Today’s update is very important for a number of reasons. Firstly, the virus is continuing to spread and we now have 194 cases in Manitoba so the measures we put in place are very important for all of us to follow as we have not reached the peak yet. I indicated in my update yesterday that as we now have community spread in Manitoba, the numbers are climbing and more cases are requiring hospitalization. While the overall numbers are climbing, there are still only two cases in the Northern Regional Health Authority and we want to keep it that way.

Secondly, it unfortunately came to my attention today that part of my update yesterday may have been based on a misunderstanding. I was advised that the second case in the northern health region was in Thompson. I have since learned that locations within a regional health authority are not generally identified although positive cases at health institutions among health workers have been identified. Therefore, it appears that the information I received was based on a misunderstanding.

Even though the information provided to me was provided in good faith so our community could be prepared, I sincerely regret any difficulties my update to our community may have caused. Given the fear and anxiety this pandemic is causing in our community and globally, I want to indicate how truly sorry I am if the information provided yesterday about the location of the second case caused further fear and anxiety in our community, in Thompson and across the north. That was clearly not my intention.

The Need for Better Information

Thirdly, while I acknowledge the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer for Manitoba has indicated the location of confirmed cases should not matter as we should all be practicing social distancing and staying at home, this experience indicates to me that we need better more specific information including location. The north is a very large place and it is only by having better information that we can make informed decisions and not cause more fear and anxiety in communities like ours.

Even knowing if there is community spread near our major northern centres would help all of us plan. My Council and I are required to make multiple decisions each day to respond to the challenges this pandemic has caused and we need as much factual information as possible.

Our health and wellness team, our emergency management team, our executive management team and all our staff are dedicated and are working countless hours to provide timely, accurate information so that we can deliver the services you need during this pandemic. I hope you will honour and respect their dedication and show appreciation for their efforts.

Recognizing Our Unique Challenges

I recognize that our community, like many others across the north, are already finding it very difficult to follow the guidelines – staying at home, physical distancing, frequent hand washing and sanitizing our homes. I have been listening to the people in our community and around the north. I know how very difficult it is to follow these public health directives when there are 10 to 20 people living in a house and our water supply is stretched to the limit because we have been trying to get a new water plant built for over a decade.

I understand the challenges you are facing and my Council and I and our team will continue to do all that we can to make our community safe. We all have to assume that anyone we come in contact with could be a carrier of this virus. Therefore, we must all follow the guidelines given to us by our health professionals.

We ask that you be patient with us, as we are learning on the go in this fast moving, unprecedented environment. Our goal remains keeping our community and all our Citizens living across the north and in this Province, safe and healthy.

I will continue to provide you with updates based on the most accurate information I have available at any given time.