By Goldie Ghamari, MPP for Carleton
When the Ontario Legislature resumed on Monday, Sept. 25, I was honoured to make a Member’s Statement. I decided to recognize two women who have become crusaders in the ongoing local battle to get school buses back on the road in many parts of the Carleton riding.
The following is my Member’s Statement from Monday, September 25, 2023:
I would like to acknowledge the tireless and relentless work of two moms who live in rural Carleton.
Cheri Nixon of Osgoode and Jennifer Bugden of Munster are among the many moms in rural Ottawa who has had the lives of their family – and their community – turned upside down because the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority was unable to secure a school bus contract for thousands of students living in suburban and rural West Ottawa.
Now, many families are facing difficult circumstances. They have a commute into the city of at least an hour for work, but they are left with no way to get their children to school.
I am proud of Cheri Nixon and Jennifer Bugden for wanting to do something about the problem. They organized Facebook groups, started petitions, and spoke with class, dignity and passion at my Community Barbecue on Saturday, September 9th.
They have stepped up and become valuable leaders in the community, joining me in the fight to get this situation resolved. They met with Minister Lecce in a Zoom call to make him fully aware of what families in rural Ottawa are facing.
In addition, Jennifer Bugden has been engaging with the community to re-open Munster Elementary School, which was shut down by the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board in 2015. The school’s closure put a village full of children on school buses while a beautiful and well-maintained building has sat empty, with the exception of some weekly community events.
Jennifer and I have had opened discussions with other school boards about buying the building and re-opening the school, as well as with the OCDSB regarding what it would take to re-open this school.
Every riding, and every community, needs people like Cheri Nixon and Jennifer Bugden. The heart and soul they have transcends the villages they live in. What they have both accomplished in a short time sets an example of dedication, determination and selflessness.
Right now, they are inspiring everyone in their community. And as their MPP, they are also inspiring me.
Connecting Ontarians to The Tools They Need to Stay Healthy This Respiratory Illness Season
Ontario is reminding everyone to stay safe this respiratory illness season and prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital by staying up to date on vaccinations. Ontarians are encouraged to get their flu and COVID-19 shots as soon as they are available to them.
Starting this month, flu shots will be available for the most vulnerable high-risk populations, including hospitalized individuals, hospital staff and residents and staff in long-term care homes, followed by those in retirement homes and other congregate settings. Free flu shots for the general public aged six months and older will be available starting October 30th at doctor and nurse practitioner offices, some public health units and participating pharmacies. To learn more about the flu shot, visit Ontario.ca/flu.
It is safe and convenient to receive both the COVID-19 and flu shots at the same time, reducing the need for multiple visits to a doctor, nurse practitioner or local pharmacy. The province was expecting to receive doses of Moderna’s updated SPIKEVAX XBB COVID-19 vaccine in late September, which better protects against the new Omicron XBB variant. This vaccine is Health Canada approved for people aged six months of age and older, however initial doses will be prioritized for higher risk populations and more details will be provided once doses are distributed to Ontario. The current COVID-19 vaccines will also continue to be available for Ontarians, as long as it has been a recommended six months since their previous dose.
Ontario is also rolling out its first publicly funded vaccination program of the first Health Canada approved RSV vaccine, Arexvy for those 60 years and older living in long-term care homes, Elder Care Lodges, and for some retirement home residents. New changes will soon allow pharmacists to administer the vaccine, which will allow homes to hire pharmacists to administer the vaccine on site and help vulnerable populations receive their dose more conveniently without leaving their home.
Ontario continues to provide convenient access to antivirals through physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists, with virtual care options available through Health 811. The Ontario government is also working on changes that will allow pharmacists to prescribe the flu antiviral, Tamiflu, making it faster and easier for people to get timely care. Individuals can also continue to access rapid antigen tests through their local Public Health Units. As of September, health care providers across the province can order rapid antigen tests to share with patients free of charge. Using the PCR testing locator, eligible individuals can also access COVID-19 molecular (PCR) testing at pharmacies and assessment centres.
With Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care and all of these additional initiatives, the government is providing Ontarians with the tools they need to stay safe and healthy this fall and winter, and avoid any unnecessary visits to the hospital. The ministry will continue to monitor trends closely and adjust as necessary.
- Vaccination to protect against flu and COVID-19 continues to be the best way for people to remain protected against severe outcomes, including hospitalization.
- Ontario will also offer respiratory virus testing to eligible, higher risk individuals, including those in long-term care homes and retirement homes.
- To ensure workforce capacity in the event of future emergencies, as of August 31, 2023, all 26 health regulatory colleges are required to have an emergency registration process that can be used to facilitate faster registration of health care workers during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Once available, you can book a COVID-19 vaccine via our website or call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007 toll free) from Monday to Friday (excluding holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.
- For information on accessing a flu shot, please contact your health care provider, participating pharmacy or local public health unit.
- Visit Health811 online or call 811 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007 toll free) for health advice and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ontario Strengthening Cultural and Economic Prosperity in Francophone Communities
The Ontario government announced the recipients of the 2023-2024 Francophone Community Grants Program (FCGP). Through this $2-million program, Ontario supports community organizations and small businesses that contribute to the vitality and well-being of the province’s Francophone communities.
Francophone businesses and community organizations are the driving force behind initiatives that fuel the growth, prosperity and well-being of our thriving Francophone community. Ontario is a proud partner of its Francophone community. So, it’s fitting that, on Franco-Ontarian Day, we are announcing our investment of $2 million in the Francophone Community Grants Program. Our government’s commitment to the projects of 51 francophone businesses and social partners demonstrates our strong resolve to build Ontario with them and for them.
In 2021, the province doubled its funding for the Francophone Community Grants Program, one of the flagship programs under Ontario’s Francophone Economic Development Strategy that supports non-profit and for-profit organizations delivering products and services to Francophones.
- Under the 2023-2024 Francophone Community Grants Program, 45 projects will receive funding from the Community and Culture stream, and six will receive funding from the Economic Development stream.
- Forty percent of the projects selected are located in eastern Ontario, 28 percent in central Ontario, 18 percent in western Ontario and 14 percent in northern Ontario.
- Since 2017, 283 non-profit organizations and small businesses representing a diversity of sectors, such as health and social services, have benefited from the program.
- The 2024-2025 Francophone Community Grants Program application deadline will be announced in early 2024.
My office is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you require assistance on any matter, please contact me at any time. My staff and I will be happy to assist. Even if it’s not a provincial issue, I’ll make sure to connect you with the proper office.
Your voice at Queen’s Park