There is some data that points to how much trouble we could be in if we do not follow those simple rules

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 2, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Last week we did a piece on some research the MoH for Halton Region mentioned to members of Regional Council which she said at the time she found very startling and concerned that if the data was correct and the situation we are in was mis-handled a third wave was a possibility.

And that that third wave would not be like the first and second wave; it would spread more quickly and more people would succumb to the virus.

We did a short piece with a graph that set out what Dr Hamidah Meghani was talking about. In this article we are able to show you some of the supporting evidence . It is chilling.

The data does not mean anything is going to happen, it does, we believe, point to what could happen if we are not very careful.

Fortino signs

The supermarkets are doing everything they can to educate the public. Wear the mask – keep your distance. It does make a difference.

Reference is made to three COVID-19 VOC have been identified, including:

PANGO lineage B.1.1.7: first detected in the United Kingdom in September, 2020;
PANGO lineage B.1.351: first detected in South Africa in October, 2020; and
PANGO lineage P.1: first detected in Brazil in January, 2021.

As of February 15, 2021, Ontario has confirmed a total of 319 COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC) cases; the vast majority (96.9%; 309/319) are PANGO lineage B.1.1.7.

COVID-19 VOC cases have been confirmed in 15/34 (44.1%) public health units across 6/7 (85.7%) geographic regions (i.e., no VOC cases have been identified in the North West region).

The Central East region accounts for 80.3% (256/319) of COVID-19 VOC cases in the province, in part due to a large outbreak in a long-term care home in Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

The majority (81.2%; 259/319) of confirmed VOC cases are linked to outbreaks or close contact with a confirmed case.

A total of 38 fatalities have been reported (case fatality: 11.9%); all have occurred among those 60 years of age or older.

acquired where

Where did the person with the new virus pick it up? Close contacts and an outbreak. How do we combat that?

 

severity

Number of confirmed COVID-19 VOC cases by PANGO lineage, severity, and outcome: Ontario, December 1, 2020 to February 15, 2021(We believe the word EVER should have been Never)

 

age when they die

Number of fatalities among confirmed COVID-19 VOC cases by PANGO lineage and age group: Ontario, December 1, 2020 to February 15, 2021. It is the older people who are dying.

 

acquired where

Number of confirmed COVID-19 VOC cases by PANGO lineage and likely source of acquisition: Ontario, December 1, 2020 to February 15, 2021

This data has determined what the province decided to do and what is continuing to do.  Take care of the elderly and when the vaccine arrive inoculate the older people and hope that we can get enough people inoculated before the variants work themselves into the general population.

It is truly a race against time.

We may have wasted much of what we had.

Related article
The MoH was startled.

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The COVID19 virus variants that startled the MoH are very real

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 26th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Just over a week ago when Dr. Hamidah Meghani was speaking to the Regional Council she mentioned data she had seen very recently that she found startling and under the wrong situation could lead to a third wave of infections.

We touched base with the Region’s media support people where Julia Le is usually very good at digging out material for us.

Dr Hamidah Meghani  was talking about what are referred to as VOC – Variants of Concern – these are COVID19 mutations that appear to spread very quickly and impact those pov60 and over – for the 80 and over they have a very high morbidity rate.

The 20 page report has numerous graphs – the one sums it all up, and we suspect the one that keeps Dr Meghani awake at night is below.

Maghani concern VOC

If the mutation were to get out and into a population – no one has been able to even guess at the damage that would be done and the lives lost.  This information is one of the reasons the Mayor of the City of Toronto has said – no large public events until after Canada Day.  No Pride Parade – nothing where large numbers of people would be gathered in an outdoor setting.

The graphics that accompanied the Epidemiological Summary spell out the real concern and what has the health community rushing to get people vaccinated.  It is a race against time – and we are not ready.

This Epidemiological Summary covers Variants of Concern in Ontario: December 1, 2020 to February 15, 2021

The Gazette will do a follow up piece on this.

 

m

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What would a provincial election produce if it took place late summer when most of the vaccinations are done? Is the government preparing for such a day?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

February 26th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Is there a provincial election in the wind?

The province released a media background piece on some forthcoming legislation called Ontario Taking Steps to Make it Easier and Safer to Participate in Provincial Elections.

The media release explains that new legislation would help modernize the voting process in a COVID-19 environment by taking steps to make it easier and safer for people to vote, become a candidate, and protect provincial elections against outside influence and interference.

The Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021, would, if passed, help guard against threats such as the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, under-regulated third-party advertising, irregular campaign spending, and collusion.

doug-ford-1

Doug Ford – can he be re-elected?

“We strongly believe that Ontario voters should determine the outcome of elections, not big corporations or unions, American-style political action groups or other outside influences,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “That’s why we are proposing legislative action to protect Ontarians’ essential voice in campaigns and to make it easier to cast a vote safely in an advance poll or on election day. These amendments would help modernize Ontario’s electoral process and ensure it is updated to meet urgent challenges, including COVID-19.”

The proposed reforms build on the Ontario legislature’s 2016 decision to ban corporate and union donations to political parties and help ensure individuals remain at the centre of the electoral process.

