|Oakville North-Burlington Update – March 12th, 2021“By the end of the day, we expect to have administered our one millionth vaccine dose in Ontario. That is one million doses. Let me take a moment to thank the vaccine task force and all of the hard-working frontline health care workers for this incredible achievement. And I want to thank all the volunteers here at the Toronto Congress Centre for their work at this mass vaccination clinic… We will have more than 120 new mass immunization clinics open by the end of the month, giving us the capacity to deliver up to 150,000 doses a day depending on supply from the federal government. This is an absolute game changer… My friends, the light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting brighter. Please be patient. We will get through this” – Premier Ford|
Vaccinations in Pharmacies and Primary Care Settings for Ontarians Aged 60-64 CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE IN HALTON REGION
As vaccine supply increases, our government is expanding the delivery channels available to administer COVID-19 vaccines to include pharmacies and primary care settings. As of Friday, March 12, 2021, over 325 pharmacies will be offering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to Ontarians aged 60-64, by appointment only, as part of a vaccine delivery pilot program in specific regions.
This has begun in three public health unit regions: Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. The vaccine rollout will be expanded to more pharmacies in other regions of the province as supply increases.
Recently the Ontario government reached a key milestone in protecting remote and isolated Indigenous communities against COVID-19, having visited all 31 fly-in northern communities and Moosonee to offer first doses of the vaccine as part of Operation Remote Immunity. Operation Remote Immunity was officially launched on February 1, 2021 and aims to complete its work (first and second doses) by the end of April 2021.
1 Million Vaccine Doses Administered
On March 11th the Ontario government reached an important milestone – having administered one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ontario leads the country in the number of vaccine doses administered, and as we continue to ramp up capacity, we are committed to administering all doses received, as quickly as possible, to every Ontarian who wants a vaccine. To support this, our government has: enabled more health care workers to be able to administer the vaccine; expanded the number of vaccination sites in collaboration with the pharmacy sector and primary care professionals; and developed an online provincial booking system to be launched on March 15. With vaccine supply stabilizing, and over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government before the end of March, the province will enter Phase Two of its vaccine rollout next month. Between April 2021 and July 2021, up to nine million Ontarians will be vaccinated.
|Ontario Marks One Year Anniversary of COVID-19 Pandemic|
March 11th marked one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Since then, Ontario has tragically lost more than 7,000 lives to this deadly virus. We took a moment to honour our health care workers and essential workers for their heroic sacrifices and contributions to Ontario’s pandemic response. The Ontario Legislature observed a moment of silence for those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 on March 11.
This was also an opportunity to reflect on the hope that lies ahead. During this difficult and unprecedented year, we have seen great acts of kindness, compassion and generosity from people all across Ontario.
|Ontario’s 2021 Budget Date AnnouncementThe Ontario government will continue to focus on protecting people’s health and jobs through the COVID-19 pandemic when Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, releases the 2021 Ontario Budget on March 24. The Budget will support the province’s comprehensive vaccine distribution plan, along with providing additional resources for the health care sector and initiatives to protect the economic well-being of families, workers and employers.|
|Social Services Relief Funding|
The Ontario government is providing $255 million to help Service managers/Indigenous program administrators respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases in some emergency shelters and help keep vulnerable people safe. The new social services relief funding will protect homeless shelter staff and residents and help prevent more people from becoming homeless.
This announcement is part of the province’s investment through the Social Services Relief Fund. Provincial service managers and Indigenous program partners can use the funding to acquire motel and hotel spaces to support physical distancing of shelter residents, hire more shelter staff, purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies, and add to rent and utility banks to prevent more people from becoming homeless.
|Ontario Supporting Postsecondary Students with Hands-on TrainingThe Ontario government is providing $39.5 million to help Mitacs Inc. create up to 8,000 paid innovative research internships and upskilling opportunities for postsecondary students, postdoctoral fellows, recent graduates, and workers. By connecting students with opportunities, we are preparing the next generation of talent with the experience they need to get good jobs.Investing in experiential learning opportunities for students and recent graduates is part of the government’s plan to ensure it is building a skilled workforce that will drive Ontario’s post-COVID-19 economic recoveryOntario Offers New Sign Language Courses to Secondary StudentsOntario announced two new ground-breaking second-language courses – American Sign Language (ASL) as a Second Language and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) langue seconde – for Ontario high school students. Starting in September 2021, high schools may offer these courses to provide students with the opportunity to develop new language and conversation skills, gain cultural understandings and learn about ASL or LSQ literary works and texts. Ontario will be one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to offer high school students in the province second language courses in ASL and LSQ.|
|Strategy to Accelerate Justice SystemThe Ontario government has announced a new multi-year plan to speed up access to the justice system. Justice Accelerated is a groundbreaking strategy that will build a more accessible, responsive and resilient justice system. The strategy includes a new investment of $28.5 million for a digital case management system to help reduce delays and backlogs at tribunals. The plan also includes moving more services online and expanding remote hearing technology to more courtrooms across the province.|
|Ontario Establishes Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force|
The government has announced a Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force to provide advice about how to help the province’s hard-hit tourism industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. This Task Force will provide a forum for sector partners and leaders to share ideas, collaborate and provide advice and information to the minister on strategies, tactics and approaches to support the economic recovery of Ontario’s tourism industry. The task force will deliver a report with its recommendations to the minister in spring 2021.
