In order to maintain flexibility during the pandemic, the provincial government is looking at keeping the existing emergency orders in place for up to a year after the state of emergency ends.
Premier Doug Ford announced the plan Tuesday, saying it will allow the government to move quickly when it comes to public health measures.
If passed, emergency orders, like social gathering limits, would stay in place for an initial 30 days after the declaration of emergency expires.
After that, the bill gives the solicitor general the power to extend the orders by 30 additional days at a time, for up to one year.
No new emergency order can be created, but some existing ones can be amended.
If it is safe to do so, individual emergency orders can be repealed at any time.
“If passed, the proposed legislation would allow us to chart a responsible path to economic reopening and recovery without putting all the progress we’ve made in fighting this virus at risk,” said Premier Ford. “Even as we continue certain emergency orders under the proposed legislation to protect public health, we will always be a government accountable to the people of Ontario. That’s why I will ensure ongoing updates are provided and that a report is tabled within four months of the anniversary of this proposed Act coming into force.”
Ford also denied that the move amounts to a “power grab,” noting the potential for a resurgence in cases over the coming year.
“While the declaration of emergency may come to an end shortly, the risk posed by COVID-19 is likely to be with us for some time to come,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “This new legislation would provide the government with the necessary flexibility to ensure select tools remain in place to protect vulnerable populations, such as seniors, and respond to this deadly virus.”
Even if the provincial state of emergency ends, as scheduled, on July 15, municipalities are still able to continue individual states of emergency.