Markham-Stouffville Community Update For February 11, 2022

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Welcome to the Markham-Stouffville
Community Update for February 11, 2022

Ontario Expanding Access to Free Rapid Tests for General Public

To further support the province’s cautious easing of public health measures, the Ontario government is expanding access to free rapid testing kits to the general public for at-home use. As a result of the province’s direct procurement, Ontario will be distributing 5 million rapid tests each week for eight weeks through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province, as well as 500,000 each week through community partners in vulnerable communities. In total, the province is making 44 million rapid tests available to the public for free over the coming weeks.

Starting February 9, over 2,300 participating grocery and pharmacy locations will provide free rapid tests while supplies last, with a limit of one box of five tests per household per visit. Participating retailers will receive additional supplies from the province each week and have the ability to determine how tests are distributed in order to best serve the community.

Providing expanded access to free rapid testing kits to the general population builds on Ontario’s comprehensive testing strategy, which sees millions of rapid tests deployed each week to support priority settings, including hospitals, long-term care homes, schools and child care settings.

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Ontario Gradually Resuming Surgeries and Extra-Curriculars
With the steady decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and ICU admissions in addition to stabilizing health human resources, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Ontario Health, is lifting Directive 2 to begin a gradual and cautious resumption of non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures across the province.

In addition, effective immediately, Ontario students can once again benefit from extra-curricular activities, including high-contact sports in schools. In alignment with advice from public health officials, layers of protection will remain in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including masking and daily on-site confirmation of screening. 

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Ontario Launches Program to Increase Hands-On Training Opportunities for More PSWs and Nurses
The Ontario government is announcing a $73 million investment over three years to train and provide clinical placements for over 16,000 personal support workers (PSW) and nursing students as part of the government’s plan to recruit and retain tens of thousands of long-term care staff.
The new program, Preceptor Resource and Education Program for Long-Term Care, will provide more opportunities for career development within long-term care and ensure PSW and nursing students receive critical hands-on experience to better serve the needs of residents.

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Ontario Investigating Options for New Ultra-Low Overnight Electricity Rate
The Ontario government is continuing to provide families with the tools they need to take control over their energy bills and find ways to save money. That’s why we’ve asked the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to provide options to implement a new optional Time-of-Use (TOU) price plan that includes a new ultra-low overnight rate.

The new price plan could help shift workers and residential consumers that use more electricity at night save money on their bills, by providing a third electricity price plan that may better suit their lifestyle. The new price plan would also support electric vehicle (EV) adoption in Ontario by making it less expensive than ever to charge EVs at night when province-wide electricity demand is lower. We know that this increased affordability would help make EV ownership more accessible for many Ontarians.

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Ontario Takes Action to Protect Students and Children
The Ontario government knows that children learn best in-class, in front of their educators, supported by the investments we have made in mental health, anti-bullying, and learning recovery. 

To support the safety of students, Ontario continues to have a zero tolerance approach towards staff that compromises the safety and security of our schools. By publicly disclosing and making parents aware of educators that have been involved in sexual abuse and other serious criminal proceedings, Ontario becomes the first Canadian jurisdiction to do so.

These amendments will help the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) and the College of Early Childhood Educators (CECE) prevent members who are unfit to practice from continuing to work directly with students and children. The government is also investing $2.4 million in necessary training and resources to ensure school boards and school staff have the tools to recognize, identify, respond and prevent the sex trafficking of children and youth.

This announcement builds on previous actions taken by the government to ban staff with a history of abuse against children while making more transparent the disciplinary process of the OCT. Ontario will continue to invest in victim-focused counselling to support the most vulnerable. We have zero tolerance for those who harm children. The government will not stop in pursuit of making Ontario schools safe and well-supported places for all students to learn and excel.

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Constituency Office Services
My constituency office is here to serve you. We offer assistance for various provincial government services such as the renewal of Driver’s Licences, Health Cards, WSIB claims, ODSP/FRO cases, and any other service under provincial jurisdiction.

Due to the risk of COVID-19, our office is currently working remotely. Our staff remains avaliable to respond to your inquiries via phone or email. Should you require any assistance, please email or call 905-642-2588. We will endeavour to respond as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

To reduce in-person visits to ServiceOntario, a number of provincially-issued documents have extended expiry dates. Please click here for further information and to confirm the revised expiry date for your product or identity document.