Mississauga mayor says the masks are coming off too soon


Published March 10, 2022 at 3:02 pm

Crombie faces two challengers, so far, for Mississauga mayor's seat
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie will take a leave of absence effective Oct. 6.

People in Mississauga and across Ontario will no longer have to wear masks in most public settings as of March 21, but Mayor Bonnie Crombie says she’s worried the provincial government could be lifting the mandate too soon.

Crombie told reporters at today’s (March 10) weekly media briefing that while the COVID-19 situation is stable, the virus hasn’t gone anywhere and those with compromised immune systems remain vulnerable.

“The vast majority of our residents have received at least two doses of the vaccine, with more and more getting boosted every day. It’s clear we all have the right ingredients in place to start getting back to normal,” began Crombie. “But I entirely understand why some people think lifting the mask mandate on March 21 is a bit too soon. Frankly, I do too, particularly because we just eased the last remaining capacity limits on businesses and other settings as well as proof of vaccination requirements, and haven’t had a chance to see what the impacts might be on our hospitals. Right now, they’re in a good place, but we still need time to recover and ramp back up to full surgical capacity.”

Crombie was quieter on the issue at yesterday’s (March 9) meeting of general committee, where Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito was the lone dissenting voice in a discussion about Mississauga moving forward in lockstep with the Ontario government with respect to the lifting of the mask mandate.

In fact, Saito said she’s in favour of extending Mississauga’s mask bylaw, which is set to expire on March 31, if not sooner. Councillors will discuss axing the bylaw eight days earlier at the next meeting of council, on March 23.

Saito said she’s been reading what infectious disease specialists have to say, and they seem to agree that masking remains important.

“And we saw a letter from hospitals recommending to not remove the mask mandate in schools…and the Province is totally ignoring the experts,” said Saito, adding the timing of the masks-off date, the week after March Break, isn’t good.

“I’m really concerned…because when you open everything up like this and you remove the mask mandate…I’ve been hearing from my residents and what I’m reading on social media, there’s not a lot of support out there from residents who are very, very concerned that the vulnerable population will be made even more vulnerable when the mask mandate is removed,” she continued.

“So, I don’t support us removing (the mask bylaw) at the end of March..this setting dates two to three weeks in advance hasn’t proven to be effective and I’m really worried about what’s going to happen, about another wave coming in. I do not want to see us go into another lockdown, and masks have not only reduced the spread and the…risk of catching COVID, but they’ve also reduced the risks of the flu, and colds and everything else.”

Saito said she believes the Province is moving forward for the wrong reasons.

“I don’t hold much hope for the decisions that the Province is making. I think they’re listening to a very small minority of people who are having little temper tantrums about having to wear a mask to protect others as well as themselves and their families,” she said.

“I will not be supporting us removing the mask mandate, especially immediately after March Break. I think the timing is bad…and we need to be very, very cautious…if we get through the next month or so with no more cases, especially in the younger children and more vulnerable, then I might change my mind.”

Other councillors disagreed with Saito, saying it’s important Mississauga follows the Province’s lead for sake of consistency across jurisdictions.

Additionally, they argued, public health experts–including Peel Region’s medical officer of health Dr. Lawrence Loh–support the lifting of the mask mandate.

Furthermore, people who want to wear masks in public can continue to do so, they noted.

Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish said it’s time to do away with masks.

“We’ve done everything we’re supposed to do. I’m triple vaccinated. Everybody’s getting vaccinated. Flu season comes around every year and people die in flu season, but we don’t order people to put masks on in flu season. So, I think it’s time to get back to as much normal as we can,” she said.

“And I think we’re starting to lose support in the general public. They’re getting a bit cranky about all of this, so that if we say ‘Peel’s different and we’re going to keep making you wear a mask,’ you’re going to have trucks going around City Hall like they did in Ottawa, so I think it’s time for it to go.”

Moving forward, Crombie said people must still be mindful of the risks and of taking care of others.

“The reality is that very soon masking will be about choice and I encourage people to do what they are comfortable with. We know COVID is not over yet and is not going away anytime soon. We’re still seeing lots of people contracting it each and every day, so it is important we all do our part to keep our friends, neighbours, colleagues and the community safe,” she said.

“And the truth is that many people in our community are immuno-compromised and still uncomfortable in settings where not everyone is masked. We should all respect that.”

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