TORONTO — Ontario’s top doctor said he can take action if it appears public measures in Haldimand-Norfolk aren’t sufficient to protect residents from COVID-19 under the region’s newly appointed interim medical officer of health.
Dr. Kieran Moore was asked to comment Tuesday on the appointment of Dr. Matt Strauss, whose opposition to COVID-19 lockdowns has stirred controversy and prompted the Ontario Liberals to call for the province to veto his selection.
Moore repeated that the Haldimand-Norfolk Board of Health did not need his approval or that of the Ministry of Health in order to hire Strauss for an interim position.
But he said it is his duty as Ontario’s chief medical officer of health to monitor the situation in all health units.
“If and when this individual is hired…if it is my professional opinion that the population is not being protected to the utmost through public health measures, I do have actions that I can take under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to ensure that all citizens in Haldimand-Norfolk are protected against COVID-19,” he said.
Moore added the region has struggled to find a full-time medical officer of health.
“We’re very willing to continue to work with them to try to recruit someone who has the credentials required… and to provide guidance to them,” he said.
Strauss’s appointment was announced Friday. An assistant professor of medicine at Queen’s University, Strauss has tweeted on multiple occasions that he opposes lockdowns, saying they aren’t effective in preventing deaths from COVID-19.
He has also lauded business owners who flout public health orders by opening their doors, calling them “heroes.”
Ontario reported 1,145 new cases of COVID-19 and five new deaths over two days, including the Labour Day holiday.
On Tuesday, the province logged 564 new infections for the previous day — 434 of them people who are not fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown — and three deaths.
Provincial data showed there were 581 new cases on Sunday, including 457 in people who have not received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or whose vaccination status isn’t known.
There were also two deaths related to the virus on Sunday.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said nearly 84 per cent of Ontarians 12 years or older have received one dose of a COVID-19 shot, and slightly more than 77 per cent have received two doses.
The province said 295 COVID-19 patients were in hospital, and 192 people were in intensive care due to the virus. It noted, however, that not all hospitals report on weekends and holidays.