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GTHA Mayors and Chairs concerned about COVID-19 variants

HAMILTON, ON - Today, Mayors and Chairs from the 11 largest municipal governments across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area held their regular weekly meeting to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19 across the region.

Throughout the pandemic, the Mayors and Chairs have been focused on stopping the spread of the virus and ensuring that when we reopen we can do it safely. That focus continues as the province moves to put regions back into its reopening framework.

The Mayors and Chairs acknowledge the advice of our public health professionals across the region that COVID-19 remains a significant threat and the variants are now further raising the severity of that threat.

The Mayors and Chairs agree that our priority must be the continued safe reopening of the schools and that we should focus on that in the short term while we monitor the broader impact of the variants. Our municipalities and local health units are committed to working with the province to respond to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases involving variants of concern.

The Mayors and Chairs also acknowledged the Government of Canada's commitment announced last week to a landmark investment of $15 billion in public transit over eight years. This permanent federal transit funding is great news for the GTHA and will help significantly improve transit systems.

The federal announcement shows the strength of the working relationships between our municipal governments, the Government of Ontario, and the Government of Canada. And the Mayors and Chairs look forward to further details on how the GTHA will receive its fair share of this new transit funding.

It is also a positive sign as discussions continue around the need for the federal and provincial governments to come forward with 2021 operating funding support for municipalities to keep fighting the pandemic. A number of the Mayors and Chairs were part of encouraging discussions with Prime Minister Trudeau, senior federal ministers and the Big City Mayors' Caucus last week and that advocacy on behalf of all GTHA municipalities is continuing with the objective of achieving Safe Restart 2.0 2021 funding to assist with items such as transit revenue shortfalls.

The Mayors and Chairs also expressed grave concern about any abusive treatment accorded Public Health officials as they carry out their pandemic duties. This kind of rhetoric is unacceptable and we stand behind these valued public officials as they try to discharge their difficult responsibilities.

“As many municipalities begin to reopen and lift restrictions, we must remember it is still up to each of us individually and across all sectors to continue to help slow the spread of this virus. We are still in a crisis and need to continue following all public health and safety measures in order to help protect the health and well-being of everyone in our communities. I am optimistic our collective hard work over the past few weeks will not be in vain. We need to keep working together to protect one another.”

- Mayor Fred Eisenberger