Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 
Dear Neighbour,

Our hearts collectively broke this week when we read the shockng report of the Canadian Armed Forces about atrocious conditions in the five Ontario long-term care homes where military personnel had been deployed.

More than anguish, we also felt outrage - outrage about the cockroach infestations, rotten food, untreated pressure ulcers, residents left in soiled diapers, not bathed for weeks and crying out for help.

The horror seniors in these facilities are enduring is inhumane, but this crisis is far from new. For a generation, seniors care in Ontario has been getting worse. Families and front-line workers have been pleading for help. The media has reported stories of residents with horrific bedsores, unseen falls and recurring infections. Court affidavits have been filed. Yet time and again, the government of the day has failed to act.

In the late 1990s, former Premier Mike Harris opened the door to for-profit companies operating long-term care homes in Ontario. Companies swooped in, taking advantage of the lack of regulations to cut corners, and pocket the difference as profit. Between 2007 and 2016, Elizabeth Wettlaufer murdered eight long-term care residents and tried to murder six more. An inquiry showed how understaffing helped allow that to go unnoticed. The Ford government has gone down the same road, conducting just nine annual comprehensive inspections — called resident quality inspections — out of 626 long-term care homes. In his first budget, Doug Ford cut $34 million from long-term care.

Ontario's Minister of Long Term Care has confirmed that 19 of the province’s long-term care homes are classified as “red,” meaning they are highest risk. Provincial inspection teams will be sent into these homes over the next three weeks but the public will not know which homes are being inspected. The Official Opposition is calling for public release of this list of homes, to let families and residents know which facilities are most problematic. We are urging a hospital or public health authority to take over every unsafe long-term care home in the province. And we will continue to call for a comprehensive, find-and-fix, judicial public inquiry into long-term care.

One in three long-term care residents to contract COVID-19 in Ontario has already died, But there are still so many precious lives to be saved. Seniors and their families deserve so much better, and must no longer be ignored. 

Be safe and take care, 

 

New Testing Strategy 

After weeks of being urged by the Official Opposition and health experts, the government has announced that it is expanding its testing strategy to include neighbourhood "hot spots", certain workplaces, and groups in congregate living settings like shelters and group homes. However, the government is not setting testing targets, transparent benchmarks, or firm timelines for the safe transition to Stage 2 of reopening the economy. 

With data showing that the Greater Toronto Area accounts for 65.8 per cent of the province’s COVID-19 cases, a coordinated effort by local medical officers of health has produced a detailed metric to guide decisions about easing restrictions on the economy, based on seven-day averages of new COVID-19 cases, available ICU and hospital capacity, adequate levels of testing, and contact tracing. The plan was endorsed by the Ontario NDP, and on Friday, the Premier indicated a willingness to consider using a regional approach instead of one-size-fits-all measures across the province. 

The NDP will continue to urge the Ford government to expand its testing strategy beyond assessment centres, including using mobile testing that goes directly to people. We are also calling for the immediate deployment of additional resources to hot spots, including testing and contact tracing resources, PPE and financial supports.

 

COVID-19 Government Updates

Batting Cages and Drive-in Theatres Open May 31

Effective this Sunday, drive-in movie theatres that were in existence before May 29, 2020  will be permitted to reopen with restrictions. The government is also allowing batting cages to open so that people can start to enjoy outdoor seasonal activities at safe physical distances. Emergency orders related to drive-in cinemas and drive-in religious services now allow the use of washrooms provided health and safety requirements are followed


Extension of Emergency Orders

The Government of Ontario is extending all emergency orders in force under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 9.


Some Health Care Providers Reopening

Dentists, optometrists and massage therapists are part of a list of health-care providers that the Ontario government says can gradually reopen. Chiropractors, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians, denturists, and midwives are also included on the list released Wednesday as part of a new order from the province's chief medical officer of health. While the order takes effect immediately, that does not mean that all health services will be available right away. 


Backcountry Camping in Ontario Parks

As of June 1, backcountry camping will be available at Ontario Parks, including access points, paddle and portage routes and hiking trails. No more than five people will be allowed to occupy a backcountry campsite during their stay, unless they live in the same household. Advanced reservations or registrations will be required at most of the 20 operating provincial parks that are offering backcountry camping.

In addition, Ontario is reopening recreational camping on Crown land while reminding visitors to continue to adhere to public health advice as the best defense against COVID-19, such as practicing physical distancing, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge, and frequent hand washing. 

The closure of all other overnight camping and some day-use activities at provincial parks and conservation reserves has been extended to June 14 and will continue to be reassessed. Ontario Parks will be expanding day-use activities to include picnicking and off-leash pet areas. All buildings and facilities including campgrounds, roofed accommodations, visitor centers, park stores, playgrounds, and beaches remain closed. Some washroom facilities may be available.


Pandemic Pay

Many front-line health care workers remain excluded from the government's $4/hour pandemic pay program, and those who are eligible still haven't received the wage enhancement that was promised more than a month ago. According to a letter sent by a group of health care CEOs to the Premier, this failure has led to "extreme morale issues" for front-line hospital staff, about one-third of whom will not receive the wage top-up, despite the risks they face daily in the fight against COVID-19. This failure to pay workers is unacceptable, and the Official Opposition has called on the government to get the funds moving immediately and to expand it to all front-line and essential workers. 


Paid Sick Days

Thanks to the advocacy of federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, the federal government announced that it  will be working with the provinces and territories to ensure that every Canadian worker can access 10 days of paid sick leave a year, during the pandemic and beyond. As we move into the recovery phase of COVID-19, paid sick leave is crucial for the safe reopening of our economy. It will ensure that people can stay home from work when they are sick without fear of not being able to pay their bills, and will give the public confidence that businesses and workplaces are safe. 


