Ontarians aged 12 to 17 became eligible to book an accelerated second dose of COVID-19 vaccine Monday, as Premier Doug Ford said he will maintain a wage increase for personal support workers introduced during the pandemic.
Speaking to reporters, Ford said it is a "guarantee" that his government will keep the temporary $3 per hour wage bump for the workers who staff long-term care homes and similar facilities. He made the comments during a funding announcement in North Bay, but offered no further details.
The wage increase, which was implemented in October, is currently set to expire on August 23. It affects about 158,000 workers in home care, long-term care, public hospitals and social services.
In response to follow up questions to Ford's office from CBC News, a spokesperson declined to say whether the pay increase would simply be extended further or made permanent.
The spokesperson said that while Ford has said he is committed to the wage increase, the government is "still trying to figure out how to make it happen" and that there is "a lot of work to do," adding that it is "easier said than done."
Meanwhile, Ontario logged its fewest number of new cases in nearly 10 months this morning.
Today's case count of 170 is the lowest since September 10. It is also down from last Monday, when Ontario saw 210 further infections.
The additional cases come as labs completed almost 13,000 tests and Public Health Ontario recorded a provincewide positivity rate of 1.3 per cent.
The seven-day average of daily cases fell to 210.
Ontario: New daily cases of COVID-19
Moreover, the number of active cases in the province dropped below 2,000 for the first time since September 14.
The Ministry of Health stops counting a case as active after two weeks, so the total figure does not necessarily reflect how many people are experiencing symptoms from COVID-19. Nonetheless, Ontario's peak caseload during the third wave, the highest at any point in the pandemic, was nearly 43,000.
Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table estimates that the delta variant of concern now accounts for roughly 74 per cent of new cases.
As of yesterday, there were 228 people being treated for COVID-related illnesses in intensive care units. Of those patients, 157 needed a ventilator to breathe.
According to data from Critical Care Services Ontario, fewer than five COVID-19 patients are being admitted, on average, to intensive care each day.
The Ministry also reported the death of another person with the illness, pushing the official toll to 9,215.
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Pfizer only vaccine approved for ages 12-17
Appointments for second doses for 12 to 17 year olds opened up at 8 a.m. ET on the provincial portal, directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, and via participating pharmacies.
The young people who book will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech shot — the only COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for use in youth in Canada.
The decision to accelerate second doses for youth comes as the province continues to ramp up its vaccination campaign.
Ontario initially booked people in for a second shot four months after their initial dose.
50% of Toronto adults fully vaccinated
Provincial data shows more than 78 per cent of Ontario adults have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and roughly 46.3 per cent are fully-vaccinated.
That number is slightly higher in Toronto, where more than 50 per cent of adults have been fully vaccinated as of Monday.
The City of Toronto announced the milestone in a news release, adding that 77.5 per cent of adults have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The release says 1,404,614 Toronto residents are now fully vaccinated.
The city is urging those 12 to 17 to book a vaccination appointment "as soon as possible."
The city says more than 200,000 July vaccine appointments remain available in the provincial booking system for city-operated clinics, including 44,000 appointments for this week.