Editorial: We Are Not Simcoe, Don’t Treat Us Like We Are
In case you haven’t heard, Muskoka is in a Yellow Code Alert situation for COVID-19 after the province rolled out its colour coded regional system this week.
What is a Yellow code and why are we in it? Well, let’s explore that a little, starting with the colour codes.
Yellow is one step down from Green, which is the best colour to be under and the one where life feels relatively normal – if you ignore all the mask wearing and lack of random hugs.
Being in the Yellow is basically like being in Green with a heightened sense of impending doom: the case counts in certain areas have spiked and there is a worry an actual outbreak is on the way. Yellow means a few more restrictions than green, but none most of us will notice.
Below Yellow is Orange, Red and finally Grey … You know the drill: each level down are more and more restrictions with Grey being a complete lockdown.
You may be thinking to yourself: why is Muskoka in a yellow? We have almost no active cases (two according to the latest health unit stats on Friday evening); and we’re certainly being careful.
Well, the reason we are in a Yellow colour zone is because for some bureaucratic reason we’ve been lumped in with Simcoe in the regional health unit.
Part of the determination of the colour coding is the number of patients the hospitals can handle in the event of a severe outbreak.
So, when Barrie gets 38 active cases in a week, followed by 36 for Bradford and 32 in New Tecumseh, the alarm bells ring for all of the health unit. Of course, they’re only considering Simcoe hospitals in this coding.
What does that have to do with Muskoka? Absolutely nothing.
When I think about this nonsensical colour coding of regional health units – specifically here in our district – I worry that what happens over 100 km away will have a terribly negative effect on life in our towns and townships.
Imagine next week, Innisfil suddenly has 100 cases and Barrie jumps up to 200. Well, we’ll quickly be in the Orange and be unreasonably and unnecessarily forced into harsher restrictions.
If that keeps going into the red and finally grey – well, I don’t even want to consider the disastrous results of another lockdown on our economy; the businesses that survived the spring are still recovering.
There is also the mental and emotional health of our community at stake.
Really, in this situation Simcoe and Muskoka should be considered separate entities within the Health Unit with one colour for Simcoe and another for Muskoka.
Seeing as we continue to keep our Covid numbers down through good practices and a spacious geographical area, why should we not be in the Green code?
Well, we should be in the Green and our municipal and provincial leaders need to be fighting to make this so. Whether it’s the District of Muskoka Council or MPP Norm Miller, it’s time to go to work for our community.
Make it perfectly clear to Premier Doug Ford and his advisors, this is not an acceptable way to treat Muskoka. We’ve worked hard and done what was asked of us to keep our case counts to virtual non-existence.
Now is the time to show appreciation for our residents’ efforts since this situation began.
Despite the unification in the Health Unit title and district, Muskoka is different than Simcoe and we deserve to be treated as such.
Give us our own colour coding district designation, so we don’t end up in the Red.
By Chris Occhiuzzi, special to HuntersBayRadio.com
When Chris isn’t writing stories for HuntersBayRadio.com, Dockside Publishing or running MuskokaUnlimited.com, you can find him volunteering his time as a coach and board member for the Huntsville Soccer Club.