The Glengarry News

Need actions

'Fed up'

publisher Apr 14, 2021 - 4:08pm

Everyone is "fed up" with governments' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, declares Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry Warden Frank Prevost, saying people need actions not words from decision makers.

Here is a statement he issued at a press conference today.

Our residents have been through the wringer over the last 14 months.

We have endured lockdowns, shutdowns, physical isolation, fear of getting sick and concern that local hospitals are bursting at the seams because COVID-19 cases are spiking. In short, we are fed up.

We look on with envy as other regions and countries, including our neighbours just across the St. Lawrence River in the United States, enjoy the benefits of mass vaccination. Because Canada has been slow to roll out mass vaccination, and because COVID-19 variants are entrenched in Ontario, we once again find ourselves in a shutdown.

Just today we learned that 10,000 vaccination appointments were cancelled in this province, due to lack of supply.

This situation is unacceptable to our residents and we are here today to call upon senior levels of government in Ottawa and Toronto, as well as our local MPs and MPPs, to turn heartfelt words into concrete action. Our local health unit has begun the process of vaccination in our region.

At last count there were approximately 35,000 vaccinations completed by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. More vaccinations are being planned at hospitals and pharmacies.

By the end of this current shutdown, the EOHU has plans to vaccinate another 35,000.

But the total eligible population within the EOHU region is 170,000. The EOHU can only vaccinate individuals when it has enough vaccines to do the job. I am calling on the federal and provincial governments to do more to get an increased number of vaccines to our local health unit so they can continue the good work they are doing.

There has been much made of COVID problems in southern Ontario, and there is increased focus on other ‘hot spots’ throughout the province. With all due respect to the terrible tragedy unfolding in the GTA, I want to ensure our voice is heard as well.

It is the voice of rural and small-city Ontario. I have to remind our political leaders in Toronto and Ottawa that our residents are just as vulnerable to the coronavirus – and our businesses are suffering just as much, if not worse, than those in other jurisdictions.

I further call on senior levels of government to level with us. We keep hearing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – but this seems like an awfully long tunnel. The yo-yoing our residents have been forced to grapple with these last few months is unacceptable. In one breath we are told vaccines are coming and hope is on the horizon. But at the same time some vaccine clinics are being cancelled due to lack of supply, schools are shuttered and businesses closed. This is confusing and frustrating. Our residents deserve the respect of straight-forward answers, without unnecessary spin. Our business owners have been forced to grapple with a tsunami of change in recent weeks. They need a greater understanding of what is to come in the months ahead and better supports to keep their doors open right now. I have heard directly from businesses in SDG, some of whom tell me they are falling through the COVID cracks. Some businesses, which opened just last year, cannot get supports because they are unable to prove a sustainable income over the last 12 months. How is this fair?

Our local economy is built upon these small businesses. I look at our local barbershops as an example. Why have they been forced to close an operation that can be limited to just two people, who wear masks and liberally sanitize themselves? Yet I can go into any grocery store and be surrounded with a multitude of individuals. What’s good for one business should be good for all, because it’s discrepancies like this that anger our business owners and frustrate our residents. This pandemic is not new. We have been battling the scourge of COVID-19 for more than a year. It’s time for concrete plans that will lead us out of the pandemic as quickly as possible and so far, unfortunately, I am left with the impression that the tunnel I spoke of earlier continues to get longer and longer. Finally, I have a message for our residents. We understand your frustrations. You have been put in an impossible situation, and many of you have risen to this challenge. Until we get effective vaccination in our region, I urge you to continue physical distancing and mask wearing. You are our first line of defense, and we need your help too.