Our local efforts to vaccinate residents from COVID-19 continue full speed ahead, with Dr. Paul’s team administering over 20,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of day Monday, March 22. Provincially, over 1.7 million doses were administered by Thursday of this week. Our booking site, www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine, is now open to individuals born in 1946 and earlier. People who still have the red and white OHIP card are asked to call the helpline at 1-888-999-6488, which is also available for group appointments and those in need of help. If you are confined to your home and unable to attend one of the vaccination sites, you can arrange for a home vaccination by registering with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit at www.eohu.ca or by calling them at 613-933-1375. Vaccine deliveries from the Federal Government are expected to increase over the next few weeks, which will allow for more vaccination options, including your primary health practitioner and our local pharmacies.
This past Wednesday, we reaffirmed our commitment to fight COVID-19 with the release of the 2021 Ontario Budget by Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy. I agree with the Minister’s statement that “we are ready to finish the job we started one year ago” to protect people from the virus, as “you can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people.” Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy brings the total investments to protect people to $16.3 billion and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. This new support will lead to a projected 2020-21 deficit of $38.5 billion. We believe that by growing the economy and not raising taxes or cutting services, we can manage the deficit through a robust recovery. We will continue to work on our priorities, which include fixing long-term care. Locally, we have already approved reconstruction projects at Woodland Villa, Maxville Manor, Dundas Manor, Heartwood, and South Bridge Cornwall. We are proposing more support for families by adding a third round of pandemic child benefits, doubling to $400 per child and $500 for each child with special needs. For example, a family with three children, including one with special needs, would receive a total of $2,600 to address the additional costs resulting from the pandemic. Also, the budget proposes a 20 percent increase in the CARE tax credit this year, or an average of $250 per family. Small businesses are fueling the backbone of Ontario’s recovery, and for this reason, we are issuing a second round of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. About 120,000 small businesses will be eligible to receive $10,000 to $20,000 the upcoming year for a total support of $3.4 billion.
Our new Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit will support workers looking for a new career by allowing them to claim 50 percent of eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $2,000. This $260 million investment will help about 230,000 people upgrade their employment to better support their families and meet tomorrow’s needs.
The more contagious variants of concern are spreading across the province and, unfortunately, into our region of Eastern Ontario. We have seen a significant increase in active cases and are expected to move back to the Red-Control level, with increased restrictions. I want to remind everyone, to maintain personal spacing, wear a mask, and stay home except to pick up essential items. Please check the health unit’s website at www.eohu.ca for the latest data.
As always, remember to stay home, stay safe and save lives. Your health and that of your loved ones may depend on it.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry