Community News Update - November 3, 2021

Dear Community,

Today, there has been another significant update to Ontario's vaccine eligibility regulations, specifically regarding booster shots.

Starting this Saturday (Nov 6) at 8AM, booster shot appointments will be available to the following groups of people – if at least six months have passed since their last dose:

  • Individuals aged 70 and over (born in 1951 or earlier);
  • Health care workers and designated essential caregivers in congregate settings (including long-term care home and retirement home staff and designated caregivers);
  • Individuals who received a complete series of a viral vector vaccine (two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine); and
  • First Nation, Inuit, and Métis adults and their non-Indigenous household members.

It has also been announced that in the coming months, that the Ontario government is planning to make booster shots gradually more available, until everyone aged 12 and over is eligible for a booster. This change is being made as a result of scientific evidence that suggests there is some gradual waning of immunity six months after receiving your second dose. All the booster doses that will be

If you are eligible for a booster dose, you will get your shot a few different ways.

Shots will be available:

  • By booking an appointment through the online portal here;
  • By calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre to schedule an appointment at 1-833-943-3900;
  • At Indigenous-led vaccination clinics;
  • From local public health units using their own booking systems (more information coming);
  • At select pharmacies, find your nearest option here.
  • In primary care settings.

You can read the full government press release on this announcement here.

Along with booster doses, the next major frontier for vaccinations in Ontario is in children aged 5 to 11, who up to this point have remained unvaccinated. While we still must wait for Health Canada approval, the understanding at this time is that this approval will be coming in the near future.

Right now, we are in a key window of time where we can prepare to get those shots out as quickly and efficiently as possible once the approval is granted. Frustratingly, however, the Ford government told us today that they will only be allowing children to get vaccinated with a signed approval form and a parent present – instead of also allowing school-based vaccines for families who are comfortable with that option.

We need to be opening up avenues to get vaccination out – not making it more difficult. Now in order for many kids to get vaccinated, they are going to need to have a parent take time off work to take them, and we know that this will slow down the delivery of doses. Further, let’s bring more family doctors into the mix, enabling them to also help with the distribution of doses.

There’s also some developing news that’s just been released, it appears now also that the Ford government is refusing to implement mandatory vaccines for health care workers in Ontario. This is extremely frustrating, given that’s it’s plainly obvious that we need to ensure that the folks delivering health care to our most vulnerable are vaccinated themselves.

We will see how this story continues to develop, and I’ll have more information for you on this in the coming days.

Beyond COVID-19 news, this week it’s been revealed that the minimum wage in Ontario is set to be raised to $15 an hour on January 1, 2022, and that it will be increasing annually along with inflation. While an increase certainly needed to happen, the reality right now in Toronto is that even $15 an hour isn’t enough to make it by.

Further, it’s enraging to know that this should have been done years ago, and it actually would have happened if it wasn’t for the Ford government cancelling the planned increase to $15 – one of their first acts as government. The reality is: that decision cost minimum wage workers in Ontario, and those with minimum wage “plus” contracts more than $5,300 in wages they would have earned by now.

This change from them now is far from benevolent, but rather they’ve been forced to act after the justified outrage at their 10 cent increase to minimum wage announcement a few weeks back. If we’re going to get Ontario workers back on track, we need a further increase to the minimum wage to at least $17 an hour.

Next, coming up soon at Queen’s Park, Bill 27, the "Working for Workers Act" is going to be referred to committee soon, and we need to hear from the community on this.

The Bill does not address any of the concerns that many of you have raised with me, about WSIB, and the negative experiences injured workers have while trying to secure their benefits. Now is the chance to raise those concerns with the government directly - or any other concerns you might have with the Bill.

Here's what you need to do to sign up to participate:

  1. Go to: ola.org/en/get-involved/participate-committees
  2. Click Request to Participate
  3. Click YES to “Do you know the bill title or business (e.g., pre-budget consultations) you'd like to speak or submit material about?”
  4. Select Bill 27, Working for Workers Act, 2021

I’m happy to share a short recap of a fabulous event that I recently attended at Grace Church on-the-Hill, where they were hosting the Orpheus Choir for a concert. This was the Orpheus Choir’s first in-person concert since 2020, and they didn’t miss a beat! They were absolutely incredible, with a tranquil and melodic reminder that indeed 'music is always there with us!'

I want to thank community member Shaylen for inviting me to come by for the concert, as well as all the performers, Beth Evans (readings), Christopher Dawes (accompanist), Kai Leung (Associate Conductor), and Robert Cooper (Artistic Director) for an enchanting evening!

You can see more pictures from the event on my Instagram here.

Finally, a quick note on the Halloween Costume Contest! We’re going to be contacting the winners tomorrow and we’ll be back on Friday with a big collage of the submissions and an announcement of the winners!

In Solidarity,

Jill Andrew

Join the Toronto-St. Paul's NDP

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