Ontario MPP ousted from PC caucus for refusing to get vaccinated – .

Ontario MPP ousted from PC caucus for refusing to get vaccinated – .

TORONTO – An Ontario MPP who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as required by the Progressive Conservative caucus has been kicked out of the party, CTV News Toronto has learned.

Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls made an announcement on his vaccination status Thursday afternoon from Queen’s Park.

Nicholls said he and his wife chose not to be vaccinated for “personal reasons.” Nicholls was removed from caucus just over an hour after the announcement, sources told CTV News Toronto.

Two days before Nicholls’ statement, Premier Doug Ford’s office confirmed that all members of the Ontario PC caucus would be required to get their COVID-19 vaccine by 5 p.m. Thursday, or face deportation.

Nicholls is one of two unvaccinated MPs. The other, Scarborough Center MPP Christina Mitas, was granted a medical exemption, CTV News Toronto has learned, although the Prime Minister’s Office did not say why the exemption was granted.

A PC government source previously told CTV News Toronto that all other caucus members are fully vaccinated.

Ford has long said he doesn’t believe COVID-19 vaccinations should be mandatory.

In addition, he has so far resisted requests for a passport or certificate in the province to prove his vaccination status.

In a statement released following the ouster, Ford said elected officials “must rightfully be held to a higher standard.”

“MPP Rick Nicholls did not provide a legitimate reason for immunization exemption. As a result, he is no longer a current member of the CP caucus and will not be allowed to be re-elected as a CP candidate, ”the statement said.

“MPP Christina Mitas will remain in caucus as she provided a medical exemption statement signed by a physician and assured that she would take extra precautions in performing her duties as elected representative,” Ford continued. by once again urging eligible Ontarians to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The new vaccination requirement for caucus members established by the Ford government came after a reporter from Queen’s Park Briefing began asking PC caucus members about their vaccination status. A source familiar with the matter said that a staff member in the prime minister’s office ordered MPs not to respond or disclose their status.

An emergency caucus conference call followed Tuesday morning to discuss the new vaccination protocol.

Ontario’s vaccination rates, along with daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, are among the key metrics taken into account by officials when relaxing or tightening public health restrictions in the province.

To this end, Ford has encouraged anyone currently eligible to receive a vaccine to get vaccinated with the goal of reducing transmission.

Following a few hiccups at the start of the province’s vaccination campaign, doses are more or less readily available across Ontario to anyone who wants them.

Ontario is currently in Stage 3 of its plan to reopen and is expected to lift nearly all remaining public health restrictions once 80 percent of eligible residents receive a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 percent will have received two.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Thursday that 81.8% of Ontarians had one dose of the vaccine and 74.2% had two.

However, earlier this week, the Ford government announced that despite moving closer to goals set to exit Stage 3, all plans to further reopen the province would be on hold indefinitely due to the risk of the Delta variant.

First elected in 2011, Nicholls served three terms as MPP with the PC party.

The Liberal, NDP and Green caucuses each told QP Briefing that all of their MPs were fully immunized.

With files from Colin D’Mello of CTV News Toronto and Chris Herhalt of CP24


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