Ontario Premier Doug Ford says returning to normal without a vaccine for the novel coronavirus “means putting lives as risk.”
He made the remarks as his government announced $20 million in funding for medical research in fighting COVID-19.
“My friends, our efforts are paying off. And I know that we are all eager to get back to work and get back to normal, but the reality is we have to remember that until we find a vaccine for this terrible virus — until we have that vaccine — letting our guard down means potentially exposing millions of our people to the virus,” Ford said in a press conference Saturday afternoon.
“Any decision around reopening must be based on the best medical advice and these decisions will not be taken lightly.
“The hard fact is, until we find a vaccine, going back to normal means putting lives at risk.”
The additional $20 million is being used for the province’s COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, in which researchers who are working to find a vaccine are eligible for funding.
“There’s no reason why that vaccine can’t be found right here in Ontario,” Ford said.
“We are the province that discovered insulin. Our medical researchers are at the forefront in the fight against cancer. We were pioneers of open heart surgery.”
Officials said programs aimed at finding a vaccine are already underway in the province.
However, in a statement after the government announcement, the Ontario NDP said: “The Ford government’s announcement of $20 million for health research to look for a COVID-19 vaccine follows Doug Ford’s $25 million cut to the Health System Research Fund one year ago …
“Those are the same research operations the Ford government is now relying on to find a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The government didn’t address those claims when asked by Global News.
In response, College and Universities Minister Ross Romano said Ontario is “home to a world-renowned research community that is continually advancing our knowledge.”
“Our postsecondary institutions, hospitals, and research institutions are doing incredible work each and every day to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians during COVID-19 and beyond,” College and Universities Minister Ross Romano said.
When asked what it would take for partial reopening of the province, Ford said he would continue to refer to the advice of the chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams.
Ford said he wants to ensure that any partial reopening would not result in a second wave of cases.
“It was so, so difficult to shut down the economy. In my opinion, it’s going to be twice as difficult to try to open this up and do it methodically,” he said.
Williams told reporters Saturday afternoon that planning for partial reopening will involve a gradual easing of restrictions.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Mayor John Tory said any reopening or “restart” of the city would come in the form of a phased approach.View link »