Sarnia councillors reject colleague’s call for province to end lockdowns

Sarnia city/county councillor Margaret Bird. Blackburn News Sarnia file photo.

An overwhelming majority of Sarnia councillors shot down a colleague’s call to petition Ontario’s premier to immediately end pandemic lockdowns.

Margaret Bird wanted council to instruct staff to write a letter to Doug Ford, with a copy to the prime minister, asking that all businesses and organizations be allowed to fully open again. Her motion was rejected by a vote of 8-1.

Bird claimed lockdowns don’t work and contribute to “total economic suicide.”

“Sadness, isolation and distances, distress, desperation, deprivation from celebratory occasions and grieving for losses, with a sharp increase in depression, suicides, abuse, divorce, a general mental, emotional and physical deterioration, along with greatly decreased financial incomes, loss of jobs and in some cases bankruptcy and loss of homes,” said Bird.

She said the same high-risk individuals, including those with underlying health conditions, compromised immune systems and the elderly, are more susceptible no matter what virus or infection is circulating.

“The immune systems we’re born with are incredible mechanisms. We have an enormous selection of broad spectrum antibodies, well able to protect us from any virus whether mutated or not.”

She said “mother nature is incredible and should be allowed to do what she does best.”

The rest of Sarnia council, including Mike Stark, said they’ll listen to the experts.

“I’m interested in saving lives,” said Stark. “I’m happy to take my advice from Dr. Theresa Tam; the Canadian Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Williams; the Ontario Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Anthony Fauci; the Medical Officer of Health for the United States. Seems to me they are the people that should be offering advice, and those are the people that I will be listening too.”

Councillor Terry Burrell said while he agreed with the sentiment of the motion, he couldn’t support it.

“This health crisis is too fundamental, I I think we do have to leave it in the hands of the medical people through the province,” he said. “As I say, I agree with the sentiment, I know it’s hurting the economy, but I do feel that we have to stay the course and try to defeat COVID by facing up to it and using whatever we can. By opening everything up, I think we will be creating more difficulties.”

Councillor Brian White pointed out that Sarnia-Lambton has the highest case count per 100,000 population in the province right now.

“Unfortunately that means something that we’re doing as a collective isn’t working,” said White. “The lockdown is a response to that, not in spite of that. Other parts of the province are far more open than we are. The people there are doing something differently. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of it.”

White, who shared that he lost someone close to him a few weeks ago to COVID, said the solution to opening is for everyone to unify and listen to safety measures outlined by the experts.

Sarnia-Lambton’s COVID-19 incidence rate per 100,000 population increased from 119 to 160 for the week of March 14 to March 20, and the positivity rate rose to 3.7 per cent from 3.3. The area remains in Grey-Lockdown in the province’s response framework.