Ontario Treasury Secretary Rod Phillips says he is making arrangements to return to Canada “immediately” after being criticized for a “personal trip” despite requests to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic

Phillips’ comments came just over an hour after Prime Minister Doug Ford said he was “extremely disappointed with Secretary Phillips and his decision to go abroad”

“I have let the minister know that his decision to travel is totally unacceptable and that it will not be tolerated again – by him or a member of our cabinet and caucus,” Ford continued

Ford, like everyone else, said officials must follow health advice to contain the rising COVID-19 cases

In a statement released Tuesday following a media investigation, Phillips found that he and his wife departed on December 13 on a “pre-planned personal trip abroad”

“Would I have known about December then? In the event of a nationwide shutdown, we would have canceled the trip, ”the statement said

On Dec. 21, Ford announced a four-week lockdown would roll out across the province from Boxing Day

Phillips did not initially say where he was going or when he was going to return, but noted that he was able to continue his work as Treasury Secretary and MPP for Ajax from afar

However, following Ford’s comments Tuesday night, Phillips released an updated statement saying he is “making arrangements to return to Ontario”

“I am very sorry to have traveled over the holidays. It was a mistake and I apologize,” he said

“I’m on a personally paid trip to St Barts on Dec. 13 after the end of the legislative period ”

Phillips said he would begin a 14-day quarantine as soon as he gets back from the Caribbean island

Global News asked the Prime Minister’s Office when Ford found out about Phillips’ journey, which began over two weeks ago

“The prime minister was not aware of the minister’s trip, nor did he or his office approve it,” a spokesman said in a statement

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Ontario reported a daily record of 2 on Tuesday553 new coronavirus cases, on Monday 1939

Global News also learned that Phillips took another trip in August that required him to be quarantined for 14 days

According to federal travel restrictions, anyone traveling to Canada must be quarantined once in the country for two weeks

Although no technical restrictions have been breached, government officials have asked Ontarians to stay home to prevent the virus from spreading

During a press conference Nov 25 Ford urged Ontarians to stay in their own households during the vacation

On Christmas Eve, Phillips tweeted about many people making sacrifices during the holiday season, particularly frontline workers who may be dealing with the effects of the pandemic

As we are all making sacrifices this Christmas, keep in mind that some of our fellow citizens won’t even be home for Christmas dinner via Zoom

It’s #ChristmasEve To my constituents in #Ajax & across Ontario, all the best for this special time of year.Although COVID-19 changes the way we celebrate, we should think about what makes Christmas so special to us – including this one & family as an act of giving # Merry Christmas! ImageTwittercom / AX7hKWA88n

Several photos of Phillips in the Durham area were posted on social media after December 13

Phillips’ office made it clear that all photos that were published after December 13 were taken before he went on his trip

I was delighted to announce, along with my colleagues, &, some of Durham’s leaders in mental health, over $ 1 million in funding to support the expansion of & Addictions mental health services in #Durham These Funding will also support the addition of 5 new supporting housing units ImageTwittercom / ETmGdYQ276

Deputy Head of Health Dr Barbara Yaffe made no comment when asked directly about the Treasury Secretary’s trip, but stressed that she would prefer people not to “go on vacation” at this time unless travel is essential

She also pointed out the importance of the 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Canada given the new highly contagious COVID-19 strain

She said three people have been confirmed to have the new variant in Ontario and they are each isolating

This isn’t the first time an Ontario politician has apparently broken with provincial news of COVID-19 in late October, MPP apologized for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff after exposing a photo at a family event when he was around 40 People had made

Ford also admitted that his daughters had to visit his home on Mother’s Day this year while the province told people not to hang out with loved ones

NDP vice chairwoman Sara Singh referred to these two incidents in a statement released Tuesday and urged Ford not to give Phillips a “free pass” to leave the country

“Doug Ford let Sam Oosterhoff off the hook when he was holding a large family. Ford let go of the hook for meeting his family when he told the rest of us we can’t do these People just think the rules don’t apply to them, ”said Singh

Ontario reported on Monday 1939 new cases of the coronavirus and a daily record of 2 on Tuesday553 new cases The provincial total is now 175908

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St Barts, Chrissy Teigen

World News – CA – Ontario Treasury Secretary returns after a backlash over St Bart’s vacation

Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/7545744/ontario-finance-minister-rod-phillips-country-personal-trip/