Masks now mandatory for Chatham-Kent


By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

Chatham-Kent residents will have to mask up.

Chatham Coun. Brock McGregor brought a motion forward that council approve a bylaw mandating masks be worn in indoor public spaces. 

The decision passed with 63 per cent support at Monday night’s virtual meeting.

The motion also required that amendments be developed in consultation with Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, addressing further preventative measures, to be brought forward at the September meeting.

McGregor said he respects Dr. David Colby’s hierarchy of COVID-19 prevention measures (which prioritizes social distancing) and that masks were not meant to substitute but rather be an additional measure.

There was no end date for the motion. A removal of the bylaw would only require a majority vote to pass. City staff said a bylaw will come into effect Friday.

City staff said bylaw enforcement officers, the police service, and health inspectors would all ensure the bylaw is upheld, just like all other city bylaws. A discussion will be had as to which team would be responsible for the enforcement. 

The item was not officially on the council’s agenda. The motion was made without notice after passing with a two-thirds vote. Chatham Coun. David Sulman pointed that out and said he would rather have a “proper bylaw,” with Dr. Colby’s input, presented to the council later in the week.

“When bylaws are usually brought forward there is public input, not through emails and social media, twittersphere, but actual proper notice. That isn’t happening here,” he said. “A half done bylaw is not what we need to do.”

West Kent Coun. Melissa Harrigan, who supported the motion, said that the council often makes decisions outside of their area of expertise.

“In fact we do this at every meeting and I certainly feel like a non expert every time,” she said. “In most scenarios we rely both on the opinions and advice of our staff, and also the expertise and experiences of those in our community. And I think it’s very important for the public to be made aware of the support in the medical community who are already experts for the approval of the masking bylaw.”

Harrigan went on to list the names of medical experts that supported mandatory masks.

East Kent Coun. Steve Pinsonneault said he was against council mandating masks.

“I personally don’t think we should be making policies on the fly. You know, we’ve done this in the past, it never seems to work out.” he said. “With the cotton masks I think there is a false sense of security.” 

Most councillors said they heard an even split from their constituents regarding the issue.  South Kent Coun. Mary Clare Latimer and Trevor Thompson said with that in mind they would rather leave it in the hands of the medical experts.

“I have a resident here in South Kent who hasn’t left her home since March because she has a myriad of health concerns, and I spoke to another resident today, who is in hospital, due to a lung infection and the doctors there told her it is because she wore a mask all day. I’m not qualified to make the sort of decision that measures medical advice and value of lives,” Thompson said.

South Kent. Coun. Anthony Ceccacci said it would make most sense to unite with the majority of Ontario’s municipalities who require mandatory masks.

Mayor Darrin Canniff made final remarks before the vote saying that most decisions throughout the province were made by municipal councils, not medical officers of health.

Canniff said he supported the motion because at the end of the day it was an issue of public safety. 

He said he feared that masks would be a false sense of security and reminded the public to continue socially distancing themselves. 

“And as we go through this pandemic together I think it’s vitally important that we do our best to prevent shaming around both mask wearing and the inability to wear a mask and uphold respect for each other,” McGregor said.



  1. Thanks Darrin! You’ve got my vote next time., And all the votes of my friends who appreciate your courage in saving lives. It’s been proven time and again all over the world. Thanks for putting common sense over politics and western world style whining. It’s easier to wear a mask than a ventilator ✌️

    • Actually no…. Many countries around the world have determined that the evidence does not support widespread mask mandates. And the stats support this…. Mask mandates seem to have little to no impact on community spread when comparing outbreak timing/location with the timing of mask mandates

  2. I will now do all my shopping on line at Amazon , I am telling everyone I know to do the same , all store owners in Chatham need to know that and thank city council

  3. South Kent. Coun. Anthony Ceccacci said it would make most sense to unite with the majority of Ontario’s municipalities who require mandatory masks.

    So I guess we all should all line up and get on those trains that are waiting to take us away too like the other municipalities? Yeah, that worked out REAL well once before didn’t. Ceccacci, you aren’t very bright.

    • You are comparing a piece of fabric to Fascism.
      Asian countries have been wearing masks for a long time. There it is a sign of respect and a courtesy to your fellow man.

    • Yeah, reminds me of that old saying in response to this one from a teeny bopper, for example: “But everybody else is doing it” & then the logical response I heard my parents say: ” Just because everybody else is jumping off a cliff doesn\t mean that you should”

  4. Stupid Snap decision by Council again. It doesn’t matter how many are for it, it should matter that a lot more people will be getting sick with respiratory issues because of this Stupid Decision!! Pathetic Decision!!

  5. If masks help even 1% we should be using them, full stop.

    Anyone who is opposed to this is arguing that their disagreement is more important that a persons life. It’s seems quite at odds with this groups other stances on life.

  6. Weak, negligent and uninformed. That’s CK Council… Caving to a noisy minority mob.
    No hard evidence to prove that masks are necessary or helpful, and no metrics by which the mandate will be lifted.
    Well done.

    • Now mayor cantniff can have a mask party at Tecumseh park. Most also don’t realize that the masks are a 1 time use!! It’s even better when you see people who hang them from rearview mirrors when not in use. How can harrigan watch for motorcycles while driving with a mask on?

  7. “Mayor Darrin Canniff made final remarks before the vote saying that most decisions throughout the province were made by municipal councils, not medical officers of health.”

