*Please see the following message below from Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.
Many of us are now in our sixth week of self-isolation. We’re staying home as much as possible to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect both ourselves and those most vulnerable in our community. We cannot thank you enough for following the advice of our healthcare experts and government leaders. Our hospitals have not been overwhelmed, our numbers are not spiking the way we have seen in other countries, and our collective actions are working. This is an amazing accomplishment and is without a doubt saving lives.
That is the silver lining. That is the payoff for the sacrifices we’re making and the steps we have taken.
Here at the City of Burlington, I — along with council, city staff, and our partners across other levels of government — know there are many challenging consequences that have come along with this, and we want to make sure you know that we see you, we see your struggles, and we are with you.
We know there are moms and dads out there who are trying to do the impossible task of working from home for the first time, without the desk, the printer, the colleagues to bounce ideas off of at a moment’s notice, or the peace and quiet of a moment alone to just think. And while it was fun to dress comfortably the first week, you’re already sick of your sweatpants and missing your polished work looks. You’re constantly toggling back and forth between emails, conference calls, and deadlines, mixed with breakfast dishes, breaking up fights and endless requests for snacks. You’re trying to remember how to teach long division and conjugate French verbs again after 20 years without practice. You keep getting kicked out of Google Classroom and you don’t know why. On top of that, you’re trying hard to ensure you and your aging parents can get groceries safely, and figure out a way to celebrate your child’s birthday without any friends there. You already cancelled the March Break trip the kids were looking forward to, and you don’t even know how to plan for summer camps or vacations.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, that’s OK. This is not an amount of work that anyone has ever had to do before, especially not from home. We see you, and we’re with you.
We know there are seniors and empty-nesters all over Burlington who spent years building social networks and joining clubs that bring you friendship, joy and exercise. You bought curling equipment and exercise mats and art supplies, and they’re just sitting in your closet for now. You miss your daily group walks, weekly dinner parties, and the volunteering and socializing you’ve grown to love and depend on to stay active in our community. You cancelled trips you had planned for months and have no idea when and if you’ll be able to go again. Milestone birthdays and anniversaries are not happening the way you thought they would. On top of everything else, you’re faced with being in the group that is highest at risk for severe complications if you contract COVID-19. You’re afraid to get groceries and you’re pausing treasured visits with your beloved grandkids.
This isn’t how you expected to spend your well-earned retirement, and it’s hard to bear. We see you and we’re with you.
We know there are many people in Burlington who are living on their own. Some are young folks just starting their careers, having moved in to their first new place after graduation, and some are older and dealing with things like loss or divorce. Some of you have already been laid off and now have to deal with online applications for government assistance to help pay the bills. You’re looking to find a new job at a time when few are hiring, or learn to work from home in a way you never had to before. You’re trying to stay informed by watching the news, but you often find the volume of information and stories of new cases and deaths are creating a level of fear and anxiety that isn’t productive to your mental health. You need the information and advice to stay safe, but you don’t want to have to think about this crisis 24/7. The activities you counted on to keep you engaged and socially active have all been paused and because of social distancing, you spend time alone at home a lot more than you ever intended. There’s only so much video calling you can do with your family and friends, and so much television streaming you can watch.
You need people around you and it’s hard. We see you and we’re with you.
There are thousands of frontline workers facing long shifts, uncomfortable personal protective equipment, and emotional moments like never before. Hospital staff are sleeping in their garages to avoid exposing their families to unnecessary risk. Grocery store clerks are standing behind plexiglass, hoping their customers each day are healthy and cautious. Restaurant and retail owners are trying incredibly hard to find ways to keep their business going and staff employed by coming up with creative and touch-free ways to deliver goods and services. Police and bylaw officers are having to respond to new calls about social distancing and educating the public on things that are changing on a daily basis. We see you and we’re with you.
