August 5th, 2020

Horwath: Ontario must take action now to get Windsor-Essex safely into Stage 3

QUEEN’S PARK – Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath is urging Doug Ford to immediately take the actions necessary to move the Windsor-Essex region into Stage 3.

“Workers and local businesses in Windsor-Essex are hurting as they face yet another week stuck in Stage 2. As more cases are reported in the region each day, more lives are being put at risk and more businesses are closing forever,” said Horwath.

“Ford has to do better. Today, Doug Ford can and must put the tools in place that would usher the Windsor-Essex region into Stage 3, safely.”

Horwath is calling for:

  • Funding and resources for local public health to conduct COVID-19 testing, including testing on-site at every farm in the region
  • Emergency funding for the public health unit to hire more staff and ramp up case management and contact tracing
  • A comprehensive, central isolation plan for migrant workers who were infected, and for new workers arriving in Canada
  • Paid sick days for all workers in the agribusiness sector, including migrant workers
  • A safe re-opening set-up fund for small and medium-sized businesses to help with PPE, plexiglass barriers and any other changes needed to keep staff and customers safe

“The prolonged health and economic crisis in the Windsor-Essex region is a direct result of Doug Ford failing to test in this region, and having migrant workers work while sick,” said Horwath. “Ford could have moved this region into reopening stages faster if he’d taken action – but he didn’t. He needs to act today.”

Horwath travelled to the region to connect with local businesses and non-profits the week of July 12. Visiting Kingsville and Leamington, she saw a community desperate to stop the spread and start to rebuild after the local economy was hit harder than any other in the province.

Local leaders have been pleading for provincial leadership and coordination for weeks. Instead, Ford handed off the contract for COVID-19 testing to for-profit corporation Switch, after lobbying on Switch’s behalf by former Ford senior staffer Jeff Silverstein. At that point, testing on farms in Windsor-Essex ground to a halt. Just 19 of 175 farms in the region had been tested, and it’s not clear if testing has resumed.