There is no doubt that our daily lives have changed dramatically over the past few months. The COVID-19 outbreak has ushered in emergency actions from governments around the world at a pace unseen before. And while we continue to adapt to the ever-changing situation to combat the COVID-19 virus, I am reminded how fortunate we all are to live in a country and a province, that when faced with adversity, comes together to support each other.
The Fort Frances and Rainy River region has shown remarkable resiliency and resourcefulness as we find new ways to support those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Volunteers and businesses alike have come together to support one another; by sewing handmade masks to protect our most vulnerable, providing meals to our frontline workers, or through generous donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) from businesses across every industry.
For the first time since the World War II we have seen businesses make drastic shifts in production to produce essential products like face masks, hand sanitizer and ventilators. Right here in Fort Frances, students at the Seven Generations Education Institute are using 3D printers to produce face shields for our frontline health care, and distilleries across the region have shifted production to produce hand sanitizer.
We are thankful for the courageous health care professionals and personal support workers who are working tirelessly to combat the COVID-19 virus head on. And as we navigate these unchartered waters, we are reminded of the other essential workers who have become the unsung heroes of the day, including grocery store employees, pharmacists, and truck drivers and many more.
It is also important to thank the millions of people across Ontario doing their part by staying home.
On Monday, Ontario released updated COVID-19 modelling that shows our enhanced public health measures are working and we are flattening the curve. While progress is being made, it is critical we continue to follow the guidelines of medical officials and continue to limit non-essential travel and stay home.
Everyone is playing a part in the fight against COVID-19, and our government is taking all actions necessary to contain this spread and protect our most vulnerable.
In recent days Ontario has announced an increase in hospital capacity and testing capabilities across the province and we continue to work closely with the Northwestern Health Unit to ensure test results are coming back to our communities as fast as possible. We have also taken immediate actions to protect those in long-term care to ensure staff and residents have the personal protection and testing kits needed to keep our seniors safe.
Under my own ministry of Indigenous Affairs, I am working closely with Indigenous leaders across the Northwest to ensure essential supplies and services are delivered to the far-reaching communities of the north, and our government is providing emergency funding directly to communities to support their ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.
I remain in close contact with health care and community leaders across the region, and continue to provide daily updates and information that matter most to Northwesterners on my website at www.gregrickfordmpp.ca and Facebook page (facebook.com/GregRickfordPC). My constituency office remains open for phone calls and email inquiries and my team is just a call away, 807-274-7619.
As always, it is an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Kenora-Rainy River – we will get through this together.