On the morning of March 14, the Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke at a press conference at Queen’s Park to update the public on the province’s vaccination program and Covid-19 cases in the region.
Premier Ford stated 1,747 new cases of Covid-19 and 15 new deaths had been reported in the province. However, on March 8, a data issue resulted in a higher case count than expected, making the count invalid.
The province has also administered 1,158,355 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of 8 p.m. on March 13 and will continue to ensure priority will be given to individuals 80 years and older. If the vaccination rollout goes as expected, residents over the age of 75 will be able to get their vaccines in early April.
Premier Ford also announced a new $115 million investment plan which will go toward training 8,200 additional Personal Support Workers (PSW).
“This is part of our government’s long-term care staffing strategy, one of the largest PSW recruitment and training drives ever in this country’s history,” stated Premier Ford. “This represents the biggest increase in PSW training capacity in a generation.”
The new PSW training program will be able to train 6,000 students, free of any tuition costs. Moreover, due to the accelerated structure of the new program, students will be able to complete the eight-month-long program in just six months.
A report by the Ontario Covid-19 Science Advisory Table suspects a 42 per cent jump in new Covid-19 variant cases. Thus, while cases of the original strain of coronavirus are decreasing, cases of new variants of the virus are increasing. However, the province is taking precautionary measures to address this new concern and how it will affect residents in Ontario.
The advisory table’s slide deck, which was presented during a press conference on March 11, stated that while progress appears to have currently stalled, the province’s vaccination efforts have been successful within long-term care communities.
“Our behaviour over the next few weeks is critical in determining the quality of our summer,” stated the report. “Controlling cases, increasing vaccinations where they will have the greatest impact, and accelerating vaccinations overall are how we beat the pandemic.”
According to the graphs shown by the Ontario Covid-19 Science Advisory Table, new variant cases have been rising since mid-February, while cases of the original virus have been dropping since the middle of January.
The advisory table’s Scientific Director Dr.Peter Juni, who is also a University of Toronto professor and director of the Applied Health Research Centre at the St. Michaels Hospital, told CTV News that “people should still be taking precautionary measures until everyone is vaccinated.”
The vaccination program is currently at full speed as the province has placed vaccination centers across the province. Here at the University of Toronto Mississauga, the clinic will be overseen by Peel Public Health, and vaccines will be administered by Trillium Health Partners. Masks are required to enter the clinic, and it will take at least 35 minutes of your timed schedule to complete the vaccination process.
As stated on the UTMs’ Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic website, “You can expect to spend five minutes in the screening area; five to 10 minutes at the registration desk; five minutes receiving the vaccine itself; and 15 minutes in the post-vaccination monitoring area.”
Vaccinations will be given to the most vulnerable and at-risk residents.
“The provincial government is leading the vaccine rollout, guided by a framework that gives priority to those that are most vulnerable, such as long-term care residents, First Nations communities, frontline healthcare workers, and people aged 80 and older,” reads the website. “Decisions about when someone is offered a vaccine are determined by the provincial framework.”
Community members will be grouped and prioritized in accordance with the Ontario Vaccine Framework guidelines, and all individuals, UTM affiliated or not, will be processed in the same manner.
“Members of the U of T community—faculty, librarians, students, and staff—will be prioritized in the same way as other members of the public, as outlined in the province’s vaccine roll-out plan,” read the clinic’s website.
Dr. Peter Juni, director of the Ontario Covid-19 Science Advisory Table, said to CTV News that if the vaccination rollout goes according to plan, he can guarantee that if the province were to enter a third lockdown, it would be the last one.
“For now, the key to keeping the third wave at bay is to stay alert, tighten restrictions, vaccinate as quickly as possible, and keep the curve flat,” stated Juni.