Within the first few months after being elected Mayor of the city of Owen Sound I came to some conclusions and I shared them with the City Manager at the time. “I have concluded” I said, “that the residents could probably get along quite nicely without you and me but they could not get along without the people who collect our garbage, look after the Wastewater Treatment plant, fix the leaks in our water pipes, repair our roads, monitor our water supply…” I went on but the message is clear.

The people in the trenches are critical to our health and safety and although there are huge responsibilities inherent in the positions of Mayor and manager, of Councils and management, without the people on the front lines, it would not work. I wondered then and I wonder now if that is said, or can be said, enough and to that end and on a somewhat different note but same principle, I would like to publicly say what follows.

Recently, as a result of a number of factors, our region has received positive and deserved attention locally and provincially for our collective response to the pandemic. The accolades most notably have been directed towards Dr. Arra, our local Medical Officer of Health. His position carries huge responsibilities without question, but without the support and effort of so very many who are working in more difficult circumstances, this success would not have come. In my opinion, their role has been overlooked in our shared story of success. There is now a perfect opportunity for all of us to once more recognise the people on the front lines of this fight and I would like to add my voice to those who continue to acknowledge and thank these workers.

Leadership positions of course come with stress and disruption and I do not envy Dr. Arra. With certainty he is working hard. But there are so many others who are working equally hard, and with less support. Every day people are gowning up and testing our residents for Covid-19. Every day, staff at our health facilities go home wondering if they’ve been exposed to the virus. Every day, care providers at long term care homes are doing everything possible to protect our loved ones. Every day, physicians and allied care providers navigate new ways of delivering care in challenging circumstances. All are doing it knowing their risk is higher than that of others, and in some cases people are making the difficult decision to isolate themselves from their family to ensure they’re protected. Some staff simply cannot get away from the pandemic.

I know Dr. Arra recognises the work these incredible people are doing and the toll it takes on them. I thought it would not hurt to, one more time, to say thank you to these people from the rest of us. They are risking much and so are their families.

As a former Mayor, and someone married to a family physician, I feel a strong connection to the likely experiences and personal sacrifices of our leadership and frontline workers. I know what it’s like to hold a position of trust and responsibility and the support that comes with it. It’s not always easy, but we sign up for it and have teams that assist us.

But to the nurses and PSWs and physicians and volunteers and so many others, the way they continue to carry out their work and provide hands on care individually is remarkable. Their effort is much of why we are being lauded for our numbers in this area.

The numbers for us may or not remain remarkable but they will the best they can be because of collective efforts of all of us, the MOH, the physicians, the nurses, the paramedics, the teachers, everyone, including you and me but at this particular moment, I have felt compelled to centre out the women and men in front line medicine who deserve that recognition.

To all of you, with deepest respect, Thank You!

Ruth Lovell, Owen Sound