As Mayor, I am fortunate to have my three children (late teens and twenties) back at home with my husband and I, but as you can imagine, it’s starting to feel a little cramped. Our dog Boston loves the attention, but the rest of us miss our alone time. My kids miss their friends and significant others, their schoolmates and their jobs. I have to keep finding new places to have quiet conference calls without continuously displacing everyone else, and think about feeding additional mouths every night at dinner again. I was always used to working long hours, and I continue to be honoured to do it, but a crisis calls for 24/7 availability and there are no days off while we get through this. The many kind notes of support I get via email from our residents go a long way to lifting my spirits and keeping me energized, and remind me that we live in the best community in Canada for a reason: our people. I know we’ll get through this, but I also know we need to band together and be kind to one another every step of the way.
I reached out to a few other community leaders this week and found that we are all on the same page:
“As I have said before, Burlingtonians are a resilient bunch. We are a tight-knit community who is there for each other, and that has never been more true than now, as we navigate the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic brings. We are all going to have some tough days, and it is even more important to stay in touch with family and friends virtually. The measures that are put in place can be challenging, but they are there to protect each and every one of us. If we stay the course and follow health professionals advice we will make progress and eventually return back to normal. We are all in this together.”
~ Hon. Karina Gould, Member of Parliament, Burlington
“Burlington is a community like no other. In good times and in bad, we are there for each other; we rally together to ensure no one is left behind. Stopping the spread of COVID-19 has required each of us to stay at home to protect our friends, family and loved ones. Adjusting to our current reality of life indoors has been challenging for all of us. But as always, Burlingtonians have risen to the challenge. We’re taking the time to connect or reconnect with friends, neighbours and family by phone or online. We’re lending a hand to help those in need. We’re offering up our talents and treasures to make each day just a little brighter for someone else. Our collective actions are working, and each day we are beating this virus while renewing connections with those around us. Together, we will get through this.”
~ Jane McKenna, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP), Burlington
“The effects of COVID-19 are feeling more significant by the day. I find comfort in the perspective that no one is doing this perfectly, but we are all doing this together. Leaning into our community is providing that sense of connection we all value – we are seeing that in the messages of support and inspiration all around us. For many these messages are hard to see as uncertainty and increased pressures are stretching us in ways unimaginable. Two things remain certain, we are resilient and generous. We continue to be focused on the best possible outcome for all community members. It is the generosity of caring for others by staying home and our genuine compassion that will soon lead us back to the faces and places we all love.”
~ Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns, City of Burlington
“As we enter our 6th week of self-isolation in Burlington, many of us have had their lives turned upside down in terms of the routine that we enjoyed before this all started. I have personally never worked from home and as an entrepreneur and now city councillor, I too, have had many struggles with the changes. Trying to find a quiet place in a house with 6 children for a conference call is next to impossible. We are all in this together however and I have always been one to not worry about things that are not in my control. What we can control is our own actions – like staying home to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our families and those which you would have regular contact. This should be everyone’s priority and from what I have seen from Burlingtonians, we are listening and should be proud of each other. We should feel fortunate for what we have during these times and try to remain as positive as we can be. We will get through this and will be stronger when it is over. Keep well and stay strong.”
~ Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith, City of Burlington
There are many situations and many stories in our city. We want you to know that we see you all. We know you’re struggling because we are too. The struggles we are each facing are unique but at the same time the frustration, anxiety and feeling of being overwhelmed are absolutely universal. We each have families, we each have new financial hardships and cancelled plans, and we have to learn how to home school in between conference calls. We worry about our parents in retirement homes, and we feel anxiety when we go out to run essential errands. We all have the same worries and frustrations. We don’t know exactly how long this crisis will last, or how long it will take to get back to what we remember as “normal.”
Not having a clear end in sight is one of the toughest parts of this whole situation to be sure — but we will get there eventually. While we continue to do the things we know are working well to get us there faster, we can and must support one another with kindness and compassion along the way. You’re not alone. We see you, and we’re with you.
~ Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
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 903-335-7777, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online.
- 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
- Halton Region: www.halton.ca/coronavirus
- Government of Ontario: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus
- 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