Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 
Dear Neighbour,

Tomorrow is April 1, which means that for millions of Ontarians, rent or mortgage payments are due. But too many people in London West do not have a way to pay as a result of job loss or severely reduced incomes caused by the COVID-19 emergency.

That's why my colleagues and I in the Official Opposition are calling on the Ontario government to step up and immediately implement a rent subsidy program for anyone who qualifies for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The program would cover 80 percent of a household’s rent, to a maximum of $2,500 a month, for up to four months, protecting both tenants and landlords. We are also urging a six-month rent freeze to prevent rents from going up after this crisis when people are trying to get back on their feet. 

Many London West small business owners have also contacted me, worried about commercial lease payments after weeks of business shutdown or significantly decreased sales. We believe that the same level of subsidy should be available for small and medium businesses, to help defray lease costs and prevent them from having to close up shop for good. For both residential and business tenants, we are also calling on the government to implement a complete legal ban on evictions, lockouts and disconnections for the next four months, as well as a legislated prohibition on threatening or attempting to evict or disconnect utilities.

The Ford government's financial plan fell short because it failed to address the immediate and urgent needs of people who lost income. Instead, the Minister of Housing advised tenants to ask their landlords to be "flexible" and allow them to pay their rent late. But relying on the kindness of landlords to defer rent down the road is no way to protect tenants. People deserve to make it to the other side of this crisis without the crushing debt of months of unpaid rent behind them. 

This is no time for half-measures. In the midst of a global pandemic, people should not have to choose between putting food on the table and covering their rent cheque. 

If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact my office. Although my staff and I are working from home and closed to in-person meetings, we remain available to help by phone (519-657-3120) and email (psattler-co@ndp.on.ca). 

Take care,

 

Please Note: Telephone networks are being pushed to their limits and at times they are failing or unreliable. If you call my office or any government number, and the call does not connect, please keep trying!
 

If you need to find access to mental health support, food services, financial assistance or more, dial 2-1-1. Their community navigators are available any time day or night, and can provide help in more than 150 languages. To find support specific to COVID-19, you can also visit www.211covid19.ca.

 

COVID-19 Government Updates

K-12 Education

The government announced that Ontario public schools will remain closed until at least May 4, a date that may be extended if necessary to ensure the safety of students, families and staff. Beginning next week, students will engage in teacher-led learning-at-home through online, digital and other tools, with formal requirements by grade for hours of work per student per week. Final report cards will be issued for all students. 

While the government's commitment to teacher-led learning is welcome, many concerns have been raised about expectations and assessments, given huge disparities in student access to technology, student learning needs, and family capacity to support and supervise learning at home. 

TVDSB Families

The Thames Valley District School Board will be providing devices to students who need one to complete online courses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If families require a device (such as a computer, laptop, Chromebook or tablet), they are asked to go into the parent portal and select Technology Needs Questionnaire by 12pm on Thursday April 2, 2020. If families are not able to complete the form online, they may call their school. Find more information on the TVDSB website.

 

OSAP Loans

Post-secondary students who have borrowed from the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to attend post-secondary education will be able to defer their loan repayments interest-free for six months until September 30, 2020.

 

Expansion of Emergency Measures

The province has expanded emergency measures to include the closure of all public or private, outdoor recreational amenities everywhere in Ontario, including but not limited to playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, beaches, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor community gardens, park shelters, outdoor exercise equipment, condo parks and gardens, and other outdoor recreational facilities.

Events or gatherings of more than five people are also prohibited, except for members of a single household. Funeral services can be attended by no more than 10 people .

 

Ontarians Over 70 Should Self-Isolate

It is strongly recommended that people over 70 years old or who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions self-isolate and get help with essential errands.

 

Federal Support for Businesses and Non-Profits

The Prime Minister announced an expanded wage subsidy program for businesses, charities, and non-profits that will provide up to 75% of wages, up to a maximum of $847 a week per employee, for organizations that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Eligible businesses include those whose revenues have decreased by at least 30% due to COVID-19. The purpose of the program is to avoid layoffs so businesses and organizations can ramp up quickly after the crisis, while ensuring that employees have the income they need until the crisis is over.

The response to COVID-19 is evolving rapidly, so please refer to linked sources and official websites for the most up-to-date information.
 

Common Questions

Do I need to pay my rent on April 1?

It is important that tenants try and pay their rent if they can. However, if you are a struggling to pay rent due to the COVID-19 emergency, you should first ask your landlord and/or property manager by phone or online (to respect physical distancing) to make alternate payment arrangements with you. 

If your landlord does not give you more time and you do not pay, your landlord can give you a notice to evict you. However, that does not mean you need to leave. Please visit ontario.ca/rent to get more information about the temporary changes the province has made. If you have questions, please contact my office.

If your landlord is trying to make you leave, or is threatening to cut off services, change locks, or otherwise penalize you for late rent, contact the Rental Housing Enforcement Unit (RHEU) at 1-888-772-9277 or MHO.RHEU.Info@Ontario.ca. You can also contact Neighbourhood Legal Services at 519-438-2890 or info@nlslm.com.

If you need housing, please contact the City of London Housing Services Division (Housing Access Centre) at 519-661-0861 or hac@london.ca.
 

Am I eligible for the new unpaid job-protected leave?

In general, most non-emergency workers who are covered by the Employment Standards Act will be able to access the new job-protected unpaid leave until the provincial state of emergency is over if they:

  • feel unwell 
  • have come into contact with somebody with COVID-19, or
  • have to care for a child who does not have childcare/school as a result of COVID-19.

Your employer can not require a doctor's note, and you do not have to take sick days or vacation days to use the leave. Your job will be protected, but your employer does not have to pay you for the time you are on leave.

If you have questions about whether you are eligible to access this leave, please call the Employment Standards Information Line at 1-800-531-5551.

 

If I don't feel safe at work, can I stay home?

If you are sick, you should stay home. The government also strongly recommends all Ontarians over 70, and anyone with a compromised immune system and/or underlying medical condition self-isolate.

If you think your workplace should be closed under the provincial order as a non-essential workplace, but it has stayed open, please contact COVIDOrderConcerns@london.ca or 519-661-4660. (Businesses looking for information about essential workplaces can call Ontario’s Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.)  

If your workplace is allowed to remain open as an essential workplace, but you believe it is not taking proper precautions to protect worker health and safety, you can contact the Ministry of Labour’s Health and Safety information line at 1-877-202-0008.
 

 

Fighting COVID-19 in London

Today, the Middlesex-London Health Unit announced the largest single day increase of confirmed COVID-19 infections since the outbreak began. The 15 new cases, including eight patients under 40 years of age, bring our community's total to 52. As Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie told CBC London: "I can't make this any clearer, what we do now will determine how the situation unfolds in London and Middlesex County. It is time to stay home and only go into the community for the essentials."



Many residents of London West have contacted me to express concerns about the ongoing shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and what this means for the safety of front-line healthcare workers. CBC London and the London Free Press reported that the lack of PPE led to 11 nurses refusing to go to work at London Health Sciences Centre and the COVID-19 Assessment Centre. Later CTV London reported that the issue had been resolved, however, this is an issue I will continue to monitor closely over the coming days. Now more than ever, Ontario will need to rely on nurses and other health care professionals who are helping to keep our province running during this pandemic. My colleagues and I fully support the Ontario Nurses Association and their call to ensure that nurses and other heroic health care workers have access to the right level of personal protective equipment. We also urge the Ontario government and their employers to heed public health advice and allow health care workers to self-isolate, with full pay, due to COVID-19 concerns. Our priority during this time of uncertainty is to ensure the safety of health care workers, and their patients, as they provide critical front line care.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores have redirected previously donated supplies including over 2,100 masks and 1,400 protective suits to front line workers in hospitals, labs and seniors’ homes in our community. Thank you to the many amazing donors who made this possible, and to ReStores for supporting front line workers!

Western University is supporting the production of low-cost, substantively effective medical face shields that could be in hospitals for healthcare workers within days, if not hours. The advanced manufacturing team at University Machine Services is making the shields, and hospitals and other health care providers looking to order them should contact lsmithson@westernamc.ca.

GroceryHero is a free delivery service to help our frontline medical professionals focus on fighting COVID-19.  Volunteers across the city are matched with a medical professional in their neighbourhood. They are put in touch directly to arrange *free* grocery delivery. The medical professional reimburses the shopper for the cost of groceries only.
 

Neighbours Supporting Neighbours
Londoners are offering each help and support through groups like Caremongering London, the London Volunteer Task Force (for non-contact volunteer grocery delivery), Med Students for Healthcare Workers (providing childcare and errands for healthcare workers), and Support London Businesses (a listing of local businesses). 
 

Join the Fight Against COVID-19 

The Ontario Together website was launched to help businesses and their employees work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Businesses and organizations who can supply emergency equipment and innovative solutions are invited to submit proposals.  

The government is also seeking to hire experienced health care providers who may be retired or working part-time to help support provincial efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19. Apply here

 

Reliable Sources of Information

ontario.ca/coronavirus - Find information about COVID-19 symptoms, how to protect yourself, and an information sheet that is available in multiple languages. You can also use the Ministry of Health's interactive online assessment tool if you think you may have symptoms of COVID-19.
 

Middlesex-London Health Unit - Find local information about COVID-19 and what is being done locally to prevent and prepare for a potential outbreak in London, and information about assessing your own symptoms. You can also find updates regarding local health care response and procedure changes at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care.
 

london.ca/covid-19 - Updates on city services and programming impacted by COVID-19.
 

Canada.ca/coronavirus - Information from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and updates on the national response, travel advice and preparedness.
 

travel.gc.ca - Important travel updates regarding Coronavirus around the world.

 
 

Helpful Resources

School Mental Health Ontario - A resource on how to support student mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, including information and tools for parents.

CBC - Coronavirus London Updates - Local advisories and updates, as well as a listing of what's closed or cancelled, and what remains open in London.

BounceBack - A free skill-building program managed by CMHA designed to help adults and youth over 15 manage mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry.

LifeSpin Community Resources - LifeSpin is maintaining a list of resources and programs that are available to Londoners, especially those living in poverty, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Children's Resources - The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies has compiled a list of COVID-19 specific resources for children, youth, and families.

TVDBS Learn at Home - A working list of online learning resources to support students and families, including links to external sites for all grades as well as a description of each resource.

Pro Bono Ontario (PBO) - Providing free legal assistance to low-income Ontarians for their everyday legal problems via the Free Legal Advice Hotline, and have resources to help answer legal questions related to COVID-19 shut-downs. Dial 1-855-255-7256 Monday – Friday from 9:30 am – 11:30 am and 1:00 – 3:30 pm.

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