input requested for proposed shoreline policy changes
The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) Board of Directors invites the public to provide written comments on some proposed shoreline policy changes related to shore protection structures in regulated dynamic beach areas. The proposed policy changes do not apply to all shoreline areas but only beaches classified as dynamic.
The loss and buildup of sand is a natural part of the shoreline process in a dynamic beach area but recent high lake levels have made the loss of sand more pronounced. In areas where some landowners have previously existing shore protection structures, some neighboring landowners have also requested permits. The proposed policy changes are, in part, a response to this, to make it possible to consider approval of shore protection structures for those property owners in those areas.
“Policies in bluff areas do not change and most policies in dynamic beach areas stay exactly the same,” said ABCA Water and Planning Manager, Geoffrey Cade. “The only changes are to policies related to new shore protection structures, and maintenance or replacement of old ones, in regulated dynamic beach areas.”
The ABCA Board of Directors has approved release of the proposed policies to the public for written comments prior to consideration for approval. ABCA is receiving public written comments on the proposed changes until Friday, March 5. To review the proposed policy changes, and to provide written comments, visit abca.ca and this web page link: www.abca.ca/planning/shoreline-2021/
COVID-19 Outbreak declared over at Exeter Villa
Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) has declared the COVID-19 outbreak at Exeter Villa Retirement Living and Long-Term Care Home over as of Jan. 24. The facility experienced a total of 50 confirmed cases. On the long-term care side, there were 36 total confirmed cases in residents and 11 confirmed cases in staff. On the retirement home side, there was one confirmed case in a resident and two cases among staff. These total numbers include any outside staff who tested positive upon prevalence testing.
Sadly, three beloved residents, who had also tested positive for COVID-19, passed away during the time of the outbreak.
“These individuals were cherished longstanding residents of Exeter Villa Long-Term Care. We are deeply saddened by their passing and continue to offer our sympathy to their loved ones,” said Exeter Villa Administrator, Erika King.
Overall, most residents experienced mild illness and their care was continued at Exeter Villa. The home management Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team was in daily contact with HPPH to support case and contact management and infection control.
Medical Officer of Health for HPPH, Dr. Miriam Klassen, said, “We are very pleased to declare this outbreak over and want to commend the staff for their hard work and dedication during this challenging time.”
Exeter Villa also worked closely with many community partners who provided support and assistance, including the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, the South Huron Hospital Association, the South West Local Health Integration Network, Huron County Paramedic Services, and Ontario Health.
“This outbreak underlines how serious the COVID-19 infection can be for our vulnerable populations, especially our residents in long-term care and in those with underlying health conditions,” said King. “It was heartwarming to see the overwhelmingly positive response from the community and residents’ families; we are grateful for the love they have shown to us.
“Now that the outbreak has been declared over, we will be able to concentrate on our recovery plan and will be focusing on what more can be done in the home to enhance the lives of our residents given the ongoing safety restrictions in the community.”
King points out that, although the vaccine being given to the residents and staff of the home gives them a great advantage, this will not be taken for granted.
“Our most vulnerable deserve nothing less than our best, and with that, we will be continuing to uphold our stringent IPAC measures, as per HPPH, as well as our active monitoring of staff through weekly staff prevalence testing while we implement our onward and upward recovery plan, of which Stacey Palen’s Go Fund Me efforts will play a huge part,” King concluded.
inpatient surgery unit reopens at Stratford General Hospital
An outbreak of COVID-19 at the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) - Stratford General Hospital has been declared over by Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH). The outbreak had been declared on the Inpatient Surgery Unit on Jan. 15 after three staff tested positive.
“Upon declaring the outbreak, immediate precautions were implemented, including enhanced cleaning and prevalence testing in 100 staff and physicians,” said President and CEO of HPHA, Andrew Williams.
No patients acquired the virus while in hospital.
As there have been no further cases, the Inpatient Surgery Unit has been reopened to admissions and transfers. Family and caregiver presence on the Unit has also been restored. Full guidelines can be found at www.hpha.ca.
“While this outbreak is over, we can’t stress enough the importance of continuing to follow public health measures and adhering to the province’s Stay-at-Home Order,” added Williams.
area legions receive federal funding to keep operating
On Nov. 10, 2020, the federal government announced a $20 million aid package to help veterans organizations survive the pandemic, of which the Royal Canadian Legion received $14 million.
Legion branches across Huron and Bruce counties continue to receive federal pandemic assistance. Branches will be using their funding allotments for critical operating expenses including insurance premiums, rent expenses, and utility bills.
“The financial assistance from the Federal Government for Branch 140 is a welcome relief and the funds will be used to cover our operational expenses. Without these funds our Branch would probably close it doors depending on how long the COVID-19 virus lockdown will last. I would like to thank our community for your support during this time. We will remember them,” said Royal Canadian Legion Br. 140 (Clinton) President Rick Shropshall.
“In October, I wrote to (Veterans Affairs) Minister MacAulay that the federal government had a debt of honor to our veterans, asking for delivery of an aid package to our Legion branches. Royal Canadian Legion branches across Canada are critical to our support of veterans, and I’m glad this long-awaited aid package will help keep the lights on in Branch 140,” said Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb.
