Ford says ‘there’s no hidden agenda’ as disinformation circulates, calls out Uber Eats amid restrictions

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

‘There’s no hidden agenda’: Doug Ford shares frustration over those discrediting the COVID-19 pandemic

As the second wave of COVID-19 makes its mark on Ontario, Premier Doug Ford addressed those who are trying to discredit the reality of the virus, such as by calling it fake. 

“There’s no hidden agenda … it’s sheer facts,” said Ford. “What I get from the chief medical officer, I will put it right on the table good, bad or ugly. …

“I’m going to repeat this again, there is no agenda. I’m the last guy in the world that would put up with that. I just, it just wouldn’t happen under my watch. I’m here to protect the people of Ontario, keep them safe.

Ford credits the media, who he called “phenomenal,” for helping deliver the government’s message on protocols throughout the pandemic. 

It’s a contrast compared to what the premier describes has been occurring in front of his home. 

“We have the anti-maskers showing up to my house again,” said Ford.

“You know, flying the flag upside down. That’s disturbing to say the least. You don’t like our country, want to disrespect the people of this country and the flag; Go on, take off, leave, find another place you can fly your flag upside down.”

Ford announcements funding for Ontario businesses impacted by latest restrictions, calls out Uber Eats

Ford announced $300 million to provide relief for local restaurants and other businesses that have been impacted by the province’s latest health measures. 

The news comes after Ford announced on Friday that indoor dining will have to close for restaurants and bars in the province’s three hotspots of Ontario, Peel and Ottawa. These venues will still be able to offer take-out options, but the restrictions also impact places such as gyms, gaming establishments and performance venues.

The $300 million will help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, natural gas and hydro bills. More information on how the province will distribute the relief is expected soon, said the premier while making the announcement at Mamma Martino’s Restaurant in Etobicoke.

In the meantime, Ford is asking all Ontarians to do their part to help small businesses by ordering take-out food in the upcoming weeks. But he’s also asking big third party food delivery services to be flexible. 

“I have a message … Uber Eats, it’s time for you to do your part,” said Ford. “We need you to help out these mom and pop shops right now. Please consider reducing the commission rates you charge the restaurants impacted by these new health measures. “

Ford said there are restaurants paying as much as 30 per cent commision to have their food delivered, and in some cases that’s on top of the service and delivery fees that are paid by consumers. 

“I understand that some of the companies are already reducing the commissions they charged the restaurant, so I thank you for that,” said Ford. “So please, do the right thing in these difficult times.”

More Quebec regions to become ‘red zones’ as virus ‘seems to be stabilizing’

Quebec Premier François Legault announced on Tuesday additional regions that will become “red zones.” 

It marks the highest level on its COVID-19 alert colour-scale, which indicates the severity of the virus in regions around the province and dictates what restrictions should be put in place. The recently added red zones include Montérégie and central Quebec. Charlevoix will also be moved to “red,” joining the rest of the Quebec City region. 

In addition, the region of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean is also being moved to Orange. 

“We need to remain prudent before celebrating, but the spread of the virus seems to be stabilizing,” said Legault in French. 

The premier said that efforts they’ve taken a couple weeks ago seem to be paying off, with the number of daily cases decreasing over the past four days. However, the virus is still circulating in more regions than just in its hotspots.

Legault said that the province is imposing these further restrictions for three reasons: Save lives, keep children in school and to save their health-care system. He urges all Quebecers to continue to limit their indoor gatherings. 

The latest red zones will start to face additional restrictions as of Friday. Restaurants and bars will only be able to offer takeout options. Dining rooms and most entertainment venues will have to close, as well as gyms. High schools in red regions will have to apply additional hygiene rules, such as full-time mask use, while extracurricular activities will be suspended. 

In red zones, people are not allowed to have visitors from other households, except under unique circumstances, such for those who live alone. Private gatherings are prohibited, except for places of worship and funerals, where there can be a maximum of 25 people. 

Please reference this map to see which regions are also currently red zones.

Rapid testing coming to provinces and territories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted that Canada has secured 28.4 million rapid tests from medical device company Abbott Laboratories.

The two rapid tests, Panbio and ID Now, have been proven to deliver results in less than 20 minutes. Both were recently approved by Health Canada. 

“These new testing technologies are quick and reliable, so we’re getting them out to the frontlines as soon as possible,” said Trudeau. 

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that the ID Now tests will be deployed possibly by the end of the week or early next week. It’ll be up to the provinces and territories on how they use these tests. 

Tam said that they can be used in places such as long-term care homes to get a more rapid idea of the extent of an outbreak. They can also be used in high-risk workplace settings, such as meatpacking plants. 

“We know that rapid testing is a key part of the path forward,” said Trudeau. 

“But it is not in and of itself a panacea. It is going to be important that it be deployed properly to maximize the impact, to maximize the effectiveness of a strategy that has rapid testing, traditional testing, contact tracing, an effective app and many measures for control the spread of this virus.”

‘Unacceptable’: Trudeau condemns islamophobia in Toronto

Trudeau took time at the start of his press conference on Tuesday to condemn the violent threats that a mosque in Toronto has recently received. 

“Islamophobia and right wing extremism have no place in our country or our communities. We must always stand united against hate or intolerance of any kind,” said Trudeau, who called the threats “unacceptable”

Trudeau was asked to comment on Quebec Premier Francois Legault, who continues to deny that “systemic racism” exists in his respective province. The prime minister said he won’t comment on a specific premier, but said that all leaders need to come together to recognize our reality. 

“The federal government has known for a long time that recognizing systemic racism is the first necessary step toward reconciliation, to removing real barriers and the violence that’s been brought more often against Indigenous people and other visible minorities,” said Trudeau in French. 

Trudeau responds to Conservatives on WE Charity scandal

On Tuesday, Trudeau made it clear that his focus is on helping Canadians instead of spending more time on the WE Charity scandal, which the Conservatives continue to aggressively pursue. 

A day earlier, the Conservatives said that they want MPs to create an anti-corruption committee to investigate the WE Charity issue. Trudeau has come under fire for his family’s ties to the charity, since the Liberals chose it to administer a multimillion-dollar Canada Student Service Grant program.

“The Conservatives continue to want to focus on WE Charity, so be it,” said Trudeau. “We’ve been open and transparent on these questions, but the Conservatives continue to focus on that a lot. They certainly can. We will stay focused on Canadians, while we let committees do their work independently.”

On Tuesday, Trudeau also said that while Conservatives were in office, there were “massive cuts to science and the marginalization of scientific voices,” which has impacted the current government’s ability to respond to the pandemic. 

“There was a putting aside of experts, in an attempt to cut the budget cut the deficit at all costs on the backs of Canadians.”

On the other hand, Trudeau said his government had made “historic investments in science” to restore many of the cuts from the previous 10 years. 

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