A Canadian politician has resigned after being caught taking a family holiday in the sunny Caribbean while his compatriots were urged to avoid non-essential travel during a strict pandemic lockdown.

Ontario's finance minister, Rod Phillips, apologised for his "dumb, dumb mistake," telling reporters upon arrival home at Toronto airport yesterday: "I do not make any excuses for the fact that I travelled when we shouldn't have travelled."

Hours later, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he had accepted Phillips' resignation.

"At a time when the people of Ontario have sacrificed so much, today's resignation is a demonstration that our government takes seriously our obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard," Mr Ford said in a statement.

While the public was urged to skip big Christmas get-togethers this year, Mr Phillips' staff continued to post messages from him on social media giving the false impression that he was home for the holidays.

This included a fireside video on Christmas Eve in which he thanks Canadians for their efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 illness.

Mr Phillips, local media revealed this week, had travelled to the Caribbean island of St Barts on 13 December as the number of new daily Covid-19 cases across Canada hit record highs.

He said he would have cancelled the trip if he'd known that two weeks later the surge in cases - including 3,300 in Ontario on Thursday - would force Canada's most populous province and economic engine into a 30-day lockdown.

St Barts in the Caribbean where Rod Phillips went on holiday (file image)

But officials have been warning against travel for months.

On Wednesday, Doug Ford told reporters at a facility preparing vaccines: "There can't be rules for elected people and non-elected people."

"I can tell you I'm very upset. I'm very frustrated with the situation. I stand out here every single day and tell people to stay at home," he said.

Mr Phillips, a member of Ontario's ruling Progressive Conservative Party, also reportedly took a trip to Switzerland in August.