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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Efforts being made at all levels to navigate through Coronavirus emergency

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by Sylene Argent On March 24, Premier Doug Ford announced the province would provide electricity relief to residences, small businesses, and farms for 45-days, during the Coronavirus emergency.   “For a 45-day period, the government is working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour. This reduced price will be available 24-hours per day, seven days a week to all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province,” a news release posted to Newsroom Ontario noted.   The news release continues that time-of-use prices, as of November, 2019, are: Off-Peak: 10.1¢/kWh, Mid-Peak: 14.4¢/kWh, and On Peak: 20.8¢/kWh.   Essex MPP Taras Natyshak said this was a welcomed announcement. “This is something we [the NDP] have been calling for, for several days,” Natyshak said, adding he believes the general public will believe this was an important step to take as it would provide some financial stability during a time of uncertainty.   With the situation changing almost minute-by-minute during the COVID-19 emergency, the NDP has been trying to help the province and federal government because there is no blueprint on how to handle the situation, he said. As the official opposition at Queen’s Park, Natyshak said the NDP is definitely being heard. “I’m optimistic at the lines of communication,” he said, adding it has been easy to forward ideas or suggestions to bureaucrats, who then may be able to launch them.   “We will come out of this together, stronger,” he said.   Lack of personal protection equipment has been a concern, but Natyshak said he is confident the Ministry of Health has identified that as a priority, and that the need is being addressed. The recent request from the Province to the private sector to deliver essentials, Natyshak said, was a good step. Locally, Hiram Walker & Sons has produced hand sanitizer and Brian’s Custom Sports in Kingsville is producing 1800 medical gowns for EMS workers.   When a handle is put on the COVID-19 issue, Natyshak sees public healthcare being a focus, and provincial spending shift to include preparedness, research and development, capacity in the healthcare system, and domestic production on pharmaceutical and healthcare resources and needs, and education.   “To think this won’t happen again is naive,” Natyshak said. “We live in a globalized world. We need to be prepared and make investments in resources.” He added that being better prepared for such pandemics will be necessary in the future. Natyshak encourages everyone to be patient and kind, especially to those who are the most vulnerable.

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