After talking about coming to Essex County for several weeks, Ontario Premier Doug Ford will make the trip today.
Local officials plan to press him to appoint a co-ordinator to oversee the different agencies involved in responding to COVID-19 outbreaks on farms in Leamington and Kingsville.
Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald says someone needs to be making decisions with the big picture in mind.
“We’re having, even across the province, different health units having different points of view and different opinions, different entities in charge,” she said.
“Is the [Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs] in charge? Is [Provincial Emergency Operations Centre] in charge? As the mayor of this municipality, no one’s told me who’s in charge.”
MacDonald said the province needs to have full oversight of the outbreaks among farm workers locally.
Since the onset of the pandemic more than 830 farm workers — many of them in Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker program — have tested positive for COVID-19 in Essex County. Two men from Mexico have died in the region after contracting the virus.
The high rate of the disease in the communities have prevented Windsor-Essex from moving ahead with Stage 3 of reopening, and a delay when it came to entering Stage 2
Most of Windsor-Essex entered Stage 2 on June 25. The last two communities to move ahead were Kingsville and Leamington on July 7.
Emergency co-ordination requested
Mayor Drew Dilkens and other political leaders in the area asked Emergency Management Ontario last week for a co-ordinator to oversee the testing and other efforts in the Leamington and Kingsville areas.
It came up again this week in a parliamentary committee meeting related to finance.
“Have you heard back from those people?” MPP for Windsor—Tecumseh, Percy Hatfield, asked the mayor.
“Mr. Hatfield, we have not,” Dilkens responded.