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

Kaleb Robertson at bat during the 18UAAA North Island Cubs season opener against the Cowichan Valley Mustangs on June 19, 2021. Photo by Sean Feagan / Black Press Media.
PHOTOS: Minor baseball players and fans welcome return to play

18UAAA Cubs start regular season action after long wait with convincing win against Mustangs

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

New literacy framework will allow teachers to assess whether students have the necessary skills to become strong readers, and intervene early if they need help. Photo by Marissa Tiel/Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River school board creating new literacy framework

New plan aims to reverse declining literacy in SD72

Duncan Hurd says his fence has been smashed multiple times in the past month. Photo courtesy Duncan Hurd
Vandalism escalating in Campbell River neighbourhood, resident says

Neighbours want to see vandals ‘identified’

Kandi Kehler has just over two weeks left in her rental, but doesn’t know where she is going to go next. Photo by Marc Kitteringham / Campbell River Mirror
12 days left: Campbell River family at end of lease with nowhere else to go

Biggest fear coming to life for Campbell River mom

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Most Read