Photo Credit: Freestocks via Unsplash

 

Last week, a body composed of Niagara’s mayors and the regional chair met virtually to discuss the challenges facing the community as a result of the second wave of COVID-19.

 

The Niagara Region has recently seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in conjunction with a rise in the number of pandemic-related deaths and the continued impact of outbreaks in more than 50 per cent of the region’s long-term care home. 

 

The consensus of the heads of council was that Niagara is at a critical point and a significant effort would be required by all partners to gain control of the present situation.

 

Niagara’s mayors and the regional chair agreed on the following six principles. A formal letter was also sent to the Premier of Ontario Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliot and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones outlining the region’s concerns. The principles outlined in the letter state:

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Niagara urges the province to consider increasing the role municipalities and local public health units play 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.

 

  1. Paramedics across the province should be added to the list of priority healthcare staff to receive the vaccination.

 

  1. Niagara’s municipalities will reaffirm their commitment to share information in a timely and accurate way to ensure all parties can make effective decisions.

 

  1. 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.

 

The region’s mayors acknowledged at the close of the letter that most residents are taking the necessary steps to combat COVID-19 amidst their many challenges.

 

“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,” said Regional Chair Jim Bradley. “Niagara’s leaders also recognize the significant challenges faced by local businesses due to the lockdowns and are committed to providing any assistance possible.”

 

As the province continues to experience large single-day increases in COVID-19 cases, Niagara residents are reminded of the importance of following all public health directives to keep the region safe.

 

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 in public.

 

The Niagara Region routinely posts updates on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across its municipalities. Interested residents can visit www.niagararegion.ca/health/covid-19/default.aspx to find this information. Additionally, residents are encouraged to visit www.covid-19.ontario.ca to get the most up-to-date statistics on the virus and provincial health regulations.