Dear friends and neighbours,
Next week, after months of urging, we finally head back to the Legislature. We need quick, decisive action to save lives and prevent a third wave of COVID-19. So my colleagues and I in the Official Opposition have laid out our legislative agenda for the first week back to help families, working folks, small businesses, seniors and vulnerable people. Here are the nine solutions we’ve put forward:
Paid Sick Days: MPP Peggy Sattler’s Stay Home if You Are Sick Act will give workers paid sick days during the pandemic, as well as permanent paid sick days
Evictions Ban: MPPs Suze Morrison and Jessica Bell will introduce a co-sponsored bill to ban evictions for the duration of the pandemic
Four Hours of Hands On Care for LTC: My bill, Time to Care Act will give every nursing home resident 4.1 hours of hands-on daily attention and care
Essential Caregiver Rights: MPP Lisa Gretzky’s More Than a Visitor bill will guarantee that essential caregivers can’t be separated from the loved ones that need their help in long-term care and other congregate care settings
Creating a Seniors’ Advocate: A bill by MPP Laura Mae Lindo will create an independent advocate for all seniors
A Raise for PSWs: This new bill will create a higher minimum wage for all PSWs, regardless of where they work
Safe Schools: This motion from MPP Marit Stiles will cap class sizes at 15, bring in comprehensive in-school COVID testing, and improve air quality in schools
Save Main Street: A new Official Opposition motion will give small businesses rent subsidies, create an arts sector strategy and implement other supports for small businesses
An Equity Strategy: A new motion to guarantee culturally-appropriate strategies to support disproportionately-impacted communities, from pandemic response to vaccinations
I’m looking forward to hearing from you about these priorities and how we can move forward together as a community.
London moves into the Red Zone
Today it was announced that the regions under the jurisdiction of the Middlesex London Health Unit will enter the red zone at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Red zone rules:
Social gatherings limited to five people indoors, 25 people outdoors.
Religious services (including weddings and funerals) limited to 30 per cent capacity indoors, with a maximum of 100 people outdoors.
Restaurants limited to 10 patrons seated for indoor dining, with a maximum of four people per table and space either two meters apart or separated by a barrier. Patrons must answer screening questions when they arrive. No dancing, singing or live performances are permitted and night clubs can only operate as restaurants or bars with last call at 9 p.m. All must close at 10 p.m.
Personal care services limited to procedures where patrons are masked for the procedure. Steam rooms, saunas and whirlpools must close.
Movie theatres and performing arts facilities remain closed unless being used for a rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcast performance.
Ontario Autism Program
Last week, the Ministry of Children and Social Services revealed the long-anticipated Ontario Autism Program. It is incredibly disappointing that only 600 of about 42,000 who need autism support services are being allowed into the program at this time. This week I've had the pleasure of meeting families who have been impacted by the lack of autism supports. After years of waiting, families and kids with autism are being forced to wait even longer for a system that will not serve their needs. Needless to say, my colleagues and I continue to press this government for answers and to listen to families.
You can join our fight by signing our petition here: ontariondp.ca/fund-autism-supports
If you or someone you know is impacted by the changes to the OAP, please get in contact with my office. I’d love to hear from you.
Banning graphic ads
Many of you have contacted me regarding the displaying of graphic ads around our city. Anti-abortion groups are putting graphic and misleading images on public display, and distributing them unsolicited to homes. Purposefully triggering and graphic images shouldn't be on public display, or delivered unsolicited to people's homes. My fellow London MPPs Peggy Sattler and Terence Kernaghan and I are calling for a ban on streetside distribution and publicly displaying graphic and misleading images.
Please continue to reach out to my office with feedback, concerns and questions. Hearing from you is integral to how we push this government into much needed action. Email me at TArmstrong[email protected] to let me know and we’ll do our very best to help.
Resources in the community:
Addiction Services Thames Valley
ADSTV has launched a selection of Supportive Information Sessions online at adstv.ca. These recorded sessions and downloadable tools are based on ones previously offered nearly every weekday at their facility. ADSTV is also preparing to provide services in a face-to-face setting. Visit their website for updates.
Hydro bill assistance
Monday July 13th, eligible London Hydro customers who have fallen behind on their bills because of the pandemic can apply for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program. For details on the program see: http://oeb.ca/CEAP To apply check: http://londonhydro.com on Monday
Online Tool to Find COVID-19 Financial Help
The Government of Canada has released a new web-based benefits finder tool to help people living in Canada determine which government benefits programs best meet their needs. The tool includes provincial benefit programs.
The Canadian Mental Health Association has launched Friendly Callers, a new outreach program that matches volunteers with seniors for a weekly check-in. If you, your parents, your neighbours, or any senior you know would like to participate in this program, call CMHA at 519-434-9191 ext. 2223 or email [email protected] Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Emergency Community Support Fund
Community service agencies can now apply for emergency funding through the Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF). These funds are for you to respond to COVID-19 in your community.
Canadian Mental Health Association
The Canadian Mental Health Association has put together a list of supports available in Ontario.
London Small Business webinars
The London Small Business Centre has compiled a collection of webinars covering a range of business topics. The webinars listed are offered by our local community, organizations throughout Ontario and beyond.
LifeSpin put together this list of resources for folks in London.
CLEO has a legal resource specifically for COVID-19 related issues.
The Ontario Government has created a centralized COVID-19 page which can be found here.
Middlesex-London Health Unit has opened two COVID-19 screening centres. For more on that and other public health information visit Middlesex-London Health Unit’s page here.
If you are interested in up-to-date information regarding Ontario Government announcements and programs I recommend monitoring the Ontario Newsroom.