Earlier today, the Province of Ontario made further announcements regarding the continued provincial re-opening, moving some districts to Stage 3, while Windsor-Essex and nine other regions remain in Stage 2.
Given that our community only recently entered Stage 2, and our neighbours in Leamington and Kingsville continue to cope with the pandemic’s continued impact within the farm worker community, it was certainly expected that our region would be held back.
Last week, local emergency management and public health staff officially requested the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre to take on the direct coordination function and to devote the resources required to manage the pandemic’s impact on the farm community in Essex County.
Similarly, after several rounds of conversations with the Federal Government, local municipal leadership has been clear that a national action to overhaul the Temporary Foreign Worker program is well overdue. The federal Minister of Health recently mentioned that the living conditions of many farm workers could “make ones hair curl.” Federal attention to this matter is urgently required.
According to public health data, the number of Essex County COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population is the highest rate of active cases in the Province – more than double Toronto or Peel Region. Our community is united in our request for further assistance from provincial officials to support local coordination and emergency management.
As Mayor of Windsor, I’m concerned that until we get further attention and support from both the Provincial and Federal Governments to deal with the unfolding crisis among the farm worker populations, our region will be unable to proceed to Stage 3 and take full advantage of the economic benefits associated with the next phase of re-opening.