The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 62 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death today. Of the new cases, 16 are from close contact with a confirmed positive case, 11 are health care workers, six were community acquired, one is travel related, one is in the agri-farm sector, and 27 remain under investigation. There are now 427 active cases in our region, bringing the total number to 3,699 cases, 3,192 resolved cases, and 80 deaths. Across the province, 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 were reported today. On Monday there were 1,746 cases, on Sunday there were 1,708 cases, and on Saturday there were 1,855 cases.
The local health unit has said that their resources are stretched due to the increasing daily numbers of COVID-19 cases in our region. With this news, and the additional news from the local health unit today that our region is at risk of moving to lockdown, I released a statement today along with my colleagues MPP Lisa Gretzky and MPP Taras Natyshak. The provincial government has put Windsor-Essex is this position because they refused to spend the money on public health protections. The community of Windsor-Essex and the public health unit have made heroic efforts to contain this virus, but that’s not possible without the support of the government. Our region has been left behind, and now families and business owners are facing a full lockdown, all because of the government won’t listen and won’t spend the money that’s necessary to keep us safe. They didn’t prepare for the second wave. They didn’t put infection control help into long-term care. They rationed testing and contact tracing instead of investing in more. They didn’t give workers paid sick days. They didn’t shrink class sizes to protect students and their families. They should have started testing in schools months ago, but didn’t want to spend the money. Alarm bells are ringing loud and clear here in Windsor-Essex. We need to be doing everything possible to avoid a lockdown. It’s time for the provincial government to finally start listening, and send emergency funding and resources to support the local public health unit. To crush this virus and to save lives, we need action and we need it now.
Today during question period in the Legislature, I asked why the government has refused to spend the money to recruit more staff in our long-term care homes. Brouillette Manor in Tecumseh, a private numbered company, is at the bargaining table right now trying to cut the wages and benefits of their frontline staff. Personal Support Workers and other health care workers are true heroes. But in long-term care, they are underpaid and overworked. Because this government does not have a staffing strategy, “for-profit” corporations can tell PSWs to do more work for even less money. While this government hands out more money to the private operators behind Brouillette Manor, the home’s PSWs are run off their feet, and are left struggling to deliver the kind of protection our parents and grandparents deserve. The home was already due to receive over $73 million to expand, but earlier this month they were given almost $8 million in additional funding by the provincial government. This government is rewarding profit-taking corporations when at the bargaining table those companies treat health care heroes as zeroes.
The local health unit is working on a return-to-school plan for students at F.W. Begley Public School after more than 430 students and staff were sent home on November 17. The two-week quarantine period has expired but a return date has not yet been set. The school remains closed until further notice. You can read more here.
The City of Windsor had cancelled the Bright Lights Festival this year at Jackson Park due to COVID-19. The City has redirected a portion of the funds to Windsor’s nine BIAs as part of this year’s holiday lighting program and lights are already up at several locations across the city. This new city-wide version of Bright Lights will run until January 10. More information and a map of locations is available here.
Please continue to wear a mask in public, maintain physical distancing of two metres, and wash your hands often.