Passengers from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi wait for their transportation to quarantine after arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Passengers from Air India flight 187 from New Delhi wait for their transportation to quarantine after arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Leaders urge Ottawa to beef up restrictions for travellers to Canada as COVID variants surge

The B.1.617 variant that appears to be wreaking havoc in India has been detected in provinces

Ontario’s premier got emotional Thursday as he apologized for a mistake in the province’s COVID-19 fight, while other provincial leaders made tough decisions to tackle surging variant cases and pushed for federal travel restrictions.

“I’m sorry and I sincerely apologize,” Doug 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 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.

Ford also promised a paid sick-leave program.

The premier 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 Thursday and 40 more deaths. Hospitalizations and intensive care have reached the highest levels in the province since beginning of pandemic.

Quebec reported 1,248 new cases and seven more deaths but, weeks after implementing tighter restrictions in cities that became hot spots for fast-spreading variants, noted a slight drop in hospitalizations.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault joined a number of other premiers, including Ford, in calling for tougher quarantine rules for passengers on international flights and for people driving into Canada.

The B.1.617 variant that appears to be wreaking havoc in India was detected in Quebec earlier this week.

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.

A few hours later, the House of Commons adopted a motion calling for flights carrying non-essential travellers from certain countries, such as India and Brazil, to be barred. The federal government was expected to announce new restrictions later Thursday.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said no matter the restrictions in place, “now is not the time to be traveling abroad.”

Health Canada said about one per cent of arriving passengers are testing positive, but did not say how many have tested positive after 10 days.

Elsewhere, Nova Scotia closed its provincial boundary to non-essential travel from all parts of Canada — except Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador — as it deals with a spike in cases.

The province also reinstated “circuit breaker” restrictions for the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister rejected calls from Winnipeg’s mayor to tighten provincial restrictions to stop a steady climb of new infections in recent days. There were 258 new daily cases reported in the province, the highest number there since January.

Many politicians and health officials also voiced concerns about continued travel within Canada.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, said the province’s incoming restrictions banning all non-essential travel outside health regions will slow down spread in COVID-19 hot spots.

There were 1,006 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths in B.C., as well as a record-high of 502 people in hospital.

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.”

Canada passed a vaccination milestone Thursday morning with more than 10 million people — about 30 per cent of the adult population — receiving at least one dose of vaccine.

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 are to 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.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Food programs such as the BC Fruit and Veggies program are important to student learning and students would be at a loss without them, Jeremy Janz principal of Pacific Coast School said, on May 13. Full tummies are the best way to start the day for Prince Rupert students, Natalia White (11) and Nikisha Johnson (12) who attended the official launch of the Breakfast Club of Canada program at PRMS on Feb. 25, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
School fruits and veggies may be cut, said BC Liberals

P.R. students healthy food knowledge grew from the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional program

Gabriel Bureau president of the Prince Rupert Teachers union said on May 13 that SD 52 52 announced teacher lay-offs has broken the trust. (Photo:K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Teacher job losses are unnecessary, lay-off notices may be issued today, says PRDTU

Prince Rupert District Teachers Union says trust has been broken

Courtnay Girbav has been creating a little magic along the McClymont Trail in April with the initiation of a memorial fairy garden. The garden’s golden Buddha was recently found to be missing on May 2. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Fairy garden magic along McClymont Trail

An enchanted garden created in memory of a deceased friend has golden statue stolen

Prince Rupert Regional Airport is on track for flights to resume to the local airport on June 23. New airport federal funding was announced on May 11 to assist with COVID-19 recovery.  (Northern View file photo)
New federal airport funding takes off

Flights on track to resume June 23 at Prince Rupert Regional Airport

School District 52 Board of Trustees amended the 2021-2022 budget on May 11, eliminating 13 itinerant teaching positions as well as making other line item cuts and increases. (File photo)
SD 52 amends 2021-2022 proposed budget to eliminate 13 itinerant teaching positions

It has everything to do with the fact they were hired without the approval of the board - Tina Last

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

A COVID-19 patient receives oxygen outside a hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (AP/Channi Anand)
B.C. donates $500K to Red Cross COVID-19 relief efforts in India

The money will provide oxygen cylinders and ambulances for patients in communities grappling with the virus

Superintendent Aaron Paradis, community services officer with the Surrey RCMP, during a media availability about a recent drug bust in Port Coquitlam. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Police seize 13 million ‘potentially fatal doses’ of pure fentanyl at B.C. drug lab

The evidence was seized at large, illicit drug manufacturing site in Port Coquitlam

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth debates the province’s latest measure to control crime, March 10, 2021. The legislation allows police to impound vehicles used to transport weapons and further restricts sale of vehicle and body armour. (B.C. legislature video)
B.C. seeking ways to ‘name and shame’ gangsters, minister says

Mike Farnworth appeals to family members to talk to police

Jonathan Prest had to climb way up to the top of a dead red cedar tree to rescue a terrified cat, but he made it up and down successfully. (Facebook photos)
Tree cutter rescues cat stuck 100 feet up a dead and dried-out cedar

Jonathan Prest put himself in extreme peril to get a terrified cat out of a dangerous situation

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Italian-Canadian prisoners at the Kananaskis prisoner of war camp in Alberta. (University of Calgary/Contributed)
Italian moved to Okanagan with hope; he ended up being sent to a WWII internment camp

Raymond Lenzi shares his grandfather’s story ahead of Canada’s planned formal apology to Italian-Canadians

Most Read