The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 49 new COVID-19 cases in the region, and two community members lost their lives. There have now been 411 COVID-19 related deaths in our region. Yesterday, our region had 41 cases, and on Sunday there were 66 cases. Of the new cases announced today, 18 are from close contact with another confirmed case, eight are considered community spread, one is travel related outside of North America, and 22 are under investigation. Since the pandemic began, Windsor-Essex has had a total of 14,893 cases, with 14, 021 cases listed as resolved. There are currently 461 active cases in the community, with 133 being variants of concern. There are 17 confirmed cases in the hospital, with two in the ICU. There have been 136,289 doses of the vaccine administered. Across the province today there were 3,469 cases reported. Yesterday there were 4,447 cases and on Sunday there were 4,250 cases.
ADVOCATING FOR YOU
Today, for the second time, my colleagues and I called on the Premier to close all non-essential workplaces temporarily, give impacted businesses and workers financial support, and provide paid sick days and paid time off to get vaccinated. Experts have been clear that much of the spread of COVID-19 is happening in workplaces. We must protect all Ontario workers, province wide, and provide direct financial support to local businesses that will need our help to weather difficult measures made necessary by the Premier’s refusal to take the advice of experts during the pandemic.
We have been hearing from local small businesses who have experienced problems with the Ontario Small Business Grant Program or have been denied the grant without explanation. Several businesses have applied for the Small Business Support Grant and received approval but have yet to receive any of the funds. Their attempts to check the status of their grant continues to only tell them it is ‘under review’. My office and the constituency offices of my colleagues have made repeated attempts to gather more information for small businesses across the province through the Ministry of Economic Development and have yet to receive anything nearing what is required for these businesses to have peace of mind. We are requesting that the payments owed to these businesses be provided immediately—they have lost significant revenue in the past year at no fault of their own, with little to no help from the provincial government. Our caucus has asked the Minister to investigate these issues and delays so these businesses can receive the support they were promised.
The provincial government announced that some Shoppers Drug Mart locations will begin to offer 24/7 Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals 40 and over. The province is rolling this out in 20 pharmacy locations, with 16 in the hot-spot communities of Toronto, Peel, and York Region. This program will then be expanded to other hot-spot areas as more vaccine supply becomes available. It is not yet known when this will be rolled out to Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Windsor-Essex. You can read the government news release here.
Windsor Police have said that they will not be doing random stops during Ontario’s stay-at-home order, despite new regulations from the provincial government last week. Officers will continue to engage and educate the public while only using enforcement as a last resort, but are reminding the public that the current stay-at-home order only allows for travel for essential goods like groceries or pharmacy items, health care services, outdoor exercise and work that can’t be done remotely.
PAID SICK DAYS
Windsor City Council voted last night to urge the province to implement a paid sick days program. Our caucus has put forward Bill 239, the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, which would ensure that nobody is forced to choose between a paycheque or staying home if they are sick. Health experts around the province have echoed the need for the immediate passage of this legislation as a way to prevent further outbreaks and curb the spread of COVID-19 in the third wave.
The local Medical Officer of health, Dr. Ahmed, has said that two cases of the South African variant of the virus have been identified in our region. He added that the South African variant is more transmissible than the original virus, and that it is important for residents to continue to follow all public health safety measures. You can read more here.
The Canada-U.S. border closure to all non-essential travel has been extended to at least May 21. Only essential workers like healthcare professionals and those involved in the movement of goods are permitted to cross the border.
Yesterday the federal government released their 2021 budget, with spending aimed at things like extending pandemic business and health supports, as well as economic recovery post-pandemic. Some COVID spending includes $3 billion over five years to support provinces and territories in creating and upholding high standards of care inside long-term care facilities, $2.2 billion over the next seven years on boosting Canada’s biomedical and life sciences research sector to in part increase vaccine development, and $100 over the next three years to support projects for mental health interventions for populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. You can read more here.
Please stay diligent and continue following public health advice by staying at home, only going out for essential trips, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing of 2 metres apart at all times when around others who live outside your household, and washing your hands frequently