Call for investigation into handling of COVID-19 positive farm workers brought to Brantford

Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis says he will be asking the province to investigate the handling of the COVID-19 positive workers brought from Norfolk County to a Brantford hotel to quarantine. Davis is questioning why his city is dealing with the consequences of a farm outbreak outside of his community.

122 migrant workers affected by a COVID-19 outbreak at a farm in Vittoria are now serving their mandatory 14 day isolation period at the Best Western Brant Park Inn in Brantford.

Davis says he feels strongly that the City of Brantford should have been provided more notice before the affected worker’s move. He says he’s also unconvinced every possible avenue was explored to isolate the farm workers in the Haldimand-Norfolk area.

Davis says he takes pride in being a good neighbour and wants to provide support to Haldimand-Norfolk when and where possible, but is concerned the local healthcare system could be overwhelmed, should a number of the farm workers in Brantford become seriously ill.

“As Mayor, I was not given any opportunity to provide feedback or approve this action. In fact, there was NO consultation prior to this decision being made. To say I am disappointed with this blatant lack of communication is an understatement.”

Kevin Davis, Brantford Mayor

Brantford-Brant MPP, Will Bouma, says he is deeply troubled by the lack of information shared from the Brant and Haldimand-Norfolk health units with the Emergency Operations Centre. Bouma says he and the area’s mayors heard second-hand of the move to quarantine the workers within the city, and notes there were no consultations offered outside the health units.

“I was dismayed that the health units wouldn’t have used the same thinking as our (provincial) government has been doing to make sure that everything is in place and everyone is aware of what’s going on,” Bouma says. “If we’re moving 100 people who are COVID positive into the community and ten percent of them needed hospitalization it would completely overwhelm Brant Community Health Care System.”

“Not because we would turn these people away, but to have had a conversation with Dr. McNeil at the hospital, to be able to coordinate so that we would have procedures in place. Just having the decision made without talking to anyone I find very disappointing.”

Will Bouma, Brantford-Brant MPP

“I’d really like to see an investigation into what happened. The decisions that were made,” says Bouma. “I’m working jointly with the Mayor of Brantford, Kevin Davis and Mayor Bailey from the County of Brant and MP, Phil McColeman to write a letter to the Cheif Medical Officer of Health so we can get to the bottom of how these decisions can be made without any consultation with stakeholders.”

Bouma also stresses this isn’t an issue about showing hospitality to neighbours in need. “I am so thankful for the temporary foreign workers who work so hard in our agricultural community to make sure we have food on the table,” he says. “They leave their family and loved ones at home, far away, and are here for a number of months.”