As we complete the fourth week of our provincial lockdown, we see our local caseload numbers levelling off and our seven-day rolling average declining. The latest statistics for Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry and Akwesasne show that as of this past Thursday, there were 390 active cases. Our local hospitals are still stretched to capacity, so the progress is very welcome. While there is an improvement, we have fallen behind our neighbours west of us. Brockville, Kingston, and Belleville, along with other have areas in the province, have successfully brought their levels down, allowing schools to open this Monday. Schools in Ottawa and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit territories will remain closed for at least the upcoming week.
This week we continued to suffer outbreaks at local long-term care homes, sadly resulting in the loss of more lives. We must become serious about following the lockdown restrictions that took effect on January 14 until our vaccination program has a chance to inoculate our most vulnerable, our medical practitioners, and our frontline workers. Failure to do so will overwhelm our hospitals and result in more lost lives. First and foremost, stay at home. Leave for expressly permitted activities that include going out for groceries or prescriptions, seeking health-care services, exercising, and going to work, if unable to do remotely. These orders and other public health restrictions are outlined at www.Ontario.ca/COVID-19.
Our provincial vaccination program is progressing well, with Ontario administering almost 92% of the vaccines it received as of Thursday morning, only behind Alberta at 94%. These results compare to BC at 74%, Saskatchewan at 85%, Manitoba at 48%, and Quebec at 73%. Earlier this week, we received the disappointing news that Pfizer vaccines will be severely cut back over the next few weeks to allow for plant improvements in the company’s Belgium plant. Premier Ford was particularly disappointed to learn that our vaccination efforts would be reduced to zero for the upcoming week as supply is being diverted to other countries.
Despite the tough national news, I want to compliment our local Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, and his vaccination team for their progress, inoculating the staff and residents at 12 of our region’s 16 long-term care homes. While the EOHU will not receive any supplies next week, they are still on track to complete the area’s homes by February 15.
While our fight against the pandemic continues, the government also has an eye on the post-pandemic recovery. One crucial piece of our provincial recovery plan is the 2021 Ontario Budget. So far, through the pandemic, we have received unprecedented input from families, workers and businesses. Our first pre-budget consultation has already started with members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. We have set aside a $45 billion recovery fund, but we need everyone’s input to ensure this money achieves the maximum benefit possible for residents and businesses. As in past years, my office will be reaching out to our municipalities, small businesses, and other organizations for their input. You can forward your input to my office to be included in our local submission or directly to the ministry at https://www.ontario.ca/page/2021-budget-consultations.
As always, remember to stay home, stay safe and save lives. Your health and that of your loved ones may depend on it.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry