Local officials in Cornwall, SDG, frustrated over lack of quarantine info

The main entrance to the Nav Centre, pictured on Friday March 18, 2016 in Cornwall, Ont. Alan S. Hale/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network Alan S. Hale/Cornwall Standard-Freeholder/Postmedia Network

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Cornwall Mayor Bernadette Clement summed up her thoughts on the poor communication by the federal government and, to some extent, the Nav Centre, on the decision to repatriate Canadian cruise ship passengers to Cornwall.

Briefly: It was not done well, but it’s time to move on and focus on getting people the correct information they want.

The mayor ended up tied into meetings and briefings throughout the back half of the long weekend, as she sought information and continued to push officials with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada to come to Cornwall and speak directly to those who have been expressing their concerns since Saturday evening.

“We didn’t get to choose here (to be a host community)… but we do get to choose how we react,” Clement said in her remarks, later adding to her thought during the question-and-answer period. “Where there is a lack of information, it’s quite normal for people to feel worried… their needs for information are not being met.

“I’m now confident the lead agencies are going to make sure the proper and complete information is being provided to people.”

In her Facebook video in the early morning hours of Monday, Clement expressed frustration over how the federal government chose to notify local officials and share pertinent information.

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Later in the day, Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry MP Eric Duncan sent out a release echoing that frustration, saying he had only been looped into the details on Sunday.

At the press conference, SDG Warden Frank Prevost, who is also mayor of South Glengarry, told the assembled officials he was far from impressed on the lack of information, and that SDG had not been included in any of the briefings to-date.

“There’s been lots of incorrect information (circulating),” Prevost said. “I’m very disappointed with Nav Canada … and I also think the federal government did not do its due diligence.”

Clement responded to reassure Prevost SDG would be circulated and included on all information moving forward.

Even with the criticism lobbed at the Nav Centre, its director admitted there was no firm confirmation the centre was being used until after the federal government issued its release late Saturday.

“There were discussions off and on over the past few weeks… but we were told it wasn’t going to be happening. Up until Saturday, there was no formal discussion, no confirmation,” Kim Coe-Turner said. “What we experienced was a media release, and it shocked us as much as everyone else.”

On the question of why local officials were not informed before the release, the only response available was for media to pose that question to the Health Canada media line.

Despite the frustrations of the past 48 or so hours, Clement capped her comments and responses by saying she doesn’t want to continue to dwell on what didn’t happen, or what should have been done better.

“I can’t live in a place of frustration. There’s too much communication that needs to take place… we have 115,000 people that need information,” Clement said. “My job is to make sure the federal government is communicating directly with the people.”

hrodrigues@postmedia.com

twitter.com/HugoAPRodrigues

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