Town hall planned for Manitobans with disabilities to discuss effect of COVID-19 restrictions – Winnipeg


Although many Manitobans have been excited about the recent loosening of some COVID-19 pandemic restrictions by the province, some people feel they’ve been left behind when it comes to reopening plans.

The Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) will be putting on a digital town hall Tuesday night, where people can raise their concerns about how they’ve been affected by the changes.

Carlos Sosa, a support worker and member of Inclusion Winnipeg and Inclusion Canada, will be co-moderating the town hall, and told 680 CJOB many of the issues facing Manitobans with disabilities go hand in hand with poverty and access to resources.

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Ottawa says coronavirus disability grant will be paid Friday after months-long delay

“The people I work with, many of whom live in poverty, have had limited options even before the pandemic,” he said.

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“(They’re) not able to access the internet to reserve books or to access the mental health supports, which are all online right now.

“Obviously, the issues of access to space is so critical. Libraries are critical. They provide programming, they allow people to meet, and with that being closed right now, your options are very limited to participate in the community.”


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Adaptive clothing for people with disabilities


Adaptive clothing for people with disabilities – Jan 2, 2021

Sosa said he understands that the pandemic has made it difficult — if not impossible — for those types of in-person programs to be active at the moment, but the situation is a good example of why more funding is needed for people with disabilities in their daily lives.

“This really echoes the need for increased social assistance rates so people with disabilities could afford computers and the internet so they could participate in events like this,” he said.

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“The gaps that exist in the first place are due to the systemic inequalities of poverty — and also added to it, the society. Physical barriers and also systemic biases, and I see that on a daily basis.

“Many people with disabilities are in poverty through no part of their own and in society we need to do a better job of including people in our communities.”

The town hall, co-moderated by Sosa and MLPD chair Whitney Hodgins, takes place online Tuesday at 7 p.m.


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Manitoba commits funding to help health care, seniors and people with disabilities in throne speech


Manitoba commits funding to help health care, seniors and people with disabilities in throne speech – Oct 7, 2020

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‘Hugs Over Masks’ protesters charged after Sunday demonstration at Hamilton city hall – Hamilton


Three people are facing charges for violating the province’s current COVID-19 regulations after a small anti-mask rally near Hamilton city hall on Sunday, police say.

A 52-year-old man is facing six charges in connection with the event, including obstructing a peace officer, trespassing, failing to wear a mask and failing to physically distance.

Two others are facing single charges: a 49-year-old man charged with trespassing, and a 32-year-old female ticketed for not wearing a face mask.

Individuals found in contravention of the Emergency Measures and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) and Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) face fines of up to $10,000 each.

Read more:
13 ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protestors charged after another demonstration at Hamilton city hall

Current lockdown orders are encouraging residents to stay at home, limit gatherings to just five people, maintain a two-metre distance (six feet) from others and wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

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Last month, 13 people were charged for congregating with a group larger than five at a similar rally on Jan 17.

Sixteen charges were laid at that “Hugs Over Masks” event, a regular occurrence in Hamilton on Sundays since July.

The group claims the protests are in support of “restoring our liberties” in Ontario and that current COVID-19 measures are “unnecessarily harming Ontarians’ health and rights.”

Police say the rallies have been getting smaller over the last few weeks. Only four people showed up on Feb. 7.

The organizers did not come to the event, according to investigators.


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Coronavirus: Ford says he’s being ‘polite’ by calling groups discouraging public health measures ‘yahoos’


Coronavirus: Ford says he’s being ‘polite’ by calling groups discouraging public health measures ‘yahoos’ – Sep 30, 2020





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People with disabilities request priority for COVID-19 vaccine in N.B.


The New Brunswick Coalition of Person with Disabilities is calling on the province to prioritize people with disabilities in its vaccine rollout schedule.

The group’s vice-president, Murielle Pitre, said people with disabilities often have other health conditions that leave them more vulnerable to the coronavirus which should be taking into consideration in the province’s vaccine plan.

“I think that we should figure somewhere on the schedule and the reality is that we are just not,” said Pitre.

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She said the coalition supports the decision to have health-care and senior-care workers and seniors at the top of the list to receive the vaccine. But she says people with disabilities should be included among the vulnerable population.

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“Many people with disabilities have lung issues. For example, I have scoliosis and my lungs don’t function at 100 per cent.”

Mike Parker of Moncton was born with cerebral palsy and also suffers from a heart and lung condition, which he said leave him more vulnerable to COVID-19.

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“In my case, it is a heart and lung disorder, which scares the heck out of me and that is why I don’t go out that much,” he said.

He said that as a person with a disability, he feels overlooked in the province’s vaccine rollout plans.

“Us the disabled, we are not even mentioned, so it is upsetting,” he said.


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COVID-19 long haulers denied disability insurance claims


COVID-19 long haulers denied disability insurance claims

People with disabilities are also not specifically listed in Nova Scotia’s vaccine rollout plans.

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Pitre said many people with disabilities have been housebound for months, which is impacting their mental health.

“Many people have been isolating since last year, I mean, since the beginning of the pandemic because they are afraid to go out,” she said.

Pitre said has spoken to her local MLA several times on the matter but hasn’t heard back yet.

“We are waiting on a response,” she said.

Read more:
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On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, Shawn Berry, said in an email to Global News that long-term care workers and residents and health-care workers are the priority and the province “will be providing more details in the coming weeks about the next groups in its vaccination roll out plans.”

Meanwhile, Parker said his shot cannot come soon enough.

“I am afraid that if I get (COVID-19) chances are I can’t say if I would survive or not. It is 50/50 with me,” he said.

 





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Coronavirus: Ontario patients to be ranked for life-saving care should ICUs become full


Hospitals in Ontario have received a much-anticipated document that lays out the criteria to be used if intensive care units fill up and medical resources are scarce.

According to the document, titled “Adult Critical Care Clinical Emergency Standard of Care for Major Surge” and prepared by the province’s critical care COVID-19 command centre – patients will be scored by doctors on a “short-term mortality risk assessment.”

“Aim to prioritize those patients who are most likely to survive their critical illness,” the document notes.

“Patients who have a high likelihood of dying within twelve months from the onset of their episode of critical illness (based on an evaluation of their clinical presentation at the point of triage) would have a lower priority for critical care resources,” the document reads.

It lists three levels of critical care triage:

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“Level 1 triage deprioritizes critical care resources for patients with a predicted mortality greater than 80 per cent,” the document notes.

“Level 2 triage deprioritizes critical care resources for patients with a predicted mortality (greater than) 50 per cent.”

At Level 3 triage, patients with predicted mortality of 30 per cent – or a 70 per cent chance of surviving beyond a year – will not receive critical care. At this stage, patients who have suffered a cardiac arrest will be deprioritized for critical care, as their predicted mortality is greater than 30 per cent.

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At this level, clinicians may abandon the short-term mortality predictions in favour of randomization, which the document notes is to be used “as a last resort” and should be conducted by an administrator, not by bedside clinicians.

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The protocol, dated Jan. 13, says there are three steps on the road to critical care triage:

Step 1 says hospitals should build surge capacity.

In Step 2 , “if demand still exceeds capacity, the hospital will adjust the type of care being provided to focus on key critical care interventions,” which include basic modes of ventilation.

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Step 3 is the initiation of critical care triage. Once that process kicks in, “all requests for ICU admission are managed by an administrator on call who supports the bedside clinicians.”

At the moment, there are 416 patients with COVID-19 in ICUs in Ontario, which has a total of 1,800 total ICU beds.

Read more:
Ontario hospitals told to prepare for out-of-region patients amid rising coronavirus cases

Modelling released by the province last week show that about 700 ICU beds will be used by COVID-19 patients by the first week February.

Dr. Andrew Baker, the head of the critical care COVID-19 command centre and director of critical care at St. Michael’s Hospital, said the triage protocol contains information and tools that are a standard way for physicians to conduct an assessment for a patient upon arrival at an emergency department.

“They were shared with the critical care community as background only and to ensure a common approach across the sector, so physicians and other health professional staff can learn how to quickly operationalize an emergency standard of care for admission to critical care, if ever needed,” he said.

Baker said an emergency standard of care is not in place, but will be enacted if needed.

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He said there is an “extensive, sophisticated, provincewide effort” to transfer patients out of hospitals that are at capacity.

Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, said the hospital is running at 105 per cent capacity, but has cancelled surgeries in order to keep some spots open in the ICU.

“I sincerely hope we never need to use this because it is terrible for patients, terrible for their families, causes moral distress for health-care workers, and it’s something that we should do everything possible to avoid having to implement,” Warner said.

David Lepofsky, the chairman of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, said the triage guidelines are discriminatory.

