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Growing calls across Canada to require mask wearing in public

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The debate over whether to wear masks as a protection against the coronavirus is heating up across Canada. There are growing calls to make masks mandatory, but that is not going to happen in Ontario.

That is a recommendation from a group of Canadian doctors and researchers. They are urging governments to make masks mandatory in crowded public spaces, such as stores, schools, parks and public transit.

Dr. Amy Tan is with the group Masks For Canada.

"Cloth non-medical masks in the public does help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus especially in these reopening phases when people start to interact again,” Tan said.

Tan added that a Yale study suggests one person wearing a cloth mask can save the economy $3,000-$6,000.

Doctors are not the only group calling for mandatory masks. Several mayors around the City of Toronto are calling for masks to be worn in public places.

Frank Scarpitti is the mayor of Markham, just north of Toronto.

"We need the same rules right across the province of Ontario," Scarpitti said. "It’s a necessary step to ensure that we do not see a spike in a second wave.”

The government of Ontario is not taking up that call, saying with 15 million people in the province, it does not have the resources to enforce it.

Health Minister Christine Elliott is leaving the issue up to individual business owners.

"A number of retailers have decided that they want masks to be worn," Elliott said. "If you want to enter, then it’s the retailer’s right to do that."

Several U.S. states, including New York, have issued orders that make the wearing of masks mandatory in certain public places. No Canadian province has shown any willingness to do that.

WBFO’s comprehensive news coverage extends into Southern Ontario and Dan Karpenchuk is the station’s voice from the north. The award-winning reporter covers binational issues, including economic trends, the environment, tourism and transportation.
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