Ford won't commit to lower class sizes, while Ontario sees fewer than 100 new COVID-19 cases
About 90% of total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ontario considered resolved
Ontario Premier Doug Ford faced a string of questions about his government's plan to reopen schools in September, with many asking why, despite a recent report by SickKids emphasizing the importance of small class sizes.
At a news conference Wednesday, Ford was asked about the possibility of capping class sizes as students return to the classroom.
Ford would not commit to doing that, saying the province has some of the lowest student to instructor ratios in the country, especially up to Grade 3. In kindergarten for example though, that still means potentially 30 children in a single class, Ford acknowledged.
"Is it going to be perfect? No," Ford said.
Parents who aren't comfortable sending their children to school have the option of keeping them at home in September, Ford added.
"I personally feel we have the best plan in the entire country," Ford said. "We have two options here. We bring the kids to school, which I'm hearing the vast majority of parents want to get back to normal ... or keep your kids at home and you do online courses.
NDP slams Ford's decision to 'dig in his heels'
"I get it, not all parents are going to be 100 per cent comfortable. I wish I had the magical wand to say everyone is going to be perfectly fine. Let's see. We're relying on the best health minds in the country."
NDP Opposition leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement following the news conference she was "horrified today to hear Doug Ford dig in his heels and refuse to reconsider his plan."
"Thirty or more kids crammed into one small classroom wasn't okay before the pandemic when Mr. Ford was cutting teachers and education workers and hiking class sizes. Now, it's downright dangerous," Horwath said.
The premier also told reporters he expects 38 per cent of any vaccines procured in Canada to be allocated to Ontario. On Wednesday, the federal government announced it has entered two agreements to secure millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines.
Also on Wednesday, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa Macleod was asked why certain attractions, such as Canada's Wonderland, have not yet been allowed to reopen.
Water parks, theme parks still pose risks, province says
Macleod responded that the province's command table, including Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, has advised that theme parks and waterparks still pose a threat amid COVID-19 and that the province is continuing to assess the situation.
In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Canada's Wonderland said the theme park is "disappointed" it still hasn't received approval, saying it has submitted plans to the province that include physical distancing, capacity control and hygiene protocols that meet or exceed Ontario's requirements for reopening.
"We will continue to work with the Ontario government and hope to welcome guests back soon to a fun and safe environment," said spokesperson Grace Peacock.
Ontario reported 86 additional cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, marking the third consecutive day with fewer than 100 newly-confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus in the province.
Toronto, Ottawa, Peel, York and Chatham-Kent were the only public health units with 10 or more new cases. Twenty-two of the province's 34 health units reported no new cases at all.
All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health's daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid the lag times in the provincial system.
No additional deaths reported today
Ontario has now seen a total of 39,714 confirmed instances of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late January. Provincial public health officials consider a full 90 per cent of those cases resolved.
Another 146 were marked resolved in today's update, meaning there are now fewer than 1,200 known active infections of the novel coronavirus provincewide.
Meanwhile, the number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness fell to 66 from 78. That figure has fallen more than 90 per cent from its peak in May. Thirty patients are being treated in intensive care units, while 15 are on ventilators.
The Ministry of Health's official COVID-19 death toll stayed steady at 2,782, with no additional deaths reported today. A CBC News count based on more timely data from public health units puts the real toll at 2,818 as of yesterday evening.