This letter was sent to the following health organizations on April 17, 2020:
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Canadian Medical Association
- Canadian Public Health Association
- Canadian Nurses Association
- The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons
To whom it may concern:
As you may know, the House of Commons is scheduled to resume its normal sitting on April 20. Currently, the parties are in discussion to determine how exactly Parliament should reconvene given the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Everyone understands that it would be unwise from a public health perspective to have all 338 Members of Parliament return to the House of Commons this coming Monday. Therefore, our proposal would be to have Parliament continue in-person meetings with a reduced number of MPs present in the Chamber, as it has done during the two previous emergency sittings, so that MPs can sit at least two metres apart.
In order for this to be achieved in a manner consistent with the best public health advice, we are also proposing that only essential House of Commons staff necessary to the function of the House of Commons chamber be required to return to work, that personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves be made available to staff as needed to prevent the possibility of transmission where keeping 2 metres apart is not possible (i.e. in hallways), and that there be handwashing stations and hand sanitizing alcohol pumps located at the entrances and exits of the House of Commons and at strategic locations through the parliamentary precinct.
I would appreciate your organization’s suggestions and recommendations for any additional measures that you believe should be taken to ensure the health and safety of all MPs and staff present.
Parliament is an essential service to this country. We have seen from the last two emergency sittings that government legislation has benefited greatly from being subject to parliamentary scrutiny and debate. I would also note that the UK Parliament has proposed a plan to allow in-person meetings of their House of Commons as well. This is the only way to get the best possible results for all Canadians.
I am confident that we can find to ensure that Parliament has in-person sittings in a way that protects the health of all MPs and staff of the House of Commons. I would appreciate your wisdom and recommendations for coming up with practical solutions to make this a reality.
Member of Parliament for Edmonton Riverbend
Shadow Minister for Health