This past Friday, we entered Step One of the province’s Roadmap to Reopen Ontario plan, days earlier than initially anticipated. The credit belongs to Ontarians who followed the Stay-at-Home orders and public health practices and our vaccination professionals. Together, they reduced the rate of COVID-19 transmission and hospitalization, a necessary combination. Provincewide we cut the case rate by 35 percent between May 25 and May 31. We have administered 10.5 million doses, reaching 74 percent of first dose vaccination for adults. Step One focuses on resuming more outdoor activities. It further allows a cautious and safe reopening for indoor operations at many businesses while additionally lowering the virus’s spread. We have already surpassed the best-case scenario of decreasing daily infections to below 1,000 by the end of June. Although this is great news, the prevalence of the more contagious Delta variant makes it imperative that we follow through with the three-week evaluation period before moving to decide about Step Two. We have seen other countries hit by dramatic Delta increases, jeopardizing their recoveries. As our country is one of the few globally with all four of the main variants, the province continues to lobby the federal government to tighten rules to prevent further virus entry.
With the arrival of summer weather, I know many of us are reserving outdoor seating at our favourite restaurants. Restaurants and bars have the freedom to choose their hours of operation while meeting their liquor license regulations. Outdoor capacity is not limited as long as tables are at least two metres apart and is set at four patrons per table unless it is a family unit plus an individual who lives alone. Limited indoor religious services and ceremonies can also resume, limited to 15 percent capacity. Please visit https://www.ontario.ca/reopening-ontario for complete details.
Our local efforts to reduce the caseload continue to make in-roads. This week our seven-day rolling average dipped into single digits, a number not seen since last summer. While hospitalizations have followed suit, those needing ICU placement are sicker than ever before, requiring longer stays. Our region remains slightly ahead of the provincial pace, with more than 74 percent receiving at least one dose. Fuelled by second dose requests for people 70 and over, uptake for appointments remains strong, creating booking delays for appointments. About 43,000 shots are scheduled for the next few weeks, with more clinics set to be added by mid-July. Please visit www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling 1-888-999-6488 if you have a red and white OHIP card, need assistance, or wish to book multiple appointments.
I am pleased to announce the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility is offering a $5 million Seniors Community Grant program, which is the only grant program in the Ontario Government dedicated solely to seniors. The investment is a $1 million increase from last year. Successful applicants will receive between $1,000 and $25,000. This grant will assist not-for-profit community groups to support greater social inclusion, volunteerism, community engagement and labour market participation for seniors. I encourage groups to apply by visiting Ontario.ca/GetFunding. The application period is between Friday, June 11, and Friday, July 16.
Remember to maintain personal spacing, wear a mask, and stay home, except to pick up essential items.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry