The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced 37 new high-risk cases of COVID-19 today, along with the passing of two members 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. Yesterday there were 58 cases in our community, and over the weekend there were 149 cases.
There are now 227 active high-risk cases in the area, with 27 confirmed cases in the hospital, and five in the ICU. There are currently six community outbreaks, and seven outbreaks in long-term care/retirement homes. Locally, 86.2 per cent of individuals over five have received at least one dose of the vaccine, 82.9 per cent have received both doses, and 53.7 per cent of residents over 18 have receive a booster.
Today, Toronto reported 242 cases, Peel reported 76 cases, and Ottawa reported 76 cases. Across the province there were 1,208 cases of COVID-19 reported today, but health officials warn that number is an overestimate due to testing restrictions. Yesterday there were 1,074 cases, and on Sunday there were 1,787 cases. There has now been a total of 1,115,492 cases of COVID-19 in Ontario since the pandemic began, and there are currently 779 patients in the hospital with the virus, and 246 in the ICU.
ADVOCATING FOR WORKERS IN THE GAMING SECTOR
Today my local caucus colleague, MPP Lisa Gretzky, held a press conference with UNIFOR Local 444 President Dave Cassidy, who represents workers at Caesars Windsor, to discuss concerns over the new iGaming model being introduced by the provincial government, and to join my call for the government to protect workers who may be negatively impacted by this model. We are urging the government to provide assurances that there wouldn’t be any lost jobs or revenue for the province when the new iGaming model is launched on April 4, 2022. In a good year, we have about 10,000 people working in Ontario’s gaming sector. Land-based casinos return 55 per cent of their net gaming profits to the Ontario treasury – that’s more than $2 billion a year. But a recent study showed the new iGaming market would lead to fewer people working, and a huge loss to the net revenue from gaming. COVID-19 has left half of the casino workers in Niagara Falls out of work, at Woodbine there are still 500 casino workers laid off, and we have a thousand still unemployed in Windsor. As iGaming is brought forward, we are advocating to make sure gaming workers are protected, that laid off workers can return to work, and that the province does not miss out on revenues from gaming, which help fund provincial services like education and health care.
ADVOCATING TO PROTECT CONSUMERS
My caucus colleagues and I again introduced legislation to improve consumer protection in Ontario by creating an independent Consumer Watchdog. We know that Ontarians are experiencing an affordability crisis right now, with the cost of everything going up. Even worse, we are seeing individuals, businesses, and even entire industries taking advantage of consumers. Right now, when consumers get ripped off or scammed, they don’t have reliable help to turn to. Our legislation proposes that the Ontario Consumer Watchdog be a one-stop shop to handle consumer complaints, and hold the power to investigate businesses or other entities on consumer protection laws or practices. The Consumer Watchdog would have the power to release public reports similar to the Auditor General or the Ombudsman of Ontario, and to level fines or other penalties against businesses found to be in violation of consumer protection legislation.
RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS
The provincial government announced that 5.5 million rapid antigen tests will be available across the province 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.
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. The Devonshire mass vaccination site is open Tuesdays from 11:30am to 6:15pm, and Wednesdays to Saturdays from 9am to 3:30pm. 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. To book an appointment, please visit www.wevax.ca.
Pop-up vaccination clinics will be available at the following locations this week:
- Wednesday March 9 – Adie Knox – 1551 Wyandotte St W, Windsor – 9am to 2:30pm
- Wednesday March 9 – The Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women (W5) – 1368 Ouellette Ave, Windsor – 9am to 4pm
- Wednesday March 9 – Windsor Water World – 400 Wyandotte St E, Windsor – 9am to 4pm
- Friday March 11 – Windsor Bus Terminal Downtown – 300 Chatham Ave, Windsor – 9am to 4pm
- Friday March 11 – Downtown Windsor Public Library – 185 Ouellette Ave, Windsor – 9:30am to 3:30pm
Windsor’s Canada Day Parade will return this year after being cancelled the previous two years due to the pandemic. The parade will take place on Friday July 1 at 11am on Wyandotte Street East, between Devonshire Road and Aylmer Avenue. You can read more here.
Please continue to stay safe and follow public health guidelines.