The April 16 event took place in the evening with federal MP Francis Drouin acting as the host, MPP Amanda Simard as a guest co-host, and Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical health officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) as guest of honour and the main speaker in the end as he answered numerous questions from local residents asking about COVID-19 and what they should do or needed to do to get through the pandemic situation.
“The goal was to give information out,” said Drouin during a later interview, “and to receive information from constituents.”
Drouin noted that the pandemic prevents his usual practice of holding public information meetings for GPR residents on specific issues. He and Simard combined their mutual constituent databases to organize the virtual town hall event. A company was contracted to do an automated telephone call-out to GPR residents before the virtual town hall.
The result was that more than 5000 constituents called in during the Thursday evening event, with more than 1200 staying connected for the entire hour-long town hall session.
Drouin noted that there were some “technical difficulties” with some callers getting disconnected during the virtual town hall. Also, he observed, some GPR residents hung up when the automated call-out contact system phoned them. Drouin said the call may have been mistaken for a “robo-call” or automated telemarketer.