Premier renews calls for Ottawa to tighten border rules over variant concerns

Ford also anticipating release of long-term care report

Ontario’s Premier is calling on the federal government to tighten up border crossings amid concern over new COVID-19 variants.

Premier Doug Ford held his first media conference in over a week on Friday to urge the Trudeau government to halt all but essential travel across Canada’s land and air borders. “Last week, the new Indian variant was reported here in Ontario. And it didn’t swim here. I can tell you that,” said Ford while still in self-isolation following a COVID-19 exposure last week. “I can’t stress this enough: we will never get ahead of this virus if we can’t keep these deadly new variants out of our country. The borders, land and air, they’re federal jurisdiction.” Ford said, were he to have the power, he’d close Toronto’s Pearson International Airport immediately.

Ford went so far as to suggest there could be a COVID-19 variant that could be resistant to existing vaccines. “I would do everything in my power to stop the vaccine-resistant variant from getting into our country and bringing a fourth wave with it,” he said on Friday. Laboratory tests show the recently discovered B.1.617 variant out of India does have some resistances to the antibodies produced by existing vaccines, but further experimentation is required.

The Premier pointed the finger at the federal government for not tightening the border shortly after telling Ontarians the buck stopped with him. “I will not stand here and try to make excuses or pass the blame. But I will stand here and tell you that I’m doing everything in my power as premier,” he said, in reference to an upcoming report on the state of Long-Term Care in Ontario. “As difficult as it may be, as hard as it might be, to read, I fully welcome this report. Because what happened in our long-term care homes, it was tragic. And it was terrible. But most of all, it can never be allowed to happen again,” he said.