|Critical Minerals StrategyOntario is developing its first-ever Critical Minerals Strategy to help generate investment, increase the province’s competitiveness in the global market, and create jobs and opportunities in the mining sector. This strategy will also support Ontario’s transition to a low-carbon economy both at home and abroad. Ontario is well-positioned to become a global supplier, producer and manufacturer of choice for certain critical minerals, including nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum. This strategy will showcase Ontario’s world-class critical mineral industry and signal to the world that Ontario is ready to meet the demand for responsibly sourced critical minerals.|
|Ontario Expanding Diagnostic Services for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)|
The Ontario government is investing $2.8 million annually to expand Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) diagnostic services by funding 12 new FASD clinics for a total of 21 funded FASD diagnostic clinics across the province. With this additional funding, the government is investing $10.1 million in annual funding towards FASD programs and services and diagnostic services for people impacted by FASD.
The aim of this additional allocation is to increase equitable access to FASD diagnostic services to children and youth across Ontario. This investment will reduce wait times for FASD diagnostic assessments. Earlier access to diagnostic assessments supports early intervention, leading to better outcomes for people impacted by FASD.
|Providing Support to Local Fire Services During COVID-19|
Ontario is providing $5 million to help municipal fire services address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will enhance fire safety training across the province and support safety inspection programs to ensure compliance with the Ontario Fire Code.
Ontario’s fire departments vary in size and capacity and serve different communities that each present different levels of risk. Each municipality will be able to submit proposals for an initial $4,500 base grant, plus additional funding dependent on population served.
|International Women’s DayThis week, we celebrated International Women’s Day – a day where we highlighted the success and leadership of women around the world. The UN theme this year was “Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” in recognition of the immense contributions of women serving on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.Women make up the majority of the essential frontline workers in several sectors, including health care, social services and education. As the provincial government works to safely reopen Ontario’s economy, we will continue to build a province where every woman and girl is empowered to succeed. Because promoting women’s full economic participation supports Ontario’s continued growth and prosperity.|
|Hellenic Heritage Month|
In 2019, Hellenic Heritage Month was officially recognized by the Ontario Legislature. I was proud to see the Bill I introduced to establish this recognition passed into law by the PC Government under Premier Ford. Hellenic Heritage Month will be celebrated each year in March to coincide with March 25th, the date Greece declared its independence. This year is even more significant as March 25, 2021 is the Bicentennial of Greece’s independence. The people of Greece and those of Hellenic descent in Ontario and around the world – and all the philhellenes who support them – are joined in marking this important anniversary. It’s 200 years since Greece, the mother of democracy, rose up to restore her freedom.
In honour of Hellenic Heritage Month and this important anniversary, I will be profiling exceptional Canadians of Hellenic descent who have made a significant contribution to our province and country.
This week we recognized Teresa Stratas, renowned operatic soprano and Dr. Dimitrios Oreopoulos, Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and one of the worlds leading pioneers in Peritoneal Dialysis.
|Effie in the Community|
I was happy to do my small part this week to support our small businesses in Oakville North-Burlington during the pandemic. Thank you Studebaker Pub and Diner in Burlington and Boon Burger Café in Oakville for your curbside delivery. It’s more important than ever to support our local small businesses!
|I was pleased to participate in the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Social Policy this week where we discussed MPP Logan Kanapathi’s Bill 157 – COPD Awareness Day Act, 2019. This bill aims to promote COPD awareness and proclaims the third Wednesday in November of each year as COPD Awareness Day. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada and it is estimated that by 2030, COPD will be the third leading cause of death in the world. I would like to congratulate my colleague MPP Kanapathi for bringing awareness to this important health issue!|
|I participated in the Legislature’s Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight and I asked the Solicitor General Sylvia Jones about how the recent approval by the federal government of two new vaccines Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson will impact the schedule for the vaccine rollout in Ontario so that at some point in the future we could look forward to the public health orders being rescinded. I also enquired about the government’s plans this year to support important cultural festivals, fairs and other events in our communities that were forced to be cancelled or moved online due to COVID-19.|
|It was a pleasure to attend the Rotary Club of Oakville’s annual “Speaker Series” event where we heard from three leaders who are distinguished in their respective fields. Thank you to the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Sandra Pupatello and Jennifer Jones for your insightful remarks on leadership during COVID-19.|
|I had the opportunity to participate in the Bay Area Climate Change Council (BACCC) Council Forum with the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek who spoke about our government’s Made-in-Ontario environmental blueprint to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the province. It was also informative to hear about BACCC’s ambitious targets to reduce Green House Gas emissions by 2050. BACCC is a collective of organizations advancing climate action in Burlington and Hamilton. Thank you for your work to build resiliency and tackle climate change in our community.|
|I was delighted to join Halton Healthcare in delivering birthday wishes to Fred in honour of his 94th birthday. The virtual visiting program is so important in connecting people with their loved ones during these challenging times.|
|I would also like to congratulate the following eight individuals from Oakville North-Burlington who were recipients of the Ontario Volunteer Service Awards:Steven RoordaJaz SinghKrystyna SowinskiAzan VermaYian WangSarah WiebeDorota Wilk|