From the Niagara Region
Yesterday evening, Niagara’s 12 Mayors and the Regional Chair met virtually to discuss the pressing challenges facing the community due to the second wave of COVID-19.
With the significant increase of COVID-19 cases, an alarming rise in the number of pandemic-related deaths, and the continued impact of outbreaks in more than 50 per cent of Niagara’s long-term care homes, the consensus of the heads of council was that Niagara is at a critical point and a concerted effort will be required by all partners to help gain control of an exceptionally serious situation.
Niagara’s Mayors and Regional Chair agreed on the following principles. A formal letter was also sent to the Premier of Ontario, Minister of Health and Solicitor General outlining Niagara’s concerns.
- Niagara’s municipal partners are exploring opportunities to share staff resources in all appropriate areas to further bolster Niagara’s pandemic response, including possible redeployment to long-term care homes and to support public health initiatives.
- Niagara’s municipal leaders call on the province to ensure our frontline health care workers and residents have equal and timely access to vaccines as compared to other areas of Ontario.
- Niagara urges the province to consider increasing the role municipalities and local Public Health units have in the vaccine distribution strategy. Niagara also calls upon the province to more openly share its plans regarding vaccine distribution to ensure local residents have the information they require.
- Paramedics across the province should be added to the list of priority healthcare staff to receive the vaccination.
- Niagara’s municipalities will reaffirm their commitment to share information in a timely and accurate way to ensure all parties can make effective decisions.
- Niagara’s municipal leaders request the community’s patience and understanding as vaccines begin to arrive across the region. The federal and provincial governments have committed to ensuring there will be a vaccine for everyone who wants one, but this process will take time.
Residents are reminded that the most effective way to slow the spread of the virus is by practising physical distancing, staying home whenever possible, washing their hands frequently and wearing a mask when required.
On behalf of the people of Niagara, the Mayors and Regional Chair thank our local frontline health care who continue to perform admirably after more than 10 months confronting this deadly virus. Niagara’s leaders also recognize the significant challenges faced by local businesses due to the lockdowns and are committed to providing any assistance possible. The heads of council also empathize with the impacts on students, teachers and families who are managing new and challenging learning environments.
These are unprecedented times, and Niagara’s municipal leaders recognize that most residents are making the sacrifices necessary to combat COVID-19. As the Province of Ontario experiences its highest single day increase in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, all Niagara residents are reminded of the importance of following all public health directives to keep everyone safe.