Published Wednesday, November 25, 2020 12:08PM EST
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said the “elephant in the room” continues to be that new cases in the region are circulating among the “abundance of essential workers” in Peel Region.
“Despite that fact that we are in a lockdown, the two largest sectors in Brampton are transportation logistics and food processing. So the major segments of our workforce are not shut down. They are in full operations and because of that, it is not as simple as thinking the numbers will go down after 28 days,” Brown said at a news conference on Wednesday morning.
Restaurants can still open for takeout and delivery and stores are permitted to offer curbside pickup and delivery.
Toronto and Peel have consistently been the two regions in the province with the highest number of new daily cases throughout the pandemic.
The rolling seven-day average of new infections currently stands at 413 in Toronto and 421 in Peel.
“If Canadians are willing to give up having food in the grocery stores and being able to order their goods on Amazon, you shut down those sectors, you know maybe you could see those numbers go down more dramatically,”Brown said.
He noted that in order to protect those workers and slow the spread of the disease, employees need better sick benefits.
He added that a dedicated isolation centre must also be set up in northeast corner of Brampton, which has been one of areas of the GTA hardest hit during the second wave of the pandemic.
“If we have sick benefits, if we have an isolation centre, those are tools that will help us deal where we have really had significant outbreaks,” he said.
Brown said to date, there have been 126 workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 in Peel Region.
“There has to be an appreciation that we have residents that are in difficult conditions where there is enhanced risk because of their work,” he said.
Brown said there is now pressure on the federal government to do more for workers who become infected with COVID-19 and he noted that City of Brampton recently sent a formal request to federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu for the construction of a new isolation centre.
Dr. Lawrence Loh said in the meantime, people must eliminate all “discretionary” contact with people outside their households, including over the holidays.
“On those holidays to come… I also know that not being able to gather as usual weighs on our health and wellbeing,” he said. “But we know that we must stay apart to protect our loved ones and make sure that there isn’t empty seats at the table next year.”