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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Two vehicles were involved in a collision around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Main Street and Industrial intersection. (Jesse Day - Western News)
Traffic slow after collision at Main and Industrial in Penticton

Two vehicles were involved and first responders are on scene

RCMP. (Black Press File)
BREAKING: Major Crimes called in after two bodies discovered in Naramata

A manhunt involving a police helicopter took place on May 10

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Sisters Audrey Cunningham and Donna Erdman, join the Vernon Kalamalka Chorus singing in their cars, tuned into the radio, under the direction of Debbie Parmenter. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Okanagan choir steers around COVID with ‘carbershop’ twist

Singers find a unique way to practice during pandemic restrictions

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

A Falkland man will present a 600+ signature petition to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board Thursday, May 20, opposing dog control in Electoral Area D, which includes Falkland, Silver Creek, Salmon Valley and Ranchero/Deep Creek. (File photo)
600-plus sign Falkland man’s petition against dog control

Similar bylaw rejected by 200 public hearing attendees when topic came up 9 years ago

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Notes of hope, encouragement and camaraderie were left on the message board inside the kitchen of TacoTime. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Adiós, Taco Tuesday: Kelowna residents flock to TacoTime on restaurant’s final day

‘We don’t need another Starbucks. We need tacos on Tuesday, with extra hot sauce’

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read