To protect Ontario elections, 19 legislative amendments have been proposed to:

• Make it more convenient and safer for people to vote in a COVID-19 environment by increasing advance polling days from five to ten, changes first proposed by Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer;

• Double the amount individuals can donate to a candidate, constituency association, leadership contestant or party from $1,650 to $3,300 per year, protecting the essential voice of Ontarians in campaigns;

• Extend third-party advertising spending limits from six to 12 months before an election period and introduce a definition of collusion to help protect Ontario’s elections from outside influence and interference; and

• Clarify the rules that allow Members of Provincial Parliament to maintain individual social media accounts before, during and after a writ period, as well as pave the way for the legislature to set other social media rules.

Elections Ontario has reported that the scale of third-party advertising in Ontario is greater than at the federal level, and Ontario is the only province in Canada where third-party spending is counted in the millions of dollars, rather than in the thousands. In 2018, third parties spent over $5 million during the election period and the six months prior to the election.

“Each and every Ontarian is a driving force of our democracy – from casting their votes to volunteering on campaigns or putting one’s name on a ballot,” said Attorney General Downey. “We want to ensure that the electoral system continues to evolve to protect their central role as individuals and promote fairness in the electoral process for everyone.”

Andrea finger on cheek

She can draw the crows but hasn’t been able to translate those faces into voters.

Nice to know that they are keeping themselves busy at Queen’s Park.  One wonders how the current Progressive Conservative  government would fare if they had to face the electorate.  Lots to complain about  – but have you looked at the other two choices.  Andrea Horwath does not seem to be able to win an election.  A new leader could make a difference – is there anyone with real strength and profile on the NDP benches?  Look hard and let me know what you find.

As for the Liberals – their leader has yet to run for a seat in the Legislature.  Other taking a few cheap shots at the province for goofs on the Covid19 file, Del Duca hasn’t made much of a mark.

There is a group planning a policy convention – something the Liberals badly need if they are going to learn anything from the Kathryn Wynne disaster.  A good stiff broom is needed if the Liberals are going to be competitive.  If they can find a way to tap into and reflect what the people of Ontario really want they could form a government.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Inoculation locations announced - just waiting for the vaccines to arrive

News 100 redBy Staff

February 23, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Halton Region is ready to open our vaccination clinics for prioritized populations once vaccine supplies are secured by the Federal Government.

“Halton Region staff have been working tirelessly to ensure we are prepared to vaccinate our residents, starting first with our most vulnerable populations,” said Halton Regional Chair, Gary Carr.

“Like other regions, our ability to get these sites operational is dependent on supply from the Federal Government. These clinics are in addition to our mobile teams vaccinating residents in long-term care and retirement homes, Halton Healthcare’s clinic for health care workers and our ongoing preparations to eventually provide vaccine to the rest of our community.

I cannot thank our Public Health, Paramedic Services, Hospital teams and staff working behind the scenes enough for their dedication to get us ready.”

Clinics are located in each municipality and have been selected based on the ability to maintain health and safety measures, accessibility and amenities.

  1. Gellert Community Centre, 10241 Eighth Line, Georgetown
  2. St. Volodymyr Cultural Centre, 1280 Dundas Street West, Oakville
  3. Compass Point Bible Church, 1500 Kerns Road, Burlington
  4. Milton Centre for the Arts, 1010 Main Street East, Milton

These are initial locations and other clinics may be identified as required.

“The preparation of these clinics is an important milestone in our work to vaccinate those most at risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19,” said Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health. “I encourage everyone to get the vaccine when it is your turn, and in the meantime, prepare yourself and your family by reviewing credible information on the vaccines on halton.ca.”

Quick Clinic Facts:

  • The clinics are not yet open to the general public. The clinics will first serve priority populations identified by the Province, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older.
  • Information on clinic openings and how to book an appointment will be available when the amount of vaccines is confirmed. The public and current priority populations will be notified through a variety of print and digital channels when the booking system is ready and more details are confirmed.
  • Planning is also underway to provide additional supports such as transportation for residents who require them. More information will be provided as those details are confirmed.

The Gazette will provide details on just where these places are later in the week

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Regional Health Unit Preparing to Begin Mass Inoculation - Putting the Infrastructure in Place Now

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 20th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Working our way through winter days that at times have a beauty of their own; getting some of the needed exercises shoveling snow.

Living with the expectation that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that all we have to do is follow the rules that have been explained very well.

PHU data Feb 20

This is where the outbreaks have taken place

Some of the messaging doesn’t get through. While reporting to the Regional Council Dr. Hamida Meghani said that if people choose to get out to a restaurant there shouldn’t be more than four at a table and that all four should be from the same household. Not two people from one household and the other two people from a different household.

The Regional Public Health Unit is producing solid data that gives a promising picture.  The unit is in the process of going through a phase that will see it continue to handle the identification of new infections and follow up on the tracing that helps determine where the infections came from.  The arrival of variants to Covid19 makes that job much harder and calls for an even faster response.  A tough task for a unit that is already overloaded.

COVID-org-structure-1-690x344

Facilities and logistics group has worked with Human Resources to recruit the 400 nursing people that will be needed to do inoculations for up to 12 hours a day – seven days a week once the required vaccines have arrived.

On top of it all they are putting in place the procedures needed to begin the mass inoculation that will begin hours after the vaccines arrive.

