The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 264 new high risk cases of COVID-19 since Friday, along with the loss of a member of the community. Due to the changes in eligibility for testing and limited testing capacity, the rise of Omicron cases, and the shifted focus of case, contact, and outbreak management to high-risk settings, these case counts are an underestimate of the true numbers of individuals who have COVID-19 within Windsor-Essex County. The health unit defines high-risk cases as those coming from individuals who are eligible for PCR testing in accordance with Ontario's current testing guidance.
There are now 317 active high risk cases in the region, with 44 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the hospital, and two in the ICU. There are currently six community outbreaks, two hospital outbreaks, and seven outbreaks in long-term care/retirement homes. Locally, 86.4 per cent of individuals five and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 83.5 per cent have received two doses, and 51 per cent of individuals 12 and over have received a booster.
Across the province today there were 2,248 new cases of COVID-19, but health officials warn this number is an underestimate due to testing restrictions. Yesterday there were 3,077 cases, and on Saturday there were 3,233 cases. Since the pandemic began, there have been 1,174,686 cases of COVID-19 in the province, and there are currently 857 confirmed cases in the hospital across the province, with 168 patients in the ICU.
ADVOCATING FOR SUPPORTS FOR PEOPLE WITH GAMBLING ADDICTIONS
Today in the Legislature, I raised concerns with the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions about what supports are available for people with gambling addictions, as the government rolled out their new iGaming model today. The launch of iGaming is causing concern for 260,000 people in Ontario with a known gambling addiction and their families. The government is implementing the Responsible Gambling Council’s RG Check Program; however, it's still not specifically clear how this program will help people with an addiction to gambling. My office has heard from Theo Lagakos, the President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, who represents workers at Casino Woodbine. He has concerns. As does a local certified problem gambling counsellor in Windsor who told CBC that she is worried online gaming could lead to more gambling addictions. There are currently no tools built into the system to set limits on the time or money that iGaming users spend while gaming from their home computers.
ADVOCATING FOR UNIVERSAL MENTAL HEALTH CARE
My caucus colleagues and I are calling for a publicly funded mental health services plan that includes a suite of investments and changes to give the mental health and addictions sector more staff, resources, and coordination, including the creation of Mental Health Ontario. The provincial government has cut more than $2 billion in planned mental health spending since 2018, and the previous government froze mental health funding for youth for more than 10 years. At least one in four Ontarians sought mental health or addictions help during the pandemic. No one should have to turn to the emergency room again and again for a mental illness that could be better treated or managed. And you shouldn’t have to rack up credit card bills for mental health care. Windsor ranks first in the top 10 longest wait times for youth mental health services in all of Ontario. For counselling and therapy, kids wait 490 days, or 588 days for intensive treatment. For Intensive Case Management, adults in serious distress wait 98 days on average. Guaranteeing mental health care under OHIP without cost will relieve pressure on hospitals, emergency services, and the justice system. But most importantly, it will help people live their healthiest, best life.
ADVOCATING FOR SENIORS IN LONG-TERM CARE AND RETIREMENT HOMES
Today, the provincial government voted down a motion that called on the government to commit to a strategy to improve care and accountability for seniors in long-term care and retirement homes. We are calling for a plan that would have ensured the safety of seniors in care with the following priorities:
- Involve family councils in quality of care
- Incorporate individualized care plans that meet residents’ individual needs
- Protect provincial transfer funds from penalties so that the for-profit folks have to find it elsewhere
- Make sure inspections will at least meet the criteria of the cancelled Resident Quality Inspections (RQIs)
Families and seniors deserve so much better, and they deserve a plan that takes out corporate profits from the equation and focuses all resources on caring for seniors and residents.
TUNNEL BUS SERVICE REMAINS SUSPENDED
Transit Windsor announced that the tunnel bus to Detroit will remain suspended at this time. In a statement, they said, “CBSA requires all persons returning to Canada to be fully vaccinated, and is also mandating that Transit Windsor verify the vaccination status of all passengers using the Tunnel Bus. This is incongruent with a public transit operating model, and creates operational requirements that would make the service difficult to operate with current resources. We know that the Tunnel Bus is important to Windsor, and we want to get back to running it as soon as possible.” You can read more here.
RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS
Free rapid antigen tests continue to be available at select locations each week. Please remember to store your test kits out of the reach of children, as there have been reports of poisoning after accidental consumption. You can find participating grocery stores and pharmacies here.
There will be pop-up vaccination clinics at the following locations this week:
- Tuesday April 5 – Salvation Army – 355 Church St, Windsor – 9am to 3:30pm
- Tuesday April 5 – CMHA – 1400 Windsor Ave, Windsor – 1pm to 4pm
- Thursday April 7 – Consulate of Mexico in Leamington – 350 Hwy 77, Leamington – 2pm to 6pm
- Thursday April 7 – Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex – 245 Janette Ave, Windsor – 3pm to 6pm
- Friday April 8 – Adie Knox – 1551 Wyandotte St W, Windsor – 9am to 2:30pm