This coming Sunday is the last night of Chanukah, and I know that many of my Jewish constituents are going to be celebrating and lighting the last candles on their menorahs.
To everyone celebrating: Happy Chanukah!
For the first time since May, Ontario has reported over 1000 new cases of COVID-19 today, with 1031 cases being registered this morning. These cases are spread out across the province, with nine regions recording more than 40 cases, and Toronto leading the pack with 133 new cases. With today’s new cases added, our seven-day average now sits at 866 cases, which is the highest it’s been since June.
A leading concern for many continues to be the spread of the Omicron variant around the world, and we now know that the variant has arrived in the GTA, with a Durham resident who works at the Toronto East Detention Centre testing positive for the variant.
While the impact this new variant will have is still largely unknown, there is research emerging from South Africa that is concerning. Specifically, a research group’s study suggests that the Omicron variant is more likely to reinfect someone who has previously had COVID-19 than other variants that we’ve seen. It should be noted that this research did not examine the effectiveness of vaccines against Omicron, and that they are still waiting to undergo scientific review.
In response to our swelling case counts, and the emergence of Omicron, the provincial government is now extending the eligibility for booster shots to anyone 50 or older. That means that starting on Monday, December 13 at 8AM, anyone 50 or older who got their second dose at least 168 days ago (approximately 6 months), will be able to book their booster shot appointment.
This change comes as the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) announced that it now strongly recommends that adults aged 50 and older should receive a booster shot.
For folks under the age of 50, the NACI has “recommended that a booster dose of an authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccine may be offered ≥6 months after completion of a primary COVID-19 vaccine series” depending on individual and local COVID-19 risks.
While we don’t have the specific dates yet, the Ontario government has indicated that they are planning to open up booster shot eligibility for Ontarians in January.
Earlier this week, we passed 10,000 deaths in Ontario as a result of COVID-19. In response, the Ontario NDP is calling for an independent public inquiry into the government’s response to COVID-19. We know that mistakes have been made during this pandemic, and it’s vital that we learn from those mistakes, so that they’re never made ever again. Along with that, we also need to know what worked during this pandemic, so that we can be better prepared in the future.
The sooner that we can get to work on this – the better.
Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day on whih we should take the time to honour and reflect on the many contributions from people with disabilities, and the disability rights movement in Ontario. Of course, while we recognize those contributions, we must also acknowledge the systemic failures that continue to create barriers in our society. So today, let’s commit to working together to create a more inclusive and accessible Ontario, and an Ontario where no one is forced to live in poverty.
Speaking of poverty, today the Ontario NDP put forward an amendment to replace the low-wage policy that was laid out in the Fall Economic Statement with a consistent $1-an-hour set of raises over the next five years, that would have ushered in a $20-an-hour miniumum wage. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the Ford government voted down our motion, and the Liberals abstained from the vote.
Regardless of today’s vote, I’ll be getting right back to working on this policy, and I’ll be working hard to bring a $20-an-hour minimum wage to Ontario.
In the Community
Over the past couple days, I’ve had the pleasure of making a few visits around the riding. Yesterday, I stopped by the Centennial Child and Infant Centre, and let me tell you, it simply made my week!
The Centre supports families and their young children with special needs to develop the
confidence and skills for the best start in life. I had the pleasure to meet their outstanding staff and see them in action – I even got to test my memory while singing some children’s tunes! Not to mention that it is priceless to see curious little ones learning and having fun. Thank you to Belinda Chun and Jacqui Robbins (in the photos) for leading this incredible visit and showing me around.
I also took some time to visit with Tashawna, the owner of MRose Health and Fitness, a new fitness studio in the Oakwood-Vaughan community!
Named after her late grandmother & mother, Tashawna is dedicated to ensuring their legacy of strength, positivity & kindness is felt all through her small (but mighty!) business. On the main level is a full-scale training space (including TRX, kettle bells, kickboxing, cycling) and just downstairs, is a place to slow down, relax, and breathe.
MRose Health and Fitness is about more than physical strength. It's about mental strength & strength of community. That's what Tashawna brings to Oakwood-Vaughan so join me in saying a huge welcome!
This weekend, I’m looking forward to dropping by the Nava Social St. Clair West’s grand opening (happening today and tomorrow)! They’re located right at the north-west corner of Rushton and St. Clair Ave West (744 St. Clair Ave West), and they’ve partnered with the great folks from St. Michael and All Angels and the Beeton Cupboard Food Bank to collect food during their opening!
So if you drop by during the grand opening, and bring a canned good, or cash donation, they’ll provide you with a free coffee. Another big welcome to the community!
Have a safe and happy weekend!