by MPP Jim McDonell
The Ontario Science Table acknowledges that Omicron has peaked in Ontario, confirming that our recent public health measures have helped blunt transmission. Hospitalizations are currently stable and may take some time to fall to more reasonable levels. Vaccines continue to provide strong protection against COVID-19 and its variants. However, vaccine effectiveness can be confusing, and I thank Dr. Paul for circulating an informative explanation found at https://youtu.be/wa4NAW9ZLE8. Although just 11 percent of those over 12 years old are not fully vaccinated, they occupy 50 percent of our ICU beds. As the video shows, there would be significantly fewer people in our hospitals and ICUs due to COVID-19 if more people were fully vaccinated. This would decrease the pressure on our hospitals, allow elective surgeries to return sooner, and save lives. For vaccination information, visit www.EOHU.ca or call 1-800-267-7120. Book your appointment at www.Ontario.ca/bookvaccine or through a local pharmacy and primary health practitioner.
Since 2018, the Ontario government has invested over $1.5 billion in capital projects in education, including 76 new schools, 75 additions and renovations to existing facilities, and 4,908 new licensed childcare spaces. Locally, the province provided the Upper Canada District School Board with approval to proceed with the $6.6 million to tender for the Williamstown Public School addition. The project will add 121 elementary student spaces and upgrades to the existing facility to provide students with a new, quality learning environment. In addition, as part of $600 million to support ventilation improvements in schools across Ontario, the UCDSB received $5.9 million for ventilation improvements and has 1,996 HEPA filter units in place.
The Ontario government is providing over $28 million to help 322 small and rural municipalities find better and more efficient ways to deliver local services for residents and businesses. The funding is being delivered through the Municipal Modernization Program. The Counties and its townships, and the City of Cornwall received assistance to move ahead with several projects: to implement joint subdivision and site-plan documents, integrate public works permits, modernize general operations and administration, upgrade information technology and municipal websites, improve accessibility, and add new road patrol software. The funding allows municipalities to update their processes, saving taxpayers’ dollars. Project funding amounts have not been released as it would compromise the process for future procurements.
The Ontario government is also investing $25 million to build, upgrade and rehabilitate storm and wastewater infrastructure. Critical storm and wastewater infrastructure in many municipalities are under pressure. Our government is making this crucial and much-needed investment to build storm and wastewater infrastructure necessary to ensure cleaner water and tackle the pollution and toxic overflows facing many communities across the province. This commitment will also invest $10 million to help 20 municipalities, including Cornwall and Hawkesbury, to upgrade sewage monitoring and public reporting capacity. It will launch a public consultation and release a draft guidance document to improve Ontario’s wastewater and stormwater management and water conservation. The province also seeks input on a proposed subwatershed planning guide to help municipalities and other planning authorities with land use and infrastructure planning. With the Municipal Modernization Program, the new Streamline Development Approval Fund, and the Audit and Accountability Fund, our government is helping municipalities across the province make their planning and approval processes more efficient to unlock and fast-track new housing to address the housing supply crisis.
Remember to follow public health guidelines, get vaccinated if you have not done so, and stay safe.
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry