February Roundup

2021 February Roundup

Stan Cho

March 1, 2021

As you know, most parts of the province have been moved into the “red zone” of the province's framework to protect against COVID-19.  Toronto, however, will remain in the “lockdown” phase until at least March 9, 2021.  At that time, the government, with advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Heath and local public health officials, will decide if it is safe for the government to ease restrictions.  Until then, please continue to adhere to public health advice and leave home only when necessary.

I find this site a good resource for the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

Here are a few important recent shut-down measures you need to know:

  1. Stay-at-home-orders for Toronto will be in place until at least March 9, 2021.
  2. March break for students will be postponed until April 12- 16, 2021.
  3. As of February 23, 2021, fixed rates and time-of-use rates for hydro have expired and regular rates are now in effect.
  4. The nearest COVID-19 testing stations:
    • North York General Hospital – Branson – 555 Finch Avenue West
    • Shoppers’ Drug Mart – 4841 Yonge Street (Yonge Sheppard Centre)
    • Shoppers’ Drug Mart – 5095 Yonge Street
    • Rexall – 5650 Yonge Street, Unit 17
    • Shoppers’ Drug Mart – 5576 Yonge Street
    • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Bayview) – 80 Armistice Drive

Please call ahead for details on receiving a test.

 

VACCINE UPDATE

Over the next two weeks, the province will be finishing its work on setting up a call-center and website for people to book an appointment to receive a vaccines. We plan to be up and running when shipments of vaccines are due to arrive from the federal government in the middle of March.

Here is the most recent update on the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Last week, Health Canada approved the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. This is very encouraging as Ontarians will soon have three vaccines available. More details to follow.
  • In Ontario, active long-term care cases among residents fell from 1,650 to 105 in the past month, giving us encouraging news that the vaccines are working.
  • Here is the schedule for the vaccines:
    • March 15 – people over 80 years of age
    • April 15 – people over 75 years of age
    • May 1 – people over 70 years of age
    • June 1 – people over 65 years of age

Over the coming weeks, I will be able to give you information on exactly where you can go to receive a vaccine.  Until then, we know that vaccines will be available at:

  • municipally-run vaccination sites
  • hospitals
  • mobile vaccination sites
  • pharmacies
  • clinics
  • primary care settings
  • community locations, such as community health centre and Aboriginal health access centres

Our nearest community centre with vaccine availability will be Mitchell Field Community Centre, 89 Church Avenue.

Until all of those who want to receive a vaccine do so, a reminder stay at home, unless shopping for essentials (such as groceries or prescriptions), exercising or going to work if you can’t work remotely in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The quicker we stop the spread, the quicker we can get back to our daily routines.

Here are some other recent government announcements:

 

ONTARIO INTRODUCES NEW ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION

On February 22, 2021, on Human Trafficking Awareness Day, our government introduced landmark legislation to build upon the province’s $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy. This legislation reinforces Ontario’s commitment to fight human trafficking and demonstrates continued leadership in responding to this pervasive crime.

The proposed changes include two new acts – the Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy Act, 2021 and the Accommodation Sector Registration of Guests Act, 2021 – as well as amendments to the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 and the Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking Act, 2017. Together, the proposed changes would support the government’s response to human trafficking by:

  • Increasing awareness of the issue, supporting a long-term provincial response and emphasizing that all Ontarians have a role to play in combating human trafficking;
  • Strengthening the ability of children’s aid societies and law enforcement to protect exploited children;
  • Supporting more survivors and the people who support them in obtaining restraining orders against traffickers, with specific consideration for Indigenous survivors;
  • Increasing the government’s ability to collect non-personal data to better understand the impact of the strategy and respond to human trafficking;
  • Providing law enforcement with more tools to locate victims and charge traffickers.

 

GREENBELT FOUNDATION FUNDING

Recently, we announced the government is investing $12 million over the next three years to support the Greenbelt Foundation’s ongoing work to protect, promote and improve the Greenbelt in the Golden Horseshoe region. The projects delivered through this funding will focus on planting trees to increase natural cover, enhancing recreational opportunities for people to experience nature, and maintaining and enhancing green infrastructure and climate resilience.

 

ATTENTION JOB SEEKERS LOOKING FOR A NEW OPPORTUNITY.

