Mayor’s Message on COVID-19 – April 14, 2020
The numbers say it all – in Canada, from 16,667 last week to 25,680 infected today. Ontario now stands at 7,953 cases from 4,726, which represents a slight decline in the rate of increase from the previous week. Manitoulin remains, as of this morning, with no new confirmed cases however, we all know at this point that many people across our province and country may have it and are undiagnosed. The need to remain vigilant and exercise all of the precautions has not changed. The province of Ontario will be extending the provincial state of emergency for another 28 days.
In the last week your council and staff continue to get most things done, just at a little more distance than before! While meetings by Zoom have their challenges, we are all (council and staff) doing our best to deal with the most pressing items. At the April 7th council meeting our municipal budget and tax rate were passed (details on the township website). With the unknowns around this pandemic and unforeseen costs, expenditures will be closely monitored and, for the time being, only the most essential will be pursued. Council also approved a financial request, based on our population, from the Town of Gore Bay regarding physician recruitment incentives in the amount of $4,000 per year for two years. Two of the three doctors at the Gore Bay Medical Centre are planning on retirement. This facility serves all of western Manitoulin and currently has between 2000-2500 registered patients. Four western municipalities and two First Nation communities are all working together on a strategy which will include both financial incentives and highlight lifestyle promotions. The goal is to recruit doctors for the long term who will enjoy working and living here as much as we all do.
The province of Ontario has announced an Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee which will ‘focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.’ There is no question that virtually all businesses, big and small, have been impacted; planning now and being ready for our financial recovery is vital to everyone.
In closing, this past Easter weekend was extremely difficult for all of us as we found alternative ways to stay in touch, without the touch. I commend everyone, everywhere, who found a way to make this work, stayed safe and played their part in flattening the curve.