“Lucknow Legion, Branch 309 is grateful for the financial assistance from the federal government. During the lockdown and afterwards, we will be operating at limited capacity, and the funding will be used to pay for operational expenses such as heat, hydro, insurance and taxes. When we get back to normal, we have some maintenance projects that need attention and any remaining funds will go towards that. Our goal is to get through this and continue to support and serve the needs of our veterans and community. With this generous support from Veterans Affairs Canada we will weather this storm and continue to be the strong branch we always were,” said Royal Canadian Legion Br. 309, President Linda Sharpin.
Branches across the riding which applied for and will receive $10,845.05 in funding (to-date) are: Branch 440, Ripley; Branch 140, Clinton; Branch 218, Brussels; Branch 309, Lucknow; Branch 167, Exeter; Branch 180, Wingham; Branch 183, Kincardine; Branch 109, Goderich; Branch 155, Southampton; and Branch 340, Port Elgin; and Branch 102, Walkerton received $10,533. Further funds are expected to be disbursed over the coming weeks.
“I am writing today to express how grateful we at Branch 340 are for the generous support in the amount of $10,845.05 which we received from the federal government in order to assist our Branch through these tough pandemic times. This money will go a long way to help cover the costs of our monthly expenses to allow our Branch to support our Veterans and our community,” said Royal Canadian Legion Br. 340 (Port Elgin, ON), President Robert Harrison.
“The Royal Canadian Legion Walkerton Branch 102 would like to thank MP Ben Lobb and the federal government for the contribution towards our Legion during this pandemic. We received $10,533 to assist us while we are closed. We offer assistance to veterans, serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and/or their dependents. Thanks to this support from the Federal government and our community, the Walkerton Legion will once again be able to open our doors and operate for the good of our veterans and our community – many branches will not be as fortunate,” concluded Branch 102 Walkerton President Rose Austin.
Conservation educators offer lunch hour series for students
Conservation educators at Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) continue to offer support to the watershed community though new learning opportunities. Two new online synchronous (when there is live interaction between ABCA educators and students) learning programs are available for watershed teachers.
The Species at Risk program teaches students about local species at risk, including turtles, mussels and fish, found in the Ausable River.
The second program, Wonderful Wetlands, focuses on the at-risk habitat of wetlands. Additional support for teachers is found on ABCA’s website, abca.ca, which has a teacher’s resources section with printables, lesson plans and educational website links.
During the provincial stay-at-home order, people can watch ABCA conservation educators live through a series of free “Lunch and Learn with ABCA” presentations. ABCA will broadcast from noon to 12:30 p.m. Registration information is available on the website at www.abca.ca/education/, via Facebook at Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority @WaterSoilLivingThings, and through Eventbrite.ca.
The viewing schedule, along with the topics to be presented, are: Friday, Feb. 5, Species at Risk (geared to students in Grades 7-12); Tuesday, Feb. 9, River Safety – Flooding Facts (geared to students in Grades 4-6); and Friday, Feb. 12, Water and Wetlands (geared to students K-3).
“Conservation educator Nina Sampson and myself are available to chat and we are keen to help teachers or parents in any way we can,” said Denise Iszczuk, conservation educator. “Step one to learning about nature is to plan time to get outside every day.”
The winter sessions of in-person, outdoor education programs including Oaks & Acorns; Coyotes & Pups; Muskrats; and Outdoor School are cancelled. ABCA will issue full refunds to all registered participants.
Spring sessions of Oaks and Acorns; Coyotes & Pups; Muskrats; and Outdoor School will begin in March and when it is safe to do so according to direction from the Province of Ontario and public health authorities. Registration is now open for the spring sessions of these programs at abca.ca.
Anyone who would like to chat with educators about these programs, please call 519 235-2610, or toll-free 1-888-286-2610, Ext. 255 or 262.
The Huron Perth Public Health website is updated regularly with confirmed case counts received.
“Our online case reporting is not a real-time tool but is meant to keep the community informed on trends we are seeing,” explains Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen.
For the latest statistics on COVID-19 cases in Huron and Perth Counties please visit: www.hpph.ca
Long-term Care Homes funding
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson has announced the Ontario government is investing, locally throughout the riding, more than $1.255 million in new funding to increase prevention and containment efforts in local long-term care homes during the second wave of COVID-19.
The new funding will reduce the risk of the virus from entering long-term care homes from the community by covering eligible expenses related to:
· An immediate 24/7 health checkpoint to confirm staff and essential caregivers entering the building are properly screened for COVID-19 symptoms and potential exposure, and to continue screening residents on an ongoing basis to support early detection and containment of any new infections.
· Additional prevention and containment activities, such as hiring new staff to carry-out the added workload for essential services and/or to replace workers who are sick or in isolation.
· Cleaning, equipment, and operating supplies beyond typical levels for the home.
· Implementing infection control measures based on clinical evidence, advice from a physician or other regulated health practitioners with expertise in infection control.
“Keeping our most vulnerable as safe as possible during this pandemic is paramount,” Thompson said. “That is why this new funding is vitally important.”
This listing indicates new funding (first figure) as well as the total funding the facilities have received since March 2020 (second figure shown in brackets). Facilities receiving the new funding include: Blue Water Rest Home, $100,800 ($550,800); Braemar Retirement Centre $71,500, ($640,000); Brucelea Haven LTC, $229,600 ($948,200); Exeter Villa, $63,500 ($557,100); Huronlea Home, $24,800 ($273,400); Huronview Home $82,100 ($409,100); Maitland Manor, $218,300 ($833,500); Pinecrest Manor $42,000 ($391,400); Queensway LTC, $160,100 ($509,500); Seaforth LTC $60,700 ($414,300); Southampton Care Centre, $111,200 ($498,400); Fordwich Nursing Home $33,600 ($343,800); and Trillium Court, $57,000 ($487,000).
Since the start of the pandemic, the Ontario government has invested $1.38 billion to ensure that long-term care homes have the resources they need to battle COVID-19.
“We will continue to do everything we can to help stop the spread of this virus and protect our most vulnerable and the staff who have been working tirelessly to keep them safe,” said Minister of Long-Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton. “From the start of the pandemic, we have taken quick and decisive action to make sure that homes have access to the resources they need to care for our loved ones.”
Once an outbreak is declared in a home, the province continues to work alongside local public health units, hospital partners, the local health integration networks and all health sector partners to help stabilize the situation and return the home to normal operations.
To address long-standing staffing challenges, the government has launched one of the largest recruiting and training drives in the province’s history, to deliver on its commitment to provide an average of four hours of daily direct care for residents. This will make Ontario the Canadian leader in the provision of care.
To implement its staffing plan, Ontario is increasing annual investments, culminating in $1.9 billion contributed annually by 2024-25, to create more than 27,000 new positions for personal support workers, registered nurses and registered practical nurses in long-term care.
During the second wave, the province has enhanced testing requirements for long-term care homes, and deployed rapid tests through a proof-of-concept program, recognizing the importance of identifying a case of the virus before it can spread from the community into a long-term care home.
The province’s vaccine strategy prioritizes the most vulnerable populations first, including health care workers and residents of long-term care homes, who are at higher risk of contracting the virus. The government has committed that the residents and staff in all long-term care homes in Ontario will be vaccinated by Feb. 15, if they want to be vaccinated.
To address urgent staffing challenges in long-term care homes, hospitals have deployed rapid response teams of health care professionals. Additionally, the Ontario Workforce Reserve for Senior Support program is recruiting Resident Support Aides. The province has also put in place a Personal Support Worker Return of Service program and is fast tracking Personal Support Worker education and providing supports for new nursing graduates. Community paramedics have also assisted in homes, providing care and help with testing.
funding for Infrastructure
The Ontario government is making another investment in small, rural and northern communities. Through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF), Ontario continues to support municipalities as they build and repair roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure.
This year, Huron-Bruce will receive more than $8.8 million across the two counties and 14 municipalities to address their local community infrastructure needs.
“Infrastructure projects are especially important in rural Ontario communities,” said Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson. “This funding will help build and repair roads, bridges, water and wastewater infrastructure in our community.”
Total investment in communities across Huron-Bruce are as follows: Huron County, $2,417,826; Bruce County, $660,950; Morris-Turnberry, $120,830; Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, $238,800; Huron-Kinloss, $275,793; Municipality of Bluewater, $286,380; Municipality of Brockton, $301,518; Township of North-Huron, $316,651 Municipality of Huron-East, $431,716; Municipality of South Bruce, $432,080; Municipality of Central Huron, $483,847; Municipality of South Huron, $688,269; Municipality of Kincardine, $584,570; Town of Goderich, $628,685; Town of Saugeen Shores, $848,610; and Township of Howick, $88,051. The funds totaling $8,804,576.
The funding above is a part of Ontario’s approximately $200 million commitment to 424 communities to help them address their core infrastructure projects and asset management planning needs in 2021.
“By investing in infrastructure projects across the province, we are strengthening and building communities,” said Minister of Infrastructure, Laurie Scott. “This is part of our ongoing commitment to support small, rural and northern municipalities across Ontario, providing stable funding needed to build long-term economic resilience.”
The Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund provides stable and predictable funding for communities with populations under 100,000, along with all rural and northern communities.
Municipalities may accumulate their OCIF funding for up to five years to address larger infrastructure projects.
Ontario also provides funding to communities through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), a $30-billion, 10-year infrastructure program cost-shared between federal, provincial and municipal governments. Ontario’s share per project will be up to 33.33 per cent, or $10.2 billion spread across four streams: Rural and Northern, Public Transit, Green, and Community, Culture and Recreation.
Conservationist of the Year
Do you know a person, business, farm, community group, or organization doing work that protects water, soil, and habitat for living things in Ausable Bayfield watersheds? If so, you are invited to nominate them for the Conservationist of the Year Award.
Award nominations may be submitted until Feb. 24.
To submit a nomination, visit abca.ca for the nomination form and award information. The nomination form is found on this web page link: www.abca.ca/community/conservationistoftheyear/
People may also email email@example.com for more information.