Dear Minister Elliot,
I’m writing to request that the Ministry of Health provide funding to Ontario’s local Public Health Units (PHUs) to source and widely distribute masks across Ontario’s communities.
With most of Ontario’s regions in or moving towards Stage 2 of the province’s Framework for Re-Opening our Province this week, Ontarians are coming in closer contact with others in their daily interactions. While the numbers of new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario continue to drop, the public needs to continue to exercise caution, including physical distancing and good hand and cough hygiene to prevent a second wave of outbreaks and further shutdowns.
The vast majority of Ontarians want to be safe. They want to protect themselves and their families and continue to work to eradicate COVID-19. They have complied with closures of non-essential businesses and schools, and have stayed home whenever possible. However, many still lack access to masks and face coverings because the demand for PPE continues to outpace supply. Access to face masks is a particular concern for our society’s most vulnerable members, including seniors on fixed incomes who are at elevated risk of contracting COVID-19, and low-income Ontarians who often work in essential jobs and rely on public transit.
In hotspot areas like my riding of Scarborough-Guildwood where there is an elevated risk risk of virus spread, there is growing evidence of the effectiveness of wearing non-medical masks in public to reduce the risk of infection.
I am requesting that the Ministry of Health provide funding to local PHUs to purchase and distribute face masks to their communities. I am also requesting that the Ministry provide face masks to food banks and community partners like Collective Action and Response for Everyone in Scarborough (CARES) to reach those most in need. This will allow local officials to direct resources to where they are most needed and effective, so that Ontarians can continue to be safe while our province works towards resuming normalcy.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. I would be happy to discuss it with you further at your convenience.