DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

DURHAM: Durham Region’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is stepping up to defend the region’s health department staff.


On Friday, March 19th, Elaine Baxter-Trahair released a statement following reports of health department staff facing harassment.
“Those who choose a career in public service often talk about community first. It’s about creating quality of life, a safe place to raise a family, [and] a place where neighbours come together to support one another. For some employees, such as those in our Health Department, it is more than just a vision. It is their duty, under the law, to protect [the] public from health hazards. I was saddened to hear, some employees-who have been working around the clock to keep us safe and healthy during COVID-19 are facing increasing incidents of abusive and threatening language. This is simply unacceptable,” the CAO’s statement read.


Ms. Baxter-Trahair went on to acknowledge the difficulty of this pandemic.


“We understand the past year has been challenging in many ways. People have struggled with mental health, experienced job loss, financial hardship, loneliness and isolation. And, as difficult as these times are, these measures were designed to protect one another. To enable us to again experience important celebrations, cherished moments, and the ability to hug our loved ones. Everyone is feeling this pandemic. However, the harassment of Regional employees is simply unacceptable. As Chief Administrative Officer, I have zero tolerance for people using profane, aggressive, abusive, sexist, racist or homophobic language towards our staff.”


The provincial and regional vaccine roll-out has come under criticism from local residents.


“Remember, the vaccine roll-out is happening. It is giving us hope. And, as our Health Department receives vaccine supply from the province, we will distribute the vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible, according to priority. The only way we will get through this, is together. Standing united against COVID-19, supporting each other, and practising patience and kindness,” Ms. Baxter-Trahair stated.


Those with complaints about the region’s services are asked to submit them on the feedback page of the region’s website, at www.durham.ca.

https://www.durham.ca/en/index.aspx