COVID-19 and Five Questions With: Oshawa councillor Rick Kerr

Oshawa regional and city councillor, Rick Kerr, was a professor at Durham College for 30 years.

The Chronicle is checking in with people in the community during the COVID-19 crisis, in an ongoing segment called ‘COVID-19 and Five Questions With’.

Rick Kerr was a Durham College professor for 30 years before retiring in 2014. He moved into politics and is now Oshawa’s Ward 4 regional and city councillor. He’s had the opportunity to watch the city change and develop over time, including how things have changed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

1) Chronicle: How do you compare where we are with your initial thought process since COVID-19?

Kerr: Right where I projected we would be. I said six weeks after the March Break we would see flattening and the decrease which is what is happening. Reasoning: Two weeks after March Break for travellers to show symptoms, two weeks for those who came into contact with travellers when they came home to show and two weeks for the health officials to track all the previous cases and have the remainder show symptoms. That I projected to be the end of April, that is the case.

2) Chronicle: How has your work life been impacted?

Kerr: Greatly so. No live meetings, no committee meetings – and I chair Community Services. No face-to-face meetings with residents, no multiple-person phone [or] e-mail meetings. Yet, all of the City’s business still needs to be done. While the above are not insurmountable obstacles, they do interrupt the efficient flow of communication. So, we all adjust. In addition, electronic council meetings take way longer. The last City Council meeting on April 27 was nine hours long. This was due, in part, to the delay in taking votes and recognizing speakers. I am handling WAY more citizen fears/concerns/complaints/requests for information. I have long days far beyond the usual working day – and that extends into the weekends. No complaints. It just is the way the responsibilities need to be addressed for maximum contact with my Ward citizens and people of Oshawa in general.

3) Chronicle: Outside of work tell us how your daily routine has changed this has started?

Kerr: Virtually all of my work is now conducted from home. I do City work on weekends, too, due to demands for information and issues that come up.

4) Chronicle: What do you miss the most since having to socially distance?

Kerr: The reverse is true. I am spending much more time with my wife – and loving it!

5) Chronicle: How do you of the way our leaders responded?

Kerr: (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau has been ‘hit-and-miss’ at the beginning, borders and travel should have been closed sooner, but has settled into better communication since. (Premier Doug) Ford has been excellent. (Durham) Regional chair (John) Henry has been excellent, (Oshawa) mayor (Dan) Carter has been excellent.