Kenora MP Eric Melillo is questioning the Liberal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after Health Minister Patty Hajdu said she was aware of the threat back in December.

“We knew very early about COVID-19, the risk that it posed to human health, and of course, were watching it very carefully in late December, early January, when everybody returned from holidays - I was fully briefed. So we knew about the pandemic,” said Hajdu, in an interview with CTV News last week.

Melillo says the Liberal government ‘dragged their feet’ on taking precautions that would have kept Canadians safe, which didn’t come into effect until the middle of March, when each province declared a state of emergency.

“If the Liberal government had implemented travel restrictions or recommended mask wearing when Minister Hajdu first knew about the pandemic, lives could have been saved, and we could have avoided the shutdown that’s devastated businesses and families across Canada,” said Melillo.

Kenora’s MP says remote communities such as those in northwestern Ontario have been hit hard by the pandemic, with a lack of support for tourism-based industries, as well as having ongoing housing, transportation and healthcare concerns.

“The government was not just unprepared for COVID-19. They were negligent. And Canadians are paying for it,” said Melillo.

The first reported case of the virus in Canada was recorded on January 27, from an individual who had returned to Toronto from Wuhan, China. As of September 14, Canada has reported 136,659 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with over 9,100 deaths.

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