Dr. Meghani works with a team that is now seasoned and beginning to be able to keep at least half a step ahead of the pandemic many don’t really fully understand.

During the most recent update given to Regional Council Dr. Meghani was seen to actually chuckle – just a bit, while responding to a question.  There haven’t been all that many occasions for her to slip away from the sobering side of the possible outcomes if the variant Covid19 infections get out of control.  I suspect this keeps her awake at night

PHU case locations

This is where the infections are being found. For Burlington the east end of the city has the highest rate.

PHU Virus spread Feb 19

The hospitalization rate and the effective reproduction number are what support the view that we are getting ahead of the virus.

phu Testing - capacity

The very legitimate fear that the hospitals would not be able to cope with the number of people needing serious care would become a reality – the current numbers indicate that – so far – so good.

PHN Public capacity

The Public Health Unit has been able to reach 93% of those people who have become newly infected in one day; This is critical in identifying the source of the infection.

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Regional Public Health Unit Passes on what the Province Dictates

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 19TH, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We  asked the Regional Health Unit for an update on who will get vaccinated first.

We received the following:

“Preparations are underway to vaccinate additional priority populations identified by the Province, including adults 80 years of age and older and recipients of chronic home health care. We will be providing an update to the community in the coming days with additional details as they are confirmed.

Understanding that these groups may have barriers to accessing information and appointments, we are also working with our local partners who will support us in targeted outreach to these populations.”

The link provided in the quote is important.

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Regional Public Health Unit Ready for the day the COVID19 vaccines arrive

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 18th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The day the COVID19 vaccines arrive, expect the Prime Minister to make an announcement on how well his government is doing ensuring that Canadians are getting the Covid19 virus protection they need.

Dr. Hamidah Meghani at the Regional Public Health unit will move the people who have been hired to give us that needle into position and wait for the province to tell her exactly when the vaccines are going to be in the inoculation centres ready for use.

COVID big pic 2 phase

The administering of the vaccine is a three phase program.

Earlier this month Dr. Meghani and her team met with General Rick Hillier,  former Chief of the Defence Staff , now retired, who is overseeing the distribution of the vaccines that were purchased by the federal government for distribution to the provinces.

The Halton Regional plan was approved – now Meghani and her colleagues are waiting for the word – the vaccines are here.

So – when the vaccines arrive does that mean we all scoot over to the inoculation centre? Not quite.

We learned yesterday that there will be just four inoculation centres in Halton. One will be at the Oakville Trafalgar Hospital that will handle all the front line people – which at this point are those in the medical field.

Regional Council members wanted to know if the people who work in the supermarkets will be considered front line. Dr. Meghani said she did not know, that that has yet to be determined.

We know now that there will be a process to register for a jab of the needle.

The province is in the process of creating a computer application (app) that people will use to register.
Nothing more than that at this point.

The province has not been able to launch that application; it is apparently in trials at this point.  It will be on a program called COVAX.
What has become very clear is that the province is calling all the shots – the Public Health units follow the directions they are given.

Meghani expects to be inoculating people before that provincial app is ready – she has a backup plan in place.

Covid roll out phases

The time line – who is expected to be vaccinated when. Asked when does this all start – Dr. Meghani said – the day after the vaccines arrive.

Where will the inoculation centres be located in each community? Not yet determined. They know where they want them to be – now to work out the details with the municipalities or the school boards.

We did learn that the Region will pick up whatever there are in the way of costs at the local level.

We learned too that the Region has hired 200 nursing people and will be hiring an additional 200 for a total of 400 people in place.
Interviews are taking place in the evenings and on the weekends.

Halton CAO Jane McCaskill mentioned that the Region has spent an additional $1 million and has invested heavily in Information Technology upgrades.

Dr. Meghani said that the Region will have a backup system in place. This woman doesn’t leave very many stones unturned.

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Regional government is staffed and ready to go the minute vaccines arrive - the concern is that the Covid variants will get here first.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 17th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During an in depth meeting at which Dr Hamidah Meghani and Halton Region CAO Jane McCaskill took Regional Council through where things were with the current Covid infection rate and the plans to begin immunizing residents, we learned that Dr. Meghani was concerned, she actually said “startled, when she saw an early version of a report that will be made public on Friday about the rate at which the COVID19 variants are growing out in the community.

Covid cases to date

The lock down we just came out of worked – the number of infections has been much lower – many think it should have been even lower before ending the lockdown.

She said on more than one occasion that she could see a possible third wave, using the word “likely”.

Regional Councillors got a solid briefing with Chair Gary Carr saying that the problem Halton is going to have is not enough in the way of supply to do the job that has to be done if we are to get ahead of the virus.

COVID org structure

A very sophisticated and well staffed Regional Vaccine Committee is in place – everyone is just waiting for the arrival of the vaccines.

Sometime in January Chair Carr and Burlington Mayor Meed Ward were on to the province demanding that they  deliver on what had been promised so that the Region could vaccinate the people in Long Term Care Centres.  Hot spots in Toronto got what was supposed to come to Halton.

Watching Gary Carr when he is angry is not a pretty picture.

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Burlington Recreation Programming Slowly re-opening Safely.

