I would like to start by thanking the Government for the $9.8 million towards finalizing the plans for a new regional hospital announced in today’s budget.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 19 new cases of COVID-19 today. Of the new cases announced, five are from close contact with another confirmed case, three are considered community spread, and 11 are under investigation. There are now 245 active cases in our community, bringing the total number to 13,646 cases, 14 confirmed cases in the hospital with four in the ICU, 13,000 cases listed as resolved, and 401 deaths. Across the province today there were 1,571 new cases of COVID-19 reported. Yesterday there were 1,546 cases, and on Monday there were 1,699 cases.
IN THE LEGISLATURE
Today during question period in the Legislature, I caught the Minister of Health off guard, as she was unaware that for the last two years, none of the six provincial appointees to the local health unit board have been replaced or had their terms extended. The Board’s Chair and CEO wrote to the Minister last week, expressing their dismay, concern, and disappointment in the failure of the Ministry of Health to renew the terms of the Board’s Vice Chair, the last of the six provincial appointees not to be replaced. At a time of turbulence – amidst a global pandemic, these boards have been a stabilizing influence, instilling confidence in an effective public health system for all of our residents. Why isn’t this government treating the local health unit with the same respect it claims to be showing elsewhere?
The 2021 provincial budget was released today, and it was an opportunity to give people help to make it through the pandemic and hope for the future, but it didn’t do that. We need to see the government invest urgently to get more help to the survivors in long-term care. But this budget maintains the disastrous status quo. We need to hire more teachers and education workers to help students through this rocky time. Instead, the government is taking those caring adults away from them. We need to tackle the backlog of surgeries like the urgent crisis it is, but underfunding has dimmed the hope for a quick surgery date for people waiting in pain. And we need to focus on jobs, equity and the she-covery. Despite the ongoing need to save local businesses and recover all the jobs we’ve lost, the provincial government is sticking with the same failed programs and neglect that allowed countless entrepreneurs to lose their businesses in the first and second waves. The government’s 2021 budget does not add any new supports for long-term care residents, sticking with a timeline that doesn’t add PSWs or achieve four hours of hands on care for another four years or more. It also slashes $790 million from schools, compared to spending during the pandemic year — taking Ontario back to 2019 spending levels, when the government was cutting 10,000 teachers and education workers and hiking class sizes. Knowing that well over $700 million is necessary to tackle the still-growing surgical backlog, the budget allocates only $300 million. Overall, the budget cuts $4.8 billion from program spending. Most of that is due to the end of pandemic funds — while the pandemic isn’t over
Theresa Marentette, the CEO of the local health unit, has said that the health unit is expecting to receive vaccines over the next couple days, so if bookings are full when you try to register, you should check back as new dates and times will be added daily based on supply. To date, the local health unit has given 70,940 vaccines, with 14,7 per cent of the region’s population, or 58,881 people, receiving at least one dose. The national average stands at 6.8 per cent.
A new website has been launched to act as a one-stop-shop and provide people in Windsor-Essex with all the information they need on getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The website is collaboration between the City of Windsor, Windsor Regional Hospital, Erie Shores Healthcare, and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. It is available here.
The provincial government released more details about who will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 2. Included in Phase 2 are adults over 50 living in COVID-19 hotspot neighbourhoods, various frontline workers, and those with various health conditions. You can read more here.
The federal government said they do not believe that potential export restrictions being considered by the EU will affect shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine that we receive in Canada. The EU is apparently finalizing emergency legislation that would give it power to curb exports of vaccines for the next six weeks to address shortages in Europe. You can read the full story here.
Windsor Regional Hospital is reducing the hours of operation at its COVID-19 assessment centre due to a lower number of people getting tested. The hospital says the move will allow them to free up more resources for the vaccination clinics at the St. Clair College Sportsplex and the Windsor Hall. Anyone who needs a COVID-19 test can go to the WRH Ouellette Campus this week between 8am and 7pm, but as of next Monday, the testing centre will only be open 8am to 3pm, 7 days a week.
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.