Prepare for the worst and hope for the best

By MPP Toby Barrett

Right off the top I wish to stress during these uncertain times, that my team and I are available primarily by email and telephone. We have enhanced our service to Saturday and Sunday through email at

Contact us by telephone at 905-765-8413, 519-428-0446, 1-800-903-8629. Our website is I also do my best to keep constituents up to date on Facebook and Twitter.

During these unimaginable times, we see the strength and compassion of those of us lucky enough to live in Haldimand and Norfolk. Dealing with this outbreak brings out the best in people bolstered by practical common sense and the can-do attitude of rural small-town Ontario.

Over my 25 years as MPP, I have had the good fortune to work side-by-side with a small but dedicated group of tech-savvy people in my constituency office –– three of us have been working together for 20 years.

Put us to work, and please continue to collaborate with us as we share and represent your ideas and information to various levels of governmental institutions during these trying times.

On January 25, Ontario identified its first case of the coronavirus disease – a respiratory infection that originated in Wuhan, China. As evidence of the increasing seriousness of the situation we are all in, the first death linked to COVID-19 was reported March 17.

Since January 25, I have been directing people to – an informative website that describes symptoms and ways to stay safe. Situation updates occur seven days a week at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Regrettably, things are going to get worse before they get better – and things will get better.

Our challenge right now is disease prevention. Protect yourself, but remember you may also be a carrier – hence the need for social distancing, closing of bars and restaurants and other venues, and restrictions on international travel.

Some of us may feel hale-and-hearty but can end up being vectors – like Typhoid Mary who was a cook who infected 51 people with typhoid fever – and transmit COVID 19 to someone elderly or much more vulnerable.

Last week, in an attempt to stem the tide, and on the advice of experts in public health, we saw Premier Ford declare a State of Emergency and President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau ban travel of foreign nationals.

We must all do our part.Coronaviruses spread mainly from person to person through close contact, for example, in a household, workplace or health care centre. 

There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus, but there are actions you can take to help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses.

Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick

Information is changing daily, even hourly so please continue to monitor and please once again feel free to reach out to my staff and myself.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk