After last week’s positive long-term reopening plan announcement, the local COVID-19 situation remains precarious. Local cases dropped significantly to under 70 by mid-week, but the seriousness of the infections tempered this progress, as more than two dozen people required hospitalization. As has been the norm, most of the half dozen patients in ICU were not fully vaccinated. Recent data indicate that infection is eight times more likely without one dose, and those unvaccinated adults over the age of 60 are 15 times more likely to be hospitalized. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit continues to reach out to areas of Cornwall where vaccination rates remain well below the regional two-dose average of 86 percent.
Getting more people vaccinated is the key to increasing capacity limits, which began this week for many non-essential venues, including restaurants, bars, gyms, and more. Access is only available for those who are fully vaccinated. Your proof of vaccination certificate and official QR code can be downloaded at https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/, obtained at a Service Ontario centre, or by calling 1-833-943-3900. More information can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario.
Optometrists continue to cancel or refuse appointments for our seniors and youth. The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) remains on the sidelines, despite the Government agreeing to the OAO’s choice of mediator. We encourage the OAO to heed the mediator’s open invitation to return to negotiations. The Government wants OHIP eligible Ontarians to get the services they deserve, but a new funding agreement is not possible if the OAO remains away from the negotiating table. Urgent care can still be coordinated through your optometrist.
Our province’s recovery depends a great deal on a well-trained workforce. So it was exciting to hear the Government is moving ahead with several new programs to address the current labour shortage. This week, Labour, Training and Skills Development Minister Monte McNaughton tabled new legislation, the Working for Workers Act, 2021. If passed, Minister McNaughton said it will show that “Ontario is ready to lead the way into the workplaces of tomorrow, and create the conditions that will make talented, innovative people want to work in our great province.” This legislation follows last week’s new measures to increase interest in agri-food careers and help newcomers fill skilled labour positions.
The key to Ontario’s future depends on creating a competitive business environment that encourages new start-up ventures and attracts companies to relocate to Ontario, providing good-paying jobs. That is why our Government launched the new Business Registry, which will help ensure businesses can access the services they need quickly and efficiently. This modern online service will make it easier and more affordable for millions of businesses and not-for-profit corporations to access Ontario government services such as registering a business, incorporating a not-for-profit, and filing an annual return. Since taking Government in 2018, we have cut over $6 billion in the overall cost of doing business in Ontario, generating record investment and the return of 350 manufacturing jobs.
With Halloween just around the corner, I look forward to the return of our “Trick or Treaters.” It was always fun to dress our children up in fun costumes and visit our family, friends, and neighbours. This year I remind everyone to stay safe and follow current public health guidelines, available at www.EOHU.ca.
As always, stay safe and get vaccinated if you have not done so.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry