CUPE Ontario is raising alarm bells about an explosive report in today’s Toronto Star illustrating how the Ford Conservatives are ignoring some of Ontario’s top public health experts, by setting thresholds four times higher in new COVID-19 guidelines than those recommended by public health specialists.

“What is being reported today goes beyond ‘spin’, said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “The Ford Conservatives are actually lying to us. When our provincial government says it is guided by health professionals’ advice, and by science, and then we learn they completely ignored that advice in the new re-opening plans, well that is downright dangerous. We are setting new, daily records of COVID-19 cases and seeing hospitalizations and deaths increase.”

“Not only is the new colour-coded scale nearly incomprehensible to many of us who have been dealing with this pandemic for eight long months, we now learn it’s dangerously inadequate compared to public health professional’s advice to keep us safe,” said Hahn.

Ontario reported a record breaking 1,575 new COVID-19 cases today, following the weekly trend of record-breaking new cases. Speaking to the Toronto Star, Dr. Shelley Deeks, the Chief Health Protection Officer for Public Health Ontario, said the Ford Conservatives’ higher-than-recommended thresholds, “surprised” her and that she is “not in agreement with the indicators as they are currently written in the framework”.

Last week the Ontario Government released its budget plan, which they told Ontarians was focused on three themes: Protect, Support, and Recover. Some raised concerns that while the budget speech certainly sounded like additional resources were being spent to fight the second wave of COVID-19, it wasn’t clear those funds would ever make its way to the front line of the battle against the global pandemic.

“We know that Financial Accountability Officer has already detailed how the Ford Conservatives are sitting on over $9 billion in collective resources earmarked for COVID-19 that have not been spent. We need those resources invested in the frontline public services that keep us all safe,” said Hahn. “CUPE Ontario members are on the frontline of this pandemic, in hospitals and long-term care homes, in our schools and universities, in cities and towns across the province, and in agencies and community social services like shelters, and group homes, supporting the most vulnerable. This betrayal by the Ford Conservatives is not only an affront to their superhuman efforts, it will make their lives, and the lives of those they support even less safe.”

“Its not too late to do the right thing here.” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “The Conservatives have an opportunity to reboot, to change their system to respect science, and to actually move resources to front line services across the province to quell this second wave. But time is running out. I hope Doug Ford doesn’t let politics and ego get in the way of doing what our communities need and the science demands.”