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

From now to November, WildsafeBC will be educating the public through its various programs in the community of Bella Coola. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bears are back, and so is WildSafeBC

Rae will be working hard to reach out to community members in new and innovative ways

Bella Coola’s new WildSafeBC co-ordinator, Rae Kokeš, has spent the last 10 years in Africa working in lion, human, conflict, and is a wildlife biologist by trade. (Photo submitted)
From the savannas of Africa to the Bella Coola Valley

New Wildsafe BC coordinator ready to tackle wildlife conflict

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Stolen truck found broken down on Highway 97C, Williams Lake suspect arrested near Ashcroft

A security guard first noticed the truck, and thought it looked suspicious

This will be the second year the Bella Coola Valley Rodeo won’t take place due to the pandemic. (Michael Wigle file photo)
Bella Coola Valley Rodeo cancelled for 2021

Club organizers say next year’s rodeo will be bigger and better than ever

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

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

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read