Ted McMeekin, MPP
There has been a lot of news this month so let’s get right to it.
• Health care in the region took a couple big steps forward.
First, St. Joseph’s Healthcare opened its new Margaret and Charles Juravinksi Centre for Integrated Healthcare, an 855,000-plus square-foot facility dedicated to re-imagining care for mental health and addiction.
Premier Kathleen Wynne and Health Minister Deb Matthews were both on hand to celebrate the new facility which houses 305 inpatient beds, mental health and medical outpatient clinics, academic and research centers and administrative support services. The centre is a first in Ontario, designed to break down barriers to access to care while also reducing stigmas surrounding mental health and addiction.
Hamilton also became one of only 13 communities in the province able to allow paramedics to apply their training and skills beyond the traditional role of providing emergency response.
Working in collaboration with other health-care professionals, community paramedics will provide services that help patients, like seniors with complex conditions, to live independently in their homes and communities — for example, by providing home visits to seniors who are known to call emergency services frequently and providing services such as ensuring they are taking their medications as prescribed.
• News of concern to pork producers.
You may have heard that a number of cases of a serious disease affecting pigs has been confirmed in Ontario. Let me stress right away that this disease affects only pigs. It poses no danger to humans and it is not a food safety issue. Pork is still safe to eat, and one of my personal favourites. But the disease has the potential to greatly impact our neighbours in the pork industry. Ontario’s chief veterinarian is working with pork producers, and our government has made a $2 million commitment to help Ontario Pork enhance its “biosecurity” measures, which are recognized as the best way to curtail the spread of the disease.
• More good news for students.
Ontario is helping about 5,000 more students with the cost of post-secondary education by expanding eligibility for the 30 per cent off Ontario Tuition Grant. This year, the grant will help eligible students save $1,730 on tuition in degree programs and $790 for students in diploma or certificate programs. The deadline to apply for the winter semester is March 1, 2014.
Students in their final year of a five-year co-op program and students attending private career colleges and other private post-secondary institutions that are eligible for financial aid through the (OSAP) will now be eligible for the 30 per cent off Ontario Tuition Grant.