Over the month, the ongoing vaccination program has been top of mind with most Ontarians. The province has administered over 1.9 million doses so far, with additional facilities on standby, when deliveries from the Federal Government ramp up. Our Eastern Ontario Health Unit is well into the Phase 2 priority group, administering vaccinations to seniors born in 1946 and earlier. Additional age groups will be added in five-year increments as the program moves forward. The rollout of vaccines to local health practitioners and pharmacies is in the works, but unfortunately, is dependant on the availability of vaccine supplies. The Federal Government is working hard to secure additional supplies, but the worldwide demand is affecting deliveries as producing countries look to tighten export controls on this valuable resource. Once eligible, those with green OHIP cards can book their vaccinations at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine. For those who want to book multiple appointments with red and white cards or are having problems, please call our helpline at 1-888-999-6488.
After several weeks of keeping the virus to levels low enough for our region to stay at the Orange-Restrict level, we now need to adhere to stricter conditions under Red-Control. The new variants are among us, and we need to do all we can to reduce the spread before it overwhelms our healthcare, resulting in unnecessary deaths. The latest guidelines and vaccine details are always available at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s website at www.eohu.ca.
We continued to make great strides to address two areas of concern in rural eastern Ontario. As we move forward on addressing the shortage of modern long-term care facilities and support staff, I was happy to hear the funding for 38 new and 122 upgraded LTC beds at the Maxville Manor, part of a recent $933 million province-wide investment. In addition, St. Lawrence College is accepting new students for the new accelerated PSW training program, with the plan to have these students ready to fill positions by the end of the year. Second, the Eastern Ontario Regional Network announced Rogers Communications’ selection to provide cellular and wireless broadband throughout Eastern Ontario. The federal and provincial governments each contributed $71 million dollars on this initiative that will secure over $150 million dollars of private sector investment from Rogers.
The province took a big step forward this past week along with the Government’s three-year recovery plan. Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy announced the 2021 Ontario Budget. Local residents contributed to this document by participating in pre-budget consultations in February. Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy brings the total investments to protect people to $16.3 billion and $23.3 billion to protect our economy. We are making more key investments with more support payments for families, workers and small businesses. As Minister Bethlenfalvy said in the legislature: “You can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people.”
The budget carries on support for key sectors, including local municipalities. A province-wide, $500 million investment will help ensure their stability and assist with extra costs, such as personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, and by-law enforcement. Local allocations are: the City of Cornwall, $1,432,263; United Counties of SDG, $751,692; South Glengarry, $230,437; South Stormont, $216,568; South Dundas, $191,690; North Dundas, $186,938; and North Stormont, $113,036. As well, the Township of North Glengarry is receiving $188,869. We are also providing $3,521,944 to help the City of Cornwall social services pay for an increase in COVID-19 cases in some emergency shelters in Cornwall and the United Counties of SDG. The new funding will protect homeless shelter staff and residents and help prevent more people from becoming homeless.
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