I want to begin by responding to the derogatory comments made by Premier Ford at a news conference yesterday. He made reference to new immigrants coming to Ontario, and immediately signing up for Ontario Works, which he referred to as “the dole”. These disappointing comments from the Premier are xenophobic and divisive. Also, they are misinformed. The majority of permanent newcomers to Canada are economic class - skilled workers, and skilled trades. These skills and the financial assets required to enter Canada, and sponsor a family, would place any newcomers well above the asset limits required for Ontario Works. Dr. Jennifer Robson, an Associate Professor at Carleton University, explains the system well, and consequently fact-checks the Premier’s dismissive and repugnant comments. Once again, Premier Ford demonstrates why he is not fit to lead the most diverse province in Canada.
I hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving and was able to spend some quality time with your families and loved ones. It’s so important to find opportunities to rest amongst the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic.
On Friday, I was disappointed and disheartened to learn that the Supreme Court upheld Premier Ford’s controversial slashing of City Council in 2018 in the middle of the municipal election. Back in 2018, that was the first of many cuts Premier Ford made in order to swipe at democracy and local governance. At that time, he said it was in an effort to save costs, but there were no such savings. Instead, it cost the City $1.93 million with an increased staffing budget, and cost residents equitable representation in their local government.
Toronto’s vaccination roll out continues. As of today, 80.4 percent of individuals over the age of 12 have been fully vaccinated in Toronto. This is a huge and important milestone, and we should all be very proud. While the ongoing uptake of vaccination by Toronto residents is positive, analysis and modelling of the fourth wave demonstrates that ongoing vigilance is required to both promote increased vaccination and monitor progress towards reducing COVID-19 transmission.
Today we saw 574 new cases of COVID-19 reported, and over 800 this weekend. This is to be expected as schools continue to operate with in-person classes. The Province of Ontario is now reporting hospitalizations by vaccination status as well as COVID-19 data in our schools, as over 9% of Ontario schools now have confirmed cases.
Today, the Province of Ontario announced clarifying measures and enforcement protocols around the newly implemented vaccine certificate. Starting on September 22, proof of vaccination status will be required to eat indoors at restaurants and bars, to enter a gym, movie theatre, sporting venue, or concert, and to use a large meeting and event space. Ontario residents will need to either print or download their second dose receipt from the government website until an “enhanced” certificate becomes available on October 22. They can also use a receipt signed by an Indigenous health provider or a receipt from “another jurisdiction.” The new rules will not impact children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
Late last week, we saw new cases of COVID-19 rise to 825 new cases. This is not the trend we want. Last Thursday, the Ontario Science Table confirmed that we are indeed in the fourth wave and that an 85% vaccination rate is needed in order to avoid a full lockdown this autumn.
On Friday, Health Canada announced that it has authorized the Moderna vaccine for children as young as 12 years of age to help in the fight against COVID-19. Health Canada has reported that so far any adverse reactions are consistent with those among the adult population including swelling at the site of injection, fatigue, and headaches, and that these reactions typically only lasted three days. We don’t have information yet as to when they’ll begin administering Moderna, and I will keep you updated as more information becomes available.
This past Friday August 20, the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and the St Lawrence Neighbourhood Association agreed on a settlement to preserve a significant portion of the Foundry buildings, located at 153-185 Eastern Avenue in the West Don Lands and Corktown neighbourhood.
I want to start by expressing my concern for the people of Afghanistan as soldiers and democracy workers from the United States and Canada plan to leave after twenty years on the ground in support of the country’s struggling democracy.