Welcome back from the Christmas holidays. I hope that you were able to connect with friends and family, and found some comfort and support even in these difficult times. I want to acknowledge, however, that many were working tirelessly through these holidays—providing vital services as doctors, nurses, paramedics and other emergency responders, and in the worst cases, funeral directors. We should also remember the grocery store staff and many other essential workers that we have all relied on throughout this period. They worked through the holiday as well and still do not receive enough recognition.
As we begin 2022, we are approaching the end of the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. After all this time, we don’t have a clear picture of when this will end. I wish I could say otherwise, but with this government still failing to take effective action to end or mitigate this pandemic, that is the unfortunate truth.
With that, Ontario reported 11,899 new cases today. Note, this number reflects a limited testing capacity put in place by the Ford government over the holidays and is certainly far below the total number of infected Ontarians. More disturbingly, we now have 2,472 people hospitalized with COVID, the most so far, indicating that we have not passed the peak of this wave.
On Tuesday, I sent out an update outlining the newest measures implemented by public health, you can review these measures here. While we continue to criticize the government’s failure to support all those affected by this pandemic, it is important to continue to follow the advice of public health officials and not make this problem worse.
Of course, doing your part means getting vaccinated! As a reminder, anyone over 18 is now eligible to book booster shots. To book your vaccine appointment using the provincial online portal, click here. For a list of pharmacies where you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, click here.
The incredible and hard-working team at Humber River Hospital are making getting boosted easier for education workers in the region of Northwest Toronto, including those in Toronto-St. Paul’s. Tonight and tomorrow, from 5-7pm (or until supplies last), they are hosting a Teacher and Staff Vaccination Night at Crossroads Plaza, located at 2625 Weston Road (next to Mark’s clothing store), open to all education workers of the listed areas. If you fit this criteria and have yet to receive your third dose, we encourage you to take this opportunity to do so.
Students were set to return to school this week after their winter break. However, with Omicron surging across the province, the government announced school would take place virtually until at least January 21, 2022 with just two days notice. The eleventh-hour nature of their announcement left parents scrambling.
This also highlighted the urgent need for available and affordable childcare. Since it was announced in August by the Federal government, the Ford government continues to delay signing the long-awaited deal to bring $10 a day childcare to Ontario, as the only province that has yet to do so. Myself and my colleagues have repeatedly called for the Premier and Minister Lecce to sign this deal to ease the burden of exorbitant childcare costs – what is upwards of $2,000 per month in much of the province – on working families.
But with this new wave, the cost of childcare is not the only issue faced by the sector that Ford isn’t addressing.
In speaking with many childcare workers and parents here in Toronto-St. Paul’s, I’ve heard firsthand the stress they feel from being left out due to the government’s testing restrictions and other COVID measures to keep both workers and children safe. Noting this reality, myself, MPP Karpoche of Parkdale-High Park, MPP Stiles of Toronto-Davenport and many others co-signed a letter to Minister Lecce, demanding free N95 masks for workers in these centres, and in-school vaccine clinics to provide vaccines to children that are now eligible. You can read the whole letter here.
In lighter news, I was joined last night by several dozen constituents for my New Years virtual check-in where we had the chance to celebrate the accomplishments made for our community over the past year. We also discussed the challenges facing us over the coming year. It was wonderful to see and hear from familiar faces and new friends through the community, each who I look forward to being in continued touch with!
It’s a big year ahead, with a lot of work still to do. But one I’m excited for as what will hopefully be the last year of pandemic (and Doug Ford’s last as Premier).
May 2022 be the year that we hoped 2021 would be!