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From the Manager’s Desk,

The past 30 days have been unbelievable.  The current situation is something that none of us could have every imagined and is very real.  In spite of the difficulties, the community spirit and willingness to step up and assist those is need has been amazing.  We are truly thankful for the frontline workers – the amazing health care and support workers in our hospitals and long-term care facilities. And for the workers in grocery stores and pharmacies, and first responders who are also on the frontlines.  And of course our truckers, farmers and other workers who are continuing to ensure that we have food and other essential supplies .

First and foremost, I hope everyone, and your families and friends and staff are safe, healthy, and taking all the necessary precautions to help “flatten the curve” through hand washing, social distancing and self-isolation. It has been difficult for everyone to be separated from family and friends these past few weeks and I am sure it is particularly hard this holiday weekend when we normally have large family get-togethers. But we will get through this and will slowly but surely get back to better times and I expect that we will certainly appreciate the little things that we have taken for granted for so long.

Directives from the government and information seems to change on an almost daily basis. I know that there are many questions and we just don’t have the answers for you. We are working hard to gather information to address the various concerns that have been raised. Whenever we receive any information or updates, they will be posted under the new COVID-19 tab https://www.ontarioagsocieties.com/covid-19  on our website.  There are links to the video calls we have held, as well as links to the Government, CAFE and IAFE websites.  All of them have excellent information and we suggest that you check them out on a regular basis.

Our OAAS website has been updated over the past couple of days. The look has been refreshed and some changes were made to update the search engine and make information easier to find under the different tabs.  

You are probably aware that a  small number of Agricultural  Societies have already made the very difficult decision to downsize, postpone or cancel their Fairs or events for this year. I know it has been very disappointing for them but they are being positive –many are  planning smaller or different events for later this year and are planning to return better than ever next year.   I expect that a number of other Ag Societies are discussing their options at this time.  Unfortunately the OAAS cannot  predict when the current situation will change in our province.  We cannot tell Agricultural Societies what decisions to make but we are providing as much information as possible to assist you with those decisions. We continue to advise that you check government (municipal, provincial and federal) websites for the latest information and directives.

You may have heard that the MAPAQ (Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) has cancelled all public gathering related to agriculture in Quebec until the fall of 2020.  This includes Fairs, youth competitions, and other large gatherings. We HAVE NOT received any similar information from the Ontario government.

The OAAS is organizing regularly scheduled COVID-19 Zoom calls to share information and ideas with our membership.  We have held 2 already and a third one is scheduled for April 15th – details have been sent out to all  Agricultural Societies  and posted on our webpage.  If  you have suggestions for topics for future meetings, please email me the details.

We are reaching out to the Provincial Government with our concerns on the impact that COVID-19 has had on our Agricultural Societies and the need for support from the government.  We will be contacting them again once we have more numbers on the actual financial  impact that our Agricultural Societies and Fairs have on our local communities and the financial effect that COVID-19 is having and will have on our Agricultural Societies.  At that time, we will be contacting your membership to send letters to the Premier, Minister of Agriculture and your MPPs to ask for their support.

Reminder OAAS is holding a COVID-19 Discussion on April 15 at 7:30pm.  The topic for this call will be “Communicating with your Sponsors”. https://zoom.us/meeting/register/vJEvdu6vrj8uYnh_ctK8w93UEzeEQ4GtfA

CAFE is hostings a number of upcoming Webinars around COVID-19 please click here for more information   https://www.canadianfairs.ca/covid-19

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend! Please stay home and stay safe!

Vince

Vince Brennan, Manager OAAS

“Teamwork makes  our Ag Societies Strong”