The first virtual meeting of the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus (EOWC) focused on a review and revamp of priorities to pursue for Eastern Ontario. The May 29 teleconference finished with agreement that recovery plans for Eastern Ontario in the wake of the pandemic takes priority.
“During these unprecedented and challenging times,” stated EOWC Chairman Andy Letham, “the EOWC remains committed to ensuring that rural Eastern Ontario’s needs are met and will continue to work collaboratively with provincial and federal governments on recovery efforts.”
The revised priorities of the EOWC include four goals: long-term care service, improved and enhanced broadband and cellular service accessibility, economic recovery, and municipal recovery.
The EOWC priorities brief noted the greatest public health impact of the pandemic in Eastern Ontario was the long-term care sector, with the risk of outbreaks in seniors care facilities among the most vulnerable members of the regional population. The EOWC will do its own “comprehensive current-state analyis of the municipally operated long-term care sector” to help the provincial government its planned investigation of the state of long-term care for seniors in Ontario.
The EOWC noted that the pandemic “highlighted the urgent need for infrastructure upgrades” for broadband and cellular service in the region. The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) will get priority attention from the EOWC for its Cellular Gap project to eliminate cellular phone service “dead zones” in Eastern Ontario and also continue to improve rural Internet access.
Economic and municipal recovery are seen as twin goals for the EOWC now in the wake of the pandemic. The EOWC will look at ways it can help both municipalities and the business sector in their efforts to return to normal operations.