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.
I would like to wish everyone in our beautiful Aurora community a happy and healthy New Year. Though the start of 2021 may look a little different, I am inspired by the spirit and resilience of our community as residents and businesses continue to come together to support one another.
Now more than ever, it is critically important, that all Ontarians continue to follow public health and workplace safety measures to protect our communities and most vulnerable populations, and stop the spread of COVID-19.
In response to the alarming and continuous rise in COVID-19 cases across the province, Ontario declared a second state of emergency and issued a provincewide stay-at-home order that came into effect on Jan. 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. Under the stay-at-home order, Ontarians should only leave home for essential purposes such as food, health care, exercise or work. These difficult, but necessary decisions were made by the Government of Ontario, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to help stop the trend of high COVID-19 transmission in communities, prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed, safeguard vulnerable populations and those who care for them, and save lives.
The government recognizes that businesses impacted by these necessary public health measures require additional support so they can continue serving their communities and employing people in Ontario once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The new Ontario Small Business Support Grant will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate this challenging period. Applications opened on Jan. 15. I encourage all small businesses owners to visit Ontario.ca/smallbusiness to learn about the supports available to them.
The government is also supporting non-profit organizations in our community. In the latter part of December, over $500,000 in new funding was provided to seven non-profit organizations in Newmarket-Aurora through the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Resilient Communities Fund Grant. This grant will help these organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
I want to reassure our community that despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. With the arrival of two Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines, Ontario has entered a critical new stage in the fight against COVID-19.
On Dec. 14, 2020, Ontarians watched as the very first COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered to frontline health-care workers. Since then, the province has continued to rollout phase one of its three-phase vaccine implementation plan and has administered over 200,000 doses of the vaccine. During phase one, limited doses of the vaccines will be available to health-care workers, essential caregivers, long-term care home and retirement home residents, and First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations. I’m very pleased to share that all residents, essential caregivers and health-care workers in long-term care homes in York Region have been vaccinated.
I would like to extend a special thank you to Southlake Regional Health Centre, York Region’s Paramedic Services, and the partners of the Southlake Community Ontario Health Team for collaborating on a very Canadian solution to vaccinate our health care workers. As some of you may have heard, on Jan. 6, Southlake Regional Health Centre partnered with York Region Public Health and the Town of Newmarket to turn the arena at the Ray Twinney Recreation Complex into a COVID-19 vaccination centre. This site and the assembled team will be able to vaccinate 1,000 people per day with the potential to expand operations as the vaccine supply becomes available.
As we look forward to the many opportunities 2021 will bring, I am encouraged by the resilience of our community and compassion of our residents and businesses. Thank you for continuing to do your part in the fight against COVID-19. We will get through this together. I wish you all the best this new year.
For regular updates on our community and the provincial government, please visit www.christineelliottmpp.ca. Due to the stay-at-home order, my constituency office staff are currently working remotely. To contact my office for any provincial matters related to Newmarket-Aurora, please reach out by calling 905-853-9889 or email email@example.com