As I sit down to write this week’s column, the Thanksgiving Weekend is on everyone’s mind. Although we’re not able to have large family gatherings this year, all of us are finding ways to celebrate safely and responsibly.
Despite being an unprecedented year, it’s more important than ever that we are able to enjoy the traditional festivities that have been such an integral part of our lives for generations. On the other hand, it’s equally important to remain steadfast and vigilant in keeping our community safe during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are truly fortunate in Lambton County to have had very few active coronavirus cases over the past few months. We should all be proud of ourselves for continuing to work together in practicing the safety protocols put in place by the Province of Ontario and Lambton Public Health. It’s because of our collective efforts that we have not experienced the huge increases in active cases that have occurred in other parts of Ontario. For that, we should all be very thankful.
Despite our local success in keeping the coronavirus at a manageable level, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. We all need to keep our guard up, continue to practice social distancing, wash our hands frequently, wear face masks or coverings where they are mandated or where physical distancing is not possible, stay home when we’re ill, and follow the other advice and protocols provided by our health professionals.
Over the past few weeks, the Government of Ontario has made a number of important announcements to help move the province forward, provide support during the second wave of the pandemic, and continue the process of rebuilding our economy.
A major part of that is the $2.8-billion COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, which has been implemented to ensure the province’s health care, long-term care and education systems are prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall, including a second wave of COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season. This plan for “Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19” will enable the province to quickly identify, prevent and respond to surges and waves of the virus to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians.
“For months, our government has been developing one of the most robust and comprehensive COVID-19 fall preparedness plans in the entire country,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are making an unprecedented investment of over $2 billion to fortify the frontlines of our health care system and ensure we are prepared for future waves of this virus, while ensuring patients and long-term care residents continue to receive the absolute best care from our top-notch health care professionals and their loved ones.”
The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan focuses on six key areas to rapidly identify and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks and surges, build health system capacity, and reinforce the province’s health care workforce. These areas are: Maintaining strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
Implementing the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history; Quickly identifying, managing and preventing COVID-19 outbreaks; Accelerating efforts to reduce health service backlogs; Preparing for surges in COVID-19 cases; And recruiting, retaining, training and supporting health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers. As part of the last of the six pillars listed above, our government is providing additional resources and support for long-term care homes, as well as schools and child care centres.
We have come a long way in the fight against COVID-19, but there is much more to be done before life returns to a more normal state. It’s a tribute to everyone in Sarnia-Lambton and across the province for the great strides we’ve managed to make already.
Unfortunately, the fight is far from over. Beating COVID-19 is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. The toll that the coronavirus has already taken on our collective physical and mental health, our working lives, our children’s school careers, our economy, and so much more is unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lives.
Having said that, the resourcefulness, creativity, hard work and determination of all Ontarians has never been stronger. As we continue working together to move forward, I am constantly amazed by the kindness, selflessness, and positivity I see every day across Lambton County. For that, we should all be very proud.
It’s also important to note that, as Canadians, we are very fortunate to live in a country with great abundance and a wealth of freedoms that are a rarity in so much of the world. These are all great reasons to be very thankful.
For anyone needing assistance with provincial matters, my Constituency Office staff is always ready to help. Please call us at 519-337-0051 or email us at [email protected], and we will do our best to respond as quickly as possible to your concerns.
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Sarnia, Lambton Public Health, Lambton County
World news – THAT – Plenty to be thankful for in Sarnia-Lambton