Good evening everyone,
Today there were five new cases of COVID-19 reported in Windsor-Essex. One case is community acquired, three cases are from close contacts of confirmed cases, and one case remains under investigation. The local total is now 2,657 cases, and 48 people are currently self-isolating with COVID-19.The total number of cases reported in Ontario today was 554 cases.
There will be three Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies that will be offering COVID-19 testing in Windsor: Devonshire Mall in Windsor at 3100 Howard Ave; Tecumseh Mall in Windsor at 7720 Tecumseh Rd. E; and Huron Church in Windsor at 1760 Huron Church Rd. Our caucus has been calling for urgent investment to expand public health lab capacity, as a leaked memo reveals that COVID-19 tests might be rationed province-wide due to a lack of lab capacity. For weeks, testing centre lines have been ballooning to be hours long. Then the Government let private pharmacies use the same labs. On top of that, they gave a big thumbs up to any for-profit corporations looking to make money off this crisis by charging hundreds of dollars per test, and letting their clients jump the queue at those same labs. All the while, they knew lab capacity wasn’t keeping up. But they were making cuts to public health before the pandemic began, and they keep underfunding it — leaving the province stuck chasing another crisis instead of preventing it. The backlog of tests reached an all-time high of 65,000 last weekend, and pleas from public health units for more staff and funding have been denied by the Government. As my local colleagues, MPP Lisa Gretzky and MPP Taras Natyshak, and I pointed out back in May, the closure of our local provincial lab in 2010 has led to significant delays in getting test results. We've had to send tests to Toronto and London instead. We need to invest in people and public health before the second wave gets any further out of control.
The Province announced that they will be investing $520 million into infection prevention and containment measures, staffing supports, and purchasing additional supplies and PPE for long-term care homes. Unfortunately, the announcement does very little to recruit or retain staff for long-term care, and falls far, far short of investing in the many extra pairs of hands every long-term care home needs right now. Personal support workers (PSWs) have left the profession in droves due to illness, low wages, or because the risk is too great for themselves and their loved ones. The announcement today doesn’t even make up for the staffing shortage this has created in long-term care homes since the pandemic struck. We will continue to call on the Government to implement a permanent wage hike for PSWs, make their jobs full-time jobs; end the practice of moving staff from facility to facility; bring in a minimum of one infection control specialist for every 200 beds, as experts have recommended; and immediately reinstate the comprehensive resident quality inspections that the Government cancelled — so we can catch problems before they become the source of a second wave of infections in each home.
The Premier has also announced that they will be making changes to LTC home visitor policies in areas that have high numbers of COVID-19 cases, though he didn’t specify which areas would be included.
Please remain diligent in wearing a mask in public, washing your hands frequently, and maintaining physical distancing of 2 metres apart.