Mayor and Task Force Focus on PPE and Mental Health in Third Meeting

Mayor Cam Guthrie’s Task Force on Economic Recovery met virtually again on Wednesday with a focus this week on a couple of key areas. On the one hand, the Mayor is looking for local options to get more personal protective equipment, and on the other hand, there are also concerns about the mental well-being of people during this phase of the pandemic. Here’s the latest update about the task force’s activities.

“Now that we’ve been given the go-ahead from the Province to re-open some parts of the economy, the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery is focused on helping local businesses get back up and running so they can begin to recover from the widespread financial losses they’ve suffered over the past few months,” said Guthrie in a statement. “Community safety is still our top priority, so the Task Force is working to help businesses plan for re-opening in a way that protects workers and the public and complies with public health protocols to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

In terms of getting much needed PPE, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and the task force are working with businesses like Hall Telecommunications, Dixon’s Distilled Spirits and Linamar to create a central directory to assist local businesses to find area resources for PPE, which remains one of the biggest obstacles the keeps approved businesses and services from re-opening their doors.

“As we cautiously re-open businesses, the safety of workers and consumers is crucial,” said Shakiba Shayani, CEO of the Chamber. “This is why we wanted to assist with the coordination of centralizing purchasing PPE. I’m pleased so many Guelph Chamber members continue to step up and help with this endeavour.”

In terms of mental health, the task force is supporting a number of resources and programs designed to help employers and employees navigate these tricky times psychologically speaking.

The Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington is offering various online tools to people as they tackle the mental health concerns that come with the pandemic. Along with webinars for promoting good meantal health at work, there’s the Here4Help website that has resources for parents, children, seniors and caregivers, along with tips for the handling mental health issues at the workplace. For more clinical services, there’s Here4Healthcare, which provides psychiatry, as well as individual and group therapy, from healthcare providers working on the frontlines of the pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen a significant baseline change in the mental health of Guelph residents with increased presentations of anxiety, fear, quarantine fatigue and worry for the future,” said Helen Fishburn, the executive director of CMHA Waterloo Wellington.

“As we consider the resumption of our economic activity in our city, there will be a range of reactions, and it will be critical to pay attention to and support the mental health needs of our workforce,” Fishburn added. “It will be essential to not only keep our workforce physically safe, but psychologically safe as well. This equal balance between physical safety and mental health wellness will be key factors in a strong economic return.”

In the meantime, you can find out how to support local businesses, or find resources for your small business as you ride the wave of COVID-related issues, by accessing the City’s Mind Your Business Page here. The next meeting of the Mayor’s Task Force is June 17.

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