Youth Employment and Skills Program

The Government of Canada announced an investment of up to $9.2 million to enhance the Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) and fund up to 700 new positions for youth in the agriculture industry.

The YESP will provide agriculture employers up to 50 per cent of the cost of hiring a Canadian youth up to $14,000. Indigenous applicants and those applicants hiring a youth facing barriers are eligible for funding of up to 80 per cent of their costs.

Eligible applicants include producers, agri-businesses, industry associations, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous organizations and research facilities. Employers may apply for this funding retroactive to April 1, 2020, with projects to be completed by March 31, 2021. Application forms are available through the Youth Employment and Skills Program, or to get more information, please contact aafc.yesp-pecj.aac@canada.ca, or call: 1-866-452-5558.


Innovative Ideas Wanted

The Department of National Defence (DND) announced the first of a series of calls for innovations aimed at addressing some of the key challenges Canada is facing. With an initial commitment of $15M, the first three challenges focus on:

  • Viable and effective processes and methods for safely and rapidly decontaminating enclosed work environments (e.g., buildings and modes of transportation) containing sensitive equipment;
  • Innovative material and designs to aid in decontamination of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), operational clothing and equipment for personnel responding to events involving biological hazards; and
  • Data gathering solutions to support the early detection and community-based monitoring of outbreaks of contagious diseases.

Innovators are encouraged to consult the IDEaS program website for more information on the challenges and how to apply to the program.

Ontario innovators should also consider applying for Ontario Together grants, a $50M fund to support submissions to retool or adopt the technological changes needed to produce supplies and equipment for the health care sector or other critical public services. See TechAlliance for Three Key Takeaways about the fund. 


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

COVID-19 Testing

Testing is now available at London COVID-19 Assessment Centres for anyone who

  • has at least one symptom of COVID-19, even mild symptom(s),
  • is asymptomatic but concerned they may have been exposed to COVID-19, or
  • is asymptomatic but at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment

The Assessment Centres' locations and hours of operation are:

  • Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre (CHOCC) Assessment Centre
    656 Elizabeth St, London, ON
    Monday to Sunday
    11am - 7pm.
  • Oakridge Arena Assessment Centre
    825 Valetta St, London, ON
    Monday to Friday
    11am - 7pm .

Green and Inclusive Recovery Town Hall

I will take part in a town hall hosted by community partners, where we will share ideas about how the city and province can recover from COVID-19 in ways that create a more just, inclusive, and sustainable society. Join us June 2 at 7 p.m. to be part of the discussion. Registration is free on Eventbrite.


The Impact of Coronovirus on Disability Benefits

Fibromyalgia London Group and Bogoroch & Associates is hosting a free information session on Friday, June 12 from 11am - 12pm that will include:

  • An overview of Canadian and Ontario Disability Benefits
  • Explanation and Guidelines on:
    • Canada Pension Plan Disability
    • Ontario Works
    • Ontario Disability Support Program
    • Private Insurance
    • Other Resources for income support
  • Access to Disability Benefits and Long-term Disability Claims during Canada's Emergency Lock-down and Reopening
  • Questions & Answers

Email fmgroup.london@gmail.com to register and receive ZOOM link and password 


London Cyclists Deliver Food to Homeless

Close to 30 volunteer cyclists have begun assisting RBC Place and the London Food Bank with delivering bagged lunches across the city, reaching each day more than 150 homeless people, many of which wouldn’t normally access services offered by the food bank.


Household Special Waste Depot Open

The Household Special Waste Depot and drop off area at the landfill reopened on Tuesday, May 26 for public use. Residents are reminded not to dispose of household special waste like paint, batteries, and bleach through curbside garbage collection. These hazardous items can be safely disposed of at the Household Special Waste Depot at 3502 Manning Drive.

Residents can also drop of leaves and brush, Blue Box recyclables, tires, electronics like TVs and monitors, and scrap metal. Get more information on the City of London website.


Fanshawe researchers studying possible way to stop virus's spread in body

Researchers at Fanshawe’s Centre for Applied Research and Innovation in Biotechnology (CARIB) labs are studying a process that could lead to an effective treatment for 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.

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**

Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has produced a COVID-19 benefits chart with information about the benefits available under federal and provincial programs, and who is eligible. 

You can also check out the Frequently Asked Questions page for practical answers to important questions about the law and legal services during the COVID-19 emergency. 
 

Learn at Home with CMHR

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has resources for learning at home, including stories about human rights defenders and events, virtual tours, an augmented reality experience, films, an online project with teacher guide, as well as virtual lessons about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Supreme Court of Canada.

 

YMCA at Home

YMCA at Home is free for everyone and is a virtual YMCA connecting people to at-home workouts, children’s programs and physical activity, and personal wellness resources.

 

Ontario Parent Survey

McMaster University researchers have launched a province-wide online survey to help understand what families with children are experiencing in the context of COVID-19, and what services families and caregivers may need. Parents and caregivers can participate in the survey by going to OntarioParentSurvey.ca.

 

Business Resilience Service

The Business Resilience Service (BRS) allows small- to medium-sized businesses, not-for-profits and charities to connect free-of-charge with experienced business advisors from across Canada for guidance on COVID-19 financial support program options, and how to plan for recovery in a time of uncertainty. To access the BRS call 1-866-989-1080 to connect with a business advisor from the accounting profession. The service is available 7 days/week from 8am – 8pm.

 

Canadian Cancer Society COVID-19 Webinars

Canadian Cancer Society webinars on COVID-19 for cancer patients provide expert input on some central issues affecting people living with cancer and their caregivers. More information can be found on the Cancer and COVID-19 webpage.

 

 

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