Dear friends and neighbours,
Happy Black History Month!
This month is always a reminder for me to honour the Black Ontarians in our community here in London who continue to advocate for better for all of us. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of you (virtually, of course) at all the amazing events that are still going strong even under pandemic restrictions.
I want you to know that I'm here to stand with you in the dismantling of systemic racism and the fight for racial equity. My Official Opposition colleagues and I vow to keep holding this government accountable when they fall short in rooting out racism. We’re also calling on all parties to come together in establishing a provincial strategy that addresses Anti-Black Racism & racial equity in education, health, justice & economic recovery.
If you have any events or would like to share any initiatives related to Black History Month or dismantling systemic racism, please get in touch with my office. I’d be happy to attend and share the information with our community.
Students in our region have been back to in-school learning since Monday February 1st. For those of you who had kids go back to school, how do you feel it’s going? Let me know your concerns.
Premier Ford was cutting education before the pandemic, and it looks like he still doesn’t want to invest in our kids. The Ministry of Education’s funding announcement on Monday was just a dividing up and re-announcement of federal funding. My Official Opposition colleagues and I maintain that it’s not enough. We want to see kids back in school full-time, but they need to reopen safely with capped class sizes, ventilation system upgrades and paid sick leave for workers.
In a week that saw many of Ontario’s top doctors receive censure for being critical of this government’s pandemic response, we learned that the Premier might be let off the hook in testifying to the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission and the ministry failed to provide information and documents to the commission in a timely manner.
Currently, after this government refused to grant the extension the commissioners requested, the commission is working towards an April 30 deadline for its final report. Andrea Horwath, the leader of the Official Opposition, will introduce a motion in the legislature to extend the commission’s deadline to the end of the year.
Changes to the Ontario Autism Program
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Children and Social Services revealed the long-anticipated Ontario Autism Program. Many families, including the Official Opposition, were disappointed because this is not the needs-based program families, advocates and experts have been calling for. Families of children with autism have waited years for a program to support them. On top of that, only 600 of about 42,000 who need autism support services are being allowed into the program off the bat.
At this point, there are still more questions than answers about this program. I will be leveraging my new role as the critic for Children and Youth Services to find out more.
If the changes in the program impact you and your family, please do contact my office.
Paid sick leave
My London colleague, MPP Peggy Sattler’s bill, Stay Home if You’re Sick Act, has gained widespread support. We continue to urge Premier Ford to immediately recall the legislature and pass this important legislation now.
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 [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.