What a difference a day makes.
Today the provincial government announced new public health measures to take effect on Sunday, which are detailed below.
Over the last 24 hours, I heard from many frustrated Londoners who were unable to find a free rapid test and unable to book a booster appointment. After neglecting to post London LCBO locations to their holiday testing webpage yesterday, the government oversaw a chaotic roll-out of rapid tests at six LCBO locations in the city. When Londoners went to the stores to pick up the tests, many were told the tests had not arrived yet. When they did finally arrive, there were so few that they were gone in just an hour or two.
I am calling on the government to make millions more rapid test kits available and to distribute them more equitably across the province, in community centres, libraries and other public locations. We should be distributing tests to families and staff in child care centres, and to education workers as well as students to take home over the holidays.
Please watch my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds for information about access to rapid tests in London, which will be posted as soon as I receive it.
I know that locally-owned businesses, their staff, and workers across the city are worried they can't afford another round of restrictions. My colleagues and I are pushing the government to put business supports in place now for those who will lose income, while also urging the government to get booster shots and rapid tests rolled out faster.
We are also calling for a massive hiring blitz in health care to deal with the chronic understaffing in our hospitals and health care facilities. Nurses and other frontline health care workers are burnt out and exhausted and we will be relying on them to help us through the Omicron wave. As I said in the London Free Press yesterday, this must include repealing Bill 124, the law that caps compensation for nurses and other public sector workers and denies them the respect and compensation they deserve.
Today's new measures include limits on informal social gatherings, which means that many families will be adjusting holiday plans. This is hard news, but it is critical that we do all we can to give booster shots time to take effect to help blunt the Omicron wave.
Finally, but most importantly, I want to thank all of the staff at mass vaccination clinics, pop-up clinics, and pharmacies who are working all out to get doses into arms. I know that the appointments are limited and people are worried about the long waits they are facing to get their booster shots, but we are profoundly grateful to all the frontline workers helping us stay safe!
My community office is available to help with provincial programs and services by phone at 519-657-3120 or by email at [email protected] In-person meetings can be arranged by appointment only.