Everyone is "fed up" with governments' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, declares Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry Warden Frank Prevost, saying people need actions not words from decision makers.
Here is a statement he issued at a press conference today.
Our residents have been through the wringer over the last 14 months.
We have endured lockdowns, shutdowns, physical isolation, fear of getting sick and concern that local hospitals are bursting at the seams because COVID-19 cases are spiking. In short, we are fed up.
We look on with envy as other regions and countries, including our neighbours just across the St. Lawrence River in the United States, enjoy the benefits of mass vaccination. Because Canada has been slow to roll out mass vaccination, and because COVID-19 variants are entrenched in Ontario, we once again find ourselves in a shutdown.
Just today we learned that 10,000 vaccination appointments were cancelled in this province, due to lack of supply.
This situation is unacceptable to our residents and we are here today to call upon senior levels of government in Ottawa and Toronto, as well as our local MPs and MPPs, to turn heartfelt words into concrete action. Our local health unit has begun the process of vaccination in our region.
At last count there were approximately 35,000 vaccinations completed by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. More vaccinations are being planned at hospitals and pharmacies.
By the end of this current shutdown, the EOHU has plans to vaccinate another 35,000.
But the total eligible population within the EOHU region is 170,000. The EOHU can only vaccinate individuals when it has enough vaccines to do the job. I am calling on the federal and provincial governments to do more to get an increased number of vaccines to our local health unit so they can continue the good work they are doing.
There has been much made of COVID problems in southern Ontario, and there is increased focus on other ‘hot spots’ throughout the province. With all due respect to the terrible tragedy unfolding in the GTA, I want to ensure our voice is heard as well.
It is the voice of rural and small-city Ontario. I have to remind our political leaders in Toronto and Ottawa that our residents are just as vulnerable to the coronavirus – and our businesses are suffering just as much, if not worse, than those in other jurisdictions.
I further call on senior levels of government to level with us. We keep hearing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – but this seems like an awfully long tunnel. The yo-yoing our residents have been forced to grapple with these last few months is unacceptable. In one breath we are told vaccines are coming and hope is on the horizon. But at the same time some vaccine clinics are being cancelled due to lack of supply, schools are shuttered and businesses closed. This is confusing and frustrating. Our residents deserve the respect of straight-forward answers, without unnecessary spin. Our business owners have been forced to grapple with a tsunami of change in recent weeks. They need a greater understanding of what is to come in the months ahead and better supports to keep their doors open right now. I have heard directly from businesses in SDG, some of whom tell me they are falling through the COVID cracks. Some businesses, which opened just last year, cannot get supports because they are unable to prove a sustainable income over the last 12 months. How is this fair?
Our local economy is built upon these small businesses. I look at our local barbershops as an example. Why have they been forced to close an operation that can be limited to just two people, who wear masks and liberally sanitize themselves? Yet I can go into any grocery store and be surrounded with a multitude of individuals. What’s good for one business should be good for all, because it’s discrepancies like this that anger our business owners and frustrate our residents. This pandemic is not new. We have been battling the scourge of COVID-19 for more than a year. It’s time for concrete plans that will lead us out of the pandemic as quickly as possible and so far, unfortunately, I am left with the impression that the tunnel I spoke of earlier continues to get longer and longer. Finally, I have a message for our residents. We understand your frustrations. You have been put in an impossible situation, and many of you have risen to this challenge. Until we get effective vaccination in our region, I urge you to continue physical distancing and mask wearing. You are our first line of defense, and we need your help too.
A water treatment scam has surfaced in the area again, cautions the Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry Ontario Provincial Police detachment. April 6, the detachment responded to a report of a fraud in North Glengarry Township. The victim lost thousands of dollars after being contacted by an individual claiming to represent a water treatment business. The victim agreed to have a reverse osmosis system installed at his residence. But the product was never received. April 8, a person claiming to be a debt consolidator made arrangements to meet the victim. Seeking money, the person claimed that the victim’s name was on a list of people who were victims of scams related to air conditioning, furnace, and HVAC installations in the past and was attempting to assist him with consolidating his debts. Police intercepted the individual with the victim at a local bank and arrested a suspect. The identity of the suspect will be revealed once charges have been laid. The investigation continues. Under the new laws in Ontario certain door-to-door sales are banned: Air cleaners, air conditioners, air and water purifiers, duct cleaning services, furnaces, water filters, heaters, sater softeners, water treatment devices, and bundles of these goods and services. There are many ways to prevent becoming a victim. Be suspicious if you are approached for the repairs or work. Check identification and references of the company. Make sure the contractor is licensed. Get at least three written quotes for work that you need completed. Ask for an itemized bill for the repairs and materials. Do not give a cash deposit. Get a contract for the work being completed. Make any cheque payable to the company name and ensure the cheque is written in a way that can't be altered. If you are not sure of the situation you are in, ask for the individual to come back and get a phone number. Consult with a family member or close friend about the work and the price that is being suggested. If you feel the people attending your property are trying to intimidate you and are putting pressure on you, ask them to leave. Write down any information you may observe about their description, number of people, and the vehicles that they are using, especially a licence plate. Call 1- 888-310-1122 to report them to the OPP immediately. There are many credible and reputable contractors and businesses that will provide the above information requested by customers.
About 40 to 50 per cent of the adult population in Eastern Ontario could be vaccinated against COVID-19 within four weeks, if all goes as planned.
That assessment comes from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, who during a press briefing Thursday related that he expects 67,000 out of approximately 170,000 people to be vaccinated in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit jurisdiction will have received a first dose within a month.
Despite some "bugs" in the provincial booking system, "For the first time, I have been getting multiple positive remarks" from those who have attended area vaccination clinics, Dr. Roumeliotis remarked.
Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the Ontario government is imposing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise or for work that cannot be done remotely.
However schools will remain open under the latest restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
The province is:
- Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions;
- Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
- Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
- Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
- Safety supply stores;
- Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
- Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
- Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
- Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
- Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
- Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
- Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The government says that keeping schools and child care open is critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario children and youth. Schools and child care will remain open for in-person care and learning in public health regions where it is permitted, with strict safety measures in place.
Natalie Charette will be joining the Township of North Glengarry as its new Economic Development and Communications Officer effective April 19, taking over from Tara Kirkpatrick who is now the Manager of Economic Development at the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
Ms. Charette graduated from Char-Lan District High School in Williamstown and went on to complete a BA with a Major in Communications from the University of Ottawa. Shortly after graduating she joined Carnival Cruise Lines where she was able to combine her love of travel, warm weather and sparkling beaches, with a fast paced work environment and meeting new people.
On her return to dry land, Ms. Charette worked as a Program Coordinator for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, recruiting volunteers, organizing Jump Rope for Heart Days in schools, and building relationships with local businesses in order to support community fundraisers.
Afterwards, she held positions with the Township of South Glengarry as Communications Officer for Administrative Services, as well as Program Facilitator and Program Coordinator for the Recreation Department.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has announce that starting April 7, residents 60 years of age and older can book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment using Ontario’s online booking system at www.Ontario.ca/bookvaccine
Individuals who require assistance with booking can call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line at 1-888-999-6488.
All remaining individuals listed within the province’s Phase 1 priority populations who have not yet been vaccinated or not yet booked an appointment are asked to pre-register using the EOHU online pre-registration tool at www.EOHU.ca/register. Pre-registration facilitates booking appointments quickly and easily as vaccine supply increases and more appointments become available.
The Ontario government is imposing a provincewide "emergency brake" as a result of an alarming surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province. The new measures will be effective Saturday, April 3, at 12:01 a.m. and will be in place for at least four weeks.
Ontario's key indicators and latest modelling show that additional measures must be taken. From March 26 to 28, 2021, provincial case rates have increased by 7.7 per cent to 101.1 cases per 100,000 people. Current COVID-19 related ICU admissions are already over the peak of wave two and hospitals in regional hotspots will need to further ramp down scheduled surgeries. COVID-19 related ICU admissions are projected to exceed 650 beds in a few weeks. These increases are being driven by COVID-19 variants, which are transmitted easily and result in a higher risk of death and hospitalization, including in younger populations.
Measures include, but are not limited to:
Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers' markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures;
Prohibiting personal care services;
Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only;
Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions;
Requiring day camps to close; and,
Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are asked to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household. Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
“With more than $1.6 billion invested to protect against COVID-19, schools remain safe for students and staff,” the province says. “Keeping schools open is critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario youth. During the emergency shutdown, schools will remain open for in-person learning with strict safety measures in place. The spring break will continue as planned for the week of April 12. In order to support working families, child care will remain open during the shutdown. Child care settings will continue to adhere to stringent health and safety measures so that they remain safe places for children and staff."
Pharmacies in Hawkesbury, Embrun and Winchester are among the 350 additional drugstores administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to individuals aged 55 and over, with some offering the vaccine as early as April 3. Shots are available at the Jean Coutu store in Hawkesbury, the Remedy's Rx in Embrun and the Seaway Valley Pharmacy in Winchester. Appointments must be made in advance. For details visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations
One person has been arrested as the Hawkesbury detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police investigates a number of suspicious deaths at the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital.
The investigation, being carried out under the direction of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch, is in its initial stages. Members of the OPP Forensic Identification Services Unit are assisting with the case.
Currently there is no risk to public or patient safety and the routine activity at the hospital will not be affected by the investigation.
The OPP will release more information when it becomes available.
Five people have died due to COVID-19 at the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital (HGH), where a second outbreak was declared today (March 25).
As of 11 a.m. today, there were 16 admitted patients and five staff who had tested positive for the virus.
“My heart goes out to the family of the deceased and everyone who has lost a loved one to COVID-19. We have learned a lot throughout this past year about managing this deadly virus. Our medical and nursing teams are working hard to manage this outbreak. As we see an increase of COVID-19 in the community, we must all do our part and use extreme caution to stop the spread of this virus,” said Chief of Staff Dr. Julie Maranda.
Chief Executive Officer, Marc LeBoutillier said: “We are saddened by this news. Delivering safe quality care is part of our mandate and commitment to the community. We continue to reinforce infection control practices to ensure the safety of our patients, our employees and physicians. Once again, I want to thank our staff, physicians and management team for their ongoing dedication as we manage the current situation.”
The first outbreak was declared March 17.