Mayors in Mississauga, Brampton, Halton, Hamilton and Oshawa want schools to reopen on time

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Published January 10, 2022 at 4:43 pm

Municipal leaders in Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton, Oshawa, Halton and Toronto say it’s crucial that students return to in-class learning on Jan. 17 as planned, and they’ll do all in their power to ensure that happens.

At a meeting held today to discuss ongoing response to COVID-19 and the more contagious Omicron variant, the group of Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) Mayors and Chairs from the region’s 11 largest municipal governments agreed that keeping students in school is a top priority.

In a statement released today, the group said that while it’s been focused on getting first, second and now booster shots into people’s arms, it also has its eyes on schools.

“The effort to make sure all eligible residents have access to third doses is continuing across the GTHA. At the same time, we are working to help kids and education workers get vaccinated to support the Province and school boards to safely return to in-person learning on Jan. 17,” the group’s statement reads.

“We share the view that in-class learning will be beneficial to all concerned, including especially the students, and we’ll do everything we can as cities and regions, including special vaccination efforts for our school communities, to allow the Province and school boards to reopen the schools on Jan. 17.”

The GTHA Mayors and Chairs also discussed the need for those on the front lines of the pandemic response to receive pandemic pay, as they did in 2020.

“We strongly reiterate the view expressed previously that the Province, perhaps in partnership with the federal government, should reinstate a form of pandemic pay,” their statement reads. “This was just successfully done in 2020 during another intense period of the pandemic and for some sectors such as long-term care and healthcare workers, including paramedics, the extraordinary challenges we are facing again today would more than justify such a measure.”

The group of politicians said they also discussed a desire to prioritize healthcare, education and other frontline workers in the distribution orapid COVID-19 test kits.

“The Mayors and Chairs continue to express their gratitude to all frontline workers who continue to serve residents in an exemplary fashion even in the face of extraordinary challenges,” they said.

In addition to vaccination efforts, the GTHA municipalities say they are working non-stop to protect essential and critical services that are being stressed by Omicron with increasing staff absences due to COVID-19 illness and isolation requirements.

“In comparing our experiences in this area, the Mayors and Chairs expressed a wish to see the Province work with the hospitals and with us to address some of the issues which have arisen affecting EMS services,” the group stated.

Last month, the group said it is also hoping to help increase vaccination capacity by working with the Ontario government to incentivize more pharmacies and doctors to offer vaccinations.

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