By MPP Toby Barrett
Several weeks ago in this space I solicited input on how best to plan for Ontario’s economic recovery – how best to help normalize our social and economic life by way of consultation, and a thoughtful and common sense way forward, all based on an analysis of the costs, the risks, and the benefits.
It’s been over three months now since Ontario announced its first case of Wuhan novel coronavirus, later renamed COVID-19, and over three months for me promoting the web portal Ontario.ca/coronavirus, stressing the health and safety of people in Ontario as priority one. This highly contagious disease continues as a danger to all and, in particular, is killing our most vulnerable – our seniors and those with underlying medical conditions.
In this context, my office is also receiving an ongoing groundswell of concern with contradictory pandemic restrictions, and also more importantly, the frustration of people and businesses who can’t get back to work.
Every call and email to my office gives us an opportunity, on behalf of constituents, to lobby government, its various ministries, and the consultation and planning process established through the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee.
Some of the work of this committee, advised by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has been published: A Framework for Re-opening our Province.
When the time is right, evidence-based principles can be used to safely reopen Ontario and get back on the path to economic recovery. Learn more at Ontario.ca/reopen.
During this extraordinary period, we need to do everything we can to support businesses as they struggle to operate. The innovation and creativity of people will help us to jumpstart our recovery in the months ahead. If you have suggestions to tackle red tape and regulatory barriers that are impacting your business, go to the recently-announcedhttps://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/04/ontario-helping-businesses-overcome-the-unique-challenges-created-by-covid-19.html.
As I have been saying publicly since January 25, coronavirus is real and it is deadly. To jump the gun on loosening restrictions is not only irresponsible but also a risk to lives, and ultimately livelihoods. Seeing the impact of COVID-19 on seniors and vulnerable people is heartbreaking, and any re-opening of the economy requires continued isolation for these groups as well as continued physical distancing.
As Ontario gradually loosens public health restrictions and economic activity resumes, the provincial government will continue to use every resource available to support long-term care homes and other high-risk settings including homes serving those with developmental disabilities.
The health and safety of workers is a top concern and will remain a top concern as we get more people back to work. Essential workplaces presently open are asked to follow strict guidelines, and can be used as a model to reopen other services. The new normal in the world of work will require adjustments to work practices and work environments. Concerns about unsafe working conditions can be directed to Ontario’s Health and Safety Call Centre at 1-877-202-0008.
Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development has hired more inspectors, and provided new guidelines to assist employers to bring back our economy. Go tohttps://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-support-businesses.
The Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee and MPPs like myself will be consulting on the framework for re-opening Ontario. Please contact me at [email protected].
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk