Most of the Niagara community mayors are supportive of the move to the red tier of the province’s framework, anticipated Monday. That is with the exception of the mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake, who dissented, from the joint statement.
In a news release, 11 of the 12 mayors said: “Niagara Health and Niagara Region Public Health have done an outstanding job in working to protect our residents. Those working in long-term care and within Niagara’s healthcare system have truly been on the front lines of managing the impacts of COVID-19.”
Niagara-on-the-Lake Mayor Betty Disero was not included in the statement. The Regional Chair’s office referred questions to Disero to ask why. Late Wednesday evening Disero said in an email to Niagara Info: “Of course I would support going to red if that was the decision of the Province. But we won’t know until Friday. From the beginning, NOTL has always said they will follow the advice of the medical professionals because it is a public health emergency.”
She said she is not a qualified health professional and is “uncomfortable telling the Province where we should be in the framework.”
She added that NOTL will do “whatever we can to assist once we hear from the Province. If you asked me to sign a letter asking the province and the Feds to review their criteria for grants to assist businesses, so businesses can actually access the grants, I would run for a pen. That is a political decision. But a virus with so many variables is much different.”
The release issued by the Niagara Region’s Chair’s office, on behalf of 11 mayors, excluding Disero, called the first two-months of 2021 “particularly challenging as the loss of life due to the virus has surpassed the loss of life during the first wave of COVID-19.
The region reports that 369 people have died from the coronavirus in the region since the start ofthe pandemic. The majority of the deaths occurred after the end of the summer of 2020. Only 64 deaths were attributed to coronavirus in the Niagara Region by the middle of September 2020 before the second wave of the virus arrived.
Vaccination of the general population, starting with the oldest resident, is scheduled to
begin in the next few weeks. So far only long-term care residents, at-risk retirement home residents and medical workers have been vaccinated. That accounts for only little more than 3 per cent of the region’s population.
That means, they said, “we must all keep focused on containing the virus – including any new variants. Moving to red is only one step towards opening up the economy – but all steps must be done in a way that balances the need to contain COVID-19 and allow people and businesses to adjust within each re-opening stage.”