Health Minister Christine Elliot suggests Ontario is looking good compared to one of the places worst-hit by COVID-19 in the world
While Ontario’s COVID-19 cases continue to surge, Doug Ford’s health Minister is seeking to reassure Ontarians by reminding them that their province is still doing better than Florida.
Florida, the third worst-hit state in the entire United States, is run by a Republican governor who has refused to take even basic steps to protect his citizens.
Things aren’t going so well in Ontario. This week, the province’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 3,415 as the province’s daily average rose to 1,422 new infections.
During question period on Monday, Health Minister Christine Elliott responded to a question about Premier Ford’s widely-criticized COVID-19 response by stating:
I think it’s also really important to bear this in some sort of context. When you look at the number of cases per 100,000: Ontario, 649, compared to places like Florida, 4,089, or even Québec —
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida currently has the third-highest COVID-19 infection rate in the United States. Florida’s Republican lawmakers have insisted bars, nightclubs and schools remain open at full capacity.
A total of 17,500 Floridians have died of COVID-19. The state’s Senate President warned yesterday: “I think we’re going into an elevated level of COVID in the next few weeks, and it’s going to continue to elevate as we have more community spread.”
Elliot’s attempt to contrast Ontario with Florida brought about groans from the official opposition, who later criticized the statement on Twitter:
You know it’s bad when the Minister of Health starts comparing us to FLORIDA.
(See below Hansard of Debate Nov 16, 2020) pic.twitter.com/4KkLnyYtSR
— Marit Stiles (@maritstiles) November 17, 2020
Québec, which has been called Canada’s “coronavirus epicentre,” currently has the highest COVID-19 cases of any Canadian province, surpassing 100,000 cases in late October. That pushed Québec past the national cases per 1,000,000 people and the cases per 1,000,000 in many other countries.
So far, as PressProgress reported previously, Ontario’s infection rate and death count ranks second in the country only to Quebec. Federal government data shows Ontario’s total infections stands at 96,745 — second to Quebec’s 126,054 total cases.
Elliot’s comments are not the first time members of Doug Ford’s government have attempted to paint a rosy picture of the province by drawing comparisons to states in the American South.
Earlier this year, Education Minister Stephen Lecce pointed to Alabama as a model for the government’s controversial education overhauls.