Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 
Dear Neighbour,

This week saw more sad news of front-line and essential workers who lost their lives to COVID-19. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and coworkers. 

Essential workers are shining heroes on the front-lines in the fight against COVID-19. More than just our thanks, they deserve our commitment to do everything in our power to keep them safe, so they can go home to their families at the end of every shift. A recent poll health care staff showed that 87 per cent said they do not have enough access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). While the Premier tells front-line workers who need PPE to "just call his office", the government is considering limiting health care worker access to N95 masks. 
 
Front-line and essential workers also deserve compensation that reflects the personal sacrifices they are making. Since the government's pandemic pay announcement, I have heard from hundreds of front-line and essential workers who are core members of London Health Sciences Centre hospital teams, who work as Early Childhood Educators in emergency childcare, who are employed as security guards, PSWs and more, but are excluded from the government's wage enhancement. This shows a fundamental disrespect for the critical roles of all front-line and essential workers, and we will continue to push the government to recognize their vital contributions.

I continue to hear from seniors and others on fixed incomes who have all but been forgotten by the government. Seniors are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, and are often already struggling to make ends meet. Those who have retirement savings are worried about what COVID-19 will mean for their financial security. They face increased monthly costs as a result of paying for grocery deliveries, higher cell phone and internet bills to remain connected with their families, and a tripling of pharmacy dispensing fees because of the 30-day limit on medication supply. Fighting for seniors is the least we can do to help those who built everything we take for granted today.  

Finally, even as the province prepares to reopen the economy, the future is far from certain for too many London small businesses. They worry how to pay the bills as loans and payment deferrals just increase their debt. And it is becoming clear that the government's commercial rent relief program is leaving too many businesses behind. The Official Opposition is reinforcing our call for the Ontario government to fill those gaps, through a commercial rent subsidy and a Save Main Street plan to keep businesses afloat. 

Please let me know how COVID-19 is affecting you, so I can share your concerns with the Ford government and push for the supports you need.     

Stay safe and take care, 

 

Independent Long-Term Care Inquiry

The Official Opposition is calling for a broad and thorough public inquiry into long-term care, including why the system was in crisis before the pandemic hit and how the pandemic response left seniors' homes residents and workers so vulnerable. The inquiry should include an evaluation of the future of for-profit homes in Ontario, providing the basis for a complete redesign of seniors' care options and providing Ontario seniors with a new, better, safer and more dignified system of care. 

Data released this week by the Ontario Health Coalition shows a significantly higher death rate due to COVID-19 in long-term care homes owned by for-profit corporations, compared to non-profit homes and public, municipal homes. The analysis showed that the rate of death was 9 per cent in for-profit homes, 5.25 per cent in non-profit homes and 3.62 per cent in publicly-owned, municipal homes.

 

COVID-19 Government Updates

Hydro Pricing

Time of use hydro customers will continue to be billed at the lowest rate (off-peak rate) at all times of day until May 31. This applies to residential and low-volume small business customers. While this is a welcome extension, the Official Opposition continues to advocate for an end to mandatory time-of-use pricing.

 

Resuming Scheduled Surgeries and Procedures

To deal with the approximately 52,000 procedures that were cancelled or avoided to open up hospitals beds for COVID-19, the province has released a framework with criteria that must be met for hospitals to resume scheduled surgeries. The framework requires that the hospital and its region have:

  • Stable number of COVID-19 cases
  • Stable supply of personal protective equipment
  • Stable supply of medications
  • Adequate capacity of inpatient and intensive care unit beds
  • Adequate capacity of health human resources
  • Availability of post-acute care outside the hospital to support patients after discharge

There are no timelimes attached to the plan.

 

More Businesses Allowed to Operate

The province has eased restrictions on some businesses. All businesses must operate in accordance with the Ministry of Health's Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces, occupational health and safety requirements, and all public health advice.

Garden centres and nurseries are able to open for in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies.

Hardware stores and safety supply stores are now permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases.

Professional sports teams are permitted to operate training facilities. This applies only to facilities operated by the Canadian Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, National Basketball Association, or National Hockey League, and does not extend to other fitness, sports, or training centres.

 

Curb-side Pickup for Non-Essential Businesses

As of Monday, retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curb-side pickup.

This was a particular concern raised by London small businesses, who were prohibited from allowing customers to pick up their purchases and forced to arrange personal delivery or Canada Post. With MPP Terence Kernaghan and Teresa Armstrong, I wrote to the Minister of Economic Development to urge this change and welcome this new measure. 

 

New Construction Permitted

The province will allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue. 

 

Input on Reopening the Economy

I encourage you to visit Ontario.ca/reopen and click "Provide Your Input" to complete a survey on the economic impacts of COVID-19 and to let the government know your thoughts on how to reopen the economy while protecting public health.

 

Federal Wage Subsidy to Extend Past June

The Prime Minister has announced that federal wage subsidy, which is paid to employers who are continuing to pay their workers and was orginally set to end on June 6, will be extended. More details are expected next week.

 

Labour Force Survey

Statistics Canada released dismal job loss figures for the month of April, and London alone lost 16,300 jobs. The numbers also reveal that women are bearing the brunt of the economic pain dished out by COVID-19. The Official Opposition continues to call on the government to provide direct financial support to Ontarians in desperate need.

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

COVID-19 in London

Virtual Job Fair

The London & Area Works Job Fair is moving online. The virtual fair will take place Tuesday May 12 from 2pm to 6pm. The event is free, and all you need is an internet connected computer or mobile device to log in. Register here.

 

London Emergency Rooms Remain Open

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is still providing urgent and emergency care to patients in London and surrounding area during the COVID-19 pandemic. Essential hospital services including the emergency departments remain open.

Physical distancing does not mean avoiding the hospital if you have a serious health concern. If you or your loved one is experiencing an emergency or serious medical injury call 911 immediately or go to an Emergency Department.

Please know that the hospital is a safe place to go for urgent and emergency care needs. Patients with a suspected case of COVID-19 are separated from other patients, and a number of protocols are followed to protect the health and safety of all staff, physicians, and patients.

 

Western and General Dynamics producing medical face shields

Thank you to Western University and General Dynamics for working together to meet this need! They are now producing approximately 500 medical face shields per day to support Canada’s fight against COVID-19.

 

Neighbours Supporting Neighbours

If you hear about other neighbourhood initiatives for Londoners to help and support each other through these difficult times, please let me know so I share them!

 

Reliable Sources of Information

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.

** MLHU has made a major update to the local COVID-19 information available on their website, with more details regarding deaths, an epidemic curve, and charts of cases by report date and by lower-tier municipality. You can also see outbreak statistics by facility. ** 

You can also find updates regarding local health care response and procedure changes at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care.  

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.

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.

 
 

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.

 

**NEW RESOURCES**

Please check my website if you are looking for resources from previous newsletters.
 

Wellness Together Portal

Wellness Together Canada provides tools and resources to help Canadians get back on track while dealing with challenges due to isolation, financial and employment uncertainty and disruptions to daily life. The site include modules for addressing low mood, worry, substance use, social isolation and relationship issues.

 

Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT)

The province has partnered with MindBeacon and Morneau Shepell to make their Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) programs available with no out-of-pocket costs to Ontarians. This and other resources are available here.

 

Being in an Abusive Home During COVID-19

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has provided a downloadable sheet of tips and resources to protect your physcial and psychological well-being if you are isolated with an abuser.