Jeff Burch MPP, Niagara Centre

Government of Ontario

NDP MPPs call on the Ford government to work with public health on vaccine distribution for Niagara

Published on January 8, 2021

NIAGARA –  NDP MPPs Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls), Jennie Stevens (St. Catharines) and Jeff Burch (Niagara Centre) are calling on the Ford Government to increase the role of Niagara Public Health in the distribution strategy of the COVID-19 vaccine and ensure long-term care residents and frontline healthcare workers have quick access to the vaccine.
“We have spoken directly with public health officials and frontline health care staff that have expressed serious concern about the rollout of vaccines in Niagara,” said Gates. “We do not need to reinvent the wheel, our public health units have ample experience in vaccine distribution—specifically, they have the expertise to get the vaccine into our long-term care homes quickly. Niagara is struggling with outbreaks in these homes and our healthcare workers are stretched to the breaking point. This vaccine will save lives and protect workers, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be using the quickest method to get it out which is our local teams.”
Niagara has faced dramatic increases in daily cases of COVID-19, including exploding outbreaks in Niagara long-term care and retirement homes, with 50 per cent of long term care homes in Niagara  currently in outbreak. Public health officials have criticized the provinces slow and cumbersome roll out of the vaccine distribution.
“Niagara’s seniors and frontline health care staff cannot wait any longer to receive life-saving vaccinations, while there are 46 active outbreaks across the region,” said Stevens. “No long-term care home should be left out, while the province sits with thousands of vaccines in the freezer and more coming every week. It is not enough to make vague promises of a vaccination arriving, while the province does not openly share their vaccine plan with our local public health experts. Families are watching their loved ones die, and it's time the Ford government provides timely access to vaccinations and a plan that includes our local public health teams.”
“Niagara Public Health and Niagara Health System have already announced they have plans in place for vaccine distribution,” said Burch “My office is being inundated with calls from frontline health care workers and families of long term care residents wanting to know that Niagara will receive its share of the vaccine as quickly as possible. This government must do better in communicating its plans to get vaccines out of freezers and into the arms of our most vulnerable seniors and front line workers. And they must listen to and work with our local public health unit who are the ones with the knowledge and expertise to roll it out as quickly and efficiently as possible.“