Local efforts to bring down the number of active COVID-19 cases have successfully reduced it by over 40% from its high point early last week. This success was no small feat, as the more contagious variants account for over 90% of all cases in the province. Of the 34 health units in Ontario, our unit is one of only 14 that has reduced the per capita weekly cases since April 12. I want to thank everyone for their increased vigilance. As we welcome warmer temperatures, local vaccine efforts are ramping up to administer the anticipated increased deliveries in May. Locally, Dr. Paul and his team will have administered close to 60,000 doses by the weekend, surpassing the provincial average. He also reported that there are 57 local pharmacies approved to participate in the local program, but they can only be added when more supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine are available.
As we approach the weekend, the province has administered over 5 million doses. On Thursday, we announced the schedule for expanding eligible age groups to book our local vaccination sites. Those that are 55 and over can now book appointments through the www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine portal or by calling 1-888-999-6488 if you have a red and white OHIP card or need assistance. Other groups are being added weekly, with the 18 and over group added for the last week of May. Our health unit team is also scheduling priority groups, at-risk populations, and essential workers.
This week, the Auditor General and the Long-Term Care Commission issued reports on Ontario’s LTC system. The Auditor’s report highlighted decades of inaction by previous governments and pointed out our government’s progress. She stated, “I do think there are initiatives that have been undertaken that are moving us in the right direction with respect to seniors in long-term care.” After scathing AG reports, the former Liberal Government committed to redeveloping 35,000 beds in 2008 but only addressed 10% of that number over the next ten years. Between 2011-2018, they added less than 1% of new spaces, compared to our government that already has over 20,000 new beds in the pipeline or a 25% increase. To deliver on our commitment to increasing hours of daily direct care to an average of four hours per day per resident, we are investing $4.9 billion over the next four years and $1.9 billion annually thereafter. This is an ambitious commitment that will make Ontario the leader in Canada. Months ago, we took steps to train more than 8,000 additional PSW by yearend to address the current critical shortage.
I was pleased to take part in an announcement that will further support local recreational and cultural assets. The provincial government is allocating $1,663,981 for joint federal-provincial-municipal projects under the Community, Culture, and Recreation Infrastructure Stream (CCRIS) and the Green Infrastructure Stream (GIS) of the Investing in Canada plan. With this funding, the Township of South Glengarry will replace its ice pad at the Char-Lan Recreation Centre; the Township of South Stormont will upgrade play structures and create community park pavilions; the Township of North Dundas will develop Hallville Community Park; and the City of Cornwall will improve Centre Charles-Émile-Claude, to make it into a safer and functional community hub. The Township of North Glengarry will refurbish the Glengarry Sports Palace.
Remember to maintain personal spacing, wear a mask, and stay home, except to pick up essential items.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry