Ontario authorities should ‘instantly’ reopen out of doors areas: Canadian Paediatric Society


The Canadian Pediatric Society is calling on the Ontario provincial government to reopen the outdoor recreation rooms “immediately.” The closure has “devastating effects” on children and young people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an open letter posted on Twitter on Friday, the society said it “cannot exaggerate the scale of the mental health crisis our children and adolescents are facing”.

“We cannot exaggerate the extent of the #mentalhealth crisis that children and adolescents are facing.”

We call @ONgov:
1. Immediately reopen the outdoor recreation rooms to children
2. Mobilize a plan to get students back to school safely. #KidsNeedSchool @fordnation @Sflecce @MacLeodLisa pic.twitter.com/MuNYb6p9Ne

– Canadian Pediatric Society (@CanPaedSociety) May 7, 2021

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“Our clinics and hospitals are overflowing with families caring for children and adolescents in need – eating disorders, anxiety, hopelessness, depression, problem substance use, and more.”

The letter is addressed to Prime Minister Doug Ford, Secretary of Education Stephen Lecce and Secretary of Sport Lisa McLeod.

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Ontario Outdoor Recreational Facilities Remain Closed Until COVID-19 Cases Drop: Minister

The ban on outdoor recreational facilities began in April when the province imposed stricter restrictions and extended a stay-at-home order as new cases of the virus increased.

The Pediatric Society said it wrote to the provincial government last month to express concern that the measures would “further restrict Ontario’s children and adolescents to their homes.”

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The province allowed playgrounds to reopen, but the Canadian Pedeatric Society said that was not enough.

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“Even though they reopened playgrounds, a number of areas are still closed to children and teenagers, including soccer fields, baseball diamonds and basketball courts,” the letter said.

The letter stated that outdoor recreation rooms should be reopened immediately “unless (the government has) data to show that these locations are sources of virus transmission.”

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In addition, experts have argued that the risk of COVID-19 transmission outdoors is much lower than with indoor activities.

“You know, you are robbing people of the safer options because you are doing nothing to affect the places where the disease spreads at a time when our intensive care units are literally collapsing,” said Dr. David Fisman, a professor at the University of Toronto and a member of the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table in Ontario, told Global News in an earlier interview.

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Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease faculty member at the University of Toronto, echoed Fisman’s remarks, saying that closing down recreational activities was “not useful”.

“Outdoor activities are critical to mental and physical health, especially when ordering at home,” he wrote in a tweet after the announcement.

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“The science is clear: outdoor COVID transmission is extremely rare,” he said.

On Tuesday, Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliot said such facilities will remain closed until cases in the province decrease significantly.

“We need to limit our mobility as much as possible to reduce transmission and we will evaluate this,” she said during a press conference.

“But for now we have to continue these measures to reduce mobility and transmission.”

Ontario added 3,166 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the provincial total to 486,223.

23 more deaths have also been recorded, meaning 8,236 have died in the province to date after testing positive for COVID-19.

While the number of new cases has declined since the peak in mid-April on Friday, the province reported an average of 3,265 new cases in the last seven days.

Schools reopening

In the letter, the Canadian Pediatric Society also called on the provincial government to “mobilize plans to safely reopen schools before the end of 2020-21.”

On April 12, the Ford government announced that students in the province would move to virtual learning indefinitely as the province struggled to contain the third wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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Originally, students from Ontario were supposed to study in person again after a week’s break for their late March break.

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COVID-19: Ontario families weigh down on distance learning

COVID-19: Ontario families weigh down on distance learning

Lecce said the decision was “about prevention”.

“It is a proactive and unfortunately necessary precaution as we address the third wave of COVID-19,” he said during a press conference in April.

“This was not a decision we made lightly because we understand the importance of schools to students in Ontario,” he continued. “Keeping schools open has always been our priority, but soaring community transmission can put our schools and families in Ontario at risk.”

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The Pediatric Society’s letter is signed by Eddy Lau and Kimberly Dow, members of the Canadian Pediatric Society’s board of directors, and the organization’s vice president, Mark Feldman.

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“Ontario’s children and adolescents depend on all of us to protect them not only from COVID-19 but from the devastating public health effects of these measures,” the letter said.

“We urge you to make your mental health and wellbeing a higher priority.”

In an email to Global News on Saturday, a spokesman for the provincial health ministry said the home stay ordinance and strengthened public health measures “are designed to reduce mobility and limit the risk of transmission in order to improve our health stabilize and protect care system. “

“Our government will continue to act on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, who will review the science, data and trends and work with local health officials and our team of senior health officials to determine if and when public health action can be adjusted become. “

Global News also reached out to the provincial Ministry of Education but did not answer immediately.

–With files from Saba Aziz, Jessica Patton, and The Canadian Press from Global News

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