Niagara prepares list of steps to tackle second wave


Niagara has drafted a plan to help the region get through the second wave of the pandemic.

The list has been unveiled today as the region reports almost 200 new cases today, along with 15 new deaths.

The region's 12 Mayors and the Regional Chair met last night voting to implement six steps and to send them in a formal letter to the Ontario government.

The six steps include sharing staff resources and possible redeployment to the region's long-term care homes. Currently half of the region's LTC homes are experiencing an outbreak, including one at Oakwood Park Lodge in Niagara Falls which has claimed 30 lives.

The region is calling on the province to ensure frontline health care workers and residents have equal and timely access to vaccines as compared to other areas of Ontario. Niagara is set to get its first batch of the vaccine early next week.

Niagara is asking the province to consider increasing the role municipalities and local Public Health units have in the vaccine distribution strategy, and to openly share its plans regarding vaccine distribution.

Regional officials are also asking that paramedics across the province be added to the list of priority healthcare staff to receive the vaccination.

The final two steps are asking for local residents' cooperation in slowing the spread by following public health advice, and to also be patient as the vaccine slowly starts to arrive in the region.

"On behalf of the people of Niagara, the Mayors and Regional Chair thank our local frontline health care who continue to perform admirably after more than 10 months confronting this deadly virus. Niagara's leaders also recognize the significant challenges faced by local businesses due to the lockdowns and are committed to providing any assistance possible. The heads of council also empathize with the impacts on students, teachers and families who are managing new and challenging learning environments. These are unprecedented times, and Niagara's municipal leaders recognize that most residents are making the sacrifices necessary to combat COVID-19. As the Province of Ontario experiences its highest single day increase in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, all Niagara residents are reminded of the importance of following all public health directives to keep everyone safe."