Northern Ontario township declares state of emergency after staff exposed to COVID

The Township of Black River-Matheson has declared a state of emergency under the Ontario Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The move comes after several workers at the township were exposed to COVID-19.

"The subject declaration is being made due to the high-risk exposure of some of our staff," the community said in a news release this week. "The result is a requirement for a significant number of staff to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days."

“The Township is taking this measure because we will now lack the necessary staff resources to deliver the mandated, quality services that our residents deserve," Mayor Gilles Laderoute said in the release.

"The declaration provides us with other options and tools to deal quickly and effectively with the situation.”

Variants on the rise

COVID and its variants have been on the rise across the district and province in the past few weeks, the release said. The Province of Ontario is taking the necessary steps to limit the spread while vaccines continue to be distributed.

“On behalf of council, we are very appreciative of the continued good work that our staff and volunteer firefighters are doing under very difficult circumstances and we wish good health for all of them," Laderoute said. "We are also grateful to Dr. Lianne Catton, the staff at the Porcupine Health Unit and all our medical staff for their dedication, hard work and guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic and for their assistance during our declared Emergency.”

Black River-Matheson, in consultation with its emergency community control group, is making arrangements to ensure that vital services are not affected, and that the necessary communication is issued to the community. The protection offered by the Black River-Matheson Volunteer Fire Department is unaffected by the declaration.

Regular messages will be released via the media, website, postal service, and the community's Facebook page.