City of Thunder Bay declares state of emergency due to COVID-19

Mayor Bill Mauro has declared a state of emergency for the city of Thunder Bay, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration came into effect at 2 p.m. on Thursday April 23, 2020.

City officials said the decision aligns with Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

“As the public health response continues to evolve, with additional testing and enhanced screening, pressures increase on us as a Corporation to meet our staffing requirements,” said Mayor Bill Mauro in a media release. “As a result, we need to have available to us all the tools that will allow us to continue critical and essential services to our residents.”

Mauro said he received a letter from Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, dated April 16, advising that municipalities must make a declaration of emergency to have flexibility during the emergency to redeploy or reassign staff as required.

“The declaration is required by the province in order to give us flexibility to redeploy employees, notwithstanding agreements that may be in place. I have reached out to union leaders to express to them that this declaration is necessary to give force to the provincial order,” he said.

According to the city, the declaration was made in consultation with the City’s Emergency Response Team led by the City Manager. The Mayor has also had discussions regarding a declaration with the Municipal Emergency Control Group, including the Thunder Bay District Medical Officer of Health.

The Municipal Emergency Control Group (MECG) held its weekly virtual meeting today with various community partners, including emergency services, health, education and utility sector representatives, as part of its ongoing management of the COVID-19 situation.

City Manager Norm Gale adds that any redeployment will be done in consultation with union leadership.

“The City of Thunder Bay appreciates the support of the union groups representing its employees through the COVID-19 emergency response and will continue to work through them collaboratively when reassigning staff or making other adjustments as required,” said Gale. “Our positive, respectful relationship is a priority.” 

Mauro added that the declaration is important, and people must be more vigilant than ever while the community continues to face the threat of COVID-19.

“With this declaration of emergency, I am also sending a strong and clear signal that COVID-19 is a threat to the people of Thunder Bay. Everyone must do their part to prevent the spread of this deadly virus,” he said. “Public health has said we have benefited as a community from the actions we have already taken to cease non-essential services.”

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