The government has created a portal for health care organizations to post a range of opportunities for registered and non-registered health care professional, internationally trained professionals as well as students and those with no health care experience.  You could find a meaningful job helping with Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

 

GREENBELT CONSULTATIONS – HAVE YOUR SAY BEFORE APRIL 19, 2021!

We have announced a 60-day consultation to grow the Greenbelt and help protect more of the province’s natural environment — including farmlands, forests, wetlands and watersheds — from future development. The consultations could result in the largest expansion of the Greenbelt since its creation in 2005.

 

Comments are welcome by email at [email protected] or through the Environmental Registry of Ontario by April 19, 2021. 

 

NEXT STEPS BEING IMPLEMENTED FOR THE ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM

Starting in March, the province will begin offering core clinical services based on a child’s individual needs which is a key element of the new program. These services include applied behaviour analysis, speech language pathology, occupational therapy and mental health supports. 

About 600 children and youth from across the province who are registered in the Ontario Autism Program will be invited to participate.

The Child and Parent Resource Institute will oversee the launch of core clinical services which will include:

  • meeting with a family to identify a child’s goals, strengths and support needs
  • allocating funding to families so they can purchase core services from providers of their choice
  • supporting families with next steps to access core clinical services of their choice.

 

INCREASING MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING FOR POST SECONDARY STUDENTS

We recently announced our government’s investment of an additional $7 million to help increase access to mental health and addiction services for postsecondary students during COVID-19. This funding will provide more supports for students, both on-campus and virtually, to respond to their mental health needs, including those related to COVID-19.

 

MAKING IT EASIER AND LESS COSTLY TO MANAGE SMALL ESTATES

The government is introducing changes to ease the burden on those who are grieving the loss of a loved one by simplifying the process to manage small estates.

The changes, which include setting the limit for a small estate at $150,000, will help people manage estates faster while making Ontario's probate process for small estates simpler and more accessible.

Ontario’s new probate process for estates under $150,000 will make it among the most accessible in Canada.

 

SOCIAL ASSISTANCE RECOVERY AND RENEWAL

The next steps have been announced in the province’s plan to modernize the delivery of social assistance, and help vulnerable people achieve greater financial independence.

The COVID-19 outbreak has shown us a new approach is needed now more than ever - Ontarians are looking to us for help with basic needs, to stabilize their family’s lives, and to get back to work and financial security. That’s why as part of the Recovery and Renewal Plan announced last fall, the province has worked with municipalities to design a Vision for Social Assistance Transformation to ensure people are getting the right supports at the right time so they can re-enter the workforce. At the core of this vision is a strategy to help more people access supports to stabilize their lives including housing and child care and giving local caseworkers more time to help their clients overcome barriers to employment and achieve greater independence.

To support the vision and provide clients with the resources they need, the province will begin shifting the roles and responsibilities of the province and municipalities in their delivery of social assistance. In the future, the Ontario Government will gradually take on more of the responsibility of the back-office administrative functions of both Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

 

ONTARIO MAIN STREET RELIEF GRANT UPDATE

Our government is expanding the number of small businesses that can apply for the Main Street Relief Grant to help offset the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) to cautiously and gradually reopen in parts of the province.

Small businesses with 2 to 19 employees in all eligible sectors – expanded from 2-9 employees – including those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, can now apply for up to $1,000 in financial support. The expansion is being made as more parts of the province enter the strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework, which allows for the gradual and safe reopening of in-store shopping at non-essential retail stores.

This one-time grant reimburses main street businesses for up to $1,000 in PPE costs incurred since March 17, 2020. Eligible businesses for the Main Street Relief Grant (Ontario.ca/COVIDsupport) now include those with 2 to 19 employees in the following sectors:

  • retail trade;
  • accommodation and food services;
  • repair and maintenance;
  • personal and laundry services;
  • gyms and yoga studios; and
  • arts, entertainment, and recreation.

Small businesses can visit ontario.ca/smallbusiness to learn about the many supports available to them. These include resources to find Ontario-made PPE through the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, tools to build or expand their online presence through Digital Main Street, tailored local support through the Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, and free financial advice. 

Contact my office if you need help applying to these grants!

Stay safe, we are almost there!

Stan Cho

Member of Provincial Parliament for Willowdale