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Mayor, health unit discuss imposing mandatory indoor face masks

Issue to be debated at Monday's City Council meeting
20180920-Dr Jennifer Loo APH-DT
Algoma Public Health's Dr. Jennifer Loo will address City Council on Monday about mandatory/voluntary face masks to counter COVID-19. File photo by Darren Taylor/SooToday

City Council will debate the possibility of mandatory face masks after private discussions about the issue took place this week between Mayor Christian Provenzano and Algoma Public Health, SooToday has learned.

Dr. Jennifer Loo, APH's associate medical officer of health, will appear via teleconference at next week's City Council, Brandon Hazelton, the health unit's communications co-ordinator, confirmed today.

Dr. Loo will speak about the pros and cons of both mandatory and voluntary face masks.

Under Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act, APH is in a position to unilaterally impose face-covering requirements.

However, in initial discussions with the city, Dr. Loo did not appear initially inclined to do so, sources indicate.

Sault Ste, Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano tells SooToday he favours mandatory masking on city buses and in all enclosed public places including commercial establishments.

Provanzano says there's a good chance a resolution will be introduced from the floor Monday, calling for a mandatory-masking bylaw similar to those now in effect in Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston.

"Right now, there isn't a resolution on the agenda but I expect a resolution may well come out of the presentation," the mayor tells SooToday.

Provanzano has asked APH to update city councillors on masking developments across the province, and what issues need to be addressed if Sault Ste. Marie considers a mandatory face-mask bylaw.

He's asked Dr. Loo to:

  • socialize/raise the profile of mask-wearing in Sault Ste. Marie
  • educate City Council and the community on the climate Ontario-wide about mandatory and voluntary mask-wearing
  • put council in the best position to make a sound decision whenever it's faced with doing so

Monday's City Council meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.