We passed another significant milestone this week by administering more than 21 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. I commend our public health units, who along with Ontario’s Vaccine Task Force, successfully took on this challenge to distribute almost 40 percent of the 54 million doses given out in Canada. However, more needs to be done, as our medical experts predict additional lockdowns and congested health care facilities if we do not get to higher vaccination rates. Data reveals that an unvaccinated individual is 42 times more likely to end up in an ICU bed than a fully vaccinated person is. In response to the mounting medical evidence, starting September 22, Ontarians will need to provide proof of vaccination (two doses plus 14 days) along with a photo ID to access specific public settings and facilities. This approach focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where people cannot always wear face coverings. These include restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios), nightclubs, meeting and event spaces, sporting events, casinos and gaming establishments, and sports and fitness facilities such as gyms. Essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and health services, and retail stores will still be accessible to all under our current masking requirements. With the solution within our grasp, we ask everyone to take a few minutes and get vaccinated. Please visit the EOHU website at www.EOHU.ca/vaccines to find the next time and location of popup clinics being staff by Dr. Paul Roumeliotis’ tireless vaccination team.
I want to welcome our students, teachers, and staff back to school this week. The Ministry of Education has worked collaboratively with school boards and medical experts to ensure the safest possible learning environment. The safe return to in-person education is our government’s top priority. That is why our government has provided more than $1.6 billion in additional resources to protect against COVID-19 to provide comprehensive safety protocols and ensure that all schools across Ontario have benefitted from improvements in ventilation. For example, HEPA units are in place for every kindergarten class and learning area without mechanical ventilation. In addition, our curriculum for 2021-22 will emphasize reading and math, aiding all students with new supports that will make up for any gaps that occurred the past year. Students will also be able to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, music, and the arts, both within the school and through inter-school sports activities with some modifications. I am sure that everyone is looking forward to a safe and rewarding return to school.
The Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, has announced that local families will be the first in the province to benefit from a new administrative structure for children’s health care at home. Starting September 20, home care services will transfer from Home and Community Care Support Services Champlain to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. It is another of many steps the government is taking to better connect health care services to those in need. Minister Elliott also allocated $2.7 million in new funding for the Cornwall, Winchester, and Alexandria hospitals to help offset expenses caused by the pandemic. This assistance will ensure local hospitals have the resources to give the best possible care during the pandemic.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry