By Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller
We’ve all seen the news stories about worldwide supply chain issues. While Santa may have a magic sleigh that can get around the world in one night, that doesn’t work for the rest of us. The lesson is: if you want your gifts to arrive in time for Christmas, shop local.
Not only will local gifts help you and your family have a great Christmas, but they help your friends and neighbours provide gifts for their own families. Local businesses support local families, both directly and indirectly. By purchasing a gift locally or eating in a local restaurant you not only support the owners and employees of that business but any local organizations that business supports.
Despite having faced some huge challenges over the past two years, our local residents and businesses in Parry Sound-Muskoka are very generous in giving back to the community.
Local restaurants help feed families in need. For example, one day last week the Family Place Restaurant in Huntsville donated all their lunch sales to the Salvation Army. Boston Pizza in Gravenhurst is offering coupons for $10 off your next order in exchange for any donation of non-perishable food for the Salvation Army Food Bank. This isn’t just at Christmas, back in November, Domino’s Pizza in Gravenhurst and Bracebridge ran a special offer and donated $5 from each order to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Muskoka.
And since we live in a place with cold winters, Algonquin Outfitters ran a coat drive and offered a coupon for $25 off a purchase of $100 for every clean, wearable winter coat that was donated. And Kimberly-Clark donated seven boxes of winter coats. The coats are being distributed through the Table Soup Kitchen Foundation.
Businesses large and small donate to the Muskoka Shoebox Project including Bickley Ford which donated 40 boxes and the members of the Port Sydney Chamber of Commerce. And businesses like Becker Shoes, Royal LePage, and Hive Muskoka volunteered to be drop-off locations.
Just last weekend, Moose FM raised more than $180,000 across Muskoka to help the Salvation Army buy toys for children and support local families in need.
There are so many more examples that I can’t list them all but I want to thank everyone who has supported these great local causes that in turn support families in our communities.
Something else that will support our communities and make a great gift for those who are hard to buy for is a getaway at a local resort. Parry Sound-Muskoka has many great resorts, so why not treat your family to a staycation and support local jobs at the same time. You don’t need to travel far to find family-friendly fun, experience fine dining, or explore beautiful natural surroundings.
And remember, the Ontario government is offering a staycation tax credit. Spend money on temporary accommodation here in Ontario in 2022 and you will receive a 20 per cent personal income tax credit on eligible accommodation expenses up to a maximum of $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a family. Eligible expenses could include staying at a hotel, motel, resort, lodge, bed-and-breakfast, or campground anywhere in Ontario. You can apply for this refundable credit when you file your 2022 personal tax returns.
There is one more thing we can all do to support local businesses this Christmas. That is to get vaccinated. The very first vaccinations were administered in Ontario a year ago this week. In the last 12 months the vast majority of adults have received two doses of the vaccine and that helped us bring COVID-19 under control through the summer and into the fall. This allowed us to reopen businesses and to lift many restrictions.
Unfortunately, between winter pushing us indoors and the new Omicron variant, we are facing another challenging time so I will ask again: if you haven’t been vaccinated, please get your shot. If you have concerns about the vaccine, please speak to your doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist.
If you have been vaccinated, please get your booster shot as soon as you can. Right now, anyone over 50 years of age can make an appointment to get a booster 24 weeks after their second shot. Starting Monday, anyone 18 years of age or older can make an appointment three months after their second dose.
Just a few weeks ago the vaccine was approved for children 5 to 11 and so far 35 per cent of children in Muskoka have received their first dose. I thank those children and their parents and I encourage other parents to get their children vaccinated. Again, if you have concerns, please speak to your child’s doctor.
Ontario is also making rapid tests more widely available. These are being distributed to various high-traffic locations including to some LCBOs. As they are allocated to individual locations, that information will be made public at www.ontario.ca/holidaytesting. Please note that with Omicron, testing is not just for the unvaccinated nor is it a substitute for vaccination. This is intended to be an extra level of protection.
I believe in the science and I trust the doctors who say vaccination is the best thing we can do to help end this pandemic. I have been vaccinated and have my booster shot booked; my wife and our kids have been vaccinated. And now our oldest two grandchildren are eligible and they have received their first shots.
Thank you to everyone who has been vaccinated, to the medical teams who administered the vaccines, and to everyone who is following the public health advice. You are protecting yourself, your friends and family, and your community. You are helping to ensure everyone can have a good Christmas holiday and you are helping ensure local businesses can stay open so that we can all support our Ho-Ho-Hometowns and shop local.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2022.
Photo of MPP Norm Miller is courtesy of his office. Queen’s Park photo “June 2012 Ontario Legislature Toronto” by Priscilla Jordão, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.
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