Dear friends and neighbours,
As much of the province, including London, enters Stage 3, I know many of you are now stuck choosing between going to work and taking care of your kids at home.
The pandemic has only worsened the shortage of child care spaces in London. In light of COVID-19-induced economic constraints, many child care centres are struggling to figure out if and how they can reopen. And with the province refusing to provide stabilization funding to offset the additional overhead costs, parents, their kids and their employers are left between a rock and a hard place.
Parents should be able to return to work without having to worry about their kids’ health and safety. To do that we need a funded plan to address the shortage in child care spaces.
My colleagues and I are urging the to government act in the following ways:
- Provide immediate funding to stabilize the child care sector to prevent fee increases and layoffs.
- Consult with municipalities to find ways to use available public infrastructure so that schools and child care centres can resume in-person for as many children as possible in a safe and healthy way.
- Guarantee that no essential workers currently receiving emergency child care will lose child care provision when the emergency child care program ends.
- Guarantee that parents will be able to access paid, job-protected leave until school and child care fully resumes.
You can read our full list of recommendations here.
If you are worried about what your rights are as an employee or as an employer here are some information:
Upcoming town halls
Next week, I'm hosting a virtual town hall with the Earls Court Village long-term care home family council. If you have a family member residing in Earls Court and are interested in attending, please get in contact with my office for more information.
I am planning similar town halls with the other long-term care homes in London-Fanshawe. If you are a member of the family councils in Meadow Park, Chelsea Park, Kensington Village, Dearness and Henley Place and would like to help us organize, please get in touch.
Phone: 416 325 1872
Since the beginning of the pandemic, my colleagues in the Official Opposition and I have been pushing the government to provide direct financial assistance to small businesses so they can survive this crisis. When discussing our Save Main Street plan in Question Period this week, the government’s reply was, “The members opposite have no plan for restaurants. They would rather give them handouts than give them a leg up.”
Needless to say, we are shocked that this government would consider direct financial support for small businesses as a ‘handout.’ Businesses that have fallen months behind in rent or taken on crushing debt are in need of partnership right now.
“Instead of rolling up their sleeves to help, the government is patting itself on the back for providing some extra patio space and telling themselves job well done as businesses close up shop,” my colleague, MPP Catherine Fife said.
Read more about our Save Main Street plan here.
As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, masks will be required in all indoor enclosed public spaces in London and Middlesex.
Face coverings are defined as a mask or other barrier, including a bandana or scarf, made of cloth, linen or other similar fabric that fits securely to the head and is large enough to completely and comfortably cover the mouth, nose and chin without gapping.
“Our community has done an amazing job to slow the pandemic to a crawl. We need to do all we can to prevent a spike in cases that could occur as most of our businesses and establishments move to Stage 3 of reopening,” Dr. Chris Mackie, our medical officer of health, said in his announcement on Friday.
He says he's also recommending that municipalities issue their own temporary mask bylaws. Such a bylaw will be put before London councillors on Tuesday during a meeting of full council.
At your requests, my London colleagues, MPPs Peggy Sattler, Terence Kernghan and I have written to Mayor Holder and City Council urging them to pass such a by-law. By wearing masks we offset a potential deadly second wave as well as make a safe return to school in the fall more likely for kids.
For more information visit: www.healthunit.com/novel-coronavirus
The Ministry of Long-Term Care announced a revision to the family visitation guidelines.
Effective immediately up to two people can visit outdoors. COVID-19 tests are no longer required for outdoor visits.
On July 22, indoor visits can begin with a two-person limit.
For indoor visits, guests will have to attest that they’ve taken a COVID-19 test within the previous two weeks and been found negative. Family and friends who serve as essential caregivers will be allowed in while wearing medical masks.
While homes retain the power to schedule visits to prevent overcrowding, the strict time limits are being phased out.
It’s clearer than ever that there are some immediate fixes that need to take place in long-term care. I am calling for this government to:
Create a hiring and retention fund to bring thousands of new PSWs into long-term care
Establish a minimum staffing requirement to ensure seniors get at least four hours of hands on care per day
Raise wages for all PSWs
Mandate that health care workers, including PSWs, are offered full-time jobs with benefits so they don’t have to work three different part-time jobs
Guarantee a bare minimum of one comprehensive resident quality inspection per year – not just incident or complaint checks
Require air conditioning in every resident room
On July 6, the Superior Court of Justice order that had suspended residential evictions was amended so that the suspension ends at the end of month in which the state of emergency is terminated.
The government has said that the state of emergency is to end July 24, meaning evictions can begin starting Aug. 1.
We continue to advocate that the government extend the ban on evictions, and actually enforce it.
We’ve also heard that there have been instances in which the commercial eviction ban is not being enforced. If you are in this situation, please get in contact with my office.
Safe school re-opening
I know you’ve been juggling parenting and working while also taking on more educating responsibilities for your kids during this pandemic. After much consultation with health and education experts, the Official Opposition has put forward an emergency action plan that would work for parents and teachers and help get kids safely back to class five days a week this fall.
Maintaining job-protected leave and benefits for parents until school and child care are fully up and running again
Funding to help keep the child care sector afloat
Funding for more school buses to ensure physical distancing
Making use of public infrastructure to support the re-opening of schools and daycares
Ensuring ongoing access to emergency child care for essential workers
Bringing together students, parents, education workers, unions and schools board in an advisory group to help guide COVID-19 recovery in schools
Addressing the needs of students from Black, Indigenous and racialized communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19
Ensuring all workers have access to paid sick leave
Bill 195 represents a deeply flawed approach to emergency management and the Official Opposition have been leading opposition to it. By giving himself a year or two of extraordinary powers, the Premier is trying to grab all the power with none of the accountability, debate or reporting requirements.
Additionally, in his rush to pass this deeply flawed legislation, the Premier has yet again shown his disdain for democracy and the rights of workers. In what has become a pattern for this government, debate on the bill has been shut down and the public has been denied any opportunity to provide input through public hearings. That’s simply wrong.
I, and my colleagues, will not be supporting this Bill and will continue to fight against it. If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to contact the Premier to share your thoughts with him.
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.