Thanks to the collective efforts of Ontarians in following public health and workplace safety measures, the province continues to make considerable progress in the fight to control the third wave of COVID-19. This past week (May 2 to 8), the provincial cases rate decreased by 14.8 per cent, with the positivity rate also decreasing to 7.7 per cent compared to 8.6 per cent the previous week. From May 5 to 12, the number of patients with COVID-related critical illness in intensive care has decreased from 877 to 776.
Despite improvements, key indicators remain high and more time is required before the province can safely lift the Stay-at-Home Order. From May 3 to 9, the provincial cases rate remained very high at 134.9 cases per 100,000 people, and per cent positivity was above the high alert threshold of 2.5 per cent. Hospitalization and ICU admissions also remain too high and well above the peak of wave two.
Based on this data, the government has extended the provincewide Stay-at-Home Order that is set to expire on May 19 until at least June 2, 2021. The impacts of these measures will continue to be evaluated over the coming weeks, with consideration being made to the reopening of outdoor recreational amenities on June 2, subject to current trends continuing.
During this time, the government will prepare to administer the Pfizer vaccine to youth between the ages of 12 and 17. Beginning the week of May 31, youth in Ontario between 12 and 17 years of age and their family members who have not received a vaccine will be eligible to book an appointment to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, including at special dedicated youth and family clinics throughout the weeks of June 14 and 21. More information will be provided in the coming weeks.
The province will work with public health units to offer both doses of vaccine to youth aged 12 to 17 by the end of August, in collaboration with school boards and other partners. The rollout will be informed by the work of the Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Table and will provide access to multiple channels to support vaccinating this group, including mass vaccination clinics, community or school pop-ups, and pharmacies.
It's never been more important to go get vaccinated when it's your turn. This week, there will be a pop-up clinic in our riding, at John Polanyi Collegiate Institute, for people who live or work in a Toronto Hotspot. If you're eligible, go get vaccinated! Alternatively, you can always book an appointment at the provincial booking system at ontario.ca/bookvaccine or directly with a Hospital or Ontario Health Team clinic through www.vaccineto.ca.
In 2019, the Ontario government launched the Ontario Seniors Dental Care program to provide free routine dental care for eligible low-income seniors across the province. The Seniors Co-Payment Program enables low-income seniors to access the medication they need with no annual deductible and a reduced co-payment for each prescription.This week, the Ontario government announced it will be updating the income eligibility thresholds for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and the Seniors Co-Payment Program to allow more of Ontario’s most vulnerable seniors to have access to dental care and affordable prescription medications.
Starting August 1st, 2021, eligibility thresholds for both programs will be updated to reflect cost of living increases in Ontario and align with income support programs for seniors. Income thresholds will be updated for single Ontarians aged 65 and over, from $19,300 to $22,200, and for couples with a combined annual income, from $32,300 to $37,100. This will allow approximately 7,000 more seniors to access the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program and 17,000 more seniors to access the Seniors Co-Payment Program in 2021-2022.
For the Seniors Co-Payment Program, seniors who are eligible under the new income thresholds are encouraged to apply now in advance of the start of the upcoming benefit year on August 1st, 2021. Applying early will help ensure eligible seniors receive the reduction in their drug deductible and co-payment on time to minimize the chance of out of pocket expenses. Once an application has been submitted, eligibility will be assessed to confirm enrollment for the year.
By ensuring seniors can access effective dental care and continue to afford the medications they need, the Ontario Seniors Dental Care and Seniors Co-Payment programs help to reduce unnecessary trips to the hospital and improve seniors’ quality of life. This further supports hospital capacity as Ontario continues to fight the third wave of COVID-19 and is a key component of the government’s plan to end hallway health care.
For more information and how to apply click below:
I am happy to announce that Ontario has administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to over 50 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over. Over one million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario since the start of May, and the province remains on track to have administered first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May.
It's important we all get vaccinated to put COVID-19 behind us. I know the warm weather has arrived and we all want to be outdoors - feel free to enjoy the weather by exercising or taking a walk with your immediate family, but please follow proper health and safety guidelines. I am sure in a couple of weeks, with expanding the number of inoculations, we will be able to create some normalcy to our summer.
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.