By MPP Jim McDonell
As we start the second full week of tighter restrictions in the three hot spots of Ottawa, Toronto and Peel regions, the number of new cases continues to trend higher. The Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, and the Public Health Measures Table continue to review the situation to make recommendations to our Government. A full list of the current guidelines can be found at https://ontario.ca/COVID-19.
Meanwhile, I urge residents to remain diligent in following the best practices of social distancing, wearing masks, and frequent handwashing. By strictly adhering to these measures, we can help slow the spread and protect the people close to us and allow our local economy to avoid the hardships that further closures bring. As of Thursday afternoon, the active COVID-19 cases in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s region hit 129, up from the 86 on October 7. Please continue to follow the smaller social gathering restrictions of no more than 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. For now, bars, restaurants, banquet halls, and churches are exempt due to their trained supervision. If we fail to lower the number of cases, these venues could close as well under a renewed Stage 2 for Cornwall and the United Counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry. Experiencing new business closures is not the worse of it. We could lose lives, and many could suffer long-lasting health problems.
These new measures, combined with more and better testing, contact and tracing, will help beat back COVID-19. We are on our way to testing five million Ontarians. To book an appointment and find a suitable assessment test centre, please visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-test-and-testing-location-information.
These enhanced efforts and measures will be aided by a $70 million rollout of influenza vaccinations. The pandemic has made it especially necessary for more people to get their flu shot this year. The Government is coordinating efforts with the Federal Government and other jurisdictions to offer 5.1 million doses, 700,000 more than last year. Vulnerable residents in congregate and hospital settings are being prioritized. If need be, a further $28.5 million investment will supply additional doses as required.
As the severity of the pandemic ebbs and flows, local school boards are implementing the Government’s plan to offer flexibility for in-person or online learning. Schools can reorganize classes as boards analyze data showing the amount of studying in-class or remotely. This information guides boards to adjust student cohorting as needed to lessen the opportunity for the virus to spread. Better screening, hand hygiene, masking, and cleaning, and changes to school environments are adding extra layers of safety.
This week our province concluded National Agriculture Week by announcing new funding to protect agricultural workers. The Government has partnered with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to invest an additional $11.6 million to help Ontario producers stop the spread of COVID-19 on their farms. Farmers will be able to increase physical spacing for workers by building more barriers. The investment will also upgrade HVAC systems and enhance handwashing facilities. This new funding tops-up the Government’s $15 million commitment last June to support workplace safety enhancements through the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program. Once again, thank you to all of these front-line workers, from farm to fork, for feeding us during the pandemic.
As always, I want to remind everyone to stay safe and protect yourself.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry
You may also view this release at https://jimmcdonellmpp.ca/ or on my Facebook page.