COVID-19: Guelph mayor lays out list of demands for Ontario government

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario considering extending stay-at-home order' COVID-19: Ontario considering extending stay-at-home order
The state of emergency has already been extended until June 2 in Ontario, however, no date has been confirmed for the possible extension of the stay-at-home order. Marianne Dimain reports. – May 11, 2021

While he’s usually known for having a little bit of fun on Twitter, one of Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie’s latest tweets is all business.

Guthrie posted a list of demands for the Ontario government on Tuesday, including opening outdoor recreational amenities and telling people now if the stay-at-home order will be extended past May 20.

Read more: COVID-19: Ontario government looking to extend provincewide stay-at-home order into June

Guthrie said there has been an ongoing lack of communication from Queen’s Park during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would have thought that over a year later, they would have been able to solve the communication problem,” Guthrie said in a phone call. “It’s quite disappointing when we continually don’t have clear and concise communication.”

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He added that the province has to do a better job of informing municipalities of what is about to occur and is frustrated that city hall hears about provincial restrictions being imposed and lifted at the same time everyone else does.

“The amount of work that we have to do to prep for opening and/or closing of municipal facilities, including the calling back of staff, and getting all that prepped — we need to know in advance,” he said.

“But beyond the municipal part, strictly speaking about businesses, they need to know now. Are they planning to open or are they not?”

The Ontario government is looking to extend the provincewide stay-at-home order past its scheduled end date of May 20 and into June amid the third wave of COVID-19, sources tell Global News.

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The Ford government cabinet is working to finalize the date, yet sources said the province is looking to extend the order until at least June 2.

There have also been calls to lift restrictions on outdoor recreation even if the order is extended.

Guthrie pointed out that the provincial science table has not even recommended that they be closed and added that it is taking a toll on the mental health of the city’s youth.

“I believe that they can be opened safely and it’s the right thing to do for our youth,” he said. “Golf is getting a lot of attention but I don’t put golf ahead of little league baseball by any means.”

Read more: Ontario could reopen more outdoor spaces even with stay-at-home order, science table adviser says

The scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has said outdoor activities like golf, tennis and beach volleyball are low-risk and with some additional instruction, the province could allow people to once again participate in the sports.

Dr. Peter Juni said people should wear masks if physical distancing cannot be maintained and higher-risk activities linked to many sports — like car-pooling or sharing a locker room — should be discouraged.

“It’s absolutely doable,” he said of reopening outdoor recreational facilities. “It allows you to play beach volleyball or baseball, for example, all relatively easily. You just need to adhere to these rules.”

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Mayor Guthrie is also asking the provincial government to increase funding for mental health supports

“Mental health supports need to be there, not only now but there will need to be a long-term commitment,” he said.

“I really believe that this is becoming very difficult for our young people and being a dad of two teenagers, I am hearing the struggles of not only what they are going through but what their friends are going through and it is very concerning.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Small businesses in Ontario bracing for possible extended closures' COVID-19: Small businesses in Ontario bracing for possible extended closures
COVID-19: Small businesses in Ontario bracing for possible extended closures – May 11, 2021

Guthrie wants the government to fix current supports for businesses as well but also create new ones for those workplaces enduring the latest wave of the pandemic.

Read more: Ontario businesses bristle at potential COVID-19 stay-at-home order extension

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He said some business owners applied for pandemic-related funding months ago and still have not heard back from the Ontario government.

“I think a lot of them are on the verge of giving up,” he said.

“There is an unfair playing field when it comes to the big box stores versus the smaller and medium stores. It’s taking a toll and it’s really difficult to watch.”

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