I am very encouraged by the efforts of everyone as we complete the first week of the Stage 3 reopening plan. Our residents have responded well to increased opportunities to gather by complying diligently with essential safety requirements. Only by following these critical practices of social distancing, wearing face coverings, and washing our hands regularly, will we overcome COVID-19, and control the number of infections. We have seen increased cases in a few regions, especially in younger groups. We need to remain cautious, for letting our guard down could invite a spike in cases, causing more harm and forcing us to back away from further Stage 3 re-openings. Our senior population and those with compromised immune systems remain especially vulnerable, so let us all help to protect them as well as ourselves. Please remember to limit indoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people and 100 for outdoor settings. Stage 3 includes limitations on popular outdoor activities such as contact sports and water parks. Our public health experts are continually reviewing the latest data, along with the daily case numbers as restrictions are relaxed, to decide on the next steps.
On Wednesday, July 22, we began allowing two people at a time to visit indoors at long-term care homes, following a previous decision to allow outdoor visitations. For more detailed information as well as public health guidance to assist you in keeping you and your loved ones safe, please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario.
A valuable tool that will help us in our efforts to contain the spread of this virus should be available soon. The federal government has been working to make the made-in-Ontario COVID-19 alert application available countrywide. This app will notify people who have been within proximity of anyone testing positive during the last 14 days. This alert will advise the individual to seek public health advice and provide information on symptoms, testing facilities, and the need for self-isolation. The user’s privacy is protected through anonymous notification.
The government proceeded with further steps in the Ontario Legislature, requiring more late-night sittings, to ensure our businesses and economy reopens safely and effectively. Bill 195, Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act will permit the government to respond to the needs of Ontarians affected by COVID-19, by allowing it to extend and change existing public health orders for workplaces, social gatherings and public events. This legislation would take the place of the Declaration of Emergency that has been extended continuously since March 17. Bill 195 will respond to public health needs and changing trends when taking into account existing orders. We want a balanced approach that supports communities as we recover.
In this spirit, the government also made progress with the Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act. This legislation is designed to get our economy back on track by speeding up infrastructure projects, creating more jobs, attracting investment and reducing red tape for businesses. Judging by the success the government has already achieved making Ontario Open for Business, I am confident we will further protect consumers, modernize services, improve the education system and remove barriers that hinder the success of our younger citizens.
During these challenging times, I encourage everyone to renew your support for your local businesses, which have taken great strides to ensure your safety. Their ability to continue to serve our communities and employ our neighbours may depend on it. Remember to stay safe and protect yourself and your loved ones.
Jim McDonell MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry