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Ontario Premier Doug Ford hands out prepared meals to front-line health care workers at Scarborough Health Network hospital in Toronto on April 24, 2020.Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Doug Ford angrily called out anti-lockdown protesters at Queen’s Park Saturday, calling them “reckless” and “selfish” for defying physical distancing measures, as he announced new supports for front-line workers.

The provincial government announced a $4 per hour raise over the next four months for front-line workers who are helping fight COVID-19.

Workers will also receive a monthly bonus of $250 if they work more than 100 hours in a month over the next four months.

The premier said the bonus will be eligible for workers with long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, home and community care providers and some staff in hospitals.

The provincial government says 350,000 workers will be eligible for the pay premium.

Ford announced the new measures while admonishing dozens of protesters who gathered outside the provincial legislature in defiance of emergency orders.

He said the actions of the protesters could set back the efforts of health care workers by months.

Ontario reported another 476 cases of COVID-19 and 48 more deaths Saturday.

The total number of cases now stands at 13,995, which is a 3.5 per cent growth over Friday’s total. That’s the lowest growth rate the province has seen in weeks.

The Ministry of Health says the death toll from the virus is now at 811, and another 925 people are currently in hospital.

Meanwhile, the government says provincial parks and conservation areas will remain closed until May 31 to protect public safety.

The closures affect car camping, back-country camping, roofed accommodations, day use, access points and all public buildings.

All Ontario park reservations are cancelled automatically during the closures and there will be refunds for all reservation holders.

The province will also provide penalty-free refunds to reservation holders who wish to change or cancel their 2020 camping reservation, regardless of arrival date.


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