Cottagers asked to stay at home

Press Release

Kenora, Ont. – Greg Rickford, MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, is calling on seasonal residents of Kenora-Rainy River to stay home and refrain from visiting their cottages in Northwestern Ontario.

Residents and health officials have growing concerns over the increasing number of cottagers returning to the area amid the COVID-19 pandemic. MPP Rickford is responding to the calls of concerned constituents and is in close contact with local Mayors, health officials, Indigenous leaders, and MP Eric Melillo who have all expressed serious concerns.

“I am asking Ontarians and Manitobans alike to stay home and refrain from visiting their cottages as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said MPP Rickford. “There were just way too many Manitobans in Kenora and the surrounding area this past weekend. This is not a place to self-isolate. People must return to their primary residences.”

“This is a serious issue for Northwestern communities. We don’t have hospital capacity and the public health risk is too high for people to make leisure visits or open their camps early,” said Rickford. “I am working closely with my provincial colleagues to review all options necessary to protect Kenora-Rainy River’s health care and supply networks.”

Premier Doug Ford has urged all Ontarians to not go to their cottages during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we hope the Manitoba Government will make the same request of its citizens.

“This is a difficult request to make to our valued summer residents and visitors. They are vital to our business community and as spring starts to appear, become a valued part of our community,” said Mayor Dan Reynard, Town of Kenora. “Asking visitors and summer residents not to come to Kenora is everything opposite that Kenora has been working for, but we really need everyone to just stay home. It is key to making the difference in the spread of this virus by what we have seen in other countries. We simply need everyone to follow the direction of the health experts.”

“I support MPP Greg Rickford’s call on cottagers to stay home during the pandemic,” said Francis Kavanaugh, Grand Chief of Grand Council Treaty #3. “Grand Council Treaty #3 is taking all precautions necessary to protect our communities from the COVID-19 and we are asking citizens of neighbouring jurisdictions to respect our efforts.”

“Travel between communities poses a risk, and provides a perfect opportunity for coronavirus to skip from one community to another. If we want to slow the spread, we need to stop non-essential travel between communities,” said Dr. Ian Gemmill, Acting Medical Officer of Health, and Marilyn Herbacz, CEO for the Northwestern Health Unit. “If you are not a permanent resident of our area, even if you have a cottage nearby, please consider that during these strained times, you may not have access to the health care that you need and would be better to remain in the area where you have a family doctor and a health sciences centre.”

Dr. Sean Moore, Chief of Emergency Services at Lake of the Woods District Hospital, has been sounding the alarm about the lack of resources in their ER and ICU.

“We are a tiny operation compared to the hospitals in Manitoba, and we are already well beyond capacity,” said Dr. Sean Moore, Chief of Emergency Services and Lake of the Woods Hospital. “Our infrastructure and staffing is past capacity on a normal day for just our year-round residents. Add several thousand cottagers opening up their camps, and we have the recipe for disaster on our hands.”

MPP Rickford’s office continues to receive calls from concerned constituents and has brought this issue to the attention of his Cabinet colleagues.