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 17th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Recreation facilities welcome back participants in recreation programming that will start to re-open with a phased approach starting the week of Feb. 16.
Not all programs and facilities will be opened immediately; re-staffing and facility preparation is underway.

All Adult Virtual Fitness, Learning and Music Registered Programs already running until March 26 will continue as is with no change at this time.

Drop-in skating, lap swims, recreation swims and Aquatic Fitness will start to re-open this week and programs and locations will increase over the next two weeks. All programs can be viewed and registered for at burlington.ca/recreation.

Restrictions for City facilities and recreation as a result of moving in the Red (Control) Phase in the Province’s COVID-19 framework include:

• 10 people maximum for indoor programs such as ice pads, gymnasiums, etc.

If you didn't get to strap on the blades this winter - you're out of luck. Rink closes at 10:00 pm this evening.

Outdoor events limited to 25 people at a time

• 25 people maximum for outdoor programs

• Drop-in recreation programs will have a maximum capacity of 10 people, this includes skating and Aquatic Fitness

• Pool capacities for drop-in recreational swimming and lap swims will be reduced to ensure physical distancing can be maintained

• Bistro Express Curbside Pickup will again be accepting phone orders and providing nutritious home-style cooking for reheating at home. Pickup at Seniors Centre Main Entrance. Tap payment only accepted

• In-person instruction, including Learn to Swim and Aquatic Leadership courses will have a maximum capacity of 10 people

• Indoor pickleball activities are cancelled. Outdoor pickleball is available in Optimist and Leighland parks, weather permitting

• No spectators permitted at sports and recreational fitness facilities except for parent/guardian supervision of children
These restrictions will impact program providers in the following ways:

The students on the Bateman High School football team would love an opportunity to play in the rain. According to their side of the story they are not being given the chance they feel they deserve.

Team sports are on hold.

• For all team sports, indoor and outdoor game-play is not permitted

• Teams in City facilities and on City fields can adjust their programming to training and skill development with a maximum of 10 people indoors, up to two coaches and 25 people outdoors. Program participants are encouraged to reach out to their organization for additional information

• If you are a participant in a non-City program or team sport, please connect with your organization to understand how this may impact you

• No spectators permitted at sports and recreational fitness facilities except for parent/guardian supervision of children

• Parents/guardian must maintain 3-meter distance while in facilities

• No contact permitted for team or individual sports

The Ten Tour BAnd won't be in the FAmily room at the Performing Arts Centre but there will be kids running all over the place. Some will get to tickle the keys on the Grand Piano in the Main Theatre.

Public performances – including at the  Performing Arts Centre are not taking place. .

Limit duration of stay in a City facility or on City fields to 90 minutes (does not apply to sports)

• Require active screening, contact information and attendance for all patrons

• No live performances. Performing arts rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event permitted

• Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barriers

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One student in one Burlington public school was found to be infected yesterday - numerous infections found throughout the Region

News 100 redBy Staff

February 17th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It should come as no huge surprise – COVID19 infections are being reported at several schools in the Region.

Mohawk GArdens Public school

A single student was infected and the class was closed – the school remained open.

Just the one infection reported in Burlington at the Mohawk Public school where the classroom has been closed.
Classes resumed at schools this week.

How many infections are there likely to be? No one has any idea. At this stage everyone is keeping a very close eye and readying for whatever they think could happen and be ready to respond.

It is going to be stressful week – we know why the infection took place – someone without the infection came in contact with someone who was infected.

The virus is in the community. How deep is infection rate likely to be ? We don’t know yet.

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Ontario Working with Municipal Partners to Improve Social Assistance

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 16th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The new provincial plan will ensure people are getting the right supports at the right time.

In an announcement last week the province said it is now “working with its municipal partners to better connect people to the supports they need as the next step in the province’s plan to modernize the delivery of social assistance. As part of its plan, frontline workers will have more time to focus on connecting clients with supports such as job-readiness programs, housing, childcare, skills training, and mental health services. At the same time, the province will gradually take on more program administration to make it easier for people to navigate the system.”

casework papersWelfare and social services for Halton are administered at the Regional level, however the impact could be significant.

“Ontario is facing deep economic challenges brought on by COVID-19,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Our government is taking action by developing a sustainable social assistance program that takes the administrative burden off local front-line workers, so they can spend more time helping their clients connect to community supports that will get them ready for jobs.”

“As part of the Recovery and Renewal Plan announced last fall, the province worked with municipalities to design a Vision for Social Assistance Transformation to ensure people are getting the right supports at the right time so they can re-enter the workforce. The vision outlines plans for a new social assistance delivery model that allows frontline workers to focus on results for people rather than paperwork. Based on a 2018 study, caseworkers spent approximately a quarter of their day – about 400 hours a year – filing and organizing paperwork.”

Under the new delivery model:

• The province will focus on overseeing social assistance applications and payments making it quick and easy for people to access the system while safeguarding program integrity. Currently, 47 agencies at the municipal/District Social Services Administration Board level co-fund and manage delivery of social assistance in Ontario.

• Municipal partners will use their expertise to deliver person-centred casework and knowledge of local supports to help people get back to work and access supports to stabilize their lives such as housing and health care.
In acknowledgement of the unique needs and priorities of First Nations communities, the Ontario government will continue working with First Nations partners towards a separate plan to renew social assistance for First Nations communities.

