Fed up over tighter pandemic restrictions, demonstrators hit the streets of Toronto Saturday (April 17) carrying signs saying “unjust laws are meant to be broken.”
The demonstrations come against a back drop of rising cases of COVID-19.
Ontario, home to 38 percent of Canada’s population, had 4,362 new infections on Saturday after a record of 4,812 cases on Friday (April 16), and projections indicate the virus could spike to 10,000 per day in June without more strict health restrictions.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, increasingly under fire for mishandling the province’s pandemic response, on Friday gave police the authority to stop anyone driving or walking to ask them to explain their reason for leaving home, and ticket them if in breach of the rules.
In recent weeks, Ontario has closed schools, restaurants, limited in-store shopping, and canceled elective surgeries as a surge of admissions threatened to overwhelm hospitals. On Friday it also shut down some construction work, but not warehouses or factories.
Critics say Ford abandoned a previous stay-at-home order too soon, allowing current spike in cases that is putting hospitals under pressure. On Friday, Ford blamed the federal government for the third wave, saying it had been too slow to ramp up vaccinations and too lenient at the borders.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canadian government would help hard hit Toronto, the province’s capital and the country’s largest city.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to help,” Trudeau told reporters. “Discussions are ongoing about extra healthcare providers, and we are ready to step up.”
Trudeau said Canada had agreed to purchase 8 million extra doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, including 4 million to be delivered in May, nearly doubling Pfizer’s shipments that month. Federal officials had previously said most Canadians should receive a first dose by the end of June.
(Production: Kyaw Soe Oo, Deborah Lutterbeck )