COVID-19: No end in sight for Waterloo Region’s state of emergency

The Region of Waterloo administrative building on Frederick Street in Waterloo. Kevin Nielsen / Global News

While the cities of Guelph and Brantford have announced an end to the states of emergency due to COVID-19 in those cities, local officials say it may be a while before it is lifted in Waterloo Region.

“I think it’s important that each municipality look at the reasons that the emergency declaration was in place and every municipality is different,” CAO Bruce Lauckner told reporters on Friday morning, while noting that the region has talked to the other municipalities it contains about the situation.

He then went on to provide an example as to why the move will come later, rather than sooner.

“We still need to move staff around to support our shelter systems from time to time because COVID is still active,” Lauckner said.

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“So as we have confidence that the shelter systems, the hospitals, that our vaccine clinics and so on, no longer require operational support like that, then that would be a reason for us to end the emergency declaration.”

He also noted that while the pandemic has eased, many of the people working on the front lines have been dealing with it for two years now.

“So I think the worst thing we could do (is end the state of) emergency right now and then find out next week that we still have to move people,” he said. “Remember a lot of people haven’t had time to recover.

“I prefer to err on the side of caution and allow for some recovery time, allow for some people to recoup. And that may require us to still shift resources to give that time off.”

Aside from the flexibility it provides, Regional Chair Karen Redman also pointed to financial reasons why the state of emergency will remain.

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“The declaration of a state of emergency also has in the immediate history allowed us to access some funds that are available at the provincial and federal level, as well as covering volunteers who were redeployed to positions within the region to provide services to be covered with WSIB,” she explained.

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“So there’s a few sort of technical reasons as well why I wouldn’t rush to declare the state of emergency over at the regional level.”

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