Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford says Ontario’s goal to lift their current stay-at-home orders, effective until February 11 at the earliest, is a ‘moving target.’

“It’s really just based on people’s compliance, especially in the hot zones,” said Rickford, during a regional media conference.

“This is really coming down to an individual responsibility. I think we’ve all found ourselves in moments where we think, ‘is what I’m doing consistent with the restrictions and is this the right thing to do?’”

The Minister Responsible for Northern Development and Mines, Indigenous Affairs and Energy says in December, experts advised the cabinet that Ontario could see over 3,000 COVID-19 cases a day in January and 50 deaths a day by February, if stay-at-home orders weren’t issued.

“The government’s responsibility is to look at the data, and as we’ve done, we’ve had to dial up these restrictions. It’s very difficult to put a number of cases out there as a target. 1,000 cases a day could be a target for restrictions to change, and with our focus on vaccinations, that would put us in a much better, brighter situation. But we don’t have control over that.”

On January 22, Ontario reported an additional 2,662 cases and 87 deaths linked to the illness, as mobile health units were sent to assist the Greater Toronto area’s healthcare system. Ontario reported a record-high 4,249 cases on January 8.

As of January 22, the Northwestern Health Unit reported 7 active cases in the Rainy River district, 3 in the Kenora area and 2 in the Dryden / Red Lake region, with a total of 244 confirmed cases and 1 death since March, 2020.

Minister Rickford notes that in northwestern Ontario, it would only take one or two cases of COVID-19 on ventilators in our intensive care units to potentially overwhelm the healthcare system.

“I’ve spoken to local doctors and people in charge at hospitals in the region, and it would take us one or two patients to move in on ventilators in our intensive care units before people would have to be moved out to other parts of the province that don’t have the capacity to receive them, and that includes Winnipeg.”

Ontario says the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will prioritize those working and living in long-term care homes and remote First Nation communities. The Northwestern Health Unit is expecting this to begin in the region in February.

Mass vaccinations for phase two of the rollout program will begin by April, May and June, which focuses on the elderly, frontline workers and those most at-risk. The third phase, the remainder of the population, is expected in the summer.

“We have a collective responsibility. If we let our guard up and invite other jurisdictions to be a part of our space, we’d be at risk very quickly. We’re all in this together,” finishes Rickford.

Ontario’s stay-at-home orders will remain in effect until February 11 at the earliest, but they could be extended by provincial leadership at any time. They require all residents to stay home unless for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or the pharmacy, accessing health care, exercise or for essential work

Anyone who has symptoms, or who has been in contact with a positive case, should self-isolate and get tested and remain in isolation until your results are known. 

For more information:
Premier offers updates on vaccinations, restrictions
Rickford backs the need for shutdown