Dear friends and neighbours,
Last week I laid out the Official Opposition’s vision for what home and community care should be in this province.
During committee hearings for Bill 175, Connecting People to Home and Community care, my colleagues and I proposed over 20 amendments to stop further privatization and ensure Ontarians get the home and community care they deserve. Here are a few of the amendments we asked for:
- That the Patient’s Bill of Rights remain enshrined in legislation
- That there is a consistent basket of services across the province determined by need, not ability to pay
- That there be transparency in how public dollars are spent, especially in health care
All of our amendments, including the ones above, were voted down by this government. In addition to enabling further privatization, this bill does not address what's at the heart of the issues in home and community care - chronic labour shortages. Needless to say, I will not be supporting this bill.
We deserve better. Caregivers deserve better.
Additional home care costs
I’ve heard from some of you that due to COVID-19-related day program, school and camp closures for children and adults with disabilities, many of you are stepping in to provide 24/7 care for your loved one. You’ve told me this has left you exhausted - physically, mentally and financially.
So far this government has yet to announce any additional funding for home care in light of the COVID-19-related closures. If you are in a similar situation, please feel free to reach out to my office.
Federal government updates
- The federal government extended the grace period during which certain employers can re-hire employees temporarily laid off due to COVID-19.
- Canada has launched the Student Service Grant for students to participate in COVID-19 relief efforts.
Provincial government updates
- Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the government's new elementary school math curriculum this week. We believe it is irresponsible to introduce a new math curriculum at a time when teachers and parents are increasingly burdened.
- Toronto public health officials are asking for federal and provincial funding to establish a voluntary, centralized quarantine system for low-income people with COVID-19 whose living conditions make it difficult to self-isolate. The Official Opposition has pushed the Premier to stop clawing back income for social assistance recipients who receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and to step up protections for people experiencing homelessness, including providing hotel, motel or dorm rooms to isolate in.
- After major grocery store operators scrapped the $2 wage increase for workers during the pandemic, we have asked the Premier to intervene and force the corporate owners to keep the wage increase going.
- We are urging the government to listen to tenants and tenant advocates and scrap Bill 184 which fast-tracks tenant evictions.
Long-term care homes in Ontario
- A new report finds that the percentage of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths occurring in long-term care facilities is roughly double the average of those in other OECD countries. Prime Minister Trudeau said provinces have failed to support seniors. The Premier has long been ignoring families’ pleas for help in long-term care and refusing to allow a public judicial interview into long-term care homes’ failure to protect seniors during the pandemic.
- Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said Premier owes an explanation to grieving families in light of allegations that his government received and rejected two proposals by his government’s Long-Term Care Minister to increase funding to long-term care just as the pandemic was starting.
- On July 2nd, as part of a virtual summit on long-term care, Dr. Amina Jabbar, a renowned geriatrician in Ontario will be joining Andrea Horwath for a Fireside Chat on the future of seniors' care in the province. You can RSVP to the event here. We’ll also be livestreaming it on our Facebook and Twitter.
A third migrant worker in Ontario has died of COVID-19 – Juan Lopez Chaparro, 55, died Saturday in a London, Ontario hospital. Chaparro had worked for a farm near Simcoe, Ontario that has been experiencing an outbreak of the virus. We have been urging the Ford government to take action to protect workers, asking why it has taken this government so long to contain a problem it has long known about.
Bill 156 passes in the legislature
This week the government passed. Unfortunately, Liberal and Conservative MPPs voted together to pass the flawed and dangerous Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act earlier this week.
During committee hearings for Bill 156, several legal experts testified that Bill 156, as written, would threaten the constitutional rights of workers, Indigenous people, journalists and the general public. The Official Opposition proposed amendments to Bill 156 that would have removed these unconstitutional provisions. Unfortunately, the government members on the committee voted our amendments down, and kept the unconstitutional provisions in place.
Provisions identical to those in Bill 156 have been repeatedly struck down by courts in the United States. We believe Bill 156 will also likely face a similar legal challenge.
My colleagues and I support Ontario farmers. We support reasonable measures to improve biosecurity and protect family farms. But we vehemently oppose legislation that threatens our basic rights.
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.
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.