*Please see below a letter from Burlington MPP Jane McKenna, Milton MPP Parm Gill, Burlington and Milton Mayors and Halton’s Regional Chair to Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.
October 24, 2020
Dr. David Williams
Chief Medical Officer of Health
393 University Ave., 21st Floor
Toronto, ON M5G 2M2
Dear Dr. Williams,
Throughout the pandemic governments and public health agencies at all levels, have worked together to protect the health and safety of Ontarians and Canadians.
For months, public health officials in Ontario and around the world have emphasized two key matrix in determining our success in fighting COVID-19: virus spread (including the number, type and setting of outbreaks) and health system capacity.
Considering the rate of virus spread over the past two weeks, Halton Region has averaged approximately 30 new cases per day — and just 16 new cases yesterday. In terms of hospitalization rates our numbers are low. Yesterday, Halton Region reported just 1 hospitalization in Burlington and Georgetown, 3 cases in Oakville and 5 cases in Milton. The Milton cases are directly related to a longterm care facility. To give some perspective, Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital currently has 91 surge beds available. In short, our rate of infection is declining (well below the provincial average), and we have significant hospital capacity.
Last week when York Region faced new restrictions, Halton Region came together. We acted quickly to implement several recommendations made by our Medical Officer of Health. Measures were enacted to restrict the use of municipal recreational facilities for organized sports and fitness classes. We also asked residents from identified hotspots to avoid non-essential travel to Halton Region. These measures are working.
In June, when we began to emerge from the lockdown, the advice given by our medical experts was to wait two weeks (the incubation period), before lifting any restrictions. When taken together with our decreasing case counts, there is no evidence to suggest that moving Halton to a modified Phase 2 will have any meaningful impact on reducing case counts. One thing that is certain, is that many people and businesses can not financially withstand another shutdown.
When York Region was moved back to a modified stage 2, you said that, “their positivity rate had moved past public health’s ‘high alert’ range of 2.5 percent.” This is not the case in Halton Region.
Earlier this week, during the daily media briefing on Monday, you mentioned that there was “evidence of plateauing” with COVID-19 cases. This is certainly welcome news, yet at the same time creates some confusion. Even with our numbers continuing to decline, we understand that Halton’s Medical Officer of Health is pushing to move Halton Region back to phase 2 next week, in line with Peel, Toronto, York and Ottawa.
During the height of COVID-19, the majority of Ontarians accepted unprecedented restrictions in order to stop the spread and flatten the curve. Now, nearly 7 months later the public is demanding more than just the blanket statement of “on the advice of medical experts.” In fact, without providing specific justification for implementing new restrictions, there is legitimate concern that people will start to ignore public health advice.
Over the past several weeks, we have all heard from constituents across Halton Region. They’ve told us they want public health and our levels of government to follow the data, and be transparent and accountable. Instead of imposing blanket measures, Halton residents are asking that we target activities and locations that pose the highest risk of transmission, including limiting non-essential travel outside of identified hotspots.
In these unprecedented times, individuals and businesses need to have some level of predictability and stability. This is why we are also calling on you to clearly define the criteria used to determine when further restrictions or rollbacks are required, as well as the criteria that must be met for lifting any restrictions or rollbacks.
Please know that we appreciate your tireless efforts on behalf of all Ontarians, and look forward to your response.
Jane McKenna, MPP Burlington
Parm Gill, MPP Milton
Gary Carr, Chair, Halton Region
Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor, City of Burlington
Gordon Krantz, Mayor, Town of Milton
cc: Premier Doug Ford
cc: Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
cc: Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health (Acting)
cc: Dr. Fiona Kouyoumdjian, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health
cc: Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Medical Officer of Health (Halton Region)
- Halton’s Mayors and Regional Chair ask Premier not to be Rolled Back to Modified Stage 2
- Statement from Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health — Oct. 26, 2020
PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — bit.ly/COVID19BurlingtonFAQ that are updated as new information becomes available.
A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at burlington.ca/COVID19taskforce.
To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.
We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to bit.ly/covidwallofinspiration.
HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:
- Community questions and requests regarding City of Burlington services can be directed to Service Burlington by phone at 905-335-7777, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online.
- Halton Region has created a Reopening Schools resource webpage for parents, students and teachers at halton.ca/covid19.
- For further COVID-19 information, including where to get tested, please visit Halton Region Public Health halton.ca/coronavirus
- Residents can stay informed at burlington.ca/coronavirus as well as on our social media channels: @cityburlington on Twitter and facebook.com/cityburlington
- Questions about the cancellation of Recreation programs can be directed to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-335-7738
- City of Burlington: www.burlington.ca/coronavirus
- Resources for Residents & Non-Profit Organizations: www.burlington.ca/covid19resources.
- Halton Region: www.halton.ca/coronavirus
- Government of Ontario: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus
- Provincial Emergency Orders: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200052
- Government of Canada: www.canada.ca/coronavirus
- World Health Organization: www.who.int
- Joseph Brant Hospital: josephbranthospital.ca/covid-19
- Team Burlington Business Supports: burlingtonchamber.com/team-burl-supporting-burl-business-during-covid-19/
- Burlington Food Bank: call 905-637-CARE (2273), or visit burlingtonfoodbank.ca
- Food for Life: call 905-635-1106 and press 7, or visit foodforlife.ca
- Canadian Mental Health Association – Halton Branch: call 289-291-5396, or visit halton.cmha.ca
*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist