Today, Ontario reported another 1536 new cases of COVID-19, bringing our seven-day average of cases to 1328. Last week at this time, our seven-day average was 940. Of the new cases, 255 were found here in Toronto, with three other regions logging at least 100 new cases.
While we don’t want to get too bogged down in statistics, a number that stood out to me in particular was that this morning Ontario’s science advisory group is estimating that around 30.8% of the new infections are the Omicron variant. The Omicron variant is of course rapidly spreading around the globe, and is being cited as a key contributor to our recent spike in cases. While information is still emerging about the new variant, we were sent a strong message today from the Ontario Science Table that we should not think that this new variant is less dangerous than previous iterations of COVID-19.
The message from the science table experts is that there isn’t good data out yet to indicate what impact this variant will have in the Ontario context. What they’re stressing is that we need to remain cautious, wear our masks, and most importantly get vaccinated – including your booster dose when eligible.
On the note of boosters, starting this morning at 8AM anyone aged 50 or older becomes eligible to get a booster dose – as long as they are at least 168 days (about 6 months) past their second dose. While there were some crashes on the site this morning, it’s my understanding that the page is back up and running now, and I’d encourage everyone who is eligible to get their booster dose as soon as possible.
Speaking of booster shots, looking at the data that we’re seeing right now with Omicron, it’s clear that we need to speed up their distribution. Right now, the Ford government has scheduled boosters to become available for folks 18+ on January 4, and it’s clear that timeline must be sped up. At the rate of growth we’re seeing right now, and with the holidays around the corner – we need to get more boosters out as quickly as possible, and deliver free rapid tests to Ontarians.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen increased food insecurity, and more people accessing the support of food banks. On Friday, I joined other MPPs for a tour of the Daily Bread Food Bank facility, and helped sort food donations, check expiry dates, and pack a box for distribution. Right now, 70,000lbs of food leaves Daily Bread every day – and I want to thank the entire team there, staff and volunteers, for the incredible work that they’re doing during these trying times.
Sadly, the issues of food insecurity have been worsened by years of policy failures, and it’s clearer now than ever that the only real path towards a society without food insecurity is addressing the root causes.
If you’re interested in learning more, I would encourage everyone to check out Daily Bread’s ‘Who’s Hungry 2021 Report.’
This afternoon, I recorded a podcast with an incredible member of our community – and an upcoming podcast star - Abhiram Bindinganavale Rajee. Now, what’s special about Abhiram? Well how about the fact that he’s TEN and has been running a podcast for about a year. His podcast is titled “A Thirsty Mind” and I’m excited for our community to hear my episode when it’s released!
Abhiram is a Toronto-St. Paul’s resident, and a proud student of Eglinton Junior Public School!
In the Community
On Saturday, I spent time at two phenomenal initiatives - the St. Michael and All Angels Holiday Art Market and the Toronto Cares Closet Clear-Out Clothing and Toy Drive.
At St. Michael’s, Jenni and her whole team did an incredible job putting together an art market, where local artists were able to sell their brilliant creations. I want to thank all the organizers, volunteers, and artists for coming together to make this happen. We know that the pandemic has been especially hard on artists, and this event was a great success.
Over at the Toronto Cares event, I was glad to meet Sarah Robinson who’s done a fabulous job leading Toronto Cares as an organization. I dropped off a toy as a donation, and it was inspiring to see how much clothing, and how many toys, they were able to bring together. Thank you again, to all the organizers, volunteers, and donors for bringing this program to life.
But we’re not done with our holiday drives! Coming up this week, The VO Youth have partnered with the For Youth Initiative for a Holiday Gift Drive – and they’re in the collection phase of their campaign. They’re looking for a range of items (in new or good condition), including winter wear, toiletries, kitchenware, home décor, stationery, toys, non-perishable items, plants, Christmas decorations, hygienic products, and more!
You can drop off your donations at the For Youth Initiative Vaughan and Oakwood location (504 Oakwood Ave), Tuesday to Thursday from 10:30AM to 6PM.
For more information you can email [email protected] or DM them at @voyouth_to.
From the Legislature
I was honoured last week to speak in support of the creation of Endometriosis Awareness Month, and vote in support of the creation of this month of recognition. Endometriosis impacts 1 in 10 people who menstruate, and often causes debilitating pain in those affected. I’m proud to share that this bill has now passed – and I want to congratulate my friend and colleague MPP Marit Stiles for bringing this important bill forward.
Finally today, I am deeply honoured to share that the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (BlackCAP) is presenting me with a Lifetime Advocacy Award alongside two trailblazers Al Ramsay and Aina-Nia Ayo’dele Grant.
I cannot say thank you enough to Black CAP for this honour!