TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford will meet with his cabinet tonight to discuss the possibility of making it mandatory for health-care and education workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, sources tell CTV News Toronto.
The Ford government has previously sidestepped questions about making vaccination mandatory for some front-line workers but it has faced increasing pressure to do so in recent weeks amid a fourth wave of the pandemic that has seen case counts double every nine days.
Last week the Ontario Medical Association called on Ford to make vaccinations mandatory for all health-care workers and education workers as soon as possible.
The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association also spoke out in favour of introducing a mandatory vaccination policy for education workers and eligible students prior to the resumption of classes next month.
It should, however, be noted that there is no longer enough time for unvaccinated individuals to get both doses prior to the first day of school on Sept. 9 given the need to wait 28 days between shots.
‘WE ARE NOT DONE WITH COVID YET,’ FORD SAYS
Tonight’s cabinet meetings comes as cases counts continue their upward trend and Ford warns Ontarians that “we are not done with COVID yet” and that the virus “will be something we live with for a while longer.”
Ford made the comment during a speech to delegates at the annual Association of Ontario Municipalities conference on Monday morning.
Ford’s comments come amid a fourth wave of the pandemic that has led to an exponential rise in case counts over the last few weeks.
In fact, Ontario’s science table now estimates that cases are doubling every nine days. The effective reproductive number has also risen to a level not seen since the spring of 2020 with each person who contracts the virus passing it on to an average of 1.44 other people.
“This is a virus that will exploit any opportunity, any weakness in the system to mutate and become even more lethal,” Ford said. “You only need to look south to see what can happen if we let our guards down and how quickly a variant can devastate an unvaccinated population. COVID will be something we live with for a while longer and we must always stay prepared.”
During his speech on Monday, made virtually, Ford lauded Ontario’s vaccine rollout which he said has been “among the most successful anywhere in the world.”
But he said that despite the “incredible progress” Ontario has made, COVID-19 appears to be here for the foreseeable future.
For that reason, he said that his government will continue to make investments in “fortifying” Ontario’s hospital capacity and protecting its schools.
To that end, the Ministry of Education has announced that it is working with public health units to hold a series of vaccination clinics targeted directly at students and education workers.
It says that the clinics can operate before, during or after school hours and can either be on school property or off-site.
As of August 15, more than 69 per cent of eligible youth have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 56 per cent are fully immunized.
“There is much work left to be done, but there is no better team than this one…we can handle whatever comes our way,” Ford promised during his speech.
“So, let’s be hopeful…let’s stay resilient…let’s get through this challenge and on to the next one.”
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Colin D’Mello
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