Dufferin News Municipal

Dufferin County Rejects WDGPH Request for Assistance

Dufferin County Rejects WDGPH's Request for Assistance

Dufferin County received an informal request from the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit to assist with the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. It was denied.

On January 28th, at a meeting held by Dufferin County’s Health and Human Services Committee, Dufferin County’s Chief Administrative Officer Sonya Pritchard shared how WDGPH was asking for five staff members to be sent to help with organizational and administrative duties related to the distribution of the vaccine. It is expected that these people would be needed for approximately six months.

“We really don’t have five staff that we can give up until June 30th,” said Pritchard. She explained how they would work with WDGPH to explore additional options and that they would do everything that they could to provide support, “but in terms of actually sending five staff to work at public health full time, I’m not sure that’s an option.”

Dufferin Councillor and Mayor of Mulmur Janet Horner inquired whether the county staff that had been laid off from the EarlyOn program would be suitable for these tasks.

“It is certainly something we discussed, but most of those staff are casual or part-time workers, and this is a full-time ask, and the County is being asked to pay the costs and provide computers,” explained Pritchard. She also mentioned how they were unsure whether the state of affairs with the staff members and the EarlyOn service would change between now and June 30th.

A similar request was made of Wellington County, except it was to redeploy twenty-five members of their staff to the region’s public health unit. The County of Wellington announced that it would step up to assist with the roll-out of the vaccine on January 18th, 2021.

“The County of Wellington will continue to support Dr. Mercer and the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health team in any way possible,” said Wellington’s Warden Kelly Linton. “The faster we can get people vaccinated, the faster we can resume a sense of normalcy in our lives.”

The redeployed staff will remain employed by Wellington County, but are expected to work with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health performing data entry into a software system called COVAX, which requires recipients’ information to be populated in real-time. Wellington County declared that it would send more staff if necessary.

“The size and scope of the project of providing everyone in our region a COVID-19 vaccine who wishes to have one will require a major collaborative effort. I wish to thank the Warden, councillors and staff of Wellington County for this support and their valued partnership in the largest public health campaign in decades,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, as stated in the County of Wellington’s news release on the matter.

The topic of the individual municipalities of Dufferin sending staff, in place of Dufferin County, had come up during a meeting of council for the Town of Mono that was held on February 9th, 2021.

“From what we can see this is a secondment where municipalities would be paying to put one of their staffs into the health unit. It really is an insidious form of downloading,” said the Town of Mono’s Chief Administrative Officer Mark Early, referencing discussions that had taken place with other CAOs of the county. “From what we can see, we get the point that there may be staff available, staff that have been laid off, and with the municipalities in Dufferin that are under those circumstances that is something they were looking at. I think that’s kind of where it was left.”

Mono’s Deputy Mayor John took issue that this was being classified as a ‘download’.

“There is nothing more important than getting this vaccine out into the public. All the health unit appears to be asking is if we have an individual on staff that we can volunteer.” asserted Creelman. “I think it’s absolutely critical that we treat that request seriously and that we move heaven and earth to try and provide people to the health unit so that this job can get done.”

Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is scheduled to present Dufferin County Council with an update on COVID-19 during the meeting that begins at 2:00 pm today, which can be viewed on the Dufferin County YouTube channel. It is expected that a formal request for assistance will be made to Dufferin Council.

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