    What happened to “trust the experts?”

    THIS is the problem!!!! That statement by Darrin isn’t justification for mandating masks, it’s a condemnation of government overreach!!!

  8. I don’t know where people get their ideas. If you have to wear a mask in a store it is only for a short time. And worrying about a respiratory infection from wearing a mask is on the low end of my worries when it’s up against a Covid virus and being on a ventilator. I wonder if you want to wear that mask for an extended period. And as to people not social distancing because they have a mask on. The people that don’t will probably be the same inconsiderate ones that have not been social distancing all along. And as proof that they work, my daughter works as a nurse in Michigan and her hospital had to pile bodies in trucks and on beds and chairs because there was no room in the morgue for them. She didn’t even work in the covid area but there were put in rooms outside of her unit. Now that Michigan has made masks mandatory the numbers are way down. Do you want our hospital full of bodies? The people who think this is a scam should have been made to go see the bodies. My daughter would break down because of what she witnessed. And think of all the frontline workers that will probably have to have counseling to keep on going. So people don’t be so selfish and inconsiderate. Be uncomfortable with a mask until we get through this together.

    • You anti mask people are just repeating like a trump clone, its fake news, a hoax, my rights are taken away, i am going to punish all local businesses for making me wear a mask. Wa wa wa.
      This silliness has to stop if we want to see an end to this and get the economy on track.
      The council is ONLY asking you to wear a mask for a FEW MINUTES. Think of our frontline healthcare workers that have to wear a mask for sometimes 18 hours a day. Stop being so selfish towards your fellow man. The science can be argued yes, but even if it is 10% effective, wear the mask to help protect our elderly and infirm, and stop thinking of just yourself for once, After all, if you even slow the spread by a small amount, that is helping to protect those frontline workers who are giving up their own safety to maybe someday save you or a family member. Please put all your energy towards a solution, not creating problems.

    • Thank you.what you said is true! It is just common sense,but common sense isn’t very common anymore is it.?Anyone should have the right to not wear a mask and get sick if they want but they have no right to kill everyone else they breath on!

    • Maureen, Please Thank Your Daughter for Her Service. And Thank You For Your Bravery in sharing your thoughts, your view, your opinion openly here!
      Be Safe And Well Out There….

  9. What about people who can not breathe with a mask on, what makes our city council playing GOD. Most people eear a mask then pull it off as soon as they come out of the store, touching their clothes and other parts of their bodies, arms, hands that touched what someone else touched. Why not gloves too. Who going to pay for a person who has trouble breathing with a mask, & passes out from lack of fresh air, rebreathing their own breathe who has prpblem with their breathe or who going to shop for their groceries if they will not wear a mask for health reasons. I could not blame anyone suing Chatham Council for their suffering as this is going to cause hardships to singles who will not wear a mask, no food to eat. The Chatham City Council should be sued by all who are being forced to go to other cities to get food to live.

    • Yeah Robert, if they have trouble breathing with a mask on, imagine how much trouble they will have breathing with Covid and a ventilator instead if God forbid they get the virus, bet they will be wishing they would have put up with a little bit of discomfort as an easy trade off.

  10. I will wear a mask as I’m told, whether I want to or not. After 6 months of non-mandatory mask-wearing in Kent County with a total of 2 COVID related deaths, I’m very curious to find out in 6 months from now where we’ll be. Certainly, we should have fewer deaths or none at all in 6 months’ time as we’ve taken such proactive precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. (Plus there may be a vaccine.) If we have more deaths what will the excuse be? And then how many more measures do we enforce? Time will tell & we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Also, 6 months from now it’ll be interesting to see the state of our economy and the number of deaths related to overdoses, suicides, cancer cases & respiratory & skin issues due to repetitive, extended-use of carcinogens in cleaning products. I am for the greater good just as medical professionals, politicians/lawmakers should be. Let’s look at the big picture. Let’s plan for a better future to pass on to our children & grandchildren.

    • If you have a legitimate heath issue wearing a mask, the bylaw clearly states anyone who cannot wear a mask for health reasons as deemed by a physician does not have to. If you have issues breathing, you probably should not be out anyways. If you need to be, all the more reasons you should wear a mask. My advice is to look at a different design of mask. There are masks that have a form to them that keep them well away from your face. The ones I have tried cannot even be detected while breathing because they are sort of cone shaped away from your face. Most that are saying they cannot wear a mask just do not like being told to do something. But please, if you do have an issue, try different styles till you find one that is good for you. If for fome reason you cannot find a good design, simply wear a face shield. They will not impede your breathing at all, and you will still protect those around you. Lets pull together on this one and set an example for the rest of the world.

  11. Amend By-law 101-2020.
    Section 5 of this by-law States, “Nothing in this by-law intended to conflict with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Section 7.0.2 (1) of that act states ” in a manner that is subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. ” This by-law contradicts our Fundamental Rights 2.(b) as a Canadian Citizen. Mask/face-covering packages in the store’s state “(the company) makes no warranties, either express or implied that the face cover prevents infection or the transmission of viruses or diseases.” As per that statement on packages, what benefits do face-covering provide? If the companies imply there is no protection, why must we cover our faces? There is no evidence or scientific evidence to prove it protects our community’s citizens. Health professionals have stated there are no benefits, yet, politicians force them upon us. The choice should be of the citizens whether to wear a mask or not without discrimination (Ontario Human Rights Code Part 1, Services).


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here