April 21, 2022
Hon. Christine Elliott
Minister of Health
777 Bay St., College Park, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 2J3
Dear Minister Elliott,
As associations representing interprofessional primary healthcare teams, we are concerned about the projected impact of what both Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, and our Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, have confirmed is the sixth wave of COVID-19.
With hospitalizations related to COVID-19 surpassing the 1,600 threshold for the first time since mid-February, we are seeing more individuals in ICUs being treated for COVID-19. While vaccinations and some immunity from prior infection are helpful, being “fully vaccinated” (only 2 doses) or having had the virus does not stop a person’s ability to carry and transmit it to others or to become reinfected.
We ask that you do not end any of the public health measures that are scheduled to be lifted on April 27, especially mandatory masking in all healthcare settings – including primary care clinics – and public transit.
Please also consider reinstating masks in indoor public settings as we know masks reduce spread. At minimum, require their use in essential settings that vulnerable people must go to, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
We need to support healthcare providers and prioritize prevention measures. Decisions based solely on hospital capacity do not keep in mind how precarious our health human resources are – particularly in primary care, where people get care that can prevent them from being hospitalized. In addition, delayed surgeries due to healthcare providers being sick or inundated with COVID-19 cases will continue to hurt Ontarians. We have never seen as many healthcare workers off with COVID-19 as in this wave. This is putting health system capacity and the wellbeing of many Ontarians at great risk. It is critical not to lift any more prevention measures and to protect the scant HR capacity that we currently have.
Thank you for considering our input. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
Kavita Mehta, Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario
Sarah Hobbs, Alliance for Healthier Communities
Caroline Lidstone-Jones, Indigenous Primary Health Care Council