Community News Update - September 1, 2021

Dear Community,

Today, the Ontario government released its plans for a vaccine certificate program – so let’s go over the key details.

The program will be coming online on September 22, and it is being called an enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate program.

Starting on September 22, Ontarians will need their vaccination receipt and a piece of valid photo ID to access some spaces in our province. These receipts can be printed or downloaded onto a smartphone to be presented.

One month later, on October 22, the province will be transitioning to certificates that will include QR codes which can be scanned and provide your vaccination status.

The QR codes will be released in conjunction with an app that will be able to validate QR codes and provide your vaccination status.

So where will you need to provide your vaccine certificate?

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, delivery and takeout);
  • Nightclubs (including outdoor areas);
  • Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
  • Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport;
  • Sporting events;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
  • Racing venues (e.g., horse racing).

 

Outdoor venues will not be required to check patrons’ vaccine certificates – with the exception of nightclubs. That means to use an outdoor patio you will not require a vaccine certificate.

Further, you will not need to present certificates at grocery stores, medical supply stores, places people receive medical care, or other similar venues. The system will also not apply to essential retail stores, places of worship, hair salons, and other personal care businesses (including nail salons).

Another notable exemption from the program are employees of affected businesses. That means that it will be in the hands of employers to determine for themselves what their vaccination policy will be for their staff.

Finally, children who are not yet eligible for vaccinations will also be exempt for the vaccine certificate program, as are people who have received a medical exemption from a doctor. Anyone who has received an exemption will need to present a note from their doctor, until they are able to incorporate that information into the digital certificates that will be presented through the app.

Now, regarding the vaccine certificates program specifically, it is deeply frustrating that it has taken so long for Doug Ford to take this action. For some time now, we have been calling for the implementation of a vaccine certificate program, and Premier Ford has dragged his heels throughout this entire process.

While we must wait to see how the rollout of the program develops, it’s incredibly disappointing that our province has been slow to respond to COVID-19 once again. We need real leadership in this province, we need a leader who’s not afraid to take action during this time of crisis, and Doug Ford has confirmed – once again – that he is not that person. It’ll certainly be nice when we can see Andrea Horwath in the Premier’s office in 2022.

To read more about this announcement, check out the following resources:

Along with the announcement of the vaccine certificate program, today the Ford government also announced that they are ending the indefinite extension of:

  • Driver’s Licenses
  • License Plate Stickers
  • Health Cards
  • Ontario Photo Cards

For most cards, Ontarians will have until February 28, 2022. The exceptions to this are for G1, G2, M1 or M2 driver’s licence holders, and for heavy commercial vehicle owners. For anyone in this second group they will need to renew their license by December 31, 2021.

Finally, all eligible accessible parking permits with expiry dates between March 17, 2020 and February 28, 2022 must be renewed by March 1, 2022.

See the government’s press release on these changes here.

The final piece of Ontario government news today is that Ontario optometrists are finally set to withdraw from OHIP, and are no longer providing provincially insured eye services. This will affect Ontarians with specific health conditions, as well as Ontarians aged 19 and under, and 65 and over.

This situation has been bubbling for some time now, and this job action is taking place after negotiations between the Ontario Association of Optometrists and the provincial government broke down.

The reason that all of this has come up is that optometrists in Ontario are looking to renegotiate their deal with the province. Provincial funding for eye care is now so wildly inadequate that optometrists themselves are paying about 45% of the cost of OHIP-covered eye services, according to the President of the Ontario Association of Optometrists.

It is vital that the Ford government get back to the table and offer a fair deal to optometrists, and cover eye care services more completely under OHIP. Eye care ought to be part of the health care system as a whole, and we need this situation to be rectified immediately.

Here in Toronto-St. Paul’s, I also have two exciting announcements.

First up, I’m incredibly excited to share the launch of the Hillcrest Village Community Players – a new community theatre that will be operating in our neck of the woods. They’re currently slated to launch their first production in February of 2022, and they will be announcing in the coming days the title of the production.

This community theatre will be operating with volunteers – that’s the entire cast, crew and production team. I am very excited to see what they’re able to produce, and I am thrilled at what will surely be a brilliant community-building exercise. Throughout COVID-19, the arts have helped us through so many tough times, and I know that they will be crucial to our recovery from this pandemic as well.

I applaud this initiative. I can’t wait to get in on the action, and I must send a huge congratulations to Krista Mihevc for bringing this project to life.

If you’re interested in learning more, getting involved, or following the growth of this project, you can check out their Facebook Page here.

Next, another community project that’s coming alive in our community is the Yonge and Eglinton book club – an initiative that’s being spearheaded by Jane Dosman. The book club will be launching one week from today. Here is a little message from the organizers.

Want to be part of a book club? Please meet in the park at 45 Dunfield Ave (by the low cement wall) on Wednesday Sept 8th at 7:00 pm. We will be reading the same books as the book club at the Toronto Public Library, which is full. 

Finally, yesterday I took part in the Emancipation Day and Emancipation Month acknowledgment flag raising at Queen’s Park. The event, which was organized by Emancipation Month Canada, was a powerful ceremony, punctuated with moving speeches and impactful musical performances. It was great to see Dewitt Lee and Louis March in attendance, and I was honoured to able be to share some words of my own with the crowd.

Here are some of my thoughts that I shared earlier on Facebook about what Emancipation Day means to me.

Note: you can read the full post and see more pictures from the event here.

Every day must be Emancipation Day. We recommit ourselves to the daily and systemic work needed to create and sustain the conditions necessary for us to not only survive but to thrive here. We must support Black children and ensure they have access to empowering and inclusive curriculum from day one of school to 12 that looks and feels like them and shows them our past, our present, and futures.

We must preserve the unique and vibrant arts, culture, and heritage of us Black folks that live in each and every one of our neighbourhoods. Our arts are inextricably linked to our histories and our advocacy for better.


We need to ensure our people are housed - that no one has to decide between food, rent, and a prescription. That our families have access to livable wages and are not set up to fail by the very systems that are supposed to advocate for them.

We must support our small businesses like those in Little Jamaica that have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, the never-ending construction on Eglinton, and the consequences of gentrification and systemic anti-Black racism.

There isn't enough space to share all that our emancipation - our Black liberation - can and should and will look like here but in these sentences rest SOME of my dreams and my goals as an MPP and more importantly as a Black person. I am proud to have put forth legislation advocating for our needs and I don't plan to stop.

In Solidarity,

Jill

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