As we progress toward the end of Step 3 of the reopening, it is clear we have made history here in the Region of Peel. In the last two months, we have administered 1.1 million doses. And the most exciting news is that an astounding 95 per cent of Peel young adults received a first dose, and 68 per cent a second dose.

While our everyday lives are increasingly entering “new normals,” the labour market is also rebounding. In June 2021, 116 000 jobs were added to the Ontario economy, accounting for half of the job growth nationwide. Furthermore, in Ontario, youth employment rose by 7.1 per cent, bringing the unemployment rate for young women in particular to its lowest level since February 2021.

Some industries, however, need more help than others. The tourism industry, which contributes $36.7 billion and 390,000 jobs to the Ontario economy, is expected to be among the last to recover. As well, most tourism-related businesses are small — 99 per cent employ less than 100 people, and 91 per cent employ less than 20.

The last year has given us the unique opportunity to know our city and province better than ever before. As Ontarians begin planning their next vacations or their upcoming summer, I urge all of them to consider their own backyard — right here, in Ontario. We have pristine beaches, food and cuisine, world class attractions, and a formidable arts and culture scene. With such beautiful scenery, it is no surprise that Ontario productions scored 54 Emmy nominations this year, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Queen’s Gambit.” Tourism is not just an economic driver — it is an enabler of culture, celebration and achievement.

When it is deemed safe to travel, I therefore encourage all of you to explore our local hidden gems and elite attractions that attract so many international tourists each year. After such a difficult year, families and friends are looking to reconnect and make new memories.

As one of my favourite anonymous quotes goes, “we travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” Go out, and explore Ontario — the true world in one province.