The vaccination team is working long hours to administer the vaccines as quickly as they receive them from the Federal Government. As of EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis’ Tuesday update, over 50% of our Long Term Care residents were fully vaccinated, and over half of the region’s retirement homes had received their first dose. The team is also well into the next group in Phase 1, our frontline health care workers. Vaccine deliveries are expected to pick up significantly. They will allow the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s team to move on to the remainder of the Phase 1 group, including Indigenous residents of Akwesasne, chronic home care recipients, and people aged 80 and older.
Meanwhile, Dr. Paul is maintaining the Orange Restrict level for our region. I want to thank everyone for the efforts that lowered our region’s active cases, while allowing our businesses to re open. It remains vital to continue and even improve upon this level of success as we await the delivery of more vaccines from the federal government and prepare for the increased arrival of the more contagious variants of concern.
The Finance Ministry is sifting through the pre budget submissions conducted across the province, including input from local stakeholders and residents. This feedback will help guide Ontario’s recovery from the pandemic, addressing individual and small businesses’ needs. Our public session identified many interesting short term and long term proposals. With the move to electric vehicles, a local professional engineer identified the urgent need to address the well-kept secret of the two trillion dollar upgrade cost to upgrade our electrical grid to handle the increased demands it will generate. During our municipal session, the need for funding to address our infrastructure deficit is an ongoing concern for all, from ageing landfills to improved water and sewage systems. They also focused on improvements that would attract new residents, such as improved broadband and cellular service in rural areas and renewed support for rural schools. I was very impressed by the thought put into the vast array of proposals and pleased to submit a package of our region’s needs.
On Thursday, I also stood in the house to add our region’s concerns to the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline’s shutdown, ordered by the Governor of Michigan. This pipeline has existed since the 1950s. It serves half of our province’s crude oil requirements, two thirds of Quebec’s, and all of our propane and Toronto Pearson’s jet fuel. While provisions are being made to replace Canadian supplies with foreign sources, it will, at the least, result in shortages and increased costs until these remedies can be put in place. We are promoting a Team Canada approach to deal with this issue, which will result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs across Ontario.
The government also introduced legislative changes to address human trafficking. Bill 251, the Combatting Human Trafficking Act, will better protect children and support survivors, where the victim’s average age is just 13 years old. The act will give police and children’s aid workers more tools while developing a long term plan to combat this terrible crime. I had the opportunity to speak to Bill 245, the Accelerating Access to Justice Act, which aims to speed up people’s access to justice by reducing red tape, addressing the chronic shortage of judges, and making technology advancements, trialled during this pandemic, permanent. For example, video can eliminate the need for frequent in person court appearances and allow courts, legal counsel, accused individuals, victims and witnesses to communicate easier. Other benefits from Bill 245 include changes that would speed up Estate and Land Tribunal dispute cases.
As always, remember to stay home, stay safe and save lives. Your health and that of your loved ones may depend on it.
Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont Dundas