June 3, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario has required us to alter how we work and shop, how we see family and friends, how we enjoy recreation and entertainment, and importantly, how we take part in acts of worship in our communities.
For those of us who attend services, the restrictions of the pandemic have been dramatic. Not only has the pandemic meant the cancellation of weekly religious services, but it’s meant people have not even been able to get married with more than four people at their wedding. Many couples who’ve wanted to marry have had to postpone their weddings. This no doubt has been very disappointing.
But we know that fighting COVID-19 meant having to restrict public gatherings. I know people of faith understand this; we are seeking to love our neighbour as ourselves. Ensuring we protect the life and dignity of our elders and the most vulnerable in society.
In our community of Oakville North-Burlington I have spoken to many faith leaders about these issues. They understand the government had to take strong measures to limit public gatherings, but want to know when our churches, mosques, temples, and other religious buildings, can safely reopen. Services with worshippers who gather in cars are now permitted, but it’s only a partial step.
That is why I recently held a virtual meeting with religious leaders, led by the Minister of Labour, to consult about the reopening of religious institutions. We discussed ways we could work together to ensure reopening can be done safely and that health guidelines can be followed to protect people, particularly the elderly and vulnerable.
We know that religious services are important to many in our community, and we are thankful that our religious leaders, and people across Ontario, have been praying for this pandemic to end.
We will work together, consult, and listen, so that our places of worship can safely reopen.