Ontario health minister says premier has 'been around' after last public appearance three weeks ago
TORONTO -- In the three weeks since Ontario unveiled its vaccine certificate program, Premier Doug Ford has been notably absent from the public eye, with the exception of videos posted to social media and a virtual address last week in Toronto.
Health Minister Christine Elliott was asked about the premier’s whereabouts during a news conference on Friday, to which she replied he has “been around.”
“Premier Ford is working every day to try and help limit the effects of COVID-19, trying to convince people to please go and get their vaccinations. That’s going to be the most important thing,” Elliott said.
“He’s also working right now on trying to revive our economy, getting people back to work, and bringing businesses to Ontario.”
The premier, who hosted daily news conferences at the beginning of the pandemic, last took questions from reporters on Sept. 1 when the province revealed the details of its vaccine certificate, a concept Ford had rebuffed saying such a program would create a “split society.”
In the face of Ontario’s fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and after British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba introduced their own systems, the Progressive Conservative government announced the program would go into effect on Sept. 22, though Ford said its introduction was not something he wanted to do.
"This is a temporary tool that we won't use any longer than we have to but ... I know that this is what we have to do right now in the face of the fourth wave because these certificates are necessary to keep our hospitals safe and to avoid another lockdown," he said at the time.
The program was subject to some criticism in the days and weeks following its unveiling with many asking how the certificate would be enforced, how fraud would be prevented, and how potential loopholes may be exploited.
Elliott answered some of those questions earlier this week when additional details about the program were released.
Employees at non-essential businesses, like restaurants, movie theatres, and sport facilities will need to lean on local police forces if they feel threatened when asking for the certificate, though Elliott said she does not expect the demand for calls to 911 to be significant.
“If at any point they feel threatened, we want them to call 911 as soon as possible to make sure that our police officers can be there to assist,” Elliott said Tuesday.
Elliott went on to ask people to be “reasonable” when asked for the passport starting next week.