(December 22, 2020) — The Ontario government has taken strong action to reinforce public health messaging that Ontarians should stay home as much as possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

Yesterday, Premier Ford announced a province-wide shutdown beginning this Saturday, December 26th as 12:01am. The goal of the shutdown is to limit travel across the province to help prevent potential spread of COVID-19 while protecting health care capacity across Ontario.

“We can all help save lives by staying home and wearing a mask when we must be out,” said Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott.

The latest modelling data shows that cases are expected to continue to grow, with multiple models predicting rates of at least 1,500 cases per day for several weeks under current restrictions. Based on what we’ve seen in other jurisdictions, “hard lock-downs” of 4–6 weeks could reduce Ontario’s case numbers to less a thousand per day and possibly even lower.

“Additional restrictions will be challenging for many members of our communities, but we need to initiate changes to preserve hospital capacity and protect the health and wellbeing of healthcare workers as hospitalizations and intensive care cases continue to rise,” said Denise Hardenne, President & CEO, Halton Healthcare. “Our staff and physicians have been doing an exemplary job responding to the care needs of patients with COVID-19 and other illnesses since the pandemic began but this level of strain on the system is not sustainable.”

“Our community must remain committed to doing whatever is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.” said Parm Gill, MPP for Milton. “This strong action, announced today, is needed to preserve capacity in our health care system, and make sure our intensive care units (ICU) can continue to save lives.”

“Washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask and limiting contact with others, are simple things you can do to protect your health, while helping to prevent more vulnerable people from becoming infected.” said Jane McKenna, MPP for Burlington. “Right now the best way to preserve hospital capacity — and thank the amazing front-line healthcare workers at Joseph Brant for their sacrifice during the nearly year-long fight against COVID-19 — is to stay close to home.”

“With outbreaks spreading, hospital beds filling up and transmission rates rising across Ontario, the time to act is now. Every time you wash your hands, put on a mask, practice physical distancing and stop yourself from going out unless it’s absolutely essential, you’re helping our hardworking staff here at Joseph Brant Hospital,” said Eric Vandewall, President & CEO, Joseph Brant Hospital. “You are keeping them safe, you’re making sure that there’s a bed available for the people who need it, and you are preventing a crisis in our healthcare system. We need your help. Our community has supported us since the beginning of this pandemic, and we are grateful to all of you for your support at this critical time.”

“As Ontario continues to deal with the pandemic, we must continue to follow public health guidelines,” said Stephen Crawford, MPP for Oakville. “Please stay home and minimize social interactions, it saves lives.  Leave your home only for essential trips. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and our community will get through this.”

“Ontario is facing a strong rise in cases during the second wave of COVID-19 and we can only flatten the curve if we all work together,” said Oakville-North Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos. “I encourage everyone in our community to make only essential trips for groceries, medications, medical appointments, or work during the lockdown period. We need to support our hospitals and frontline healthcare workers by stopping the spread.”