As we look around the country, many regions are being heavily impacted by a fourth wave of COVID-19. The new Delta variant is much more contagious and causes more severe health impacts on our communities. In response, governments have had to increase measures to protect their citizens and health care capacity. But, the data is clear, our vaccines are proving to be our best weapon to combat COVID-19, keep our schools open, and start down the road to recovery. For residents still vaccine-hesitant, I encourage you to read Dr. Paul Roumeliotis’ “Vax Facts” at https://eohu.ca/en/covid/dr-paul-s-vax-facts. If you haven’t received your two vaccine doses, please visit the EOHU website at www.EOHU.ca/vaccines to find the next time and location of local clinics and available pharmacies.
As part of Ontario’s response, proof of vaccination and photo ID will be required to access certain businesses and settings starting Wednesday, September 22. If you have a green and white OHIP card, you can download your vaccination certificate at www.Ontario.ca/COVID-19. If you have a red and white OHIP card or need assistance, you can call 1-833-943-3900. In addition, an enhanced vaccine certificate with a unique QR code will be available as of October 22 in paper and electronic format. Our Government is currently working with other provincial jurisdictions to meet the required security and compatibility requirements. You can view the regulations at https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r21645. Travel outside of Canada will still need a federal proof of vaccination document, currently under development.
Earlier this month, the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) withdrew many of its services, particularly for our seniors and youth. We know this issue is critical to Ontarians. The Government had been engaged in active discussions with the OAO on the current rates of OHIP-insured optometry services, focusing on evidence, best practices, and how to improve patient outcomes. The Ministry of Health has accepted conditions to continue negotiations through mediation. It stands ready to continue meaningful and productive discussions with Ontario’s optometrists to ensure Ontarians can continue to access the high-quality eye health and vision care services they deserve.
As we cautiously reopen Ontario, the Government asks that residents renew all Ontario government documents, including driver’s licences, plate stickers, Ontario Photo Cards, and Ontario Health Cards. Licence renewals were not required during the COVID-19, but now expired or expiring documents will need renewal by February 28, 2022. The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services has been working hard to upgrade its online services. We encourage residents to use the Service Ontario online portal to receive fast and efficient service.
September is back to school month, and the task of educating our children is well underway. As I am sure you appreciate the challenges of safely operating our schools during the pandemic, we need the cooperation of parents, students, and school staff, if we are to be successful. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Education, has issued local requirements for safe practices and pre-screening to control and limit the spread of the virus in our schools. Our students are our future, and their success is vital for our communities and our country.
As always, stay safe and get vaccinated if you have not done so.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry