The Counties and Cornwall area continue to make incremental progress in lowering the rate of COVID-19 infections. Our caseload continuous to remain stubbornly high, despite our relatively high vaccination rate across the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s region. Unfortunately, the data reveals a low vaccination rate in specific postal codes within the city, allowing the virus to spread easily amongst the higher percentage of unvaccinated people. This week more than a dozen residents were admitted to local hospitals, including five unvaccinated in ICUs. Every time a COVID-19 patient occupies a bed, it may force the hospital to cancel a much-needed surgery. If you have not received both shots, please stop by one of our many local vaccination clinics and participating pharmacies. A current list of locations can be found at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s website at www.EOHU.ca or call 1-800-267-7120.
The higher provincewide vaccination rates and the recent success reducing the Delta variant has enabled the government to relax more restrictions. On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), capacity limits in specific settings will increase where we require proof of vaccination proof. For more information please visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario.
Medical experts are recommending higher vaccination rates to control the spread of the more contagious Delta variant. As a result, you will need to show proof of vaccination and photo ID to enter many non-essential businesses. To obtain your proof of vaccination certificate, you can visit a Service Ontario centre, call 1-833-943-3900, or download it at https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/. The enhanced digital certificate now available includes an official QR code, making it easier for outlets to check your status. The free, made-in Ontario verification app, Verify Ontario, is available for businesses and organizations to download from the COVID-19 vaccination portal.
This week we marked Small Business Week. It is hard to think of a group of professionals more committed to their community during the pandemic as business owners, operators, and staff. They have been instrumental in achieving the success Ontario has experienced, keeping residents safe while staying open to serve them. Our vaccine certificate app is the latest tool to help businesses. The government understands the financial challenges of the past 20 months facing entrepreneurs. We responded by investing $3 billion through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, providing $20,000 to $40,000 to more than 110,000 businesses. Small businesses have adapted to more online service and sales, assisted by the government’s $10 million Digital Main Street program. We have also coupled monetary support with new free services through the ontario.ca/smallbusiness webpage, such as financial planning resources, mental health supports, PPE information, and advice. This week we also launched the new Ontario Business Registry, which will make it much easier and faster to get government services.
The government continues to seek a return of optometry services for seniors and youth covered through OHIP. Unfortunately, we can’t rectify the lack of compensation increases during previous provincial governments if the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) refuses to return to negotiations. We have accepted the OAO’s choice for mediation, but they have ignored his request to return to the bargaining table for over a month. One thing for sure, we can’t come to an agreement if we can’t get together to discuss the issues. The College of Optometrists of Ontario confirms that its members will continue to serve patients requiring urgent care during this situation.
Finally, it was a great honour to have represented residents at the Change of Command Ceremony that installed Shawna Spowart as the new Chief of Cornwall Police Services. I look forward to continuing our work together as Chief Spowart takes over her new role. I also wish outgoing Chief Danny Aikman best wishes in his retirement after a career of almost 40 years.
As always, stay safe and get vaccinated if you have not done so.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry