The Ontario NDP will force a legislative vote on Monday to “safely reopen” the outdoor recreation rooms, the vice chairman said Friday.
After Premier Doug Ford announced a two-week extension to Ontario’s “stay-at-home” appointment on Thursday, the party’s vice-chair, NDP MP Sara Singh, called on the government on Friday to provide outdoor recreational spaces such as cricket courts, tennis and sports clubs Tennis to reopen basketball courts, skate parks and golf courses.
“Yesterday’s announcement was really disappointing to so many people across the province who were hoping the government would announce a plan to safely reopen outdoor recreational spaces as the Ontario provincial lockdown was extended,” said Singh of Chinguacousy Park in Brampton, Ont.
“We know the Ontario Science (Advisory Table) (COVID-19) has recommended opening outdoor recreation safely to community members as we know this pandemic is wreaking havoc on the mental health and wellbeing of people” Singh continued.
She said the party would force a vote on a non-binding motion on Monday, “in line with the recommendations of the Ontario Science Table and other public health experts.”
The Ford government’s decision on April 16 to close outdoor recreation rooms, which are aimed at reducing people’s mobility, has been under attack by opposition members for weeks. At its press conference on Thursday, Ford explained why its government is keeping these rooms closed.
“I’ve talked to my friends, I know what’s going on,” Ford told reporters. “You know, they take another buddy with them, two or three, they go play golf and there’s nothing wrong with golfing, the problem is mobility.”
“Then after they play golf they have a couple of pops. That’s the problem. That’s the problem, ”Ford continued.
On Thursday, the Ontario Medical Association said in a statement that while the government supports extending the provincial lockdown, it should safely reopen the outdoor areas.
“Doctors are encouraging the government to plan to reopen more outdoor recreational facilities to improve people’s physical and mental health,” the statement said. “This needs to be done safely, with clear guidelines on when to wear masks, how many people can gather, and avoiding crowded crowds to protect workers and customers alike.”
Singh said one of the reasons she is launching the motion is because her drive through the Brampton Center has a significant concentration of high-rise buildings where residents do not have access to green spaces.
“We are calling on the government to open outdoor recreational facilities so that people who do not have access to a backyard and who do not have access to extensive green spaces can safely go outside and play with their immediate family members,” said Singh.
When asked if her motion would urge the government to reopen camping in provincial parks and on crown lands, Singh said the NDP would reach out to the science desk to determine which activities can safely reopen, but concluded not from.
“The application is open to understanding what medical experts recommend and what rooms they would like to recommend that Ontarians visit and participate in,” she said.