The prolonged COVID-19 outbreak at the Prescott and Russell Residence in Hawkesbury led to extra accommodation expenses for the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR).  However, those expenses will be fully covered by pandemic grants from the Ontario government.

At the January 13 Committee of the Whole meeting, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Stéphane Parisien explained that during the outbreak that began in October and ended in December, the UCPR rented rooms at Riverrock Inn in Rockland to accommodate paramedics who had been assisting at the Residence, as well as Residence employees who had tested positive for COVID-19, so that they did not have to return to their own homes while infected.  A full block of rooms had to be reserved for 30 days to ensure isolation and safety for other hotel customers.  The cost of the rooms is $70,000, but the amount is fully subsidized by the Ontario government through COVID-19 relief grants.

The UCPR’s Procurement Policy allows for the CAO to authorize expenses to the counties greater than $50,000, but a report of the expense must be submitted to council within 30 days.  Following Stéphane Parisien`s report on January 13, UCPR Council unanimously approved the expense for the hotel accommodation when it met on January 27.  The resolution was moved by Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux and seconded by Hawkesbury Mayor Paula Assaly.

Pandemic finances

During the UCPR Council meeting on January 27, Leroux noted that the provincial government has provided additional financial support to regional governments, particularly for social services and paramedics.  He asked if the additional support was required by the UCPR to cover pandemic-related expenses or has been a bonus of unexpected funding.

“How has this affected the budget?” Leroux asked, with reference to the impact of pandemic costs.

“We are crunching the numbers at this moment,” replied UCPR Treasurer Valérie Parisien.

Clarence-Rockland Mayor Guy Desjardins asked what the financial impact of the pandemic has been on childcare facilities under UCPR regulation.

Director of Social Services Sylvie Millette explained that the situation was difficult for all of the childcare facilities, but the department is still waiting for some form of reconciliation from the province.

UCPR supports SD & G resolution

On January 18, United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SD & G) council adopted a resolution requesting that the Province of Ontario allow small businesses to immediately reopen with required health guidelines and protocols in place.  The SD & G resolution was moved by South Stormont Mayor Bryan McGillis and seconded by South Glengarry Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden.

On January 27, UCPR Council decided to support the SD & G resolution.  There was no debate among UCPR mayors regarding the resolution.  Leroux moved to support the resolution and the motion was seconded by East Hawkesbury Mayor Robert Kirby.