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COVID-19 disrupts Ontario campaign as NDP’s Andrea Horwath and Greens’ Mike Schreiner test positive

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath greets supporters as she exits a campaign rally in Brampton, Ontario May 14, 2022. Ms Horwath and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner have both tested positive for COVID-19.Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner have tested positive for COVID-19, disrupting their campaigns and bringing renewed attention to the pandemic as an election issue two weeks before Election Day.

Both Ms Horwath and Mr Schreiner made their campaign announcements remotely on Thursday after sharing their test results and that they were in isolation.

Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford and Liberal leader Steven Del Duca continued their in-person campaign rallies Thursday, each publicly stating they have tested negative for COVID-19.

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On Monday, the four party leaders appeared together for a televised debate at TVO Studios in Toronto. Mr Del Duca said on Thursday that participants in the debate at TVO wore masks indoors except on the podium for the live exchange hosted by journalists Steve Paikin and Althia Raj.

The NDP and Greens leaders’ positive COVID-19 findings are a reminder that despite the silence surrounding the unresolved issue, the pandemic is not over, according to John Atkinson, executive director of the Ontario Public Health Association. On Wednesday, Public Health Ontario reported 1,565 new COVID-19 cases.

“It also shows the lack of leaders in the parties speaking about the importance of public health and community health,” Mr Atkinson said, adding that previous public health funding cuts linked to the pandemic have left local entities ” weakened”. While public health personnel have been redeployed over the past two years to address COVID-19, areas such as immunizations, food safety, addiction and disease prevention have suffered, he said.

Mr Atkinson would also like to hear more from party leaders on how to strengthen and rebuild public and community health not only to prepare for the next health crisis but also to address current challenges.

As advance polls opened up across the province, Ms Horwath on Thursday expressed disappointment that her tour of northern Ontario was canceled because of her positive COVID-19 test. She appeared in a planned Sault Ste. Marie announcement via video from Ottawa. Brampton NDP candidates, meanwhile, were in Vaughan to announce plans to reduce Highway 407 tolls for all trucks and vans. The goal is to shift truck traffic to the private road for at least a decade, which the NDP said would alleviate gridlock by diverting thousands of vehicles a day and reducing costs for truck drivers.

While Ms Horwath said she was experiencing symptoms, Mr Schreiner said he was feeling fine and determined to adjust his campaign when speaking on Zoom on Thursday. He announced his party’s water conservation plans, which include a moratorium on gravel mining until proper environmental protection is in place.

“To be clear, the Ontario Greens are committed to stopping Doug Ford from paving our future,” he said.

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Mr Ford was in the Niagara area on Thursday to announce plans to build a new and expanded freeway bridge over the Welland Canal for Toronto-bound vehicles and to refurbish the existing Garden City Skyway Bridge to better serve Niagara-bound commuters to be able to The bridge partnership, he added, could also benefit cross-border trade.

Asked if Ms Horwath and Mr Schreiner’s positive COVID-19 results would change his campaign approach, Mr Ford said, “No, we will always continue to follow the chief medical officer’s protocols.” The PC leader encouraged residents of Ontario to continue to follow official medical advice.

During Mr Del Duca’s announcement in Mississauga on Thursday, the Ontario Liberal leader said he left voicemails with his Green Party opponents and the NDP leadership, wishing them well and later explaining to media questions that COVID-19 was over party politics go out As a close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, Mr. Del Duca said he would be adhering to health guidelines and testing himself daily.

“We still have to be aware of the fact that we’re not quite through yet,” he said.

Mr. Del Duca reiterated his party’s affordability promises such as buck-a-ride transit and cutting the HST of ready meals below $20. He also said the Liberal Party will cut gas taxes by 5.7 cents a liter and fuel taxes by 5.3 cents a liter by July 1 – in line with legislation the PCs tabled last month.

Want to learn more about the Ontario election from our journalists? Subscribe to Vote of Confidencea twice-weekly newsletter dedicated to the key issues of this campaign, arriving in your inbox from May 17th until Election Day, June 2nd.

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