Community News Update - April 12, 2021

Dear Community,

Our headline story today is an announcement from the University Health Network (UHN) that residents in three Toronto hot spot postal codes, M5V, M6E and M6H, who are aged 18-49, are now eligible to register for their first vaccine dose at this website.

For everyone else, if you are anywhere in Toronto and 60+ (born in 1961 or earlier), or 50+ in a hot spot neighbourhood, you can book your first vaccination shot through the provincial booking site here.

If you are 55+ (born in 1966 or earlier) you can register through a participating pharmacy; you can find your nearest location and their contact information here. Over the weekend we learned that there are an additional 700 pharmacies that will be coming online this week in this program – so if you’ve been having any trouble finding a convenient location, I would encourage you to check again this week.

I’d also like to remind our community that the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre (located at 200 Eglinton Ave W), is now open as a City of Toronto mass vaccination site.

This afternoon, Ford government has announced that schools will be moving indefinitely to online learning following the upcoming April break. This announcement came the day after Education Minister Stephen Lecce released a letter to parents telling them that schools would remain open.

Of course, this has caused a great deal of confusion for students, parents, and education workers across Ontario. As a result of this, there are now many in Ontario (myself included) who are calling for Stephen Lecce to be removed as Minister of Education.

Throughout this entire pandemic, we have seen Mr. Lecce conceal the truth, and refuse to offer the investments that our schools need to operate safely during this pandemic. Those decisions have led us here, to this point where we are seeing increasing case counts in schools, and confusion and fear across the province. It’s high time that the Ministry of Education receive new leadership, with someone who is ready and willing to do the work necessary to keep our schools safe.

It’s deeply frustrating that Mr. Lecce has on at least five occasions since the start of April insisted that Ontario’s schools are safe, only now to turn around and concede that they are not. Especially during a crisis, we need transparency from government leaders.

The news of the school closures also comes as Ontario reported an additional 4401 COVID-19 cases today, and 619 patients in ICUs across Ontario. The situation is dire, and I would repeat my call to our entire community to follow the advice of public health experts. We must limit our non-essential trips out of our homes, we must wear our masks, and maintain our physical distancing. We know that the new variants of concerns are more easily transmissible, and that means that we must be extra cautious to slow them down.

Sadly, no matter how hard we work, we need action from this government to really get control over COVID-19 in Ontario – and that must start with guaranteed paid sick days for all workers – something that the Ford government continues to refuse to deliver.

In Solidarity,
 
Jill Andrew
Toronto—St. Paul's

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