“Ontario finds itself at a significant crossroad,” said Minister Smith. “We must continue our work to renew the social assistance system during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting the province’s economic recovery and helping the people of Ontario find financial independence and stability. Our plan for a transformed social assistance system will help us achieve that.”

Work on social assistance reform is already underway and will be phased in over the next several years. The province continues to build on this work which includes centralized intake and prototyping a streamlined applications process to continue to free up staff time so they can focus on client support.

Sounds great in principle – let’s see how the Regions react to the program.

Right now the Regions are up to their ears coping with a massive vaccination program that has been plagued with delivery problems.

 

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The flow of information on who will get vaccinated when is almost as bad as the rate at which vaccine doses are being delivered

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr,

February 15th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I learned this morning that sometime soon – which probably means sometime in March, the Priority list that sets out who is going to be vaccinated, and when, is going to be updated and this time will include all those who are over 80 years of age.

bull hornThat caught my attention because I fall into that category.

When do I go to get my needle – don’t know.

Where will I go? – don’t know.

How do I find out – not sure. Spent way too much time wading through the Halton Public Health web site. Lots of information but nothing that relates to my situation.

When I go – what do I need to take with me? I assume my OHIIP card – anything else? Don’t know.

Will I be given something that confirms I have been vaccinated? Hope so – want to put it on a T shirt.

There just has to be a better way to communicate with an anxious public.

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We get out of lockdown on Tuesday - move to level Red

News 100 redBy Staff

February 12th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is transitioning twenty-seven public health regions out of the shutdown and into a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework

“The health and safety of Ontarians remains our number one priority. While we are cautiously and gradually transitioning some regions out of shutdown, with the risk of new variants this is not a reopening or a return to normal,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

covid needle 2“Until vaccines are widely available, It remains critical that all individuals and families continue to adhere to public health measures and stay home as much as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”

Based on a general improvement in trends of key indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, improving hospital capacity, and available public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, the following public health regions will be moving back to the Framework on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order:

Covid-status-chart-colour-code-768x282

Grey-Lockdown:
· Niagara Region Public Health

Red-Control:
· Chatham-Kent Public Health;
· City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
· Durham Region Health Department;

Nothing in the Region will be able to open up - maybe next week.

Nothing in the Region will be able to open up – maybe next week.

· Halton Region Public Health: includes Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills;
· Middlesex-London Health Unit;
· Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
· Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit;
· Southwestern Public Health;
· Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
· Wellington-Dufferin Guelph Public Health; and
· Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Orange-Restrict:
· Brant County Health Unit;
· Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
· Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
· Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
· Huron Perth Public Health;
· Lambton Public Health;
· Ottawa Public Health;
· Porcupine Health Unit; and
· Public Health Sudbury and Districts.

Yellow-Protect:
· Algoma Public Health;
· Grey Bruce Health Unit;
· Northwestern Health Unit; and
· Peterborough Public Health.

Green-Prevent:
· Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit; and
· Timiskaming Health Unit.
After returning to the Framework, public health regions will stay in their level for at least two weeks at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health and workplace safety measures to determine if the region should stay where they are or be moved to a different level.

Visitor restrictions for long-term care homes will once again apply to those homes in the public health regions that are in the Orange-Restrict level or higher. In addition, long-term care homes must implement enhanced testing requirements.

Recognizing the risk posed by new variants to the province’s pandemic response, Ontario is introducing an “emergency brake” to allow the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, to immediately advise moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.

Local medical officers of health also have the ability to issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, to target specific transmission risks in the community.

“While the trends in public health indicators are heading in the right direction, we still have work to do,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Everyone is strongly advised to continue staying at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with.”

What does level Red mean?

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Spring Break moved to April 12 to 16

News 100 blueBy Staff

February 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The province has not cancelled the March Break – they did push t back to April 12 to 16.

Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education, issued the following statement regarding March break:

Stephen Lecce

Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education,

“In support of our collective efforts to keep schools safe, we are postponing March break until April 12-16, 2021.
This decision was made with the best advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, including consultations with many local Medical Officers of Health.

“Many students have been learning remotely since the start of 2021. It is critical we follow public health advice to protect schools and avoid a repeat of the concerning spike in youth-related cases over the winter break, when students and staff were out of schools for a prolonged period of time. We are taking this precaution based on advice from health experts, including the province’s Science Table and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to help protect against the emerging COVID-19 variants of concern.

“We appreciate the hard work of students and staff in the education sector and I want to be clear: March break is being postponed, not cancelled. To keep schools open, we must keep them free of COVID-19. The actions announced today serve to limit opportunities for congregation – while reaffirming the evidence that schools are safe for students. By continuing to follow public health advice, and by introducing additional safety measures and more testing, we are supporting our collective efforts to keep COVID-19 from entering our schools.

“With respect to travel, our government’s position on this is unchanged. Ontarians should refrain from travelling, particularly given the increase in new variants that pose a direct risk to our country. Please stay at home as much as possible and continue following the direction of public health officials so that we can keep schools open and protect our seniors, frontline health workers and all families.