He pointed to the clinical frailty scale, a prognostic tool doctors use in cases of progressive illnesses to assess a patient’s general deterioration over time.

“This is disability-based discrimination and that’s against the law in the Constitution,” Lepofsky said.





© 2021 The Canadian Press





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13 ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protestors charged after another demonstration at Hamilton city hall – Hamilton


More anti-mask protestors were charged with violating the Reopening Ontario Act on Sunday after yet another gathering at Hamilton city hall.

Hamilton police say 16 tickets were issued to 13 people, despite warnings from officers to organizers that the event would be a violation of rules under the act and that individuals in contravention could face fines of up to $10,000 each.

Thirteen were charged for congregating with a group larger than five people, and three other charges were issued to some who obstructed police from exercising their authority.

The “Hugs Over Masks” events have been a regular occurrence in Hamilton on Sundays, first catching the attention of the city’s law enforcement last July when about a hundred people rallied at Gore Park.

Read more:
Hamilton police charge organizers of 2 Hugs over Masks events

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The group claims the protests are in support of “restoring our liberties” in Ontario. The protestors claim that current COVID-19 measures are “unnecessarily harming Ontarians’ health and rights.”

Between 15 and 20 people attended the event near Bay Street South and Main Street West this past Sunday compared to a rally a week ago the drew approximately 60, says police.

Another gathering on Jan. 3 drew about 40 people.

On Monday, acting police chief Frank Bergan told the city’s police board that the service has exhausted “all it’s good nature” when it comes to the weekly demonstrations.

“This wasn’t just simply an activity that attracted just Hamilton people, but people as far away as Stratford.”




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Medical staff need guidance on life or death triage decision as Ontario ICUs fill up: experts


TORONTO — As intensive care units in Ontario hospitals continue to fill up with COVID-19 patients, the province has yet to finalize a plan on who should get life-saving care when health resources are limited.

The latest COVID-19 projections show the province’s ICUs could reach “gridlock” by mid-to-late February.

At that point, health-care workers will have to decide who gets an ICU bed and who doesn’t – a practice known as critical care triage. It’s a heart-wrenching decision doctors in a number of countries with hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients have had to make.

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“It’s really concerning to not know what the plan is and transparency around that would go a long way towards everyone’s ability to prepare and everyone’s mental well-being,” said Dr. Samantha Hill, the president of the Ontario Medical Association, which represents more than 40,000 physicians.

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The province has stumbled in its efforts to get the critical care triage ethical framework out to doctors.

Ontario Health sent out a critical care triage protocol on March 28, 2020, but retracted it several months later after an outcry from human rights organizations.

“The first protocol was horrifically discriminatory against patients with disabilities,” said David Lepofsky, the chairman of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance.

One problem with that proposal was the use of a “clinical frailty scale,” or CFS, Lepofsky said.


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Kingston prepares for out-of-region COVID-19 patients


Kingston prepares for out-of-region COVID-19 patients

The scale is also part of a proposed framework sent to the government by the Bioethics Table, which advises the province on the health system’s response to COVID-19.

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The document – titled “Critical Care Triage during Major Surge in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Proposed Framework for Ontario” – lays out how a patient would qualify or be excluded from critical care and was sent to the province in September.

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The clinical frailty scale is used as a prognostic tool for progressive illnesses that assesses a patient’s general deterioration over time, the Bioethics Table notes in the document, which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

However, the proposal acknowledges that the CFS “would seem to conflate disability with frailty and hence would contribute to over-triaging of persons with disabilities.”

It further notes that the CFS “illustrates how clinical evidence and experience are not sufficient alone to establish the justifiable use of a clinical tool and calls attention to the embedding of social norms within clinical tools and in their application in practice.”

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has also expressed concern about the recommendation that patients be evaluated for their survival potential over the next 12 months.

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Under the Bioethics Table’s proposed protocol, patients would be evaluated and assigned into colour-coded categories based on the predicted percentage of short-term mortality risk over the next year.

There would then be three levels of triage depending on demand and availability of beds.

In Level 1 triage, patients who have greater than 20 per cent chance of surviving 12 months should be prioritized. In Level 2, patients with greater than 50 per cent chance of survival in a year should be prioritized and, in Level 3, patients who have a greater than 70 per cent chance of survival should be prioritized.

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Ena Chadha, the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, said the 12-month time period is troubling.

