Jennie Stevens sent the following open letter calling on Premier Ford to support the efforts of Niagara Health in their ongoing fight against COVID-19 by immediately including Niagara in the urgent delivery of the Moderna vaccine.
January 13, 2021
Office of the Premier
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Ford,
Almost 6000 Niagarans have contracted COVID-19, 205 of our parents, loved ones, and neighbours have lost their lives, with most deaths resulting from Long Term Care home outbreaks. Your government has committed to ensuring that all residents, health care workers and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in the priority regions of Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex receive a COVID-19 vaccination by January 21, 2021. Niagara was left out of the accelerated plan, while it’s case numbers are equal to, or exceed, the areas that were included. Nearly 50 homes are in outbreak including two homes that have been taken over by Niagara Health, because the province was unable to support them. Why does Niagara or any community have to wait to receive vital support? No long-term care home should be considered a non-priority. Only today did Niagara deliver its first vaccination to a healthcare worker, and $12 billion in unspent COVID relief funds should we be able to provide vaccinations in every LTC home in Niagara, and a clear schedule plan on when they would expect it.
Today Niagara Health has written an open letter to request that vaccines arrive faster, and include the Moderna vaccine that can get to residents easier. It is clear that the vaccine roll out has been slow and excluded regions like Niagara, and I stand with the frontline healthcare workers, residents in nursing homes, Hospital staff and the community in demanding we see more equitable treatment. We ask you reconsider this choice to divert the Moderna vaccine from Niagara and instead expedite the delivery of this life-saving medication, which would’ve gone to the most vulnerable population in care. Our public health officials and frontline staff have taken over long term care homes that have been left to struggle in Niagara, and they are risking burnout and further loss of staff that exceeds over 400 members already in NIagara. We are asking for the government to immediately deliver the Moderna vaccine that can more quickly be delivered to the most vulnerable residents in long term care homes and retirement homes. Further, we are reiterating the need for isolation pay for frontline staff that are told to stay at home and not go into work. It is clear the staff members on the front line of this pandemic need more support to ensure burn out does not become a factor at a time when we need them the most. Given the extreme urgency of these matters, we hope to hear from your offices in the coming days. Sincerely,
Jennie Stevens MPP for St. Catharines
C.C Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health
Lynn Guerriero, President of the Niagara Health System