We are wrapping up the week with an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario. The province reported 192 new cases this Friday, the most in over two weeks.
There was also an increase in the number of active infections for the second straight day, which hasn't happened in months. Even though the rise was not outstanding, any increase calls for caution.
I've said it before and will repeat it: vaccination is a crucial step to fighting this virus. The percentage of Ontarians who are 12 or older and have received both vaccine doses is about 65% as of today – that number has to go up. However, perhaps a more concerning number is the slow rate at which folks who are still unvaccinated are getting their first shots. We must ensure that we increase the accessibility of vaccinations for everyone and work together to dispel misinformation that has been spread about vaccinations.
Getting fully vaccinated will help not only you but the whole Community.
I am still fighting for permanent, sufficient, and properly communicated paid sick days – something that this province has needed for many years.
Frustratingly – but unsurprisingly – CBC reported that Ontario's COVID-19 paid sick day program has been getting little uptake. With this pandemic, many workers have had to make an impossible choice: missing a paycheque or going into work sick. The three paid sick days offered by the Ford government are insufficient and were introduced far too late. The Ford government has also failed to invest in publicizing the program.
It is also with a sad heart that I report on the current situation at Lamport Stadium, as the police forcefully displaced folks from encampments.
Let me say this clearly. Violence is not the answer to solving our housing crisis. There is a reason that folks are stuck in encampments, and the reality is that the blame for this current situation sits squarely on the shoulders of governments from all levels who have failed to address the growing housing crisis in Ontario for many years.
The government needs to offer affordable, safe and supportive housing, a livable wage, and mental health and addiction support. Kicking folks out of our parks and trying to force them into shelters, where they often feel unsafe, is simply not addressing the issue in a serious way.
If you missed it in Wednesday's newsletter, a report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) revealed that the Ford government withheld $10.3 billion from Ontarians during the pandemic. Over $1 billion earmarked for long-term care and public health went unspent.
This news is particularly frustrating as we know that throughout the pandemic, folks have needed more support. Our small businesses – many of whom were deeply impacted by COVID-19 – could have absolutely used these extra funds to stay afloat. Our school system could have used this money to make our schools safer and could have kept students in classrooms instead of sending them home. This failure of the Ford government to deliver even the inadequate supports they promised is simply unacceptable.
On a positive note, after a brief pause due to rain, our Community Food Tables are scheduled to return this Saturday from 11 AM to 1 PM. As always, we welcome volunteers and food donations at any of our four locations.
To register or learn more, click the relevant links below:
Marian Engel Park - 285 Melita Ave. (Christie St. and Melita Ave)
St. Matthew's United Church - 729 St. Clair Ave West. (St. Clair Ave W. and Rushton Ave.)
Cy Townsend Park - 455 Winona Dr. (Vaughan Rd. and Winona Dr.)
Oriole Park Community Garden - 201 Oriole Parkway (Located near Lascelles Blvd. At the south entrance to Oriole Park)
Finally, as a reminder, there is still time to RSVP to an Indigenous-led walk in memory of the many children who have been found in unmarked graves at former residential school sites.
The event, called Peaceful Solidarity Walk: In Honour of the 215+ Children, will happen on August 1st. The walk will be down St. Clair West and will begin at 10:30 AM at the Santa Chiara Parkette (St. Clair West – just East of Dufferin). At 11 AM, those in attendance will walk to Wells Hills Park at St. Clair West (just West of Bathurst). This event is being organized by Germaine Catchpole, of Mnopgwad Preserves.