Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 
Dear Neighbour,

Today's newsletter focuses on the small and medium sized London businesses that have been hard hit by the COVID-19 emergency, as well as the non-profit organizations that have seen their fundraising plans collapse. Many residents of London West volunteer for a charity or non-profit, or rely on the services non-profits provide. They know a small business owner, or know someone who is employed by a small business - often a young person. 

I have heard from many London West small businesses who fear they won't be able to survive this crisis. While federal programs offer some welcome relief, they are not enough. Small operations are left unable to keep up with rent and bills while revenue has slowed to a trickle or nothing at all. Many are worried that they won't have a storefront or facility to come back to when this is over, or will face a mountain of debt they can't dig out of. Charities and non-profits - from food banks to churches - are worried about what will happen to the communities and people they serve if they can’t stay afloat. A recent survey conducted by London's Pillar Non-Profit Network reported that a $9M revenue loss had been experienced by just 90 organizations as of March 24, 2020.

The Ontario government can help, and it should. My colleagues and I in the Official Opposition are calling on the government to provide a lifeline to the organizations that are at the heart of our community. Here are the measures we are urging the government to implement right now:

  • A 75 per cent commercial rent subsidy up to $10,000 a month for three months
  • A utility payment freeze
  • A remote-work set up fund, to assist with setting up an online retail operation or to buy laptops and software for staff, helping to generate revenues while keeping people on the payroll
  • An auto insurance grace period for taxis and car-sharing drivers, established in partnership with the insurance industry and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority
  • A designated emergency fund for small businesses and entrepreneurs who have faced historic barriers to accessing traditional capital, as proposed by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce
Our small businesses and community organizations are the backbone of our economy. We simply can't afford to let them be broken by COVID-19. The government must help ensure that our Main Streets not only survive this storm, but come out the other side strong and ready to carry on.

Lastly, another reminder of the most important thing we can do to stop the spread and get businesses, non-profits and charities back up and running as soon as possible: stay home. This will be a different Easter than we have had before, but we can make a difference by keeping a distance. We're in this together!

If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact my office. My staff and I are working from home but remain fully 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!
 
 

COVID-19 Government Updates

COVID-19 Testing to be Ramped Up

In response to reports that Ontario is severely lagging in the number of COVID-19 tests it does daily the government has committed to a significant increase in testing. While the province's labs can accommodate 13,000 tests per day, Ontario has only been doing about 3,500 — a number that has raised alarm bells among health experts. Andrea Horwath and the NDP have called for testing to be dramatically increased, including regular testing for all health care workers, first responders and seniors in long-term care.

 

More Clarity for Businesses

Many businesses have contacted me to seek clearer direction from the government as to whether they can continue operating, and how to best protect their employees and the public. We have been sharing that feedback and urging the Ministry of Labour to do more. Today, in announcing accelerated timelines for essential construction projects, the province also announced that they will be redeploying more than 30 Employment Standards officers to help businesses understand and comply with health and safety requirements. Health and safety guidance for specific sectors was also announced.

 

Improved Health & Safety Response

I continue to hear from workers who are concerned about their health and safety at work. Today, the province announced that it will double the capacity of the Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Contact Centre from 25 to 50 phonelines, and add more inspectors to follow up on concerns. 

If you are concerned about your safety at work, you can call the Centre at 1-877-202-0008. You can also file a complain online.

 

Grocery and Pharmacy Closures 

The Premier announced today that all grocery stores and pharmacies will be closed on Sunday, April 12. This is in addition to statutory holiday closures on Friday, April 10. The Retail Council of Canada later clarified that there has been no change to hours of operation for statutory holidays in Ontario with all pharmacies, and grocery stores in municipalities that have passed bylaws, able to operate on Friday April 10. 

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

How can my business help fight COVID-19?

If your business has any Personal Protective Equipment on hand, please donate it for use by frontline healthcare workers. The London Health Sciences Foundation is collecting masks, gowns, goggles, gloves, face shields, and hand sanitizer. Please click here to donate anything you have. Even if you only have a few items, your donation will be greatly appreciated.

If your business can provide medical products such as ventilators, swabs, masks and eye protection, or if you have an innovative solution to help our province respond to COVID-19, please visit ontario.ca/ontariotogether. The Ontario Together Fund will help companies retool, build capacity or adopt the technological changes needed to produce supplies and equipment for hospitals, long-term care homes and other critical public services.

The best way you can help is to stay home and practice physical distancing and encourage your staff, customers, and loved ones to do the same. If you are operating, follow all of the public health advice available to do so as safely as possible.

 

Where can I find local resources for my organization?

The following local organizations have created resource pages to help businesses, non-profits, and charities navigate this situation:

  • The Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board has launched a message in response to COVID-19, which includes resources for job seekers, businesses, employees, and service providers.
     
  • The London Economic Development Corporation has posted a resource page and is asking for your innovative ideas to support local businesses during COVID-19.
     
  • The London Small Business Centre has compiled a list of essential resources for you and your business, from pandemic preparedness to financial supports
     
  • Pillar Nonprofit Network offers a resource page tailored to the needs of local non-profits, including important industry news.
     
  • TechAlliance has compiled resources that will help tech companies get support, make a plan for remote work, become part of the COVID-19 solution, and more. 

Many of these resource pages also include up-to-date lists of support available from the municipal, provincial, and federal government.

 

How is COVID-19 Affecting Your Business?

The London Small Business Centre is asking businesses to let them know how they have been affected by COVID-19 so that they can better understand the impact on our local economy and plan support for London businesses. Take their survey here

The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions is also measuring the impact of COVID-19 on businesses. It is being conducted by Statistics Canada in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. You can take the survey here.
 

Support Local Businesses

Many people want to know what they can do to support local businesses that are dealing with reduced revenue or closure due to COVID-19. Here are some community-created resources:

Local Delivery Map is a map of locally-owned businesses that are currently offering delivery in the area.

#ShopLdnOnt is a local hashtag used on Instagram  and Facebook to learn about local businesses, and support them by liking and sharing.

Support London Businesses is a list of businesses that have had to close their physical locations and are operating online. 

#LdnOnt Takeout is a list and map of local food businesses that are open for take-out.

London Tourism has a list of businesses who are operating their businesses online, over the phone, or in other creative ways.

 

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

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.

Rogers TV London Daily Media Updates - Catch up on the latest COVID-19 developments at Rogers TV London, through virtual media briefings from City of London Mayor Ed Holder and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie. 

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.

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.

Neighbours Supporting Neighbours
 

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