We are experiencing only a slight surge of COVID-19 cases locally and across the province, despite our increased indoor activities brought on by the cooler fall temperatures. For the most part, we have not seen the hospitalizations and ICU occupancies increase of previous waves, and medical experts believe that is a testament to our high full vaccination rate, approaching 90 percent. They point out that current COVID-19 vaccines are proving to be very effective. Vaccines can’t stop you from contracting viruses; that can only be done by avoiding contact with the virus itself, which was the reason behind the government-mandated requirements to wear a mask, social distance, and restrict non-essential activities. In simple terms, the vaccine triggers your body to create antibodies that can immediately attack the virus, limiting its ability to multiply to levels that result in hospitalization or death and weakening its ability to mutate and spread to others. In many cases, levels may be kept low enough that the individuals don’t even realize that they have contracted the virus at all. Evidence shows that the vaccine effectiveness is reduced over time, especially in our more elderly population. As a result, a third dose is available for those 70 years old and older. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they are able, for it is the fastest and safest path back to a reopened Ontario, with all its benefits and activities that we enjoy. You can find vaccination times and locations at www.EOHU.ca.
Ontario’s reopening plan is lifting restrictions based on our science table’s review of data being collected worldwide. The latest reopening details can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario. The plan requires proof of vaccination to participate in many non-essential activities. It can be downloaded at https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/, by calling 1-833-943-3900, or obtained at a Service Ontario centre, a public library, or my local office.
There is still a significant portion of unvaccinated Ontarians, some by choice, but many more because of their young age. Health Canada now has approved the Pfizer vaccine for our children between 5-11 years old. Our local health unit has been developing plans to vaccinate this population segment and will be issuing details shortly.
After years of Ontario families paying the country’s highest childcare costs under the previous Liberal government, the Ontario government is negotiating to get the best possible agreement to secure the federal government’s election promise of $10 a day childcare. Before this offer, Ottawa’s share only accounted for 2.5 percent of childcare costs. Meanwhile, the province has supported the creation of 30,000 new childcare spaces and increased affordability with the $1,500-per-child Child Care Tax Credit. Unlike other provinces, parents benefit from Ontario’s full-day kindergarten, which costs $3.6 billion. During the recent federal election, Ottawa promised $10 a day childcare, and we believe that it should include Ontario. As a result, Premier Ford is only asking for the same level of funding granted to Quebec.
The government continues to implore the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) to return to negotiations and again begin offering OHIP services to our youth and seniors. The OAO has remained on the sidelines despite what Premier Ford has stated, “We showed good faith, we gave them $39 million, but you can’t negotiate by yourself.” I encourage patients to urge the OAO to come back to the table so they can get the services they deserve.
While we are making investments to support the agri-food sector, the government is helping Eurasian wild boar farmers transition away from this breed. As we witnessed recently in Pickering, wild boar poses a risk to the public and domesticated breeds when they escape farms and spread into the countryside.
As always, stay safe and get vaccinated if you have not done so. Regards, Jim McDonellMPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry