KENORA – Eric Melillo MP is questioning the Liberal government’s slow pandemic response after the Health Minister boasted that she was “fully briefed” on the risk of COVID-19 by December of last year.
The Kenora MP On September 10th, Liberal Health Minister Patty Hajdu told CTV: “We knew very early about COVID-19, the risk that it posed to human health, and of course, were watching it very carefully in late December, early January, when everybody returned from holidays – I was fully briefed. So we knew about the pandemic.”
MP Melillo is now wondering why the Liberals dragged their feet on taking precautions that would have kept Canadians safe.
“If the Liberal government had implemented travel restrictions or recommended mask wearing when Minister Hajdu first knew about the pandemic, lives could have been saved, and we could have avoided the shutdown that’s devastated businesses and families across Canada,” Melillo stated.
He added: “The government was not just unprepared for COVID-19. They were negligent. And Canadians are paying for it.”
Residents of remote communities in Canada, such as constituents in Melillo’s northern Ontario riding of Kenora, have been particularly affected by the pandemic. Healthcare systems in these regions were already overextended before this crisis, and transportation challenges, housing shortages, and lack of reliable internet make it difficult for residents to self-isolate, practice social distancing, and transition to online work and education.
The economy in these regions has also been uniquely hard-hit due to reliance on tourists and visitors from other parts of the country.
MP Michelle Rempel Garner, the Conservative Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Health, said that the Liberal Health Minister has shown “dangerous incompetence.”
“The Trudeau government has a track record of being slow to react to this pandemic. They shut down our public health early warning system, they allowed millions of masks to be thrown away and not replaced, they dragged their feet on closing our borders, they gave conflicting advice on wearing a mask, and they still have no real plan to deal with a second wave,” Rempel Garner added.