The three-step Reopening Ontario plan is largely achieving its goal of gradually returning the province to a new sense of normalcy. At the start of Step 1 on June 11, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit team had administered approximately 133,000 doses, and we had just started to vaccinate youth 12 to 17 years old. We are closing in on fully vaccinating 77 percent of eligible individuals. As the month concludes, we have reached 20,641,600 shots, and 76 percent of Ontarians are fully vaccinated. Despite this success, the Delta variant continues to be a wild card, posing a threat to those who have not been fully vaccinated, including those with restrictions and those under the age of 12 years old. In addition, a fourth wave may force the cancellations of elective surgeries as health capacity is taxed to the breaking point. As a result, under the recommendation of the Ontario Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, our government has placed a pause in exiting Step 3. This will give us more time to review emerging data as we get more people fully vaccinated. As part of our protections, we will implement another important anti-Delta measure on September 7. Vaccination policies will take effect in all high-risk settings, including hospitals, home and community care providers, and ambulance workers. Policies are also required for: school boards, post-secondary institutions, licensed retirement homes, women’s shelters, congregate group homes and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, children’s treatment centres and other services for children with special needs, and licensed children’s residential settings.
Mass vaccination clinics concluded on August 27. As a result, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit has adjusted its vaccination rollout to make it easier and faster. In their place, walk-in pop-up clinics, participating pharmacies, and health-care partners will be available. More information is available at www.eohu.ca. To book or advance your appointment for your first or second shot, please go to www.Ontario.ca/bookvaccine or call 1-888-999-6488 if you have a red and white OHIP card or need assistance.
Once we have graduated from Step 3, our province will enter a new normal. Here are some of the key highlights of restrictions we could look forward to being lifted: capacity limits in all sectors, limits for social gatherings and organized public events, and requirements such as active screening of customers and workers. A few measures will remain in effect: face covering for indoor public spaces, with limited exceptions, and passive screening, such as signage at entrances. In addition, businesses and organizations will continue to collect contact information. All sites will continue to comply with public health instructions. Businesses must put in place a safety plan that meets public health and workplace measures. For more information, visit Roadmap to Reopen and www.eohu.ca.
Meanwhile, Step 3 did allow for some modified community events our region is famous for, including the popular Williamstown Fair, which I was happy to attend once again. The government wants to ensure local festivals and events are successful in the future. As a result, Minister Lisa MacLeod announced the government is doubling the Reconnect Festival and Event Program to nearly $50 million. The program is assisting three local attractions: the 2021 World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Cornwall, the Cornwall Art Walk, and the Black Creek Rodeo in North Dundas.
This past month saw the Ontario government make further commitments to support the province’s municipalities. I was happy to host over 20 delegations to make progress on a wide array of issues. Municipal representatives know how vital provincial investments are to deliver crucial services and programs, such as affordable housing and high-speed internet, which we announced in August.
Please stay safe, and enjoy the last long weekend of summer.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry