I have been hearing a lot from concerned constituents surrounding mixed vaccines and travel. I can empathize because I also had a mix combination of vaccines.
Currently, there are a number of countries who do not recognize the mixed mRNA vaccine combination or the Astrazena-COVISHIELD vaccine. Similarly, Canada does not recognize many vaccines in use in other countries. Any kind of air travel, international or domestic is a federal responsibility. Our government has written to the federal government several times requesting that they work with their international counterparts to have Canadian vaccinations accepted worldwide. Indeed, before the last federal election, the Federal government announced that they will develop a federal vaccine passport. Finally, this week, the Public Health Agency of Canada has also presented data on the effectiveness of mixed doses to the U.S. and other top-priority destinations. Dr. Theresa Tam recently stated that "Canada has been particularly active in spreading information about the effectiveness of mixing Oxford-AstraZeneca with mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna."
I urge you and your family and friends to ask the federal government to make this a priority - to aid the many Canadians who may be facing this challenge. At this point in time, the neither the Health Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) or Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) is recommending a third dose of the vaccine purely for the purposes of travel as this is a policy problem not a medical issue.
Earlier this week, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, delivered the Speech from the Throne to open the Fall Session of the 42nd Parliament of Ontario.
The Speech from the Throne reflects on the challenges of the past 18 months, and reaffirms our commitment to do everything we can to defeat COVID-19, support Ontarians, and put this pandemic behind us.
The past 18 months have been some of the most difficult in modern times. The pandemic has and continues to challenge us in ways previously unimaginable. For example, families have been separated, with many grieving the tragic loss of lives. Jobs have been lost and many businesses have closed. Important life milestones have been put on hold. After 18 months of fighting this pandemic, Ontario cannot go backwards. We owe our people and businesses stability and certainty. Our government remains vigilant in the face of the ongoing threat posed by this pandemic. We never have and never will hesitate do everything we can to protect lives and support families and businesses.
We have taken extraordinary measures, guided by the latest science and evidence, to slow the spread of this virus and keep Ontarians healthy and safe. We have maintained effective public health measures like indoor masking, while implementing vaccine policies to protect our most vulnerable in long-term care and retirement homes, hospitals, home and community care, schools and post-secondary institutions, among others. And, as more and more people step forward to get their vaccines, it moves us further into a new phase of the pandemic. Each dose brings more certainty that the days of widespread closures and lockdowns are behind us. Each dose allows us to more confidently plan for the future. We will continue to be there to support Ontarians every step of the way. Together, we will defeat this deadly virus and put this pandemic behind us.
As part of the government’s plan to protect long-term care residents and staff during the Delta-driven fourth wave, Ontario is taking further action with an additional suite of tools. This includes making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all in-home staff, support workers, students, and volunteers by November 15, 2021, unless a staff member has a valid medical exemption, as well as expanded inspections of homes and redirecting provincial resources to enhance and audit existing testing in homes.
Separately, to protect students in schools, Ontario is improving access to local targeted COVID-19 rapid antigen screening by making it available for students through participating public health units where risk of transmission is high. By expanding access to rapid antigen screening, the Ontario government is helping to keep schools and licensed child care settings open and safe for children and students. The program will support access to voluntary, rapid asymptomatic screening for unvaccinated children and students. This will help identify and prevent transmission in schools and licensed child care settings, as identified by local medical officers of health based on local epidemiological circumstances. This school-based program is in keeping with current provincial guidance for rapid antigen screening and based on advice from Public Health Ontario, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, and Ontario’s Testing Strategy Expert Panel and is focused on screening of children in public health units with the highest risk of transmission.
Today, I, alongside Minister Lecce and Minister McKenna announced that our government has partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart to help end "period poverty" in Ontario schools. A challenge that affects many young women and girls — notably from low-income families and new Canadians — who lack access to sanitary products and face stigmatization.
Minister Lecce negotiated to obtain six million free menstrual products per year from Shoppers Drug Mart, for three years, to school boards across the province. Schools will be able to distribute the free menstrual products by late fall of this year.
Our province has reached yet another incredible milestone in our vaccine rollout – 22 million COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered!
Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 and the Delta variant. Unvaccinated individuals are 24 times more likely to be hospitalized and 43 times more likely to be in ICU than fully vaccinated Ontarians. As the province continues to confront the fourth wave driven by the Delta variant, Ontarians are now required to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of their vaccination status to access certain businesses and settings.
We continue to encourage all Ontarians to support family and friends who may need assistance receiving their dose or have questions about the vaccine.
It's Thanksgiving this weekend and it's been quite a difficult 18 months for all Ontarians, but we have many things to be thankful for. This Thanksgiving, I want to take the opportunity to wish each and everyone of you, health, happiness, and prosperity. I hope you have a relaxing and peaceful long weekend.
My constituency office is open Monday to Friday from 10AM to 4PM. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to drop by. We encourage you to continue to contact us at (416) 781-2395 or email [email protected]. We remain ready to assist.