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

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Delta Patriots Cricket Club takes Surrey, other clubs to court over Cricket BC voting

‘At issue is the propriety or legality of the voting procedures within Cricket BC,’ Justice John Harvey noted

Surrey Eagles forward Rocco La Cara battles with Coquitlam Express forward Dante Berrettoni during a game earlier this season. (Damon James photo)
Surrey Eagles wrap up BCHL ‘pod’ season with win over Coquitlam

South Surrey-based junior ‘A’ hockey team finishes with 17-2-1 record

A grave marker at the old pet cemetery in Newton, from video posted to the Youtube channel Exit Thru the Gift Shop.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Newton’s abandoned pet cemetery now surrounded by houses

VIDEO: Former B.C. Pet Cemetery might also be a burial site for human remains

Surrey RCMP detachment in Newton. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP say cryptocurrency fraud on the rise

They’ve received 59 reports of cryptocurrency fraud totaling $612,748 since January

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

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

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

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

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Vancouver Giants celebrated a Justin Sourdif goal Saturday night in Kamloops. Giants dropped a 3-1 decision to Kamloops, a game that clinched the 2020-21 B.C. Division banner for the Blazers. (Allen Douglas/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants drop 3-1 decision to Kamloops

Third-period rally should have come sooner, said coach of Langley-based team

Most Read