'We're past the point of "threatened"': Ontario mask ‘recommendation’ isn’t enough, top experts say

As hospitals across Ontario continue to be stretched thin, the province’s top doctor is strongly recommending masking indoors.

On Monday, Dr. Kieran Moore described Ontario’s health care system as experiencing “extraordinary pressure” and endorsed the use of masks indoors, including in places like schools and childcare centres. The latest recommendations come a day after Premier Doug Ford advised people in the province to wear a mask “every time possible” and to get vaccinated. However, the province has not gone so far as to call for any new masking mandates.

Kate Mulligan is a public member of the Toronto Board of Health and an assistant professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She says the current guidelines aren’t doing enough.

“I think we’ve learned through these long years of COVID that Canadians respond better to clear guidance and clear rules,” she tells Yahoo News Canada. “Public health is a collective matter, not an individual matter, so people will continue to make their own decisions.”

She adds that she doesn’t think that the current recommendations give the sense of urgency that's really needed as hospitals face a crisis and children, in particular, are facing significant respiratory illnesses and risks they won’t be able to receive the care they need.

If there were a time to act, it should have been a month ago,” Mulligan says. Now’s the second-best time to act.Kate Mulligan, Toronto Board of Health, Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

On social media, many are expressing their concerns about the state of the health care system and the need for a mask mandates.

Others were happy the province is taking a hands off approach.

Mulligan says what’s currently happening in hospitals is very unsettling for families to not know whether the health care system will be available when they need it for themselves or their kids.

“What is it going to take for us to prioritize health and wellbeing," she asks. "If we can’t prioritize the health of our kids at a time our kids are getting seriously sick, when will we? It seems we’ve lost our way.”