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Statement from Burlington Mayor on Halton Regions Emergency Declaration

Halton Region Emergency-Declaration-Final-March-23-2020

*Please see Mayor Meed Ward’s Statement below.

Burlington, Ont. – March 24, 2020 – Today, Halton Region announced its decision to proceed with the Declaration of an Emergency for regional municipality. The Region has already activated the Halton Region Emergency Response Plan and the Health Department’s Infectious Disease Emergency Response Plan and has been responding to the COVID-19 situation for many weeks.

I applaud this decision and the message it sends to our community about the urgent need to respond to the COVID-19 situation and follow the advice of our leaders and healthcare experts. The Towns of Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills have also made their own declarations today, adding to the growing list of cities in the Greater Toronto Area and across Canada who are doing so.

In Burlington, we have still seen groups of people congregating in public places, visiting the homes of others, and engaged in unnecessary activities with other people. We are hearing of people returning from out of country trips and going straight to work or to run errands, and not self-isolating as required for 14 days.

I cannot stress it enough: this needs to stop.

Our health and well-being depends on it, as does the health and well-being of our healthcare workers and first responders and their ability to take care of us, should we need it. As our Prime Minister said earlier today, if we do not see improved behaviour across the country, additional measures will need to be put in place to ensure compliance.

Yesterday’s announcement of the closure of additional non-essential businesses by the Province was a further step in limiting public contact and flattening the curve of the spread of COVID-19.

The list is now available on the Province’s website along with a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 for businesses to call with related questions.

The list of what is considered essential is far more extensive than I expected, leaving far too many businesses open, particularly public-facing businesses. If you can close, please do. If you can deploy your operations so staff can work at home, please do. If staff have to come to the office, maintain a 6-foot (2-metre) physical distance and follow the frequent and thorough cleaning and handwashing advice we have heard from healthcare experts to keep everyone safe.

I and other Mayors I have spoken to today are considering taking additional steps to better protect our community and encourage more businesses to close voluntarily to better protect themselves, their employees and the public.

We have many amazing business owners in Burlington who have already voluntarily made the decision to close their doors for the time being out of consideration for the health and wellness of their employees and customers. I am grateful for their willingness to do so. While only the Province’s list of business closures is enforceable by police, I continue to encourage Burlington’s businesses to use common sense and good judgement and consider if they can close for the near future without impacting access to truly essential products and services for our community.

The City of Burlington continues to provide essential services as we announced last week and there is no change to that directive. With the closure of City facilities, telephone access to Service Burlington is currently unavailable. Please send your community questions and requests to Service Burlington by email at city@burlington.ca or visit www.burlington.ca/coronavirus.

We are very pleased to hear today the Province of Ontario has made the decision to provide immediate electricity rate relief for families, farmers and small businesses paying time-of-use rates amid this crisis. This reduction will help offset higher consumption as more people stay home, and further alleviate some of the financial challenges many people are facing right now.

Earlier today, after a telephone meeting of the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO), my fellow Mayors sent a letter to the Prime Minister and Premier of Ontario thanking them for their leadership through this difficult time and encouraging them to take additional measures to limit movement and enable people to stay home. We requested the Federal Government step up their fiscal response to support provinces and leverage fiscal tools that no other level of government in Canada has. We also called on the Government of Ontario to map out a clear strategy to support municipalities, whose finances are being severely impacted by this unprecedented crisis.

I want to remind our community that we are hosting a public telephone town hall Thursday at 6:45 p.m., and I am grateful to have Burlington MP Karina Gould and Burlington MPP Jane McKenna joining us, along with Deputy Chief Roger Wilkie and Supt. Anthony Odoardi of the Halton Region Police Service, members of your city council and the city’s leadership team. More details can be found on our website.

Our top priority at the City of Burlington remains the health and well-being of our residents. We are committed to keeping you informed in clear and timely manner and encourage you to stay updated via the City’s dedicated website. Additional information on all COVID-19 related matters can be found at the Halton Region website, the Ministry of Health of Ontario’s website, and the Federal Government’s website (please see links below).

Stay healthy, stay home, and be kind to one another.

Sincerely,

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

HELPFUL RESOURCES & 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 that will be updated as new information becomes available.

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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