Christine’s Chronicle – March 2021

Published on March 23, 2021

In this month Christine’s Chronicle, I am pleased to share with you updates on Ontario’s vaccine rollout, as well as a local funding announcement that recently took place.

COVID-19 vaccinations in York Region and Ontario are well underway. As of March 16, over 1.2 million vaccines doses have been administered across the province and over 288,000 people have received both their first and second doses.

The Ontario government is committed to ensuring that Ontarians who want to be vaccinated will be able to, as supply increases. I know everyone is eager to receive the vaccine, and as the province continues to build capacity, it also making it easier and more convenient for individuals to book and receive the vaccine as quickly as possible

On March 15, the Ontario government launched a provincial booking system and customer service desk to support COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings, starting with individuals aged 80 and older. If you or someone you know is aged 80 or older in 2021 (born 1941 or earlier) and wish to make an appointment, you can visit Ontario.ca/bookvaccine to make an appointment through the provincial booking system. When booking an appointment, individuals will be asked for information from their green Ontario health card, birth date, postal code and an email address and/or a phone number.  At the time of booking, eligible individuals will schedule their first and second vaccination appointments.

Individuals who still have a red and white health card, or who require assistance with booking, can call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488. 

In addition to the new provincial booking system, individuals living in York Region can continue to book vaccinations appointment by visiting the website setup by York Region Public Health: york.ca/covid19vaccine.

Due to limited vaccine supply from the federal government, vaccination appointments are currently only available for individuals turning 80 or older in 2021 as part of Phase One of Ontario's vaccine distribution plan. Starting in April, the online booking tool and call centre will extend to additional age-based groups that are part of Phase Two.

The Ontario government also recently announced that it is expanding the delivery channels available to administer COVID-19 vaccines to include pharmacies and primary care settings. As part of a vaccine delivery pilot program, select regions are now offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to eligible Ontarians aged 60-64 in pharmacies and through primary care providers. At this time, York Region is not among these regions, but as supply increases, the pilot will be expanded to more regions. All vaccinations available through pharmacies will require an appointment to be made in advance. Primary care providers will not be taking appointments by request but will be contacting eligible Ontarians aged 60-64 directly to book an appointment.

In addition to the great news about COVID-19 vaccinations, our community has also received new funding from the provincial government. At the end of February, the province announced more than $3.8 million over the next five years to create two new community-based programs to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in York Region with access to the supports they need.  BridgeNorth will provide a survivor-led peer mentoring and day program for children and youth and Cedar Centre will provide trauma-specific, rapid-response therapy to help children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation.  The Ontario government has made it clear that ending human trafficking is a priority, and this funding will go along way towards supporting victims of human trafficking and protecting our most vulnerable from this terrible crime.

Finally, last month, I was pleased to join Conversations with Neighbur, for a second local podcast on our Newmarket-Aurora community. In this new episode, we are joined by special guest Adrian Bain, Executive Director for the Newmarket Food Pantry, for a discussion about resilience and how the Newmarket Food Pantry is supporting our community. During the podcast, we also discuss the new community kitchen that the Food Pantry plans to launch using the funding they received through the Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities Grant.  To listen to the podcast, please visit the Christine’s Updates section of my website, www.christineelliottmpp.ca

As always, should you have any questions about these updates or other provincial matters, please reach out to my constituency office by calling 905-853-9889 or emailing [email protected]. We are here to support you.