There can be no doubt about the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we have watched developments overseas with the horrific spread of the virus in so many countries, we are reminded of what is at stake here in Canada.
The COVID-19 virus is very much a reality here in Canada. Across the country, every day, we’re seeing more and more confirmed cases and, tragically, fatalities as well.
Governments have been responding but in many cases there are mixed messages and differing and some times confusing approaches. Different approaches to testing, shutdowns and even reporting. This has created confusion and puts us at risk of having a patchwork quilt of responses.
Over the last few days I have raised major concerns about people continuing to have to work in environments where they are at the risk of the spread of the virus. Whether it was at the Keeyask camp or other major employers in our region the message was clear. Workers should not have to face risks at work that they would not face elsewhere. This is what led to workers at Lalor Lake walking off the job recently in Snow Lake.
Testing is a real concern. Many jurisdictions have been able to have a great deal of success thus far with extensive targeted testing. I have been contacted by people who have been unable to get the test and unable to get the results back. This is in contrast to other jurisdictions that have found ways to do mass testing.
We need to make the expansion and availability of the tests a national priority and mobilize any and all resources to get the job done.
There are many concerns about limitations to the assistance that the federal government has put in place for this pandemic. Other jurisdictions have moved to much bolder supports for workers and the self-employed. As transportation critic for the NDP I have called for the government to make a special effort to help support essential transport workers like truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers and air transport workers in this challenging time.
There have also been very real problems in actually putting things in place in anticipation of being hit by the pandemic. What a contrast between the First Nations that have taken bold initiatives to shut down access to their communities for anything other than essential purposes and the continuing lack of resources that have been put in place by the federal government in northern and Indigenous communities in advance of the potential impact of the pandemic.
One thing is clear. We have to do everything possible to be prepared. Quite simply put you cannot be overprepared for a disaster. The only thing that will create great difficulty is being underprepared.
Another thing is clear as well. As we watch the horrific situation that is developing in other parts of the world we cannot afford to sit back. We cannot afford to be complacent.
When I talk to people across our region and across our country there is no doubt there is a real spirit of social solidarity. People know we’re in this together. They’re concerned and they want to make sure that everything is done to protect them and their families and their communities.
As a Member of Parliament I will be continuing to push for real action.
Time is of the essence.We must respond now.