Over the weekend, after Doug Ford announced the additional COVID-19 restrictions I was heartened to see thousands of people speak out against the unfair and unscientific restrictions around closing playgrounds. As a parent to a young child, I am overwhelmingly grateful and relieved that I can still take my son outside to play. Unfortunately, this reversal does not apply to other outdoor amenities. This and the fact that Doug Ford has continued to empower police to enforce these rules remains very concerning to me.
Last week, many of us in Ward 13 were thrilled to learn that the province was opening up vaccine eligibility to residents aged 18-49 in three neighbourhoods: M4X, M5A, and M5B. Unfortunately, when the Premier made this announcement he did so before communicating with the city, and without increasing the allocation of vaccines being made available. This led to much confusion and frustration over the weekend, as I struggled to get clarity and answers for residents.
Over the weekend we hit a number of horrible COVID-19 milestones. There have been more than 350,000 confirmed COVID cases in Ontario and a total of more than 1 million cases across Canada.
Today there are 2,336 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, and while the vaccine rollout is underway, this is not the trend we want. We are still in the midst of the third wave of a global pandemic with contagious variant counts rising. It is hard to express the urgency that is needed right now because it has been a year of crisis. I don't want to sound alarmist, but it is important that we recognize the impacts that COVID-19 continues to have. Patients arriving at ICUs in the GTA are having to be transferred across the province to maintain capacity. We are at a critical moment to ensure that we do not lose equitable access to life-saving critical care.
On Sunday the City of Toronto marked the anniversary of the first COVID-19 related death in a virtual ceremony of commemoration. Over the course of this past year, we have lost more than 2,750 Torontonians due to COVID-19. I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to those grieving the loss of a loved one. It is never easy to lose someone we care about, and as the pandemic rushes forward, please take care of one another through a phone call, text, or virtual connection.