“These decisions – based on the advice of medical experts – are never easy, but they are necessary to keep Ontario families safe.”

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How well has city hall engaged during the Pandemic - and what will they do differently when this is all over?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 11, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

Another survey –

This one about how we are going to engage during the balance of this pandemic and after it has come to an end.

You can access that document HERE

Engaging header graphic

The city wants your bright ideas

Michelle Dwyer, Manager of Engagement and Volunteers is one of the leads on the city’s efforts to communicate with a population that seldom goes beyond 30% turnout when it comes to municipal elections. .

With that kind of public response the hope of holding the city bureaucracy accountable,  is less than realistic.  The idea of a vigorous, vibrant community response on major issues is equivalent to one of those 25 watt light bulbs

They do their best with what they have.

We learned from a long time reader, a citizen who has been deeply involved at various levels of citizen engagement that the City is undertaking a “future of engagement” design initiative recognizing the impact of the CoVid pandemic. Many of you will already have been otherwise informed about this important opportunity.

Dwyer

Michelle Dwyer, facilitating a virtual Town Hall meeting. It went reasonably well – but there was something missing.

Dwyer asks people to feel free to share with your list of Burlington contacts, that we have a project that they may be interested in.  It is the Engaging During and After COVID-19 survey and poll https://www.getinvolvedburlington.ca/yourinput.  Below is a description of the engagement opportunity.  The survey closes on Feb 19th.

As per the City of Burlington’s Community Engagement Charter, engaging the community on issues that affect their lives and their city is a key component of democratic society. Public involvement encourages participation, actions and personal responsibility.

The goal of engagement is to lead to more informed and, therefore, better decision-making.

In an email Dwyer sent out to everyone she knows she highlighted what has been done in the past and what they hope to get done going forward.

COVID-19 has forced everyone to pivot, and engaging with the community is no exception. The City, in order to continue to get input from the community is/has:

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Michelle Dwyer, second from the left, engages a group at a public meeting where people could meet without having to wear a mask.

hosting virtual public and council meetings, workshops and town halls

telephone town halls

online surveys

used the engagement platform, Get Involved Burlington for surveys, polling, mapping, ideas and discussion forums

Looking to the future, the City would like to gather your ideas as to how we can continue to safely engage with the community once in-person opportunities are allowed. We’d also like to know the types of topics you’re interested in.

 

 

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Colour codes will be used to advise citizens what can and cannot be done in different parts of the province. An 'Emergency Brake' will be used to change the status

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 11th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The current lockdown and Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply to 28 public health regions, including Halton Region until Tuesday, February 16, 2021.

For Toronto, Peel and York regions, it is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply until Monday, February 22, 2021.

Changes to retail
The government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25% in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework.

Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.. Businesses are encouraged to review the COVID-19 Response Framework for sector-specific public health and workplace safety measures and public health advice.

The pressure on the province to re-open the economy has been intense. The Retail Council of Canada had its membership send thousands of letters to the Office of the Premier.

This government is a pro-business operation – it goes every grain of who they are to force small businesses to shut down.

Many are of the view that the number of new infections reported daily is just not low enough and the risk isn’t worth the benefit.

Should the infection numbers spike again – and the province is forced into yet another shut down, the response from the public will be severe.

Advocates for the front line workers want to see paid sick days for those people who have to work and put themselves and their families at risk when they report for work.

The evidence and the science seems to tell us that this virus can be brought to heel – but that we are going to have to hang tight and wait this out.

That doesn’t appear to be what the current government is prepared to do.

‘Emergency Brake’ System
Recognizing the risk posed by new variants to the province’s pandemic response, Ontario is introducing an “emergency brake” to allow for immediate action if a public health unit region experiences rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health care system risks becoming overwhelmed.

If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, may advise immediately moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.

Covid status chart- colour code

The province has created a colour code system to advise people what the status is in each of the Regional Health Units. For Halton that means we rely upon the decision made by the Public Health Unit. .

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The provincial government is easing us into a gradual re-opening of the economy - or is the Premier reacting to the tremendous pressure from the Retail Council

News 100 redBy Staff

February 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Ontario will begin to gradually reopen its economy on Wednesday but the government could use an “emergency brake” to move regions back into lockdown if cases spike.

Doug ford in mask

Premier Doug Ford announcing a transition out of the strict lock-down.

Premier Doug Ford said Monday that a state of emergency will be allowed to expire as scheduled on Tuesday and regions will transition back to the province’s colour-coded pandemic restrictions system over the next three weeks.

A stay-at-home order will remain in place for communities until they move over to the tiered system.

“We can’t return to normal, not yet,” Ford said. “But we can transition out of the province wide shut-down.”

As part of its reopening efforts, the province is changing the rules for the strictest category of the restrictions system to allow previously closed retailers to reopen with capacity limits of 25 per cent.

“To those business owners who are struggling, I want you to know that we have listened,” Ford said.“We’ve been working day and night to find every possible way to safely allow more businesses to reopen.”

Where will reopening start?

Three health units — Hastings Prince Edward; Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington; and Renfrew County — will move into the least-restrictive green category on Wednesday, which means restaurants and non-essential businesses can reopen.

The Timiskaming Health Unit, which was also expected to move to the green category Wednesday, will be held back for a week since a COVID-19 variant was discovered in the region over the weekend, the province said.

