Dear friends and neighbours,
We’re a couple of weeks into family visitations in long-term care homes and I’ve heard from a number of you that it just isn’t working. After raising your concerns in the legislature, I decided to also write a letter to Minister Fullerton.
In the letter I urged the government to revise the guidelines in a way that respects your roles as family caregivers while also maintaining the health and safety of the residents and staff who live and work in long-term care.
As the province gradually reopens, and folks have been asked to go back to work, many have expressed worry about the lack of child care spaces. Because of provincial funding cuts prior to the pandemic, London’s waitlist for child care was already long. Now, faced with no income coming in for months and no extra funding to support additional overhead costs, child care centres are struggling to re-open.
My colleagues and I are continuing to push for a better provincial child care solution. In the meantime, let me know how you are managing.
As always, thank you for continuing to do your part by washing your hands, wearing masks and social distancing.
Federal government updates:
Seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), or Allowances will receive their one-time, tax-free payment this week without needing to apply. Seniors who reside in Canada can expect to receive the payment by direct deposit or cheque this week, whereas seniors who reside outside Canada can expect this one-time payment in July for those on direct deposit, or by cheque with delays given international postal disruptions. For more information, click here.
Provincial government updates:
- Bill 175, Connecting People to Home and Community Care passed in the legislature on July 9th. Needless to say, I voted against this bill because it is a step in the wrong direction. I know many of you are struggling with home care, especially during this pandemic. Please feel free to reach out to my office to tell me how you’re doing.
- Next week, it likely the government will debate bill 184, a housing bill that has tenant advocates worried. Like I said in my letter last week, I will not be supporting this bill. In the midst of a pandemic, our Legislature should be focused on ensuring that folks can stay safely housed.
My colleague MPP Lisa Gretzky, the critic for Community and Social Services said Ford’s plan to end pandemic top-up payments for people receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works (OW) will hurt the province’s most vulnerable.
- The government introduced legislation that would give it extraordinary powers to write emergency orders for up to two years, a move that I worry will remove transparency, and move important decision-making behind closed doors. This omnibus bill, while billed as a COVID-19 recovery bill, makes numerous changes to legislation but does nothing to help families, long-term care homes, small businesses, schools, day cares, First Nations and municipalities devastated by the pandemic.
- The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) sent an open letter to all Ontario MPPs urging them to vote against Ford's so-called COVID-19 recovery bill - officially called the Reopening Ontario Act - saying the proposed legislation poses "a significant threat to democratic oversight."
Long-term care homes
Now that the Premier has committed to AC unit in long-term care homes, I’m looking forward to him moving forward on also legislating a maximum temperature. This is something I’ve been pushing for since 2018.
My colleague, MPP Laura Mae Lindo tabled a private member’s bill to establish a first-ever Senior’s Advocate for Ontario, to act as an independent voice for seniors and family members who act as caregivers.
Child care and schools
This government’s instructions for schools’ reopening post-COVID are vague, leaving parents and educators anxious and unsure of what to expect. The Official Opposition wants the government to implement an action plan that includes guaranteed access to job-protected leave for parents until school and child care fully resume.
We’ve also been demanding that the government make specific commitments to better support parents and educators as schools reopen. These include hiring more teachers and education workers and funding to stabilize the child care sector.
A memo sent by the government to Ontario school boards indicates a plan for a "hybrid" model for schools' reopening this fall wherein students go to school two days one week and three days the next, learning at home during the remainder - this model is "a disaster" for parents.
- Hamilton Road Seniors' Centre & Community Centre at 525 Hamilton Road is now open from 11:00am to 7:00pm to provide an indoor cooling space & water.
- Online programs and ideas to keep kids busy during the summer can be found on Family Centres Facebook pages. More info 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-CO@ndp.on.ca 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.