Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 
Dear Neighbour,

In response to the wildfire spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, the Ontario Legislature debated an NDP motion this week calling for a full, public and independent inquiry into Ontario's long-term care system

The motion was voted down by Conservative MPPs, with the government announcing a commission into long-term care instead - essentially a review overseen by the government and lacking legislative teeth or public oversight. Several organizations, experts and unions immediately raised concerns about the refusal to hold a truly independent public inquiry, including the Ontario Nurses Association and SEIU, a union representing more than 60,000 frontline health care workers.

Since the scope of the commission will be determined by the government, it is unlikely to include an investigation into the role and future of privatized, for-profit long-term care. Many London West constituents have reached out to me to voice their concerns about allowing corporate profits to guide decisions on care for some of our most vulnerable citizens. With Ontario planning for 15,000 new long-term care beds, and the Financial Accountability Officer reporting that thousands more beds will be needed to reduce the long-term care wait-list, we need to fully understand the impact of a for-profit model on quality of care, and the safety and dignity of long-term care residents and staff before making this significant public investment. 

With the province entering Stage 1 of Reopening the Economy, many Londoners have contacted me with questions and concerns about what this means for London businesses. Specific questions about the interpretation of Ontario’s reopening strategy and London businesses, operations and facilities are best answered by the City Of London at 519- 661-2489 or by email at COVIDOrderConcerns@london.ca.

I also received emails from people worried about a relaxing of precautions in grocery stores and public places, which could put us all at risk. Please remember that the virus is NOT behind us, and we must not let down our guard. Physical distancing and frequent hand-washing, as well as wearing masks when physical distancing is a challenge, remain our best defence against COVID-19. 

Before I close, I want to wish London's Muslim community a joyous celebration of Eid al-Fitr on Sunday May 24, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Eid Mubarak my friends!

Be safe and take care,


 

COVID-19 Testing 

Ontario has consistently underperformed on COVID-19 testing, failing to hit targets all but one time since April 15. This past week saw dismal testing numbers as the number of tests dipped below 10,000 - an average of less than 9,000 per day and well below the current test goal of 20,000 every 24 hours. Yet, even as testing is down, new cases have risen. Friday saw the highest number of new cases reported in Ontario in two weeks.

The Ontario NDP is calling for a new testing regime in Ontario that includes systematic testing for essential workers and people returning to work, all congregate care settings, and mobile testing centres to begin random community testing. Without accurate information on community spread, we cannot ensure the safe reopening of our economy.  

In London, testing is available at the COVID-19 Assessment Centres at Oakridge Arena and Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre for anyone with symptoms of the virus.

 

COVID-19 Government Updates

Emergency Orders Extended

Emergency orders will remain in effect until May 29, 2020, including the closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery only, and restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people.

The orders were amended to allow drive-in religious gatherings, and to open some outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in park and recreational areas.


Wear a Mask When Physical Distancing is Not Possible

The Ministry of Health is recommending that face coverings be worn on public transit and when physical distancing is a challenge, and released specific recommendations on how to choose, wear and care for appropriate face coverings. The Public Health Agency of Canada also recommends that masks be worn when physical distancing cannot be maintained.  


Canada-US Border Remains Closed

As provinces slowly reopen, Canada's border with the United States will remain closed to all non-essential travel until at least June 21.


Schools, Child Care and Summer Camps

The Ontario government announced that schools will remain closed for the rest of this school year, An optional summer learning program will be launched for students who want to continue studying online. Plans for the reopening of schools in the 2020-2021 school year will be announced later this summer. 

Licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs also remain closed. Planning is underway for the gradual reopening of child care centers when the province is ready to transition to Stage 2 of the framework.

Overnight camps will not be permitted. however, if public health indicators improve, the province will consider opening both indoor and outdoor summer day camps in July and August under strict health and safety measures. 

As parents are called back to work without access to schools and child care centres, there is a pressing need for a child care plan and additional parent supports. If you are caring for children at home, please let me know how you are managing, and what additional supports could help your family.


