The correlation between a higher number of COVID-19 cases and under-vaccinated people could not be more evident. This fact bears out in the City of Cornwall, where the seven-day rolling average has risen above 200 per 100,000 as the vaccination rate continues to trend below the provincial average. The number of people with one dose in some areas of the city is still below 70 percent, resulting in a positivity rate of over seven, almost four times the Ontario average. Overall, the province is faring well, best in Canada with 38 cases per 100,000 thanks to a two-dose vaccination rate of over 80 percent. Vaccines work, prevent hospitalization, and keep our ICU beds open for patients who require them. However, the lower vaccination rate is straining medical services, where all six of the local COVID-19 cases are unvaccinated patients. If you have not gotten your shots, check for our local vaccination clinics and participating pharmacy locations at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s website at www.EOHU.ca or call 1-800-267-7120.
With proof of vaccination and photo ID required to enter many non-essential indoor settings, I encourage everyone to get fully vaccinated. You can obtain your proof of vaccination certificate at a Service Ontario centre, by calling 1-833-943-3900, or by downloading it at https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/. The digital version is undergoing final testing and should be available by mid-October.
Our Government has serious concerns over the withdrawal of OHIP services for seniors and those 18 and under by the Optometrists Association of Ontario (OAO). Accordingly, we continue to offer to engage a third-party mediator to assist our two groups in reaching an agreement and a one-time lump sum payment to supplement an immediate OHIP fee increase. We are determined to achieve a solution that will support the province’s 2,500 optometrists in delivering high-quality care for patients, both now and into the future.
I was happy to mark Franco-Ontarian Day last weekend, and I want to encourage people to submit nominations for the 2022 Ontario Francophonie Awards. Winners represent the best of our French-speaking communities by contributing to the social, economic, and cultural life of Franco-Ontarians. For more information, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-francophonie-awards. As part of the Franco-Ontarian Day celebration, Minister Lecce announced that our Government is investing more than $250,000 in the first blind and low vision program for Francophone students in the province. This ground-breaking initiative at the Centre Jules-Léger provincial school demonstrates the province’s commitment to ensuring all Ontario students succeed in the classroom and reach their full potential.
It is encouraging to see that companies are planning post-pandemic expansions. I want to welcome the construction of a new distribution centre in Casselman with Ford Canada as the primary occupant. The project will create 150 jobs in our region. This new employment will add to the net increase of one million jobs between May 2020 and August 2021. The economic forecast looks promising, expecting to end 2021 with 5.6 percent growth, followed by 4.5 percent next year. Despite the overall positive employment numbers, several business sectors are still struggling. In response, Minister Lisa MacLeod announced this week that the Government is now accepting applications to the new Tourism Recovery Program. Grants will assist for-profit businesses in the attraction, accommodation, and leisure travel sectors to maintain jobs and ensure they can safely welcome the return of patrons. I am sure that many local businesses can make good use of these funds, so they can once again showcase this region as one of the best places to visit and enjoy a high quality of life. You can find more information at this link: http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/awards_funding/OTRP.shtml.
On Thursday, September 30, our country marked the first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities. It was an honour to attend a traditional ‘Tobacco Burn’ at sunrise with Grand Chief Abrams Benedict, Mohawk Council members, City of Cornwall Council, along with other community members, at the City of Cornwall Harbour Lands, which are part of traditional Mohawk territory. I also attended a Truth and Reconciliation ceremony later in the morning at Char-Lan District High School.
As always, stay safe and get vaccinated if you have not done so.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry