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Statement from Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Regarding Mandatory Mask Order for the City

COVID-19_Masks

UPDATED NOTE Saturday, July 4:

Thanks to everyone who has so far provided me with feedback regarding the potential for a mandatory mask bylaw in Burlington/Halton.

In the last few days we have received confirmation from the Medical Officer of Health at Halton Region of her support for a bylaw, and I have received overwhelming support from the community and a number of businesses for such a bylaw.

As such, I will be bringing forward a proposal for debate and discussion at the July 9 Corporate Services Strategy Risk and Accountability Committee, along with a recommendation for Regional Council to bring forward a bylaw for discussion and debate at the July 15 meeting.

I have been researching both the Section 22 orders implemented in some communities by their Medical Officer of Health and other municipal bylaws (only Toronto has actually passed one). The language is essentially the same, with the exception that Section 22 comes with fines (and can only be implemented by an MOH which ours is not doing). There are no set fines yet for a mask bylaw, thought Toronto is applying for them.

The Toronto bylaw provides for exceptions, and no one can be required to show proof of how they meet those exceptions. There are no set fines yet, but these have been applied for. The bylaw took effect a week after a vote, is temporary (end of September), and can be extended.

Toronto mask bylaw

Toronto mask bylaw announcement

It is generally acknowledged that the bylaw would be difficult to enforce but can help with voluntary compliance. As TO put it: “Whereas it is believed that the existence of an enforceable temporary by-law requirement will help to educate the public on the importance of a properly worn mask or face covering and encourage voluntary compliance.”

St. Catharines seems to have the simplest (it’s in the form of a motion with direction to prepare a corresponding bylaw). It is here.

St. Catharines motion on Mandatory masks

The Section 22 ordered by the Medical Officer of Health for Wellington/Dufferin/Guelph is here (only the MOH can order a Section 22, and the Halton Region MOH is not doing so):

Section 22 order Wellington/Dufferin/Guelph 

Halton Hills and Oakville are planning to debate bylaws.

The Region is also preparing something for consideration July 15, once municipal councils weigh in.

Your continued feedback is valued and welcomed as we head into discussions next week. Please email me directly if you have further thoughts mayor@burlington.ca

UPDATED NOTE Friday, July 3: As part of our standing COVID-19 discussions at our monthly Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability (CSSRA) Committee meetings, we’ll be talking about masks at our Thursday, July 9 meeting. We will also be discussing it at our Halton Regional Council meeting on July 15.

•      •      •      •      •

Many of you have reached out to ask about a mandatory mask order.

I understand the concerns people have raised and the desire for a mandatory order. We are all committed to doing everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In all our decisions, we are guided by the advice of our Medical Officer of Health (MOH).

The communities around us who have issued a municipal or regional bylaw (Toronto and  Peel) did so on the advice of their MOH, or by direction of their MOH under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (Wellington/Dufferin/Guelph and Kingston).

Our Halton MOH has not, to date, used her authority under Sect. 22 to issue a mandatory mask order. However, there are ongoing discussions with her, including in the last few days, about using the bylaw tool. With her support we could consider that as an added measure.

The good news is the voluntary actions of our citizens have, to date, led to the lowest infection rates in our Region and beyond. This has remained true, even as there has been travel to and from other communities for work or other reasons since the beginning of the pandemic, and even after we moved into Stage 2 reopening two weeks ago. Our infection rates have remained among the lowest in the province — that is something to be proud of.

We have been able to achieve through voluntary compliance what others around us are trying to achieve with a mandatory mask order.

Of course, we must remain vigilant, especially as we contemplate moving into Stage 3 reopening. I remain open to further dialogue with our community, elected leaders and our MOH about the potential for a bylaw mandating masks as an added tool to keep our community safe.

Please continue to share your thoughts with me, as we consider this potential tool.

In the meantime, we will lead by example. We have required masks on public transit as of today (July 2), and are discussing whether masks will be required in our city facilities once they reopen. We will continue to encourage people to wear masks in indoor spaces where physical distancing is a challenge. Halton Region is embarking on a public education campaign to encourage mask wearing.

I remain interested in residents’ feedback on this and all matters related to COVID-19 and how we can best work together to keep everyone health and safe.

Thank you for all your hard work that has gotten us to where we are today!

— Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

RELATED LINKS:

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:

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Marianne Meed Ward

Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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