AUDITOR-GENERAL: ONTARIO'S RESPONSE TO PANDEMIC SLOWER THAN OTHER PROVINCES

Nov 25, 2020

By Bob Komsic

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The Ford government’s response to COVID-19 was slower and more reactive than that of other provinces.
So says Ontario’s auditor-general, Bonnie Lysyk, who says that’s because it was hampered by ”delays and confusion in decision-making.”
Health Minister Christine Elliott begs to differ.
”That’s simply not the case (that the province was slow), we acted very quickly.  We were the first to register coronavirus as an infectious disease that had to be reported, which allowed for the local medical officers of health to be ready for that, to be searching for it, to do the case and contact management and to do the testing. ” Elliott pointed out.
The auditor-general also found outdated provincial emergency plans played a role in slowing down response last winter and spring, as did systemic issues such as a lack of lab surge capacity and old IT systems.
Lysyk also points to the command structure, saying it was not led by public health expertise, despite the creation and expansion of a provincial health command table, that she says, has grown to more than 500 people.
In addition, the auditor-general says Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, did not fully exercise his powers in responding to COVID-19, or issue directives to local health officials to ensure a consistent approach across regions.
Such talk angers Premier Doug Ford.
“To sit in the office, and throw hand grenades at Dr. Williams, and his team and the minister of health, is totally unacceptable,” Ford said.
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