COVID-19 in Canada: Stricter COVID-19 restrictions in some areas of Ontario; Quebec cancels Christmas gatherings in red zones

Elisabetta Bianchini
·7 min read
COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

‘I’m the guy who’s stealing Christmas to keep you safe’

In an emotional speech at the end of a press conference on Thursday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said “you don’t need to like me” after the province implemented strict COVID-19 restrictions.

“I hope in years to come you might respect me for having the guts to tell you the right thing, and here’s the right thing, stay safe, protect each other, love each other, care for each other...but don’t get together this Christmas.”

“I am the person who has come forward here in front of you 75 times and has asked you to do things you have never done before, and has asked you to do that everyday...I don’t like saying it but it’s got to be said, someone has to say it and so I’m the one who took on this job to say it.”

The premier went on to say that anyone who doesn’t believe COVID-19 is real is an “idiot” and staying away from people outside your household and taking actions to limit potential exposure is what’s needed to save lives.

“I’m the guy who’s stealing Christmas to keep you safe because you need to do this now, you need to do the right thing because next year we’ll have lots to celebrate,” Pallister said.

“Know this about me, I did not get into politics for the adulation, I got into politics to do the right thing, try to save my town, try to help people. I do what I believe is right, I do what I believe is necessary, this is what you need right now.”

Manitobans will be ‘at the back of the line’ for COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier on in the press conference, Manitoba’s premier said the federal government’s planned allocations for COVID-19 vaccines puts Manitobans “at the back of the line.”

“The federal government is telling us that they are going to distribute the vaccine on a per capita basis based on the population, that sounds good if you don’t think beyond that simplicity,” Pallister said. “They are also telling us that they are going to hold back the portion of our vaccines for Manitoba that they would then allocate to Indigenous and First Nations communities.”

“What that would mean then is that Manitobans who do not live in northern Indigenous communities would be the least likely to get a vaccine in the country. There would be the least amount available in Manitoba, after the federal government holds back the portion for Indigenous people, of any province in Canada.”

The premier stressed that Manitoba has the highest proportion of Indigenous people of any province and the federal government needs to recognize Manitoba’s “unique needs” by “providing an additional allocation of vaccines for Manitoba to use in First Nations communities first and to do this across the country.”

“Thus far, the federal government has provided us with very little concrete information but what information we have gleaned gives us much to be concerned about,” Pallister said. “The federal government’s allocation approach is going to hurt Manitoba and it’s going to put Manitobans at a disadvantaged position.”

Stricter COVID-19 restrictions in some areas of Ontario to be announced Friday

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, revealed that an announcement will be made about certain areas of the province moving into more restrictive levels of the reopening framework on Friday. He did not confirm if any regions will be moving into lockdown.

“These trends and directions, while on a per capita basis we may say, well we’re better than some of the other provinces at this time, it doesn’t give us much reason to be sitting back and doing nothing,” Dr. Williams said. “We have to be concerned and we are certainly watching and concerned about our other provinces around us and their issues.”

Dr. Dirk Huyer, coordinator of the provincial outbreak response, reported 845 outbreaks in Ontario in the last 30 days and 233 over seven days, as of Dec. 1.

From a day-to-day perspective, a “large number of outbreaks” continue to be reported, ranging from over 20 to 40 in the past week. Dr. Huyer also identified that outbreaks are being reported across the province, including locations that have largely be spared to date.

Of the outbreaks in Ontario, about one-third are in the vulnerable sector, (long-term care homes, retirement homes, continuing care, hospitals, group homes, etc.) and just less than a third are in schools and daycares. The remainder are in public facing workplaces like restaurants, short-term accommodations, places of worship and recreational fitness.

“All of these represent the widespread nature of the community spread,” Dr. Huyer said.

When asked about any mandatory requirements around vaccines, Dr. Williams said no one can be forced to be immunized but there may be a requirement for mandatory proof of immunization for people to go into a particular setting, without any additional protections in place, like in schools and long-term care facilities.

Quebec cancels Christmas gatherings in red zones

Quebec Premier Francois Legault backtracked on the plan for Quebecers to gather for four days over the holidays, between Dec. 24 and 27, with self-isolation a week before and after that period.

“With the numbers we have, it’s unrealistic to think that we’ll be able to change the situation in time for Christmas,” Legault said at a press conference on Thursday. “Gathering in red zones won’t be allowed for Christmas.”

“We were able to stabilize the number of new cases after a fist increase in September but now it has increased again. If we continue in this direction, hospitals will start to overflow. We have a limited number of nurses and our nurses are very tired.”

The premier went on to say that people will be able to visit individuals who live alone.

“I know we’d all like to see our family but it’s not a good idea,” Legault said. “The virus is very dangerous, we need to stay home and get some rest and we have to take care of one another.”

“I want the message to be very clear, right now the situation doesn’t look good and it’s not realistic that we’ll have those two days at Christmas.”

Ontario cases jump up past 1,800

Ontario reported 1,824 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 592 cases in Peel, 396 in Toronto and 187 in York Region.

A note from the province indicates that Thursday’s daily case count includes cases from the Middlesex-London Health Unit over the past three days.

The province confirmed 14 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 3,712.

There are currently 666 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, including 195 in ICUs.

An outbreak has been declared at 115 long-term care homes at the moment, which involves 707 active resident cases and 553 active staff cases.

Ontario reported 122 new school-related COVID-19 cases, including 94 student cases and 28 staff cases.

Quebec cases slightly below 1,500

Quebec reported 1,470 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 373 cases in Montreal, 167 cases in the Quebec City region, 149 cases in Lanaudière and 145 cases in Montérégie.

The province confirmed 30 more COVID-19 deaths, including 12 that occurred in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 737 in Quebec hospitals in COVID-19, including 99 in intensive care.

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