Funding talks underway for Isolation and Recovery Centre in Windsor

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens at the city's Emergency Operations Centre, February 28, 2020. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

The City of Windsor hopes the federal government comes through with another $17.8-million to fund an isolation and recovery centre for temporary foreign workers who have COVID-19.

That’s how much the city received last year to put those workers up in hotels in Windsor, and the funding runs out at the end of March.

Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk said the federal government agrees the centre is crucial to the region’s efforts to control the spread of the virus. Conversations about extending the funding have been underway for the past month-and-a-half. Kusmierczyk plans to bring it up again on Tuesday in a meeting with Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough.

“The isolation and recovery centre is absolutely pivotal to our ability to manage COVID in this region, especially knowing that we have 10,000 temporary foreign workers that come to this area every single year,” said Kusmierczyk. “I’ve had conversations with all five ministers that have their hand on this file.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens admits operating the centre has put a strain on city resources, so he’s asking his partners in the county to provide some of their workers.

“It is the City of Windsor that has the majority of hotel rooms, and so the system that has been set up — is working fine, but it does require some city human resources,” he explained. “Our friends in Essex County — I believe, have a responsibility recognizing that we are providing a service. We don’t have farms in the City of Windsor.”

The city has no plans to reopen a separate isolation and recovery centre for the homeless. However, Dilkens said that could change.