Horwath applauds release of COVID-19 models, calls for pruning of essential workplaces list
OTTAWA -- Ontario Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is applauding the Progressive Conservative Premier for his plan to release the province's COVID-19 modeling data.
Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday that he would release the models showing the best- and worst-case scenarios of the COVID-19 pandemic publicly on Friday.
"You deserve to know what I know when you’re making decisions for yourself, your family and your community," Ford said. "You need to have the best information. I know many people find this information hard to hear. The new reality is hard."
Speaking on CTV Morning Live in Ottawa, Horwath told host Leslie Roberts she had been calling for the government to be more transparent.
"It's most important to be as transparent as possible with all of these numbers," she said. "I have been calling for this, so I laud Mr. Ford for changing his mind and coming to this decision."
Horwath said she doesn’t believe these data, however stark, will cause much more panic.
"A lot of people are having those feelings already. I don’t think it's a surprise to anyone that, if we don't take it seriously enough, we could be in very big trouble. I know a lot of people are suffering with worry: worried about paying the bills; worried about their elderly loved ones and people with compromised immune systems; but the best way to get through this is to try to pull together, support each other and do that will all the knowledge possible."
Essential workers list needs a lookover
Horwath said the Premier should review the list of essential businesses that can operate under Ontario's state of emergency, particularly when it comes to the construction industry.
The province ordered all businesses not on its list of essential services closed, as of 12:00 a.m. March 25.
Horwath told CTV Morning Live the list is too long.
"As this virus continues to spread, I think the Premier needs to have another look at the list, with a view to winnowing that down a bit," she said. "In Quebec, for example, it's only emergency-type of construction that’s required that's required. I think that makes sense."
She said it's difficult to have construction workers maintain physical distancing guidelines on the job and she, and other MPPs, have been fielding calls about construction sites across Ontario.
"Workers worried about their own safety, family members worried about their loved ones safety on the job site, and the general public saying, 'If we're supposed to be two metres apart, why is this condo going up across the street?'"
Horwath said the government changing its mind on some matters is a positive sign, but she called for more collaboration with the parties across the aisle.
"We have been, since day one, trying to provide some constructive, thoughtful feedback to the government," she said. "We’ve been identifying gaps and providing ministers and even the Premier himself with ideas, suggestions and recommendations. I hoped that we would be more engaged with what the government's doing; unfortunately, that's not the case."
Horwath said there will come a time when the government will need to review what went right and what went wrong during the pandemic but, for now, she said she's committed to being "as constructive as possible."
As of Thursday, there were 2,793 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. 53 Ontarians have died, while 831 have recovered.