By now, I'm sure you've heard that the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, has declared a third provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province's hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants.
Case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly, threatening to overwhelm the health care system. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 28.2 per cent between the period of March 28 and April 5, 2021. In addition, between March 28 and April 5, 2021, Ontario has seen the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care escalate by 25 per cent. While every action possible is being taken to increase capacity and continue daily surgeries and procedures, the province is reaching a tipping point.
This is why, effective yesterday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government also issued province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise , or for work that cannot be done remotely. As Ontario's health care capacity is threatened, the Stay-at-Home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives.
This past week, the Ontario government also announced that it is moving into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with a focus on reaching individuals in "hot spot" communities where COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain neighbourhoods. In addition, this phase will prioritize individuals with the highest-risk health conditions in April 2021. With a steady supply of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government, over nine million Ontarians will be offered their first vaccination between April and end of June 2021.
In Eglinton-Lawrence, postal codes beginning with M6A, M6B, M6E, and M5N have been identified by the province as hotspots. Individuals aged 50+ in these postal codes, and 60+ in all other postal codes, can now book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at www.ontario.ca/bookvaccine or by calling 1-888-999-6488 for assistance in more than 300 languages.
We know schools in Ontario are safe, and essential for our children. That's why the province did not include schools in the current stay-at-home order.
And I've heard how upset many of you are in regards to the school closures ordered by Dr. Eileen de Villa, the local medical officer of health for the City of Toronto, which came into effect earlier this week.
I agree with you. Schools should be and need to be open.
Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, local medical officers of health have the ability to implement additional restrictive measures in excess of those put forward by the provincial government. And the province does not have the ability to override a decision taken by the local medical officer of health.
I will continue to do my part by advocating for a swift reopening.
This weekend, when thinking about to where to pick up your groceries or where to take-out, consider shopping local and helping our small businesses who continue to face challenging times. We're nearing the homestretch and hand-in-hand, we can get through this together.
My constituency office is open for appointments only. In efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, we encourage you to continue to contact us at (416) 781-2395 or email [email protected]. We remain ready to assist.