population.

Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the country’s distribution effort, said he remains optimistic the number of vaccines coming into the country will continue to increase despite Moderna struggling with production and no further shipments of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine confirmed.

The first delivery of 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses will arrive in Canada next week and be distributed to the provinces the first week of May.

“Overall the quantities of vaccines we can expect from manufacturers continue to grow so that more and more Canadians can continue to be vaccinated.”

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Air TravelCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

The Regional District of Nanaimo has its sights set on busing to the Cowichan Valley in time for March 2022. (News Bulletin file)
Bus link between Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley expected by next March

Unallocated transit hours already in Regional District of Nanaimo budget

Cowichan Valley WildSafeBC coordinator Amanda Crowston teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Ecole Cobble Hill last fall. (Submitted)
The bears are back in town and so is WildSafeBC

The bears are back in town so keep an eye out, reminds… Continue reading

North Cowichan has heated exchange over timelines of its official community plan review. (File photo)
North Cowichan’s OCP review divides council

Tight timelines leads to heated debate

Matt Ellison was a star with the Kerry Park Islanders before embarking on a pro career that included stops in the NHL and KHL. (Submitted)
Ex-NHLers to highlight Kerry Park-Peninsula alumni games

Matt Ellison and Kyle Greentree commit to suit up in August

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

Most Read