Premier says Eastern Ontario health units can issue Section 22 orders if they want modified restrictions

Premier Doug Ford answers a question about modified restrictions for Eastern Ontario during a news conference on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. Ford says if health units in the region want modified restrictions they can do their own Section 22 orders. (Premier of Ontario/YouTube via Newswatch Group)

TORONTO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Eastern Ontario health units will have to issue their own Section 22 orders if they want modified restrictions to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Answering a question from CBC Ottawa during a news conference Thursday afternoon, Ford says if Eastern Ontario medical officers of health want modified Stage 2 restrictions, they can do it themselves.

“They can do it (Section 22) and that’s pretty well settled. If they want to do it, have a modified Stage 2, we rely on the information that they have. If the chief medical officer puts a Section 22 in, we will respect that as we have with London,” Ford said.

The premier credited London for “actually standing up and doing the right thing” by issuing a Section 22 order, saying that some other regions “want to pass the buck” and have the province be the bad guy.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit’s medical officer of health issued an order yesterday, focusing on gyms, restaurants and salons.

Asked why the province would issue restrictions for Ottawa and wouldn’t consider doing it for Eastern Ontario, Ford says there’s a “huge difference” and the numbers are “drastically different…night and day comparison between Ottawa and Eastern Ontario regions.”

Ford’s stance essentially throws a wrench in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s wish to have the province put the restrictions in place.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the EOHU medical officer of health, said Wednesday he wanted the province to do it because it would be easier for enforcement.

But he’s more than willing to issue a Section 22 order if it comes to that.

“The decision is the government’s but strongly influenced by my recommendation also in consultation with municipalities,” Roumeliotis said Wednesday. “I would issue the Section 22 but I do know the ministry, the government will do a regulation and put it in.”

The proposed modified restrictions would limit the number of people in restaurants and the number of people at each table.