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Ontario will open outdoor recreation 'on or before June 2nd': Health Minister

The Ontario Health Minister said in question period on Monday that Ontario's outdoor recreation facilities will open soon.

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Brendan Boucher Ottawa ON
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The Ontario Health Minister said in question period on Monday that Ontario's outdoor recreation facilities will open soon, reports CTV News.

Following a damning report from Sick Kids called "Let the children play," the Ontario Health Minister has vowed to open outdoor recreation on or before June 2. While speaking to the media, Premier Ford indicated that summer camps would also be allowed to open this summer. Outdoor facilities have been closed since April 16, when Ford shut down most of the province, citing high case numbers.

In the report, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, SickKids and researchers from the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto asked the province to "prioritize children’s health and development during the COVID-19 pandemic." The report asks to reopen outdoor facilities to mitigate the "devastating" impacts the COVID restrictions have had on children's health and development.

The report says if action is taken, "we can help to reduce the consequences of the pandemic and shape the future trajectories for a generation at risk." The report says that "structured physical activity" would be best but says effectively something is better than nothing. "The science is clear that the risk of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is substantially lower than indoor transmission," the report says. "Therefore, there is an urgent need to prioritize outdoor activities for children and youth to begin to mitigate the devastating and inequitable effects of pandemic-related restrictions on their health and well-being."

When asked about the report and if she would open outdoor recreation today, Health Minister Christine Elliot said, "Today is not the day to open everything up. I believe that it would be irresponsible for us to do that today. But we are following the evidence daily, and it will happen on or before June 2."

Ontario is alone in North America in outlawing many activities, including golf, drive-in theatres and public recreation facilities. Premier Ford has justified the order by saying he hopes it will keep people from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons.

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