The Chiefs of Ontario and the Leadership Council are working to ensure that First Nations in Ontario are prepared for the potential impacts of COVID-19. On Thursday, March 12, 2020, as you are aware, the WHO characterized COVID-19, a new strain of influenza as a pandemic, which means that there is a spread of a new virus worldwide.
While the risk of transmission remains low in Ontario, measures to prevent or slow down transmission are encouraged, such as cancelling or postponing all in-person meetings or events of more than 250 people and office closures. These are the steps that are being taken by the Chiefs of Ontario.
Decisions to cancel events are not taken lightly and I applaud those who have taken these steps such as the Little NHL as this step puts the health and safety of our communities at the forefront.
In the face of a pandemic, community plans are essential to mitigating the transmission of the virus. Many of our communities may have pandemic plans but these tend to be outdated and therefore cannot address the flood of potential issues. This is why I am taking steps to contact the federal and provincial governments to ensure the necessary resources and equipment are available to manage any issue should they arise.
As a mechanism to support Leadership, the Office of the Regional Chief will hold weekly calls to provide updates, hear concerns, and share all information as it becomes available. These weekly calls were initiated by the Leadership Council comprised of the Grand Chiefs and the Independent First Nations Chiefs.
Again, while the risk of transmission currently remains low, we must ensure that all proactive, preventative measures are taken to minimize risks to our communities, particularly our most vulnerable community citizens, Elders, those with chronic illness and those with compromised immune systems.