The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 51 new COVID-19 cases today, while there were 120 in Toronto, 60 in Peel, 42 in Hamilton, and 19 in Middlesex-London. Yesterday, our region had 62 cases, and on Monday there were 68 cases. Since the pandemic began, there have been a total of 18,230 cases and 439 deaths related to COVID-19 in our area. There are currently 509 active cases in the community, with 266 of those listed as variant of concern cases. There are 14 workplace outbreaks, three community outbreaks, and 16 confirmed cases in the hospital with five of those in the ICU. Locally, there have been 575,008 doses of the vaccine administered, with 79.3 per cent of individuals over 12 having received one dose, and 72.3 per cent of individuals over 12 having received both doses. Across the province today there were 656 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday there were 525 cases, and on Monday there were 694 cases.
VACCINE CERTIFICATE PROGRAM
The government announced the details of the forthcoming provincial vaccine certificate program which will go into effect on September 22. The program will require people to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus fourteen days) and provide proof of their vaccination status alongside photo ID to access certain businesses and indoor settings. A personal, unique QR code will become available on October 22 for residents to use, which businesses will be able to scan to show proof of vaccination. The settings where the vaccine certificate will be applicable include:
- Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout);
- Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment);
- Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
- Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport;
- Sporting events;
- Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
- Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
- Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
- Racing venues (e.g., horse racing).
Outdoor settings where the risk of transmission is lower, including patios, will not be included in this mandate, and individuals under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccines, or those who cannot receive a vaccine due to medical exemptions will be permitted entry with a doctor’s note until recognized medical exemptions can be integrated into the digital vaccine certificate. You can read the government’s announcement here.
We should already have vaccine certificates in Ontario, but despite the rise of the fourth wave and schools re-opening, the provincial government continues to drag their feet with public health and do the bare minimum. Vaccine certificates aren’t coming soon enough for small businesses that have been struggling without provincial guidance to keep their customers and staff safe. And the government is leaving too many businesses on their own to make tough decisions. We need the government to work with experts, businesses, and communities to address the gaps, and roll out vaccine certificates without delay. We also need the government to implement new legislation that would create safety zones around small businesses to protect staff and patrons from anti-public health harassment. My caucus colleagues and I will continue to watch closely to ensure the system implemented is equitable and leaves no one behind.
PROVINCE REINSTATES RENEWAL REQUIREMENTS FOR EXPIRED DOCUMENTS
The provincial government announced that they are reinstating the renewal requirements for expired driver’s licences, licence plate stickers, Ontario Photo Cards, Ontario Health Cards, and other products that would have expired on or after March 1, 2020 but were extended.
Residents will have until February 28, 2022 to renew their expired documents and are encouraged to use the ServiceOntario online portal. You can read the government’s announcement here.
FIGHTING FOR SAFE SCHOOLS
The local health unit has recommended that all school boards delay extracurricular activities until at least October – including sports, clubs, and field trips – as a way to help curb the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus and bring down case rates. Dr. Ahmed noted that last year some kids’ activities were linked with the transmission of the virus and contributed to the spread of COVID-19. You can read more here.
As schools return next week, my caucus colleagues and I continue to call on the provincial government to increase paid sick days and meet the needs of working families, as children head back to school during the fourth wave of COVID-19. The government has only provided three paid sick days and is refusing to invest in helping workers access them. Now, they are sitting on 96 per cent of the funding set aside for the program. Three paid sick days were never going to be enough to keep people safe in the middle of a pandemic. Not only has the government’s half-measure left a huge gap for workers who need paid time off to get tested for COVID-19 or to self-isolate, but it has left an even bigger gap for parents who need to do the same for their kids. My colleague MPP Peggy Sattler’s bill, the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act would establish 14 government-funded paid sick days while the pandemic is ongoing. We also continue to call on the government to cap class sizes at 15 students, invest in better mental health supports for students, and mandate vaccines for teachers and education workers.
The local health unit will be hosting vaccine pop-up clinics this week at the following locations. No appointments are required.
- Thursday September 2 – 10am to 3pm in the parking lot at University Ave and Bruce Ave
- Saturday September 4 – 6pm to 9pm at the Sunset Amphitheatre in Seacliff Park, Leamington
Additionally, the "Destination Vaccination" WECHU bus will be making the following stops over the next two days:
- Thursday, September 2 - Stop 1 at 33 Princess Street in Leamington from 11 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. and Stop 2 at Seacliff Park in Leamington from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Friday, September 3 - Stop 1 at Dieppe Gardens (78 Riverside Drive W, from 11a.m.-7p.m.), Stop 2 at John Atkinson Memorial Centre (4270 Alice Street from 11a.m.-7p.m.), Stop 3 at Forest Glade Arena (3205 Forest Glade Drive from 11a.m.-7p.m.)
The Windsor-Essex COVID-19 vaccine lottery program, WeVax To Win, opened today for registration to those residents who are fully vaccinated. Included in the prizes available are having your property tax paid for one year, having your rent paid for one-year, post-secondary tuition funding, and video game consoles. You can find more information about the program and how to register, here.
COVID-19 LOCAL POINTS OF EXPOSURE
The local health unit has updated their list of potential public COVID-19 exposure points. You can find those locations, along with the dates of exposure here.
Leamington announced that as of September 8, anyone over the age of 12 using the Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre will be required to provide proof of vaccination or submit a negative test result done within 12 hours of entering the building. You can read more here.
BEACH WATER ADVISORY
The local health unit has closed Belle River Beach in Lakeshore for swimming due to high bacteria levels in the water, while providing an advisory against swimming at Sandpoint Beach in Windsor, and Mettawas Beach in Kingsville. All other beaches remain open. You can find the beach water testing results here.
Please continue to stay safe and follow public health guidelines.