January 8th Weekly Update

Published on January 08, 2021
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Dear Neighbour, 
By now, I'm sure you have heard yesterday's announcement that elementary schools in southern Ontario will remain closed  for in-person learning until January 25. I want to stress this decision was not made lightly. 

COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate throughout the province, and while targeted asymptomatic testing among students and staff in December 2020 confirmed that schools are not a significant source of transmission.

However, with students having been at home for several weeks and with reports of concerning behaviour over the holidays, the positivity rate among school-aged children has increased sharply. Most troubling, the positivity rate for kids aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November and early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January.

Just like many of you, I want schools to be open. Unfortunately, our individual choices during the COVID-19 pandemic have collective consequences. Our hospitals are struggling to keep up with the number of ICU patients and are canceling other operations, our case  numbers have have not decreased, and, now the rate of infections among children has increased.

Please ensure that you are playing your part and following public health guidelines which is the only way that life in Toronto can get back to normal, or close to it, in the short term.
I've received many calls from constituents regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine. I know how eager many of you are to receive the vaccine. 

The federal government has advance agreements with several manufacturers to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, once the scientific studies are completed and the vaccines are approved for use in Canada. After independent and thorough scientific reviews for safety, efficacy and quality, Health Canada has approved two vaccines for use in Canada:
  • Pfizer-BioNTech – approved on December 9, 2020
  • Moderna – approved on December 23, 2020
Over 80,000 people to date have been administered the Pfizer vaccine in Ontario, and frontline health care workers who participated in the successful Pfizer pilot program in Toronto and Ottawa are receiving their second doses this week. 

On December 30th, Ontario received nearly 53,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the federal government. This first shipment is being used for a pilot in Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex to vaccinate residents at long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes. 

All residents, health care workers and essential caregivers at long-term care homes in the priority regions of Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex will have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccination by January 21, 2021. 

Ontario will continue to focus on vaccinating vulnerable populations, and those who care for them, as more vaccines become available. An estimated 2 million vaccine doses are expected to arrive throughout the winter during Phase One of the province's vaccine implementation plan.

For more information on the staged rollout of vaccines in Ontario, visit Ontario.ca/covidvaccine
This week, the Ontario Government launched a voluntary and free border testing pilot program at Pearson Airport for eligible international travellers returning to Ontario to help quickly identify and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

Recognizing the increased risk that inbound international travellers may pose, including the potential to spread the new UK COVID-19 variant, the government is fulfilling its commitment to quickly implement airport testing to help contain this deadly virus.

Test results will be reported into Ontario's Lab Information System within 48 hours and local public health units will follow up on all positive tests. All international travellers will continue to be required to follow the federal requirement for a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving or returning to Canada, regardless if they have a negative or positive test.

This program is in addition to the new Government of Canada pre-departure requirement for travellers bound to Canada to demonstrate proof of negative COVID-19 results from a test taken within three days prior to departure.

The province continues to work with the federal government on additional measures that may be introduced during the next phase of this pilot. 
Today marks the first anniversary of the tragic crash of Flight PS752 which was shot minutes after taking off from Tehran, Iran. 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents lost their lives due to this senseless act. We will always remember the innocent victims and their families and we will continue to support our federal counterparts to bring justice to the families of the victims.

May they forever rest in peace. 
Yesterday also marked Easter Orthodox Christmas. I want to take this opportunity to wish all my Orthodox Christian constituents a very Merry Christmas. May the birth of Jesus Christ illuminate your homes and hearts.

My constituency office remains closed for in-person visits, however my constituency staff and I remain ready to assist you. You can continue to contact us at (416) 781-2395 or email [email protected].
Stay safe, stay healthy, 
Robin Martin, MPP
Think you have COVID-19 Symptoms or have been in close contact with some who does? Click here for a self-assessment.
COVID-19 Assessment Centres in Ontario
For the most up-to-date COVID-19 information from the Government of Ontario visit ontario.ca/coronavirus
Download the COVID-19 Alert App Today! Click here
Toronto Public Health (TPH) has launched new content on its monitoring dashboard to illustrate how the pandemic is affecting workplace settings. 
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Authorized by the CFO for the Eglinton-Lawrence PC Association