“A doctor can make a decision in the short term: is this person going to survive next week, the next two weeks,” she said.

“But when you start looking at one year…you are going to be infused with discriminatory ideas about the person’s disability and age. Our stakeholders would like to see a much shorter time frame.”

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Both Lepofsky and Chadha, along with the Bioethics Table, said there must also be due process — an appeal process — so that life or death decisions aren’t made by one person.

Another major concern for both Lepofsky and Chadha is the province’s lack of transparency on such an important issue.

“This process is very opaque as to who are the decision-makers, what is the process and where are we at right now?” Chadha said.

“This is distressing for our community stakeholders. They are very worried that their dignity and life is at stake and that when it comes to making decisions about a very horrible death, the health-care decision-makers may not understand the value of their life.”

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The Ministry of Health said the Bioethics Table will continue to talk to various stakeholders.

“These conversations are ongoing to ensure that the proposed framework reflects the best available evidence and advice,” said spokesman David Jensen, noting that nothing has been approved by the ministry.





© 2021 The Canadian Press





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Ontario attempts to clarify what is essential under COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home order


On Tuesday, the province announced that Ontario would enter into a state of emergency on Thursday while also issuing a stay-at-home order to residents.

The order, which has come as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday and will last at least 28 days.

Read more:
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“Under this order, everyone must stay home and only go out for essential trips to pick up groceries, or go to medical appointments,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday, adding that walking pets or exercising is still permitted.

The announcement left many people looking for clarification as to what they were and weren’t still permitted to do over the next month, so a government spokesperson provided some clarification on Wednesday.

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Are stay-at-home orders more productive than curfews? Doctor answers COVID-19 questions


Are stay-at-home orders more productive than curfews? Doctor answers COVID-19 questions

“Ontario is a big, diverse province,” Travis Kann explained in an email while noting that residents in the city of Toronto would have easier access to online shopping than those in more remote areas.

“As such, and as we have from the very outset of this pandemic, we will continue to rely on the best judgment of Ontarians as they stay at home as much as possible and only leave their homes for essential purposes.”

The province says this is, in part, why they are still allowing curbside pickup despite issuing the stay-at-home order.

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“We’ve learned a lot over the past year responding to this pandemic, including the fact that what may be essential to someone in Timmins and how they buy that item may not be essential to someone in downtown Toronto, who can easily buy items online for delivery,” it says.

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Having the government of Ontario determine what retailers may consider as essential “risks cutting off many Ontarians who don’t live in Toronto or an urban centre from access to necessary goods,” the province says.

The government says it also cannot decide what is an essential item for every person across Ontario although it tried to clarify what would be considered an essential trip.


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How to volunteer from home during the COVID-19 pandemic


How to volunteer from home during the COVID-19 pandemic

“We have provided broad categories that people should consider before leaving their home: food, health-care services, including medication, exercise or work, where someone’s job cannot be done at home,” it said.

Ontario also won’t say what jobs are essential but did say that if you can work from home, work from home.

“The Government of Ontario cannot review tens of millions of job descriptions to determine who can work from home,” the update read. “As such, we are relying on the best judgment and common sense of employers to determine who can do so.

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“If an employee believes they should be working from home, they can contact the Ministry of Labour to file a health and safety complaint.”

The province says it is not placing limits on how often or for how long people can leave their homes for essential trips, but is asking residents to try to limit the number of stores they visit and for how long.

The new restrictions also allow people to gather in groups of five outdoors, which the government says it is allowing so that people who live on their own can still have company or support for mental and physical wellbeing.

“Anyone gathering outside is expected to adhere to physical distancing measures and are now strongly urged to wear a mask,” the province said.

Single residents are also still permitted to join up with another household under the new restrictions for similar reasons.

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One of the vaguest parts of the announcement was whether playgrounds or basketball courts are still in play for residents.

The government says that exercise is considered essential although how Ontarians choose to do so is unique to each household.

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“Some may wish to go for a walk around the block, while others may wish to go to a local basketball court with their household to shoot some hoops,” the province said.

“We recommend that Ontarians consult their local public health unit or municipality to understand what recreational amenities are open in their community.”


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How Ontario’s COVID-19 state of emergency impacts vulnerable populations


How Ontario’s COVID-19 state of emergency impacts vulnerable populations

Finally, many have questioned whether residents will be allowed to travel to cottages or secondary residences.

