TORONTO — While people reel from the news that Doug Ford’s government will withhold COVID testing from almost everyone, Doug Ford has also decided to stop reporting child care and school cases of the virus — a move that’s terrifying for parents, say NDP Child Care critic Bhutila Karpoche and Education critic Marit Stiles.
Two memos from Ontario’s Ministry of Education confirm that the Ford government will “suspend reporting of COVID-19 cases in child care” and will “suspend reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools.”
“Doug Ford is leaving our littlest kids unprotected, and even going so far as to stop testing and reporting — he’s trying to hide the damage, and the danger of his choices. How are parents supposed to make decisions to keep their kids safe?,” said Karpoche. “I’m hearing from parents who are afraid, furious, and thrown into crisis because they can’t take their kids to child care now. It’s not ok to leave anyone at heighted risk of getting the virus, and when it comes to unvaccinated little ones under five, it’s atrocious. Babies cannot be collateral damage for Ford’s attempt to cover up the COVID numbers.”
Children under five cannot be vaccinated. Many child care centres have been requiring negative PCR tests for a child to return after symptoms like a runny nose, but Doug Ford is no longer allowing children to get those tests, and is denying kids in child care at-home collection PCR tests. He’s also denying N95 masks for staff in child care centres – which the NDP also wants changed.
Stiles said hiding school case and outbreak information is also troubling.
“Ford’s attempt to cover up COVID numbers in schools is going to hurt kids, families, teachers and education workers,” said Stiles. “Parents have to decide to send their kids to school not knowing if the school has a high number of COVID cases. If we can’t track where the virus is, we can’t fight it. Ford is treating students and staff like pawns in his attempt to hide rising COVID numbers.”
Andrea Horwath, Karpoche, Stiles and the NDP are calling on Ford to reverse his decision to stop reporting school and child care COVID cases, reverse his decision to withhold COVID testing from millions of people, and are calling for faster booster shots and stronger contact tracing.