Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to invoke the Emergency Measures Act in Ontario as the province grapples with the third wave of COVID-19.
Trudeau raised the possibility of invoking the act in April of 2020, but premiers across the country opposed it.
The act, which has never been used, gives the federal government the power to override provincial laws to ensure “safety and security” during national emergencies.
Singh argued that declaring an emergency in Ontario would help ensure a “more coordinated” delivery of vaccines to those who need them most, such as essential workers.
“Canada is not yet receiving enough vaccines, and vaccines have been slow to arrive. In some places, this means that vaccines are not available to those in danger,” Singh wrote.
“The most glaring example of this is in the city of Toronto, where the wealthiest neighbourhoods have higher rates of vaccination than neighbourhoods where racialized and working-class people live – and which have higher levels of COVID-19 positivity.”
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Declaring an emergency in Ontario would also allow workers to take paid sick days and time off to get a vaccine, both of which would help stop the spread of the virus.
Singh clarified that he believes the act should only be invoked where it is needed and not Canada-wide.
“Many provinces have taken steps to contain the virus and distribute vaccines to priority
populations,” Singh wrote. “Ontario is a glaring exception.”
“There is still time to change the course of the pandemic. There is still time to save lives. But we have to act.”
Currently, 2,202 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 across Ontario, including 755 who are in the ICU. To date, the province has seen 421,442 virus cases and 7,735 deaths.