The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 28 new COVID-19 cases in the region. Yesterday there were 41 new cases, and on Sunday there were 48 cases. Our region has had a total of 15,596 cases and 414 deaths related to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the new cases announced today, 11 are from close contact with an existing case, four are considered community spread, and 13 are under investigation. Our region now has 386 active cases, with 129 of those being variants of concern, 14 confirmed cases in the hospital with five in the ICU, 14,796 cases listed as resolved, and 171,924 doses of the vaccine have been administered. Across the province today there were 2,791 cases, the fewest in a single day since April 1. Yesterday there were 3,346 cases, and on Sunday there were 3,732 cases.
Starting Thursday May 6, all teachers and educators in Windsor-Essex will be eligible for a vaccine. Our caucus has been calling for teachers, educators, and childcare workers on the frontlines to be prioritized for vaccines for weeks. Vaccines can be booked through the health unit’s website www.wevax.ca or by calling 226-773-2200
Our caucus has called for the provincial government to stop the delay of second doses of COVID-19 vaccines for cancer patients. The provincial government must resolve this serious concern it has created for cancer patients and work with public health units, pharmacies, and vaccine teams to ensure that cancer patients can seamlessly access their second shots now.
A RETURN TO IN-CLASS LEARNING
The provincial government has said they plan on offering an online learning option for the entire 2021-22 school year and will be providing more information to parents in the coming months. The Education Minister didn’t say whether students would go back to in-person learning in June, as the province’s stay-at-home order is set to expire on May 20th, though Dr. Ahmed said he does not expect students to be back in the classroom any time soon. You can read more here.
Our kids need safe classrooms, not permanent online learning. My office has heard from many concerned parents about the challenges of online learning over the course of the pandemic. It has hurt kids’ mental health. It has hurt learning, achievement, and grades. It has forced parents – especially women – out of the workforce. It has been a brutal juggling act for teachers and education workers, and it has made the playing field very uneven – kids that don’t have their own space and computer with high-speed internet, and kids with disabilities, have suffered disproportionately. We continue to urge the government to cap class sizes at 15 students, invest in better ventilation in schools as well as infection control measures like touchless faucets, and to provide 14 paid sick days so parents can stay home with their kids if they are sick.
HELP FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
This week marks Children’s Mental Health Week, and the director of Children First Essex County has said that with lockdowns and school closures, the mental well being of children has never been more important. Our caucus has been advocating for more mental health supports for children, which is why we have called on the provincial government to stop underfunding mental health services for children and youth. We have also introduced the Right To Timely Mental Health and Addiction Care for Children and You Act which would cap wait times for children and youth seeking mental health and addiction services to 30 days. Windsor-Essex has several mental health services available for families and their children – more information can be found here.
HOSPITAL CAPACITY CRISIS
We are calling on the provincial government to put forward a plan to address the growing hospital capacity crisis in the province. We weren’t ready for the third wave, and now we have hospitals on the verge of collapse. This means that while ICUs and beds are overflowing, thousands of essential medical procedures have to be put off. The surgery backlog in Ontario is now more than 250,000 procedures and counting, and close to a million cancer screenings haven’t happened. In the 2021 budget, the provincial government allocated less than half the funding needed to clear it. Ontario needs a plan to address the hospital capacity crisis, and we need to invest the money to implement it now and save lives.
WINDSOR VEGGIE DISTRIBUTION
Today from 6:15pm to 7:00pm, there will be a veggie distribution after Asar at Windsor Mosque. In light of the present COVID-19 virus, there will be no walk-ins. Please drive to Windsor Mosque Parking Lot from Dominion Rd side and exit from Northwood side and stay in your car. Volunteers will be there to hand out veggie bags to you in your car.
CANADA CENSUS STARTS THIS WEEK
The national 2021 census starts today and will be done a little differently this year because of COVID-19. 15 million households will receive forms in the mail with an access code so that the census form can be filled out online. For those who can’t access the form online, they can request a paper form be sent to complete instead. The census helps the government plan for the future and gives a snap shot of how Canadians fared during COVID-19. You can read more here.
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.