Dear friends and neighbours,
This week started with the news that a young man in our community, 19-year-old Yassin Dabeh, died after contracting COVID-19 while working at a long-term care home just outside of London. It has been heartbreaking to read reports about how he and his family came to Canada in search of a better life knowing that it came to this unnecessarily tragic end.
Yassin’s memory has once again reminded me of the fact that this pandemic has disproportionately impacted seniors, women and people of colour. Once again, this week it was reported that the Premier continues to sit on billions of dollars instead of reinstating paid sick days, ensuring IPAC specialists are placed in each long-term care home, and ensuring a steady and consistent supply of PPE is in the hands of every frontline worker. If only all of these protections were implemented, yet another life would not have been lost.
We also learned yesterday that school in Middlesex-London are set to reopen on Monday. See below for more information.
As always, please feel free to contact my office with questions or concerns.
Despite both school boards in London stating that the earliest possible return is Feb. 11th, the Ministry of Education has gone ahead and reopened schools in our district for in-person learning. Most students will be back in class for Monday Feb. 1st.
My Official Opposition colleagues and I maintain that while this is welcome news for strapped parents and for student mental health, schools should be provided with the necessary resources to make it the safest possible reopening. Below is our list of actions the provincial government can take now to protect our communities and safely reopen schools:
- Develop a provincial school surveillance program
- Reduce class sizes
- Ensure all workers have paid sick leave
- Maintain job-protected leave and benefits for parents who have to stay home to care for their kids
- Keep the child care sector afloat with a boost in funding
- Fund more school buses to ensure physical distancing
- Make use of public infrastructure to support the re-opening of schools and daycares
- Ensure ongoing access to emergency child care for essential workers
- Bring together students, parents, education workers, unions and schools board in an advisory group to help guide COVID-19 recovery in schools
- Address the needs of students from Black, Indigenous and racialized communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19
As always, if you have any issues, questions or concerns pertaining to the content above, feel free to contact my office.
As outbreaks in long-term care homes across the province grow at alarming rates, I continue to urge the Premier and Minister Fullerton to act quickly to save lives. This government has lacked urgency in it’s response to the crisis unfolding in long-term care.
Recent findings by Ontario’s Science Table affirmed what the Official Opposition has been advocating for all along. Here’s what we’re calling for:
- Jan 30 target for vaccinating all LTC residents
- Canadian Armed Forces in hard-hit homes
- More testing
- Add 10K staff like BC & QC did
- Infection prevention/control experts in every home
Stopping hate in our communities
This week marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the 4th anniversary of the Quebec mosque shooting that killed six men.
There is no room in our communities, our province and our country for hate and it is our job, as elected officials and as a collective to take concrete action to address Islamophobia, hate, racism and extremism.
Over 300 alt-right or white supremacist groups are active in Canada, many of which are active in Ontario. Allowing this violent hate to spread has real consequences.
My colleagues and I in the Official Opposition commit to:
Immediately passing Bill 83 which would proclaim January 29 in each year as a Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia in Ontario because to solve the problem, first we need to name the problem.
Working with Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath to table a motion asking all parties to commit to construct a Holocaust memorial on Legislature grounds.
Working with all my colleagues in the legislature to create a provincial action plan to dismantle white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups in Canada that threaten Black, Indigenous, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and other faith and racialized communities.
You can join too by adding your name to the petition here. We can only bring the change we need in our community by working together.
Questions about enforcement:
London police say enforcement will be largely complaint-driven, or in instances where officers observe something against the rules that puts people at risk. They're assuring residents that they will not enter a home, pull over a vehicle, or stop a person on the street for the sole purpose of checking compliance with the order. The measure requires that Ontarians stay home except for essential activities like getting food or exercise.
Small business grants
The Province’s application portal for small business grants has finally opened. In case you missed it, the provincial government will be providing up to $20,000 for eligible businesses impacted by the shutdown.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
Were required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26.
Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level.
Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible if they meet the other eligibility criteria.
You can find more details about the application process and eligibility here.
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.