Minister of Health “We have a Long Ways to Go”

THUNDER BAY – Minister of Health Patty Hajdu says, “We’ve managed to sort of flatten the first curve in Canada together but there’s still a long ways to go.”

Speaking with NetNewsLedger the Minister and MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North says there is a lot of work going on, and a lot of work still to do.

Minister Hadju says, “It is really important that we remember that this idea of physical distancing is not over. That gathering in large groups is still not safe. You are protecting your own protecting the health but also the older people in your family.

“What is shocking to me as a Minister of Health as I’ve watched this pandemic unfold in Canada is a number of young 20 to 40 year-olds that get really significantly sick from this virus, maybe there not as much at risk of dying but they’re very it’s a quite severe illness”.

Raising some issues, like the serious impact to the transportation sector, Minister Hadju says,

the Minister of Transport been working with air carriers of all sizes but in particular some of the small carriers to make sure that they can continue operating services.”

Minister Hajdu adds, “I especially want to thank people like NAN Grand Chief Fiddler, and others that have reminded me of the importance to continue to have that airbridge to their communities and for essential services.

Speaking to concerns raised by the Northwestern Ontario Air Carriers Association, the Minister comments,  “We know in terms of the tourism sector in particular and for the regional tourism folks, I know this is a tough time. Where there the difference of course including new supports now for people that don’t fit within the initial concepts of CEBA and the wage subsidy I would encourage them to reach out through their organization to help figure out the next steps for them, but I will say that it is critical right now that we keep the border closed. I was very pleased as a Minister of Health that we were able to negotiate an additional 30 days of nonessential travel restrictions, we know that travel is increasing in general as many countries release some of their restrictions and as Canadians began to move about which is their constitutional right, so we’re working now and internationally and domestically to figure out stronger health measures for all kinds of travel including domestic travel”.

NetNewsLedger raised the issue with Premier Ford on the comment you made that there are federal monies available for intercity bus communication, and his message back to me was “show me the money”.  It does still seem a little confusing here, is there full communication happening at the level it should be with federal and provincial governments?

The Minister says, “I know that when Greyhound service was ended, that the Minister of Transport was clear that provinces that wanted support to fill in the gaps that Greyhound made, that we would look at those requests. To my knowledge those requests were not made by the province at that particular time.”

NetNewsLedger raised the issues of small business in the North.

In the Greenstone area, and they are very worried, first on losing bus service but also on just the general impact on the economy in the northwest with the shutdowns of so many businesses.

The Minister said, “I think that’s a very real worry of our government and that’s why we’ve been investing in small business as an engaged subsidy CEBA and now through FEDNOR for smaller entrepreneurs and others that cannot get traditional loan support or loan support programs and that’s really about trying to protect small business communities all across the country including in rural communities like ours. I know rural communities struggle in general in terms of keeping an economy going so I think this is a very real worry for me as well as a northern member of parliament. I spoke about it a lot with my colleagues and is currently why we’re seeing the investment in business or in these kinds of approaches I am working with my colleagues,  Marcus Polowski and many other northern Ontario MPS on advocating for increased capacity at the local level at work with these small businesses and entrepreneurs who often don’t have revenue of higher than $40,000 or payroll over $40,000 and so we have to protect this community said that it’s more than they don’t just provide an economic boost to the communities in which they exist but it’s also around the cultural fabric of the communities”.