MP Marcus Powlowski Calls on Province to Enforce Isolation Orders in Response to Rising COVID-19 Cases in Thunder Bay

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Marcus Powlowski

Member of Parliament and doctor says that province must use, “Full range of powers under the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act,” to stop spread of disease in community

Thunder Bay – POLITICS – In this time of growing crisis in our city, I believe we need to support our local Public Health Unit who have, more than any of us, assumed the lion’s share of the work in fighting the pandemic. They truly do incredibly important work that is saving lives in our community.

That is why I am calling on the Ontario Government to do what it needs to do in order to help us manage the local outbreak. This includes, importantly, using its full range of powers under the Ontario Health Protection and Promotion Act (OHPPA), most notably Section 35 of the Act, which it seems no provincial health officer across our province is currently enforcing.

Section 35 of the OHPPA allows, amongst other things, a Medical Officer of Health to confine someone in isolation if a person is unwilling to comply with an order to self-isolate under Section 22. While violating Section 22 can result in a fine, it does not allow for the actual physical enforcement of a self-isolation order. Section 35, with the approval of a judge, does.

I have learned of several cases in Thunder Bay of individuals who were either COVID-19 positive or at a very high risk of being positive ignoring instructions to self-isolate and continuing to go into public places, use public transportation, and take part in other activities in the community. In my opinion if people refuse to self-isolate, we need to use Section 35. The courts, prosecutors, and the law are there to protect the public. I cannot comprehend why the province doesn’t help our local Public Health Officers enforce our health legislation for its intended purpose.

We must stand together and do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19. There are many seniors and vulnerable people who must go out in our community everyday and may interact with COVID-19 positive persons. We need to protect them. We also need to think of the number of police officers off work because of the virus, the growing number of COVID-19 cases in our hospital, and the number of patients in the ICU. We in the community need to work together to do everything we can to help the hospital, paramedics, police, firefighters, teachers, shelter workers, and all the other people who are working hard to control the disease be as successful as possible in this work.