On Feb. 16, all remaining regions (this includes all of Halton and Hamilton) but not the three hot spots in the Greater Toronto Area are set to move to the restrictions framework. The category they are placed in will depend on their local case infection rates.

Toronto, Peel Region and York Region are expected to be the last to make the transition on Feb. 22, but the province said any sudden increase in cases could delay that plan.

Christine Elliott

Deputy Premier Christine Elliott saying this is not a re-opening – it is a transition with a hand brake at the ready.

The province will also have an “emergency brake” in place to allow the government to quickly move a region back into lockdown if it experiences a rapid increase in cases or if its health-system becomes overwhelmed.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the measure is meant to help deal with the risk posed by new variants of COVID-19.

“This is not a reopening, or a return to normal,” she said of the changes announced Monday. “It’s an acknowledgement that we are making steady progress.

“Without those stronger public health measures, (Ford) might be dooming us to the cycle of illness and lockdowns, again and again,” she said.

 

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2021 - is staying home the new going out?

eventspink 100x100By Frank van Dam

February 8th, 2021

BURLINGTON ON

 

For people who love to go out, 2021 is likely to be another dismal year, unfortunately. None of the recent news has been overly positive, and much less so for those of us who like to move around a lot.

Queen's Head patio

The picture inside isn’t any better. The hospitality sector has been hit very hard.

Unfortunately, with the way things are going, it looks like a lot more curtailing of movement and sacrifice is on the cards for us for the foreseeable future. In short, things are getting better for Burlington residents, but they are getting better very slowly. There is light at the end of the tunnel for all of us, but it’s still very far away.

Where we stand right now
Doug Ford’s lockdown orders are into their third month now and show no sign of letting up. In fact, in neighbouring Oakville, Halton Regional Police recently chased a crowd of socially-distanced families off a very popular local tobogganing hill. Technically, apart from emergencies, we are expected to not even leave our region. There is no indoor dining at all at this time, something most of us didn’t think we would miss as much as we do. Everything is closing earlier, which is leading to more stress and sometimes more traffic jams, which in turn add even more to the stress.

For people who like to travel, the news might be even worse. The federal government has imposed new and very strict quarantine measures for returning international travellers. In fact, they are so strict, they are facing legal challenges now. However, they are still very much in effect. The Trudeau administration has also issued an order banning cruise ships from docking at Canadian ports for the next year, that is until February of 2022! People either support or hate these measures, and it’s not to spark an argument, but the regulations are in place, and we will have to obey them.

Moderna bottle

First we had it – then we didn’t have it – and now we aren’t certain as to just when the vaccine will arrive.

Vaccines delayed… again
On the vaccine front, the news isn’t the best, either. Both Pfizer and Moderna (the only two companies the Canadian government has approved to sell vaccines as of now) are unable to deliver the required orders of the vaccines on time. This pushes the whole timetable backwards. Honestly, this news could be much worse, and we suppose that gratitude is still in order because the vaccination program is still advancing. It’s just that it is approximately 20 or 25% slower than it was supposed to be. But it’s hard to keep a positive frame of mind with so much uncertainty.

It also bears no small mention that there is a psychological price to pay for all this confinement, all this uncertainty, and all this upheaval in our personal and professional lives. We’ve all literally had to completely redefine and overhaul so many aspects of our lives, often things we thought would never change. And let’s be honest here, none of us really knows what a post-pandemic world is actually going to look like. New industries may spring up out of nowhere before this is over, and many other types of businesses may well wind up having being made permanently obsolete.

Winter walk Burlington

There are walk-able winter trails within minutes of the downtown core.

So, what are we to do?
We strongly recommend that readers get their daily fresh air and exercise by walking around Burlington, which is truly a beautiful little city and very walkable. Anybody who isn’t doing this every day is missing out on an important little piece of sanity. For people who have too much time on their hands (many of us), online entertainment is a great option. Play card games or free online casino games, stream some movies or pick up a gaming console. Realize that this time shall pass.

We will get through this mess by sticking together like we always do.

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Week long food drive - the need is still there

News 100 yellowBy Staff

February 6th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Shadi Salehian, Chair of One Burlington, and Dan Fraser, organizer for the upcoming Share the Love, are the driving force behind the city-wide Food Drive from Feb 6 to 13th.

Share 1

Share 2

Dan and his wife Merrilee Fraser have been spearheading this Food drive by contacting grocery stores and faith groups in Burlington: they are very surprised how welcoming and generous their fellow neighbours have been. A diverse, integrated Burlington is a stronger, kinder and more interesting community to live in.

One Burlington was founded by several faith groups after the Quebec mosque shooting in 2017, One Burlington celebrates the multi-faith, multicultural foundation of our community. They believe the contributions of our diverse faith and cultural groups continue to strengthen Burlington and make it one of the best places to reside. It’s an organization of over 40 faith and non-faith groups who hope to create opportunities for people of different backgrounds to come together in a peaceful and cordial manner; to learn about and experience aspects of each others’ faith and culture.

