Ontario Premier rebuffs Kingston’s request for ‘local flexibility’

At a press conference on Wednesday morning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford rebuffed Kingston City Council’s request for more local autonomy in lifting the restrictions in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, likening the request to “going rogue.”

On Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2020, Kingston City Council passed a motion, brought forward by Councillor Robert Kiley and seconded by Deputy Mayor Jim Neill, that saw Council request that the province consider giving municipal councils “local flexibility” to provincial orders.

Following that meeting, Dr Kieran Moore joined Mayor Paterson, Marg Isbester, the Warden of Lennox & Addington County, and Frances Smith, the Warden of Frontenac County, in writing a letter to Premier Ford asking for greater regional autonomy in decision-making related to the fight against COVID-19.

But when prompted by a question by Victoria Gibson from iPolitics, Ford unequivocally rejected that proposal. “We have to run the province as one group, one unit. That’s how we’ve ended up getting the (infection) numbers down a bit,” said Ford.

“You can’t have people going rogue, per se, and loosening up restrictions in one area,” Ford continued. “If they loosen up restrictions in one area, well guess where all the people from Toronto or the GTA are going, if they want to have dinner or whatever, they’re all going to flock to Kingston,” Ford explained.

Last month, Kingstonist ran a poll asking readers for their opinion on the City Council request, with most respondents in favour of the City Council motion.

But Ford disagreed. “I don’t think that’d be very fair to that jurisdiction, to have everyone coming in in one shot like that,” he said. “So, the answer is no. We have to stick together, and together we’ll get through it.”

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