A walk in the park
Ontarians will be able to engage in some pandemic Canada Day activities without breaking the bank.
The government announced that Ontario provincial parks will be open free of charge on the annual holiday that comes Wednesday, with Premier Doug Ford framing it as a thank you to residents for doing their part in fighting COVID-19.
"As we celebrate Canada’s 153rd birthday, this is our way of saying thank you to everyone in Ontario who has followed the public health advice to stop the spread of COVID-19," he stated.
"Everyone can take advantage of the great weather and explore the recreational opportunities that are now available at provincial parks. We continue to count on people to be responsible when outside and to follow all public health advice," added Environment Minister Jeff Yurek.
Additionally, Ontarians will be able to fish without a licence for two weeks beginning on July 4.
There will also be special events and online events planned for some Ontario tourist sites, including the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Niagara Parks Commission, Science North and Destination Ontario.
The government was asked why children's playgrounds are not yet open, and what the public health rationale for the continued prohibition is.
"It's very difficult to disinfect it on a regular basis," said Health Minister Christine Elliott. "The opening of children's playgrounds is certainly one of the items under consideration" for stage three, the minister added, offering a small piece of hope for parents of the under-five set everywhere.
Elliott added that the ministry needs about another week of data before it looks at stage three.
"I'm having regular discussions with all of our professional sports teams," said Minister of Sport Lisa MacLeod, who said that health remains the top priority.
MacLeod shared that she has discussed the possibility of a sports hub with the Canadian Football League, with the Hamilton/Burlington area being a potential site. There was also a joint discussion last week with sport ministers from across the country whose provinces host CFL teams.
"I've heard nothing but positive things about the way Minister MacLeod has handled many files...minister, you're doing a great job," the premier said of the Ottawa MPP who was a lightning rod when she rolled out the government's controversial autism plan in early 2019.
Ford was asked about the huge amount of interest in the Theriault brother verdict on Friday: upwards of 20,000 viewers tuned in on YouTube to follow along to the judge's lengthy ruling in the high-profile case that saw an off-duty police officer assault a young Black man.
The ruling was broadcast on YouTube based on the open courts principle and the fact that court hearings during the pandemic are being held virtually rather than in person.
Asked if virtually broadcast court deliberations could continue following the pandemic, the premier expressed openness to the idea.
"It's interesting, I guess there's a lot of interest," he said, appearing to consider this for the first time. "Twenty thousand viewers, wow, we'll have to talk to the attorney general about that...Man, people are interested. If people are interested, maybe we look at it."