Doug Ford draws fire for comments during top doctor’s vacation

Premier Doug Ford is under fire for claiming Dr. Kieran Moore had a COVID-19 conference call with local health officials and was “on the job 24/7” when the chief medical officer was on a Caribbean holiday.

“It’s not about Dr. Moore serving a vacation. I’m sure we all agree that he does. It’s about the premier providing accurate information,” New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath said Tuesday.

The criticism followed a Monday news conference by Moore, who increased PCR testing and access to the antiviral drug Paxlovid, but rejected calls to bring back mandatory masking in schools and other essential public places.

Both Moore and the government had been under pressure to hold a public briefing on the state of the pandemic. Before Monday, Moore’s last media appearance was March 9.

Health Minister Christine Elliott defended the government in the legislature’s question period Tuesday, noting Moore is one of many experts in the government’s public health department.

“The people of Ontario did get the information that they needed,” she said.

“While Dr. Moore was away, we had an acting chief medical officer of health … as well as five assistant medical officers of health, who were closely following the situation in Ontario and Dr. Moore was in regular contact with them.”

Provincial officials have repeatedly advised Ontarians to wear masks in crowded indoor spaces, and get vaccinations and boosters to blunt the impact of the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant of Omicron.

Moore also faced scrutiny for appearing maskless on live television in the Queen’s Park media studio Monday — even though he reminded viewers that anyone returning from abroad is required to use a face covering in public for 14 days after their return.

“Dr. Moore was seated alone, more than six feet apart from anyone else, and put his mask back on immediately after the press conference,” Elliott’s ministry responded in a statement. “This is the same process that has been followed by the prime minister upon returning from Europe.”

Ford’s remarks about Moore were made last Wednesday at an Etobicoke school where he announced help for Ukrainian refugees and fielded questions about his government’s handling of the pandemic.

“Dr. Moore is one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met. He never stays. He works around the clock for the people of Ontario,” Ford told reporters at the time.

“Yesterday he had a meeting with all public health officers throughout the province. He is on the job 24/7 looking at the figures, looking at the stats and giving myself and our cabinet advice. And he’s done an incredible job from Day 1.”

Liberal House Leader John Fraser said Ford “should have known” Moore was away.

“Here’s the thing that’s really the bigger problem right now. It’s the level of indifference in this government to what’s going on in the sixth wave.”

Moore said Monday it makes “tremendous sense” to keep mandatory masking on public transit, in hospitals and nursing homes past the scheduled April 27 expiry, but that there will be no return to other masking requirements because hospitals can handle increasing volumes of cases.


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