MANITOULIN–The Manitoulin COVID-19 Leadership Co-ordination Committee met for its fourth session on May 26 and is pleased to report that community leaders comprising of four First Nations (including the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising [UCCMM] Tribal Council) and seven municipalities participated in the committee’s deliberations. Based on the committee’s rotating chair format, Chief Dean Roy of Sheshegwaning First Nation chaired the meeting following Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin’s leadership last week.
The committee discussed at length the priority of access to COVID-19 testing on the Island. With the May 24 announcement by Public Health and the Ministry of Health that broader testing is becoming available, the committee encourages all to take advantage of this access, including those who are experiencing mild symptoms. All essential service providers are encouraged to seek testing, as this will ensure their safety and the safety of those community members that they are supporting. Health testing may be done in-home by the COVID-19 Paramedic Response Team. The committee is therefore encouraging use of these resources without fear of stigma. It is essential when these important health resources are made available that good sense prevails and we all access testing where available.
All members of the committee expressed their concern that the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions does not create a dangerous sense of complacency. It is only by remaining vigilant and cautious that the fallout of the pandemic will remain under control. Reeve Ken Noland spoke about the importance of caution as communities begin to start thinking about preparation for reopening. The committee emphasizes the importance of continuing to respect the restrictions that are currently in place and reminds residents to abide by closure rules in relation to public recreation areas and businesses.
The “shop local” priority was the subject of extensive deliberations by the committee. All Island leaders recognized the serious economic fragility that local businesses face. Once again, municipal and Indigenous leaders alike are calling on Island residents to keep business on the Island and support local enterprise. The very real fear is that the economic damage that is being wrought across this province could irreversibly spell serious impacts for our most cherished businesses on the island.
The next Manitoulin COVID-19 Leadership Co-ordination Committee meeting will occur on Tuesday, June 2.