In a somewhat startling string of announcements Sunday, the Trudeau Government says it will provide a number of measures to help Ontario combat the third wave of the COVID pandemic, but what is not clear is whether Ontario Premier Doug Ford wants them, or was even consulted. Prime Minister Trudeau and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Domenic LeBlanc read identical statements about an hour apart saying they were scouring the provinces to see if any of those with low COVID case counts have any spare medical personnel they can send to Ontario. The Prime Minister and LeBlanc said they would pick up the entire tab for these workers, including plane fare if there were any takers. Le Blanc also talked about bringing in the Red Cross, something Ford rejected on Friday, saying what Ontario needs most is more vaccines. He said rapid testing kits would be send to Ontario along with $47 Million dollars worth of voluntary self-isolation centres. Defense Minister Harjit Sajan talked about deploying military aircraft to Ontario. But when Minister Hajdu was asked if any of Canada’s vaccination supply would be redirected to Ontario she appeared to say no—suggesting instead that public health measures were as important in controlling COVID as vaccinations.
What became clear in the news conference was the fact that Doug Ford’s name was not mentioned, and that this federal intervention was not discussed with him. Finally a reporter asked why.
During the federal news conference Health Minister Patty Hajdu appeared to be taking a dig at Ford when at one point she referred to the provinces considering assisting Ontario as “provinces who had managed their COVID situation.” At the end of the news conference it was not clear whether the federal measures were merely being offered, or whether they would be deployed unilaterally.
Ford has not made any public appearances Sunday after a chaotic weekend that saw him walk back measures such as closing playgrounds and giving police extra enforcement powers.