Queen's Park unveils new proof of vaccination requirements, impacting MPPs
TORONTO -- Unvaccinated MPPs could be prevented from entering Queen’s Park when the legislature resumes in October unless they get tested for COVID-19, according to a new directive from the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Ted Arnott – who presides over the Legislative Assembly as Speaker — issued a memo to “everyone seeking to enter the legislative precinct” that the COVID-19 protocols are being enhanced effective Oct. 4, when the Lieutenant Governor will deliver a throne speech on behalf of Premier Doug Ford.
Arnott said everyone would be required to provide either proof of full vaccination or proof of a recent negative rapid antigen test. The memo didn’t include any considerations for unvaccinated individuals with a medical exemption, suggesting they too would have to submit to routine antigen testing.
While its unclear how many staff at Queen’s Park would be impacted, the new rules could prevent at least two sitting MPPs from being able to enter the legislature without a COVID-19 test.
MPP for Chatham—Kent—Leamington, Rick Nicholls, who currently serves as the Deputy Speaker, chose to remain unvaccinated and was ejected from the Ontario Progressive Conservative party last month as a result.
Christina Mitas, the MPP for Scarborough Centre, was also given an ultimatum by Premier Doug Ford to get the COVID-19 vaccine or leave the party, but was allowed to remain on the government benches – unvaccinated – after providing the government with a medical exemption.
The government has not revealed the nature of Mitas’s medical exemption.
Randy Hillier, a former PC MPP for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston who was removed from the party in 2019, expressed his disdain for the new rules.
“It is an unlawful directive,” Hiller told CTVNews Toronto in a text message, without elaborating.
Hillier, who has not publicly revealed his vaccination status, has tangled with legislative security staff during the pandemic over mandatory masking rules. Hillier wouldn’t say whether he plans on challenging the new rules.