Federal-Provincial Rent Support Program

The application portal for the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) will open on Monday, May 25 at 8am. Interested commercial landlords can visit the CMHC website for details about the application process.

Because CECRA relies on the willingness of commercial landlords to participate, many small businesses will not see any rent relief if their landlord does not apply. Earlier this month all London BIAs, the London Economic Development Corporation, the Small Business Centre, Tech Alliance, and Pillar Nonprofit Network, with support from Mayor Ed Holder, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister and the Premier highlighting the urgency of more rent relief measures for local businesses

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses reports that half of small businesses will not be able to pay June rent without further help from government. While the Ford government ignores calls from small businesses owners for a ban on commercial evictions, the Ontario NDP continues to advocate for our Save Main Street plan, which includes a commercial rent subsidy of 75 per cent, of up to $10,000, for three months.


National Parks Begin to Reopen

With Ontario provincial parks and conservation reserves open for walking, hiking and biking as of May 15, Parks Canada has announced that some national parks will reopen on June 1 with access to some trails, day use areas, and green spaces. There will be services in place to promote physical distancing. All camping facilities will remain closed until at least June 21, 2020, while Parks Canada assesses whether and how these services might resume. Group activities also remain prohibited.


Support for Hospitality Workers and Apprentices

The Ontario government announced Ontario's first Virtual Action Centre, an online counselling and training portal, to support laid off and unemployed hospitality workers.

Eligible apprentices will be able to receive an Ontario Tools Grant to purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade ($1,000 for those in motive power sector trades, $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades, and $400 for those in service sector trades). Any outstanding loans owed by apprentices for tool purchases made at the beginning of their careers will be forgiven.


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

"Gotta Be Patient" - a Stay Homas Cover

The Westmount Howl

Teachers and students from Westmount Public School are sharing COVID-themed cover songs on their Westmount Howl youtube channel. Songs like "Stuck in the Covid with You" and "I Wanna Wash My Hands" are keeping the community entertained and connected.

 

London Research Receives Funding

Three London projects are among just fifteen selected for funding through the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund:

  • Shawn Li, at Western University, is developing a point-of-care blood test to identify infected individuals, including those without symptoms while also working on strategies to produce antibodies for treatment and vaccine development.
  • Also at Western, Jason's Gilliland's FRESHER Ontario project will examine the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 in Southwestern Ontario to help inform policies for food security, incentivize economic growth, and improve business resiliency.
  • At Lawson Research Institute, Claudio Martin is leading clinical research into the effects of using Annexin A5, a human protein, to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients who develop sepsis. Many critically ill COVID-19 patients develop sepsis just before acute respiratory distress syndrome.
 

Contact Tracing at MLHU

CBC National News recently featured the great work that Middlesex-London Health Unit is doing on COVID-19 contact tracing. Thank you to the MLHU team of contact tracers working long hours to track down anyone who has recently come into contact with known COVID-19 cases. 

To learn more about London's public health response to COVID-19, tune in to twice weekly briefing webinars held Tuesdays and Fridays from 12:30pm to 1pm. Questions can be submitted in advance to healthcareproviders@mlhu.on.ca.

 

Local Companies Combat COVID

The London Economic Development Corporation is putting a spotlight on local companies that are shifting gears to support COVID relief efforts. Learn more about what they are doing to #CombatCOVID, from pivoting production to manufacturing or donating essential products. Thank you to the many companies and individuals that are stepping up in the fight against COVID-19!

 

Some Park Facilities Open

The City of London is beginning to reopen park amenities. While visiting parks, health measures and precautions remain critical to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community. This includes physical distancing, and limiting the size of gatherings to no more than five people, unless they are from within the same household.

Click here to see a list of amenities that are open and permitted activities. Outdoor playgrounds and equipment, pools, spray pads, wading pools, some sports fields, and all indoor facilities remain closed.

 

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.

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

COVID-19.Ontario.ca - 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**

 

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. 
 

Friendly Callers

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 iabs.intake@cmhamiddlesex.ca Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

 

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