All Ontarians 18 and up will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine starting today at 8am. The province says it is expanding eligibility ahead of schedule after a shipment of vaccines that was scheduled to arrive next week came early. It says those who are turning 18 this year will also be able to book a shot — but only the Pfizer-BioNTech one, since no others have been authorized for use on teens in Canada.

 Calls For The Ford Government To Go Back To The Hotspot Strategy:

The provincial government is defending a move to stop allocating half of its COVID-19 vaccine supply to virus hot spots as it expands eligibility to all adults in Ontario starting today. Health Minister Christine Elliott says a shipment of vaccines arriving early has allowed the province to expand its immunization effort ahead of schedule. She adds the province has moved back to distribution on a per-capita basis because COVID-19 hot spots will have enough vaccine supply to meet demand. But opposition politicians are criticizing the end of hot spot allocation — saying more focus on hard-hit communities is needed to bring down infections. Residents of non hot-spot areas have been complaining that diverting half of vaccines away from their area has lead to lengthy delays in getting a vaccine.

Andrea Horwath also addressed the ongoing issue of outdoor activities:

Province Looking at How to Offer Camp Again:

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province is looking into how overnight camps may reopen this summer. The Canadian Camping Association says it expects day camps will be allowed to operate in some capacity as COVID-19 restrictions are expected to ease across Canada. Quebec announced earlier this month that overnight camps will be allowed to operate in the province this summer. Overnight camps were closed in every province except for New Brunswick last summer due to the pandemic.

Ontario Adding New Resources for Virtual Learning Environments:

Ontario is contributing funds to hundreds of projects supporting virtual learning at post-secondary institutions. They include new resources, simulations, courses and programs. Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano announced the initiative yesterday. It’s part of the province’s $70-million-dollar Virtual Learning Strategy.

Trudeau Deflects on Fortin:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in a virtual announcement about his government’s Canada Greener Homes Grant yesterday, then left it to his cabinet ministers to field questions about Major-General Dany Fortin. Fortin was abruptly removed from his post as head of the vaccine rollout program Friday evening, due to what a news release described as a military investigation. A source tells The Canadian Press the investigation relates to an allegation of sexual misconduct. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says she is confident that Canadians will not feel any impact of Fortin’s departure. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is blasting the government for its lack of transparency.

Vaccination Update:

The provinces and territories are pressing on with their COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, with the collective aim of snuffing out the virus and its variants. Nearly 390,000 shots were put into arms yesterday for a total of over 18.8-million jabs given so far. About 4.5-million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna are arriving in Canada this week as a new military veteran takes over the country’s vaccine distribution and rollout. Brigadier-General Krista Brodie steps up from her assistant role to replace Major-General Dany Fortin, who was abruptly pulled from the post Friday as he is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct in 1989. Brodie had been working with Fortin on dose distribution since November.

Biden Offering Up US Vaccines:

American president Joe Biden says the U-S will share an additional 20-million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with the world in the coming six weeks. The move comes as domestic demand for shots drops and global disparities in distribution have grown more evident. The extra shots will come from existing US production of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine stocks. The administration previously committed to share 60-million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of June.

Porter Pushes Back Their Start Date Again:

Porter Airlines had planned to resume its regional flights on June 21st, but is pushing back the date to July 20th. Porter suspended operations on March 21st of last year due to the pandemic. CEO Michael Deluce is hopeful that travel restrictions and public health measures will ease as vaccination rates increase.

Manitoba Facing ICU Bed Crunch:

Manitoba health officials say surgeries are being delayed and staff are being redeployed from other areas as demand for intensive care beds continues to climb. The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, says younger people are being hospitalized during the third wave, as the province reports 430 new cases yesterday. Quebec announced yesterday it is sending musicians to play at some vaccine centres as an incentive to get people to take the shot.

Ontario Numbers:

There were 2,170 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday and four more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 566 new cases in Toronto, 556 in Peel Region, and 215 in York Region. She also said there were 120 new cases in Durham Region and 101 in Hamilton. Ontario also reported that over 112,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Sunday’s daily update, for a total of 7.1 million.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

Public Health of Waterloo Region announced 64 new cases yesterday and again, no new deaths. Hospitalizations increased by five to 36. Active cases dropped to exactly 500.

There were 87 new cases over the weekend in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, along with 1 new death. Public Health says 18 of the new cases were in Wellington, 31 in Dufferin, and 36 in Guelph. Hospitalizations were up by two to 29, with 11 of those in the ICU.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: Government of Ontario

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