Mississauga mayor says Peel needs more vaccines, asks province to allow more outdoor activities in lockdown
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie says that the Region of Peel (Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon) needs to receive a greater number of the vaccines allotted to Ontario in order to end the months-long lockdown and reduce virus transmission in the community.
At a March 17 press conference, Crombie repeated her call for hard-hit regions such as Peel to be prioritized for vaccinations.
Peel, along with Toronto, has been in lockdown since November 2020 and under increased public health restrictions since October 2020. The region, which has reported over 65,000 cases since the start of the pandemic, remains one of the hardest-hit areas in Canada.
Crombie also told reporters that since the city will likely remain in the grey/lockdown zone of the province's colour-coded framework for a few weeks longer, she'd like to see the Ontario government ease restrictions on outdoor activities and allow restaurants to open patios and fitness-related businesses to conduct classes outside.
At the press conference, Crombie said that while she was encouraged to hear that vaccine deliveries will ramp up in Peel (and Ontario overall) next week, she believes the region requires more doses than its less-restricted neighbours.
"We have been in lockdown longer than any other jurisdiction in North America. I know many people were disappointed that Mississauga was not included in the pharmacy pilot project that saw other regions in the province receive the vast majority of AstraZeneca doses that were allotted to Ontario," Crombie said.
"We saw regions like Windsor-Essex and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington receive huge shipments yet both regions are not even in lockdown. In fact, Kingston is in the green zone right now. I personally do not think this is fair…I am urging the province that Mississauga and all of Peel receive vaccines proportional to our need and that we are included in any future pilot project that will result in regions getting additional doses."
Crombie compared Peel to a house on fire and said that the province needs to direct resources to where they're most needed.
"When there’s a house fire, you don’t need to pour water on the houses all around it. You need to pour it directly on the source…this is a plea to the province and to the premier to please include us in additional doses. We are a hot spot."
Peel Regional council recently passed one motion calling on the province to include Peel in the pharmacy pilot program and another asking the province to allow willing workers in high-risk occupations such as warehousing, food processing and manufacturing to get vaccinated on-site.
"Our essential workers in Peel have been critical in keeping the economy of this province, and really in the entire country, up and running throughout the pandemic and they continue to shoulder a disproportionate amount of risk as we have seen so many outbreaks in essential workplaces," Crombie said.
According to Peel Public Health's website, over 300 workplace outbreaks have been reported in Peel workplaces since the start of the pandemic, with over 35 per cent occurring in industrial and manufacturing settings.
"Getting our essential workers the vaccine as soon as possible is not just the fair thing to do. It’s the best thing that we can do to limit community transmission and to get out of lockdown and to begin to see the broader recovery and reopening of our economy," Crombie said.
At the press conference, Crombie said that close to 80,000 shots have been given in Peel, with phase 1 residents such as long-term care residents, frontline health care workers, people over 80 and Indigenous adults currently being vaccinated against COVID-19.
Crombie said that five mass immunization centres are ready to begin vaccinating, with the capacity to administer up to 20,000 shots a day in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon.
"We have done our part, now we need the supply from our federal and our provincial partners and counterparts. We need more vaccines here in Peel. We’re truly in a race against the variants of concern. All across the province, case counts are rising again and hospitals are being pushed to their limits in Peel."
Crombie said that Trillium Health Partners, which operates Mississauga's two hospitals, is currently dealing with 50 COVID-19 related hospitalizations. She said there are 14 COVID patients in the ICU and 83 suspected cases are being treated.
But while Mississauga isn't likely to enter the red zone in the coming days, Crombie said that Peel's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, is discussing the possibility of a "modified" lockdown with the province.
"We discussed the potential of restaurants perhaps opening for outdoor dining. We also discussed the possibility of fitness clubs and dance studios being permitted to hold outdoor classes and potentially opening up some of our outdoor recreational facilities to allow for sports teams to train and to practice," Crombie told reporters.
"Dr. Loh has told us that if people stick to the safety protocols, he believes that the risk of these activities can be managed and he has assured us this week that he will be bringing forward these recommendations to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams.
"I’m calling on the province to recognize the sacrifices our residents have made and allow for lower-risk activities. Our residents and businesses have been asked to sacrifice so much and their extraordinary efforts need to be rewarded."
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