Dear friends and neighbours,
It’s astounding to think how much our lives have changed in such a short amount of time. Simple things like running errands, hugging friends and eating out have us weighing consequences like we’ve never had to before. Some of us are lucky to be able to work from home and are busier than ever, some of us are struggling to get by. Most importantly, many of us have lost people that we love unexpectedly, suddenly and without the ability to grieve them.
Stage 2 of re-opening is set to begin tonight. While I’m sure many are relieved for life to resume as before, we must remember to remain vigilant and mind the safety of others as well as ourselves. Unfortunately, we have more questions than answers in regards to Stage 2. For example, many child care centres in London have said they’ve yet to receive any guidelines from the province, let alone financial assistance to cover the extra health and safety costs.
Here is a detailed list of what is opening in London and how.
Thank you for continuing to share your issues, concerns and comments with me. I do take them all into consideration. As you can imagine, our office is experiencing a higher volume of calls and emails than usual. We ask for your patience. You will hear back from us.
Thank you for continuing to do your part.
Sincerely, your MPP, Teresa Armstrong
Provincial government updates
Ontarians are now allowed to create a close group of up to 10 people. To be clear, these new guidelines allow for the formation of “social circles,” not to be mistaken with new rules around “social gathering.” Ontarians who wish to form a safe social circle should follow these five simple steps from the Chief Medical Officer of Health:
- Start with your current circle: the people you live with or who regularly come into your household;
- If your current circle is under 10 people, you can add members to your circle, including those from another household, family members or friends;
- Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle;
- Keep your social circle safe. Maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle; and
- Be true to your circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.
Ontario government also eased the restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies
Finally, after months of pushing, the Ontario government is lifting the 30-day supply limit for prescriptions.
Starting next week, Ontario will allow visits to loved ones in long-term care, retirement homes, group homes and other congregate living settings not facing an outbreak of COVID-19 to resume. I continue to call for increased staffing, more PPE and sanitation supplies in long-term care homes.
As part of Stage 2 of reopening, many child care centres and restaurants are scrambling to open for next week.
Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities announced that some in-person training at post-secondary institutions will restart in July for students requiring a practicum or lab work to graduate – the Official Opposition’s critic for College and Universities, Chris Glover, said the announcement has left many questions unanswered, and that post-secondary institutions hit hard by COVID-19 will need financial support - something the government has refused to provide.
The Premier of Ontario said that he does not support paid sick days, something the Official Opposition believes is integral to a safe and gradual reopening so that people don’t have to choose between going to work sick and putting food on the table.
For months, the Official Opposition, after consulting with the business community, has been calling for a ban on commercial tenant evictions. Earlier this week, the provincial government announced that it will ban some commercial evictions but only for businesses that have a 70 per cent loss in income.
The federal government and the province have a new program to help small businesses adopt digital technologies – for months, the provincial government has resisted the Official Opposition's calls to give direct financial support to small and medium-sized businesses, many of which have now gone under.
Long-term care in Ontario
A Toronto-based law firm is launching a class-action lawsuit on behalf of long-term care residents that will allege that Ontario’s negligence in its oversight of nursing homes led to “widespread and avoidable illness, suffering and loss of life” during the pandemic.
The Ontario Nurses’ Association is calling for an immediate exemption for its members from legislation introduced by the government last June to cap wages for public sector workers including those in hospitals and schools.
Canada will extend the military deployment within long-term care homes in crisis in Ontario and Quebec due to COVID-19 until June 26. I continue to push for an independent and judicial public inquiry into the long-term care sector’s failure to protect vulnerable seniors during the pandemic.
Federal government updates
The federal government is proposing legislation that would create tighter rules for Canadians put out of work by COVID-19 to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), plus penalties for fraudulent claims. NDP Federal Leader Jagmeet Singh said the government must not criminalize people who have had difficulty navigating the system and have collected the benefit in error, warning that such penalties would likely hurt the most vulnerable.
Canada and the U.S. are expected to extend the border closure until late July. Starting earlier this week, Canada’s ban on non-essential international travel will make an exception for Canadians who wish to reunite with immediate family members who are non-Canadian citizens and separated by the Canada-U.S. border. Anyone coming into Canada under this exemption will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.
The federal government has announced mandatory temperature checks for anyone travelling by air.
Here are some concerns the Official Opposition is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
We know many businesses that have gone under in our communities due to the provincial government's refusal to give businesses direct financial support or ban tenant evictions up until now. We continue to reiterate our call for supports outlined in our Save Main Street plan.
Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath says the Premier’s refusal to disclose who sits at his oft-cited command table is unfair to the public. “At his podium the Premier has said Ontarians deserve to know what he knows, but on the ground we see an ongoing lack of transparency,” Horwath said in a statement.
I’ve called on the government to provide York Regional Police with all information necessary to consider an investigation into the death of a senior caused by apparent neglect at Woodbridge Vista Care Community, a Vaughan nursing home operated by the company Sienna. Andrea Horwath has previously called for the government to take over management of all Sienna-operated homes, and an independent judicial public inquiry into the long-term care sector's response to COVID-19.
The critic for Veterans, Legions and Military Affairs Jennie Stevens has written to Doug Ford and the Minister of Public Safety expressing concern over troubling reports that Canadian Armed Forces members who disclosed inhumane conditions in long-term care homes could face "consequences."
The provincial government has quietly made changes to the regulations governing foster care homes. We are concerned that this will put children and youth in danger. The changes include allowing more kids in homes and ending criminal record checks for people caring for children.
The Official Opposition's Black Caucus chair and critic, MPP Laura Mae Lindo, said Education Minister Stephen Lecce must stop his dragging his fight on fighting anti-Black racism in the Peel District School Board.
“It’s disturbing that the Minister of Education hired an investigator to investigate his investigation, and despite all these reports pointing to serious systemic anti-Black racism in Peel schools, Stephen Lecce is again taking no actual action to address it," Lindo said in a statement.
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 available 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.
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.
Living Life to the Full webinar series
A new webinar series by Canadian Mental Health Association will discuss the mental health impact of COVID-19.Webinars will be hosted weekly between June 12 and July 3, with topics related to loneliness, young adult mental health, older adult advocacy, and the mental health fallout of the pandemic.
- The City of London has an FAQ to help simplify what Londoners can and can’t do in light of COVID-19.
- LifeSpin put together this list of resources for folks in London.
- 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.