Queen’s Park Update

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by MPP Jim McDonell

Our local vaccination team, led by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, is working long hours to administer our program. To date, they have vaccinated the region’s long-term care homes, as well as the first dose for retirement home residents. As deliveries of vaccines from the Federal Government are projected to increase over the next weeks, the team is developing plans to vaccinate the rest of Phase 1 members, including front-line health workers, essential health caregivers, and those 80 years of age and older. Vaccine guidelines are continually evolving as data around the world is collected and evaluated. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now recommending the time between first and second doses be extended, allowing more people to receive the all-important first dose faster. Health Canada has also approved the new AstraZeneca vaccine, and supplies are expected to be received over the next few weeks. This vaccine will be made available for the 60 to 65-year-old segment of the population. Stay tuned as the final program details are being updated to reflect these recent developments.

Meanwhile, the government is assessing its new online booking program through a limited pilot in several regions of the province. The final version of the appointment portal is expected to go live on March 15 in our area. For the latest vaccination news, go to www.eohu.ca.

Good news arrived from Queen’s Park this week in abundance. First, I was happy to announce the Ontario government is giving new support for local residents who need long-term care. The Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care program will receive $2,815,200 over four years to expand the program to ensure more seniors in Cornwall and the United Counties of SDG can stay at home longer. The program has proved effective in alleviating the demand for LTC beds as we build the 21st-century long-term care system that Ontarians want and deserve.

As part of a $150 million, provincial transit funding program, Cornwall Transit will receive an additional $659,305 to help the system recover from low ridership numbers during the peak of the pandemic. The funding will help to ensure riders are safe when they board their bus while maintaining the service’s sustainability and affordability.

Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, announced that the Ontario government will be providing an additional $500 million to help the province’s 444 municipalities address ongoing COVID-19 operating costs. The new financial relief will help ensure the delivery of critical services and keep capital projects on track, and will be prioritized to help municipalities hardest hit by the pandemic. Locally, Cornwall, the United Counties of Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry and local townships will receive a total of $3,311,493.

Finally, the Ontario government is investing $14.3 million in 2020-21 to support nearly 300 Seniors Active Living Centres. Locally, the Seaway Senior Citizens Club and the Centre Charles-Émile-Claude each received $54,014 to deliver new virtual initiatives to help keep seniors safe and socially connected as they continue to self-isolate due to COVID-19. This year’s investment will focus on virtual programs such as teleconferences, online videos, and one-on-one phone calls to help seniors stay connected from home. It will also support projects such as Seniors’ Centre Without Walls to create interactive telephone-based group programming for socially isolated seniors and people with disabilities, virtual physical fitness programming, and online educational programs.

As always, remember to stay home, stay safe and save lives. Your health and that of your loved

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