Throughout COVID-19, there have been stories and moments that have captured all of us, and recentred the pain and tragedy of the pandemic that we’re all living through. This weekend, we learned of the tragic passing of Emily Victoria Viegas, a 13-year-old girl from Brampton. Emily is one of the youngest people in Ontario to die of COVID-19, and before I get to anything else today, I want to send my sincere condolences to her family, and to anyone who has been affected by her passing.
May she rest in peace.
Painfully juxtaposed this morning after a moment of silence to pay the legislature’s respects to Emily Viegas and her family was a vote on paid sick days legislation that was voted down by the Ford government. This marked the 25th time in 2021 that the Ford government had voted down paid sick days legislation – and another jolting reminder of the inaction that we’ve seen in the past year from this government.
Along with the news that the Ford government once again voted down paid sick days came the news that the Canadian Armed Forces will be sending teams to Ontario to support our health care system. The Armed Forces have committed to deploying up to three medical assistance teams to support our health care system. Further, the air force will be flying medical staff from other provinces to Ontario to provide more care.
While it’s great to know that we have such support from around the country, it’s also frustrating that it has taken so long for the government to get this help. In fact, it was just a few weeks ago that we turned down an offer from the Red Cross to support our exhausted front-line workers.
Of course, we know that the way that we will put COVID-19 behind us is through vaccines, and I want to take a moment here to say to everyone reading this email that if you are eligible for a vaccine you should register as soon as you can.
If you don’t know if you’re eligible, click here and check under the Vaccine Eligibility tab.
To book a vaccine appointment through the provincial portal, click here.
We’ve also learned recently that the province of Ontario is now considering sending 50% of all vaccines to hot spots, following advice from the Science Advisory Table. This recommendation comes after analysis showed that the province could prevent 20% of all COVID-19 infections in people aged 16-59 by taking this step.
You can read more about this story here.
While COVID-19 has been the top story in Ontario for over a year now, I want to draw some attention to a local issue that I raised today in the Legislature that is no less devastating. In June 2019, Arka Chakraborty died by suicide in our community. He was 12 years old. Prior to his passing, Arka had been the victim of racist bullying at his school and in his community. Since his passing, his mother Durba Mukherjee has been fighting for answers, and today I once again brought her request to meet with the Minister of Education to the Legislature.
Durba Mukherjee deserves the respect of a meeting from this government and a real investigation into what happened prior to Arka’s passing, and I will keep fighting for her.