Today, Ontario logged 1453 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the seven-day average to 1115. We also learned this afternoon that of these new cases 10% are reported to be the Omicron variant, a significant jump from just a few days ago when we were identifying only a handful of Omicron cases.
In response, today Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer held a press conference and announced a number of changes to the government's plans moving forward.
Here are some of the key changes to be aware of:
- Booster shot eligibility will be changing again on January 4, 2022. At that point, all Ontarians 18+ will be eligible for a booster shot 168 days (approximately six months) after receiving their second dose.
- Ontario will not be ending the vaccine certificate program in mid-January and has now extended the program indefinitely.
- Proof-of-vaccination will have to be shown with QR codes starting January 4, 2022. Other forms of proof of vaccination will no longer be allowed.
- While we don’t have firm dates yet, the province will be moving to ensure that QR codes are actually verified with the Verify Ontario app.
- Starting January 10, 2022, medical exemptions will also require QR code verification. In order to get one, residents will need to register their medical exemption with the local health authority who will then input it into the system.
- Children aged 12 to 17 participating in sports or recreational activities will be required to provide proof of vaccination starting December 20, 2021.
- Ontario is also determining whether to change what constitutes being “fully vaccinated” and specifically if that will require a booster shot.
- The Chief Medical Officer of Health is advising Ontarians to limit their social gatherings, and the number of gatherings they attend over the holiday season.
- Employers are encouraged to make “every effort” to allow employees to work from home.
You can read the government press release announcing these changes here.
One thing worth noting is that right now the ICU capacity in Ontario continues to hold steady. While we are still in the early days of the Omicron variant, and we must remain extremely cautious, let’s hope this doesn’t change. I’ll be keeping a keen eye on ICU numbers in the days ahead.
Here are some resources that you may find useful in light of these changes.
- Click here to book your vaccine
- Click here to get your QR code proof of vaccination
- Click here to find a nearby pharmacy distributing vaccines
An important reminder for booster dose eligibility, starting Monday, December 13 at 8AM individuals aged 50 of older will be eligible to schedule their booster shots – 168 days after their second shot. For reference, June 28 was 168 days prior to December 13.
Report from Queen’s Park
This was the last week of sitting at Queen’s Park before the winter break – and it was a busy one.
Here’s a quick glimpse at some of what I was up to this week – click to watch/read:
- Statement on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women 2021
- Statement wishing Toronto—St. Paul’s a Happy Holidays
- Wrote an open letter with MPP Marit Stiles to the Minister of Education calling for better access to rapid tests in our schools.
I also wrote a second open letter this week, this time to the Premier and the Minister of Children, Community, and Social Services to address an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. For months now, my office has been involved in supporting a local family – a 28-year-old man, with high-support needs autism and developmental disabilities, and his single mother.
For many years, she’s been working hard to afford an in-person adult day program for her son – that costs $30,000 a year. Sadly, due to COVID-19, his program shifted online, and his progress quickly regressed without in-person support. As a result of his regression, his behaviour became increasingly violent for his mother, and she was forced to call the police for her own safety – without an alternative crisis response available to her.
Since then, it’s been two months since she’s seen her son, and he’s been in hospital ever since.
In my letter to the Premier and Minister Fullerton, I’ve demanded that they make sure that get her son out of the hospital, and into supportive housing as quickly as possible, and fund the system so no one else ends up in this position. We need housing – not institutionalization.
You can read my full letter here.
21 Most Inspiring Women of 2021
I was deeply honoured to learn that I was chosen this year for the Village Post’s ‘T.O.’s 21 Most Inspiring Women of 2021’ list. It’s incredible to be mentioned alongside such powerful women as Catherine O’Hara, Pam Palmater, Bianca Andreescu, Hayley Wickenheiser, Eileen De Villa, and more.
I have to send an extra-special thank you to my friend and colleague MPP Jessica Bell for the incredibly kind words that she shared about me – it was incredibly humbling to read.
Sometimes in politics, and maybe just life in general, we can all get so caught up in the work that we’re doing on a daily basis, that you can miss out on the bigger impact that you’re making, and this honour reminded me that while I’m working hard every day – hopefully out there somewhere a young woman will read this article and feel inspired to get involved in politics when they might not have otherwise.
You can find the full issue here (article on Page 26 to 29).
Coming up this Weekend
This Saturday, from 10AM to 2PM at St. Michael and All Angels Church (611 St. Clair Ave West), they will be hosting a Christmas Arts Market! At the market, you’ll be able to find a wide range of products from local crafters and artisans.
I’m happy to be participating in this event, and I’ll be on hand at 10AM to share some welcoming words as we open the market!
After that, I’ll be heading over to the Toronto Cares “Closet Clear-Out Clothing and Toy Drive” up at the Fairbank Memorial Community Recreation Centre (2213 Dufferin St – south of Dufferin and Eglinton). They’ll be running the drive tomorrow from 12 to 4PM – and if you’ve got something to donate – make sure to bring it by!
Here’s some of what they're looking for:
CLOTHING: We'll accept all shapes, sizes & genders, from newborn to seniors.
→ Nothing ripped or stained.
→ All clothing should be clean & dry.
→ Original packaging not mandatory.
TOYS: We'll ONLY accept new or like-new toys.
→ Nothing ripped or broken.
→ Original packaging not mandatory.
COLLECTION: Items can be dropped off or picked up.
→ DROP-OFF is at our collection center at Fairbank Memorial Community Recreation Centre (2213 Dufferin St, York, Ont, M6E 2A8).