Share the love One Burlington

 

If you are in need or know of someone who could use their help PLEASE have them send an email to  info@burlingtonfoodbank.ca or call 905-637-2273 to make arrangements to have food dropped at their door or make arrangements to pick it up through the curb-side pickup option. If you live in Burlington, they are here to help. Don’t struggle – give them a call.

 

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Heavily weighted committee formed to discuss, share information and action around the Meridian Aldershot Quarry

News 100 greenBy Pepper Parr
February 5th, 2021
BURLINGTON, ON
 
We reported yesterday on a Motion the Mayor put forward to create a Public Health Bylaw that Council didn’t want to say all that much about at the time.
The Motion put on the Council Table came after a two hour CLOSED session during which it is believed the Meridian Aldershot Quarry and the air pollution issues were discussed.  Council had the benefit of advice from legal counsel that had a strong environmental background.
Later this week we will report on a Staff Direction response that set out for Council just what the issues at the Meridian Quarry are and what might be done to mitigate the concern residents that have been raised by the Tayandaga Environmental Coalition.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward has taken a significantly different approach to being Mayor than her predecessor Rick Goldring. Goldring took the position that the quarry had a license and there was nothing the city could do.
Three-quarry-sites-5-768x432

The West and Centre quarry cells are close to depletion. Meridian Brick wants to open up the East Cell creating air pollution problems for West Haven residents.

In  a report Mayor Meed Ward sent to council she sets out what she calls the “Aldershot Quarry Community Liaison Committee(AQCLC)” and its Terms of Reference.
She has created yet another committee that has the potential to make life very difficult (but respectful)  for the Meridian Brick people.
1. Mandate The Aldershot Quarry Community Liaison Committee (AQCLC) is group comprised of community stakeholders, city staff and Quarry representatives to provide a forum for discussion, information sharing and action around the Meridian Quarry activity in the Aldershot area of Burlington.
2. Purpose The AQCLC provides an opportunity for respectful dialogue between stakeholders to share questions, concerns, ideas, and new information related to the Quarry’s ongoing activities. The committee is also an opportunity to identify agreed-upon action items by any stakeholders. Note: Any advocacy activities for or against the Quarry’s activity rest solely with external organizations – this committee is not an advocacy group.
3. Member Selection Membership will be comprised of:
Mayor Meed Ward, City of Burlington
Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith, City of Burlington
Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan (based on quarry activity taking place in his ward)
Mike Greenlee, Customer Experience Manager-Business Development, City of Burlington
2 representatives from Meridian Quarry–to be recommended by Meridian Quarry
TEC stop quarry expansion Jul172 representatives from Tyandaga Environmental Coalition–to be recommended by Tyandaga Environmental Coalition
1 representative from BurlingtonGreen–to be recommended by BurlingtonGreen
1 representative from Conserving Our Rural Ecosystems (CORE) Burlington–to be recommended by CORE
1 representative from Protecting Escarpment Rural Land(PERL) – to be recommended by CORE
Burlington Green logo large1-2 citizen representatives from the Burlington community – to be appointed by a subcommittee of the Mayor, Ward Councillor and Customer Experience Manager based on a call for expressions of interest from the community.
Secretary from the Mayor/Councillor’s office (non-voting)
Ex Officio Tim Commisso, City Manager (optional attendance, not counted for quorum).

That is more than a dozen people for a committee that one Council member said might be around for 25 years.

Additional members can be considered and added with committee approval. Representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will be invited to each meeting.

4. Meeting Roles & Responsibilities Chair:

The meetings will be co-chaired by Mayor Meed Ward and Councillor Galbraith who will oversee setting the agenda and providing advance materials, calling the meetings to order, turning the meeting management to the facilitator, and closing the meeting with summary of next steps. Secretary: a member of the Mayor’s team or Councillor Galbraith’s team will be present to take minutes during the meeting and distribute said minutes to members in a timely manner afterward.

The secretary will also forward agendas and any supporting materials in advance of each meeting, and send calendar invites with virtual connection details. Until further notice, all meetings will be conducted on a virtual platform (Zoom or Teams).

Facilitator: An impartial and trained facilitator appointed by the City of Burlington (TBD but ex: Stephanie Venimore) will move the meeting through the agenda and ensure respectful dialogue occurs, with reasonably equal speaking time be provided to all participants who wish to contribute to the conversation.

5. Meeting Schedule The AQCLC will meet virtually or in person at minimum twice annually, with the option of additional meetings should they be mutually agreed upon by members. Meeting invitations will be sent out several months in advance and will be estimated to be approximately 90 minutes in duration unless the agenda warrants otherwise, and schedules can accommodate.

6. Meeting Protocol The agenda will be distributed by the Secretary one week prior to each meeting. Agenda items for discussion are due to the Mayor’s and Councillor’s office two weeks prior to each committee meeting (one week prior to agenda going out). Items for discussion that are raised after the agenda is circulated will be addressed under “Other Business” if time permits.

Meetings shall be attended by members listed above, with the option to invite additional guests as relevant and when agreed upon by all members.

There is no mention as to whether or not the meetings will be public.

Related news stories:

Could a Public Health Bylaw slow things down at the Adlershot Quarry

Mayor Meed Ward takes on Aldershot Quarry for Ward 1 residents

Former Mayor Goldring struggles to find a position that will satisfy West Haven residents. .

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