Doug Ford got on the defensive with the media at his briefing on Monday when he was asked if his government would make public the advice it receives from various COVID-19 advisory teams.
The premier was asked about reports participants had to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) to take part, after Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health confirmed the city’s public health staff had to sign NDAs to participate in discussions held by the provincial health measures table.
Ford said the public could get all the information they needed by tuning into his media briefings.
“I don’t know of any other government across Canada that’s been more transparent,” responded Ford when asked about sharing the advice he receives with the public. “What I know is people find out (the advice) and they find out at one o’clock every single day.”
The Toronto Board of Health voted unanimously to ask the government to make the advice from groups advising the premier and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams public.
When pressed again, the premier sidestepped and said that he would continue being transparent.
“I am the only elected official in the entire country that comes out here every single day, never missed a day unless it’s a holiday, and takes questions from the media and tough questions too,” said Ford. “I don’t shy away from it at all. I’m going to continue coming out every day informing the people of Ontario.”
Ford has said from day one when the pandemic began that he would take the advice of Williams and members of Ontario’s public health measures table in determining what restrictions to impose.
What advice the premier receives has remained confidential, which has left the public in the dark about how the government arrives at the decisions it makes regarding COVID-19.
Last week, the Toronto Star reported, based on documents the newspaper obtained, that suggested thresholds for the different categories in the province’s tiered framework for COVID-19 restrictions were raised much higher than what was first recommended.
Ford said then the framework was given to him by Williams and his advisors, then a day later, the premier lowered the indicators as to how regions are placed in the colour-coded tiers.
He admitted that Williams made the changes following release of new modelling which warned the province could see 6,500 daily infections by December.
The premier was also asked how much the holiday shopping season played into his decision on whether to go into a lockdown.
Ford said nothing was more important than the health and safety of the people.
“We’ll always have other celebrations and we’ll always have other Christmases. But if the numbers continue to spike, as I said before, I won’t hesitate to lock things down.”
Ford said he was sorry for a lot of small businesses.
“But it’s better to have a healthy and safe community.”