The persistent rise of COVID-19 cases in the Province of Ontario has required the Ontario government to re-define coding levels. On Monday, November 16, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit re-entered orange-restrict from the previous yellow-protect. It, along with other areas of the province, had a short period of relaxed conditions. Still, after considering local needs and consulting with our local Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, stronger restrictions were deemed necessary. The latest COVID-19 requirements can be found at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/.
If we respect these restrictions, there is every expectation that we can return to a yellow-protect category or better. The need to modify the coding is the latest example of the government’s willingness to adapt as the pandemic evolves. Dr. Roumeliotis and other experts across Ontario and Canada continue to watch the latest local, provincial and national trends to develop our way forward. Their diligence is crucial for government agencies to respond effectively. Our commitment is probably more important on a personal level. It requires simple tasks: social distance, wash your hands, wear a mask, and be tested and stay home if feeling unwell.
In the fall of each year comes our annual Flu vaccination campaign. Orders are required late the year before, and last year, our government significantly increased its order from suppliers to promote a more aggressive campaign. With the onset of COVID-19, medical experts expressed the need for people, especially seniors, to obtain the vaccination. Our government worked with suppliers, other provinces, and the federal government to increase this year’s available supply by more than one million doses. A few weeks ago, the vaccination programs started at our local drug stores are now being supplemented through our local health unit’s annual program. The EOHU will offer the flu shot by appointment at its offices, as well as a drive-through clinic where people can get the vaccine from the comfort of their car. You can call 613-933-1375 or 1 800 267-7120 to book your appointment. They are open to everyone, but priority will be given to people with young children, physical limitations, medical considerations or those with special needs. Residents must bring a piece of identification to their appointment.
The government continues to find ways to protect better agri-food and food chain workers from COVID-19. This week, Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Ernie Hardeman announced a comprehensive strategy, the result of consulting the agri-food industry and the health and labour ministries. It offers 35 different measures to stop the virus from arriving on the farm, containing it on the farm and protecting farmers living in on-site housing.
During Question Period this week, I had the privilege of asking the Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, about the new Ontario 511 app to help drivers across the province safely get to their destination. The Ontario government is expanding the 511 app to include new winter driving features that will provide drivers and the trucking industry with additional information to support safer route planning when travelling on provincial highways. The additional features include Track My Plow, information on road conditions, weather warnings from Environment Canada, and up-to-date information on rest areas across the province. The app is available free on the App Store and Google Play. It is quick and easy to download and makes traveling in Ontario stress free. I encourage everyone to try out this new state-of-the-Art app.
As always, I want to remind everyone to stay safe.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry