March 23, 2021, Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, Peter Bethlenfalvy, and Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, Raymond Cho, announced an investment of $3.7 million to help seniors and people with disabilities get their COVID-19 vaccinations. Today’s announcement will be included in the 2021 Budget, which will be officially released tomorrow.
Following today’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Bethlenfalvy responded to questions from media.
Earlier, representatives of the Ontario government attended a virtual ground-breaking for the Prescott and Russell Residence long-term care home project in Hawkesbury. This project will modernize the facility’s 146 existing beds, and add 78 new beds. The government is supporting the project with a $70 million loan to the Corporation of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, through Infrastructure Ontario’s Loan Program.
Investment to Remove Barriers to Vaccination for Seniors and People with Disabilities
Today, Premier Ford, Minister Bethlenfalvy, and Minister Cho announced $3.7 million to help seniors and people with disabilities access COVID-19 vaccinations, especially where transportation is a barrier.
Ontario is working with transportation partners, local communities, and public health units to implement a service to remove transportation-related barriers to vaccine access. While further details on the program will be announced over the coming days, the service is expected to provide seniors and people with disabilities with safe and accessible transportation to vaccination sites, or alternatively, to bring vaccines to members of these populations. According to Minister Bethlenfalvy, the government hopes to roll out this program as soon as possible.
This announcement is part of the 2021 Ontario Budget, which, according to Premier Ford, will prioritize continued investments in the health of Ontarians, and well as supports for businesses and jobs. The 2021 Budget will be released tomorrow, March 24.
Questions from Media
Vaccine Rollout Update
Prior to responding to questions from media, Premier Ford provided an update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Ontario. The province has administered more than 1.6 million doses of the vaccine so far, with more than 200,000 appointments booked in the last 36 hours.
In response to questions about the 2021 Budget, Premier Ford called the document a “recovery budget,” noting that the Budget will be forward-looking, and focused on protecting the lives and livelihoods of Ontario residents.
Minister Bethlenfalvy added that “the best stimulus for reopening the economy is investing in vaccinations,” suggesting that the province’s ongoing vaccine rollout will be a focal point within the Budget. He noted that other Budget themes will include further investments in health, and support for businesses and jobs.
Public Health Restrictions re: Outdoor Activities
When asked whether the government would consider allowing outdoor haircuts or fitness classes for regions in the Grey-Lockdown level of the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework, Premier Ford noted that Cabinet would consider this tomorrow. The Premier also urged Ontarians to remain vigilant and follow public health protocols.