The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 119 new high risk cases, along with the loss of two members of our 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. Yesterday, there were 136 cases, and on Tuesday there were 94 cases.
There are now a total of 641 active high risk cases in our region, with 62 confirmed cases in the hospital, and eight in the ICU. There are currently seven workplace outbreaks, 20 community outbreaks, six hospital outbreaks, and 15 outbreaks in long-term care/retirement homes. Locally, 85.8 per cent of individuals five and over have received one dose of the vaccine, 81.7 per cent have received two doses, and 52.2 per cent of individuals over 18 have received their boosters.
Today, Toronto reported 555 cases, Peel reported 275 cases, and Hamilton reported 119 cases. Across the province today there were 3,201 cases recorded, but health officials have warned this number is an underestimate due to testing restrictions. Yesterday there were 3,162 cases in Ontario, and on Tuesday there were 2,092 cases. There has been a total of 1,064,604 confirmed cases in Ontario since the pandemic began, and there are currently 1,897 patients in the hospital with COVID-19, and 445 in the ICU.
AMBASSADOR BRIDGE PROTEST
My caucus colleagues and I continue to call for urgent action from the provincial government, as auto parts and assembly plants in Windsor are temporarily being shut down or cutting shifts as the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge continues. Ontario’s auto workers deserve so much better, and they are paying the price. Workers still have to pay their mortgage, buy groceries, pay child care fees, and pay bills. Every day that the provincial government allows this blockade to go unchallenged is another day that workers’ paycheques shrink. Under the Highway Traffic Act, the government can cancel commercial operating licences for vehicles for misconduct, ignoring existing laws, or “any other sufficient reason.” We are also calling for the government to replace the wages lost for working folks whose shifts were cancelled.
Of course, this issue affects more than just those in the auto sector, from frontline health care workers who travel to Michigan for work each day, to local businesses and residents being impacted by the blockade in their daily lives. Throughout the pandemic, my office has heard from so many constituents who are struggling through the pandemic, and this protest is causing further suffering, and is hurting our economic recovery. Yesterday, I, along with my local colleagues MPP Lisa Gretzky and MPP Taras Natyshak, and Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, wrote a letter to the Premier, formally calling for urgent action to provide the necessary resources, and end this blockade. You can read that letter here.
This afternoon, Mayor Dilkens said that auto-industry groups, backed by Windsor City Council, are seeking an injunction from the Superior Court of Justice to end the protest. The City plans to be in front of a Judge of the Superior Court of Justice as soon as possible. You can read more here.
Various organizations and agencies have also shared their concerns on this issue.
The President of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, Flavio Volpe, raised concerns about the impact that this protest is having on the economy and residents in Windsor-Essex who rely on cross-border trade in the automotive sector. You can read his comments here.
Unifor Local 200 President, John D’Agnolo, similarly raised concerns about the impact on local auto manufacturers. He says the halt on parts coming across the border has led to auto production being scaled back across the province, including plants in Windsor. He also has called for a quick resolution. You can read his comments here.
In the United States, a White House spokesperson said they are watching the situation carefully, and that the blockade poses a risk to supply chains, particularly for the auto industry. White House Homeland Security advisors convened a meeting on Wednesday on the issue, and officials are talking with the Michigan Governor’s office and automakers. You can read more here.
If you would like to join our call to end the resolution, you can email:
Premier of Ontario – [email protected]
Minister of Transportation - [email protected]
Prime Minister - [email protected]
EASING RESTRICTIONS AND RESUMING NON-URGENT SURGERIES
The provincial government announced today the gradual and cautious resumption of non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures across the province. It was also announced that high contact sports, choir and playing wind instruments, and other extracurricular activities can resume. Participants in extracurriculars will still be required to wear masks while on school premises, but can remove them temporarily while playing instruments or sports. You can read more here.
RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS
Yesterday, the provincial government announced that Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) would be available at grocery stores and pharmacies across the province. My caucus colleagues and I raised concerns over Walmart’s policy which required a $35 online-only purchase to receive a RAT and called on the provincial government to stop all corporations from forcing people to pay anything to access RAT kits. Walmart subsequently retracted that policy. You can read more here.
The government has said that approximately 5.5 million tests will be available across the province each week. You can find participating grocery stores and pharmacies here.
HEALTH CARE FUNDING
The provincial government announced $1.1 million would be provided to help integrate an Ontario Health Team in Windsor-Essex. The new Windsor-Essex team is composed of more than 45 local health care programs and service providers, including hospitals, primary care providers, mental health and addictions agencies, long-term care and other community and local services. You can read the government’s announcement here.
My caucus colleagues and I raised concerns back in 2019 on this issue, after the provincial government refused to say that private, for-profit corporations will be barred from forming part or all of an Ontario Health Team. Allowing for-profit corporations to form teams would mean Ontario health care dollars will be subject to an unprecedented level of privatization. Ontarians deserve to see their public health care system expanded and improved, not privatized and made less accessible and more expensive.
According to the local health unit, vaccination rates for kids between the ages of five and 11 are below the provincial goal. Roughly 40 per cent of children in that age group have received a first dose, while only 15 per cent have received a second dose. The provincial goal for this age range is 70 per cent. The local health unit, and area doctors, have said they are continuing to address misinformation about the vaccine. You can read more here.
First, second, and third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are available at one of the three mass vaccination sites, located in the former Sears store at Devonshire Mall, at Hotel-Dieu Grace HealthCare, and at the Grovedale House Community Hall in Kingsville. All mass vaccination sites are now accepting walk-ins. Moreover, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is now available for individuals aged 30 years and older at any vaccination site. Grovedale House is open from 9am to 3:45pm Tuesday to Saturday for pre-booked or walk-in appointments. Hotel Dieu's clinic will be available from 2:30pm to 6:30pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday; and from 12pm to 4pm on Tuesday and Friday. To book an appointment, please visit www.wevax.ca.
Pop-up vaccination clinics will be available at the following locations next week:
- Friday February 11 – St. Clair College Downtown Campus Pop-Up Vaccination Clinic – 201 Riverside Dr. W, Windsor – 9am to 3:30pm
- Friday February 11 – Windsor Essex Hospice (Leamington) Pop-Up Vaccination Clinic – 197 Talbot St W, Suite 701, Leamington – 10am to 3pm
Please continue to stay safe and follow public health guidelines.