“Right now, we are asking people to stay home and only leave their home for essential purposes, which could include emergency maintenance of a secondary residence,” it says.

“In the spirit of the stay-at-home order, at this time we are not recommending intra-provincial travel.”




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Ontario dental association calls for early access to COVID-19 vaccine for dentists, staff


The Ontario Dental Association says it wants the provincial government to include dentists and dental staff in the first rounds of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

“Dentists have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic by keeping people with dental problems out of emergency rooms,” the ODA said.

The dental group said due to the nature of their work, dentists are at direct risk of contracting the coronavirus and should be on the priority list of health-care professionals to be vaccinated early.

The association said it sent a letter to the province’s health minister on Dec. 4, 2020 requesting they be part of early vaccinations.

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“The ODA understands the immense stress the province is under as they navigate through this pandemic but dentists are a key part of the healthcare system and provide specialty care that improves the health and well-being of millions of Ontarians every year,” said ODA president Dr. Lesli Hapak. “We need early access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

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The Ontario government has released its COVID-19 vaccination program, which includes vaccinating Ontarians in three phases.

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Phase 1 includes front-line health-care workers, First Nations and the most vulnerable populations, such as those in long-term care. The province is expecting to have administered roughly two million doses by the end of March.

Phase 2 is an extension of the first phase when more vaccine doses become available. Phase 3 is when every Ontarian who wants to be immunized can receive a vaccine.






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Ontario to lose out on $2 billion in new year’s celebrations, says survey


The agency that represents a number of the province’s businesses who rely on tourism says Ontarians will spend less than half of what they normally spend on new year’s celebrations as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent survey from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) is predicting about $2 billion less in revenues for the holiday.

“In normal times many people travel within the province, attend community events or go to bars and restaurants to ring in the New Year – this year most of that revenue for tourism, hospitality and restaurant businesses will be lost,” said Beth Potter, president and CEO of the TIAO.

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The survey, conducted during the second week of December before the announcement of a provincial lockdown, suggests 70 per cent of Ontarians didn’t bother to make plans due to the potential spread of COVID-19.

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It’s expected that half of the province will remain at home and simply watch TV on New Year’s Eve.

The recent survey polled over 1,000 Ontario residents over the age of 18.

In recent years, the TIAO says about $350 is spent by the average Ontarian on New Year’s Eve. The survey says that should be about an average of $170 this year.

“As we come to the end of a long and difficult year for our industry, these latest numbers underscore the imperative of supporting local businesses,” said Potter.

Ontario’s tourism industry welcomed an estimated 141 million visitors in 2019 and generated over $36 billion in pre-COVID-19 revenue. Five billion of that was tax revenue, according to the TIAO.

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Potter says the agency represents close to 200,000 Ontario businesses and 400,000 employees. Twenty-three percent of that workforce are Ontario youth between the ages of 15 and 24-years-old.

Read more:
Coronavirus — More Hamilton businesses charged for violating COVID-19 regulations

“Tourism and hospitality is not only the number one employer in that age group but we also employ a large majority of women and new Canadians,” Potter said.

“We have an awful lot of displaced workers right now and we are doing our best to support them through something called the tourism-hospitality emergency response.”

Potter says the industry is likely to continue to struggle in 2021 as tourism from abroad will slowly resume over the next year due to continued fear of the virus.

She says locals will have to contribute to a recovery and suggests it can begin with a contribution on Thursday night.

“Order in a great meal from a local restaurant and pair it with some great Ontario beverage of your choice.”





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Woodstock woman charged under Reopening Ontario Act


Woodstock police report that a 48-year-old Woodstock woman has been charged under the Reopening Ontario Act for attending a church service downtown Woodstock on Sunday.

Police say the gathering exceeded the allowed limits for religious gatherings, which under the current lockdown restriction cannot exceed 10 people both indoors and outdoors.

All of Ontario moved into lockdown on Saturday to try and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Police say that well over 10 people were inside the place of worship on Sunday, with many not physically distancing or wearing masks.

Read more:
More than 100 unmasked people gather at Wheatley, Ont., church for 2nd day in a row

Other Ontarians are facing similar charges from over the weekend.

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Chatham-Kent police say they charged a 50-year-old Merlin, Ont., man following a church service in Wheatley, Ont., on Sunday.

Police also charged a 37-year-old man from Malahide, Ont., following a church service in Aylmer, Ont. He is also facing charges of obstructing a peace officer and intimidation of an officer.





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