I am happy to report that my COVID-19 period of isolation ended this past Thursday. While I contacted the virus before my vaccination had time to provide me with its maximum protection, I do not doubt that it was responsible for my low level of symptoms. I am grateful for the many best wishes I received for my speedy recovery. Thank you very much!
Past the halfway point of the current stay-at-home order, watching the cases cut in half is encouraging. The seven-day rolling average for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region was 52.5 as of Thursday and trending downward. The EOHU’s vaccination team, led by Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, is posed to maintain their rapid vaccination pace. The federal government has announced that they expect to deliver to Ontario 3.1 million Pfizer and 388,000 Moderna doses in May. This welcome news has allowed our region on Thursday to accept appointments for those born in 1971 and earlier and to add groups of essential workers, including teachers and education staff. Other age groups will be added weekly in 10-year increments: 40-plus on May 10, 30-plus on May 17, and 18-plus on May 24. I encourage those eligible to book their appointments at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling 1-888-999-6488 if you have a red and white OHIP card or need assistance. The pharmacy dispersal program is on hold right now as we await further shipments of AstraZeneca. Health Canada’s approval of the new one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected soon, but deliveries are still undetermined as of yet. I want to emphasize that getting any vaccine as quickly as possible is the smart choice, as it is the fastest path back to recovery and to a more normal way of life. I know there have been some concerns over the risks of some vaccines, but we know that these risks are much less than the risks of contacting COVID-19, full stop.
Positive progress is being made but adhering to the emergency order is more important than ever due to the more dominant and contagious variants of concern. Hospitalizations are down, but they remain a concern as we have seen them rebound in other locations. While our residents are making sacrifices, we continue to see people flaunting our efforts on social media. Since February, over 5,000 positive cases have been tracked at our airports. Over 150,000 people have crossed our land borders in the past two weeks, excluding the transport industry Our Premier continues to ask the Prime Minister to secure our borders, as over 90 percent of our cases are one of the variants of concern. He has requested that all non-essential international travel be stopped, PCR testing be instituted for all domestic travel, and loopholes are closed at our land borders. The inaction is endangering Canadians and putting unnecessary pressure on our health care system and delaying our recovery.
The education of our children continues to be one of the government’s top priorities. Education Minister Stephen Lecce delivered welcome news this week, announcing the Ministry will increase funding for our four local school boards in the upcoming school year by more than $18 million for student needs. The $25.6 billion is the highest per capita spending ever and includes $80 million to support better mental health, more than four times the 2017-18 allocation. We also remain committed to protecting students and staff from COVID-19, providing $39.9 million to help local boards deliver the resources they need.
Remember to maintain personal spacing, wear a mask, and stay home, except to pick up essential items.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry