Our government’s efforts to vaccinate Ontarians from COVID-19 are reaching out to more people than ever. Our new web portal, www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine, opened this past Monday for people with a green OHIP card born in 1941 and earlier. Over 133,000 appointments were booked on the first day of operation. For people with a red and white OHIP card, those who want to make a group appointment, or are experiencing problems, call the helpline at 1-888-999-6488. The initial rush backed up our operators, but the wait times were down to under five minutes by the end of the first day. Locally, there were issues with bookings at Cornwall Square. Those wishing to change their appointment can call 1-888-999-6488 to make a change, based on availability. The vaccination team of Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis has worked hard to organize 14 full-day vaccination clinics over the next three weeks at Cornwall Square and sites in Winchester and Alexandria. Our hospitals and the health unit’s mobile teams will continue to vaccinate other Phase 1 recipients. For those who are unable to attend our mass vaccination site, please register with the health unit at www.eohu.ca. As supplies become available, the portal and call centre will be opened to the Phase 2 group, including additional age groups and essential workers, so stay tuned and check the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s website for the latest information.
Locally, the number of active cases continues to edge upwards, closer to the Red-Control level. The new variants are much more contagious, requiring greater attention to the proven practices of maintaining personal spacing, wearing a mask and staying at home except to pick up essential items. Early data clearly shows the vaccine’s success at stopping the spread of this virus, but we need to buy that extra time required to inoculate our residents. Please don’t let your guard down, for failure will see a spike in cases and the need to apply an “emergency brake” and a return to lockdown measures.
I shared some welcome news earlier this week that is of great interest to seniors waiting for a long-term care bed and the many non-profit organizations that contribute so much to our residents’ well-being. As part of the government’s commitment to upgrade long-term care, we are investing another $933 million in 80 new long-term care projects, creating 7,510 new beds and upgrading 4,197 spaces. Maxville Manor and Centre d’Accueil Roger Seguin in Clarence Creek are among these recipients. Last year, we announced in previous fundings the addition of 30 new beds and redevelopment of 98 beds for Dundas Manor. This builds on 95 new beds in Parisien Manor, 17 new beds in Woodland Villa and 10 new beds at Heartwood. This work will help to reduce waitlists and end hallway healthcare. Minister Lisa MacLeod announced the government is offering a $105 million grant program. The new Community Building Fund will help non-profits recover from the financial impact of the pandemic. This is great news for many of our vulnerable and disadvantaged residents who rely on hard-working volunteers to provide specialized services that increase their quality of life. The funding will also help local fair boards and other event-hosting groups deliver the family fun outings we look forward to every year. These organizations’ programs and activities also generate economic activity and create local jobs, including many summer positions for our youth. I encourage these groups to begin applying for the fund’s operating stream, starting March 31, 2021, at https://otf.ca/news/government-ontarios-community-building-fund. The fund’s capital stream will open later in the year.
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