OTTAWA -- Ottawa's board of health has approved its 2022 budget, which calls for more than $124.8 million in spending, largely on the fight against COVID-19.

The draft budget was passed unanimously Monday night as concerns swirled around the arrival of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. Dr. Vera Etches, the city's medical officer of health, confirmed two additional positive cases Monday, bringing the city's total to four following the confirmation of two cases on Sunday—Canada's first.

COVID-19 remains a large part of the public health budget for 2022. The budget calls for $41.5 million in funding to tackle the pandemic. It also includes an additional $47.7 million in one-time expenditures on COVID-19.

The province covers much of the municipal health budget, though about 21 per cent is covered through municipal taxes and the health unit expects to raise about $1.1 million through other revenue streams.

Staff anticipate the province will cover the city's COVID-19 costs in 2022, as it did in 2020 and 2021.

Etches also remains optimistic that some of the work required to combat the pandemic will be reduced as the year wears on.

"We are optimistically looking at less of that kind of response needed into the summer of 2022 and through the fall," Etches said, adding that more of the population is expected to be vaccinated by then.

"We expect under-fives will be eligible in the new year. This will make a difference," she said.

Appointments for COVID-19 vaccines for children aged five to 11 opened last week. In the first weekend of clinics, Etches said Monday that more than 8,400 children had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. OPH has said that about 77,000 children aged five to 11 would be eligible for vaccines in Ottawa and Etches says the 8,400 who’ve had their first dose and the thousands of others who have upcoming appointments account for 40 per cent of that population.

City council will vote on the full 2022 budget on Dec. 8.