Horwath calls for urgent action as Ontarians struggle to access COVID boosters, tests

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Andrea Horwath

HAMILTON — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement ahead of Ontario’s COVID-19 update:

“The last thing Ontarians wanted was to be scrambling to find booster shots, PCR COVID tests and rapid tests during the holidays. People are anxious. They’re exhausted. And they’re frustrated.

We can’t afford to just sit on our hands, leaving nurses, public health staff and hospitals to cope with the fallout again. Mr. Ford marched us right into this Omicron wave by waiting too long to act on boosters and rapid tests ­— and he should be doing more right now.

If I were premier today, I’d be shoring up health care and public health staffing, giving workers and local businesses paid sick days and direct financial supports, and working around the clock to fix the testing and boostering system.”

Horwath’s urgent proposals to help blunt the Omicron Wave and get people through it include:

  1. Launch worker and local business supports to protect those that lose income, and provide no fewer than 14 paid sick days.
  2. Release tens of millions more rapid tests, and make them available in more places, as well as free by mail.
  3. Launch a massive blitz in health care to recruit, retain and return workers in the field — especially nurses. Repeal Ford’s low-wage law (Bill 124) as part of the package to finally show nurses some respect.
  4. Help with more funding and staff for public health units so they can ramp up booster shots.
  5. Stop large crowds from gathering in event, sports and concert venues.
  6. Launch a vaccine blitz for students with a robust and culturally-competent outreach campaign to contact parents to talk about the vaccine.
  7. Make vaccination mandatory for all health care and education workers.
  8. Prepare schools now to return in January safely with things like smaller class sizes, improved ventilation, and free N95 masks for all teachers and education workers.