Newmarket-Aurora MPP, Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott writes a regular column for NewmarketToday about provincial initiatives and issues impacting our community.
Since my last update, Ontario has seen a drastic surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province. Like many other provinces and jurisdictions around the world, Ontario is in the midst of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is being driven by COVID-19 variants that are much more transmissible and carry a higher risk of hospitalization and ICU admission.
That is why, on April 7, 2021, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, our government made the difficult decision to declare a provincial emergency and issue a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes.
These new and existing public health measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations and save lives.
I know that this news has been difficult for many of you, especially after all of the sacrifices you have already made to fight this deadly virus. However, without healthy people, we cannot have a healthy economy, and, we must be nimble in applying public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission our community.
I want to assure you that our government will continue to use every resource at our disposal to stop this virus and keep Ontarians safe, including those who live and work in Newmarket and Aurora.
Ontario’s vaccine distribution plan is one of the ways we are protecting individuals and families. Our vaccine rollout is well underway with over 3.4 million doses of the vaccine administered across the province as of April 14, including over 259,000 here in York Region as of April 13.
Locally, many of these vaccines are being administered by the incredible team at Southlake Regional Health Centre, as well as several of our local pharmacies. I want to extend my deepest thanks to all the members of our community who helping to support this critical initiative.
Ontario is now in phase two of our COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan with a focus on vaccinating individuals in “hotspot” communities, as well as those with the highest risk health conditions and their essential caregiver. As we work quickly to administer vaccines, we will also continue to ramp up capacity to vaccinate Ontarians as quickly and safely as possible.
By the end of April, it is expected that 300 mass vaccination sites across the province will begin operating and approximately 1,500 pharmacies will be administering the vaccine. Pending a steady supply of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government, we expect that over nine million Ontarians will be offered their first vaccination between April and end of June 2021.
This is very good news, and I encourage everyone in Newmarket and Aurora to sign up, as soon as you are eligible, to be vaccinated. In the interim, while vaccines are being administered, please continue to follow all public health measures, including staying home unless it is for an essential purpose. These measures will help to stop the spread of COVID-19, ensure that our hospitals have the staff and critical care capacity to care for patients, and save lives. To learn more about the public health measures, please visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse.
Finally, although vaccines are top of mind for many, I also want to share with you an update on the some of the latest provincial funding to support our community during the pandemic:
- $10,769,029 has been allocated to the Regional Municipality of York as part of the province’s additional $255 million investment through the Social Services Relief Fund to protect homeless shelter staff and residents during the pandemic and help prevent more people from becoming homeless;
- $16,719,831 has been allocated the Regional Municipality of York to help address the financial impact the pandemic has had on our transit system; and
- A total of $25,342,239 in financial relief has been allocated to our municipalities to help ensure the delivery of critical services during the pandemic and to keep capital projects on track so that community members can continue to benefit from these services and projects. The Regional Municipality of York has received $21,129,902, the Town of Aurora has received $1,754,155 and the Town of Newmarket has received $2,458,182.
As always, thank you for continuing to do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe. Together, our collective efforts will get us through this pandemic, and when time comes, we will rebuild and be stronger than ever before. Please continue to reach out to my constituency office at 905-853-9889. We are here to help you, and I appreciate hearing from members of our community.