Today, Ontario reported just under 10,000 new cases of COVID-19. However, as a result of restricted access to testing in Ontario, it’s not the best indicator to see how the Omicron variant is affecting our province. For that information, we should be looking primarily at statistics being released by our hospitals regarding admissions, serious cases, and deaths.
As of this morning, there were 2467 people in hospitals in Ontario as a result of COVID-19. Of those, 438 were in intensive care, and 234 are breathing with the help of a ventilator. Tragically, another 12 people have died as a result of COVID-19 in our province.
As we know, there is an overrepresentation of unvaccinated people who are being hospitalized, arriving in ICUs, and ultimately dying. As we all should know by now - vaccinations are our best defence against COVID-19 and its many variants - so if you haven’t yet, please get vaccinated.
There are a number of COVID-19 vaccination sites where you can book a vaccine, as well as pop-up vaccination clinics happening as well in the coming days.
Just outside the boundaries of Toronto-St. Paul’s, there is a pop-up vaccination clinic at Beth Torah Congregation (47 Glenbrook Ave), in the Dufferin and Lawrence area. They’ll be open from 9AM to 2PM on January 11, 12, and 13 – and they’ll be providing vaccines for members of the congregation and residents in the surrounding neighbourhood who are eligible.
You can find out more information here.
FH Health are holding vaccine clinics for Education Workers and Child Care Staff at a number of locations around Toronto, including a location at 2637 Yonge Street (north of Yonge and Eglinton), and another at the Eaton’s Centre. Eligible workers include educators, custodial staff, administrative staff, school bus drivers, and child care staff.
To book a vaccine through FH Health, click here.
There are also numerous mass immunization clinics, and pharmacies around our city that are also booking vaccination appointments, and you can find those links below.
Book an appointment through the provincial health portal here.
Find a pharmacy offering vaccines here.
There is one group that isn’t eligible for vaccination right now in Ontario - who frequently gather in groups - children under the age of five.
Today, the Ontario NDP announced that we are calling on the Ford government to provide access to free PCR tests for children under the age of five.
On December 30, the Ford government cut off access to free PCR tests for most Ontarians, and on Jan 6 they issued new screening rules for child care in Ontario. These rules mean that if a child under 12 years old vomits, has a headache, or otherwise feels unwell, they must stay home for at least five days. Along with that, the entire household is required to isolate as well.
As you might expect, this is incredibly difficult on families – especially when a parent cannot afford to take five days off work at the sight of a runny nose. That’s why we need access to free PCR tests for kids under five so that their parents can know for certain if they need to be kept at home.
Along with this proposal, we are also calling for N95s for all childcare staff, smaller child care group sizes, faster boosters for child care staff, rapid tests for families and staff in child care, paid sick and family care days, and for the government to restart tracking and reporting of COVID cases in child care settings.
I must remind everyone to be careful in the cold weather we’re going to be seeing tonight – and in the coming days. This weather can be dangerous, especially for those who are experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness. The City of Toronto has some useful tips and resources for staying healthy in extreme weather, which you can find here. Further, if you see someone who is struggling in this frigid weather, you can call 311 to get them support.
Finally, today, I’m excited to share that I’ll be sitting down with my partner Aisha, as well as Skills for Change CEO Surranna Sandy to discuss Aisha’s short film about my life as an MPP – titled Body Politics. This is as part of the Skills for Change, Reels for Change program, in collaboration with Hotdocs, which presents virtual screenings and panel discussions.
There will be more details about this coming soon and I’ll be sure to share!