Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Dear Neighbour,

Thank you to the more than 1700 residents of London West who participated by telephone or online in my COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall on Thursday June 25. I am grateful to Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie who joined me as my guest to help answer questions and address concerns. 

With some municipalities implementing or considering mandatory masking policies, there was a lot of interest in masks. Dr. Mackie acknowledged the research about the effectiveness of masks, even if they are not medical-grade, in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and advised people to look for masks or face coverings that fit close to the face. He emphasized, however, that physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home when sick remain the most proven ways to reduce the risk of infection. 

There were several questions about COVID diagnostic tests as well as antibody tests. While anyone can go to London's COVID-19 Asessment Centres at Oakridge Arena or Carling Heights to get a COVID test, Dr. Mackie cautioned that testing is much less useful when people are not showing symptoms, since they may contact the virus immediately following a negative result. Dr. Mackie also warned about the limits of antibody tests in diagnosing COVID-19, and in detecting whether someone had COVID-19 in the past. 

In response to concerns about the safety of students returning to school in the fall, Dr. Mackie highlighted the negative mental health impacts of social isolation and the importance of getting kids back to school. At the same time, he pointed out the extensive planning that will need to be undertaken, and the additional resources that will be necessary, to reduce the risk and make schools as safe as possible.

Finally, when asked about the second wave of the virus, Dr. Mackie agreed that COVID-19 cases will certainly rise as the economy reopens, as schools reopen, and as people spend more time indoors. He indicated that the impact of the second wave will largely depend on public support for efforts to prevent it. In the first wave, Ontarians were able to flatten the curve because of the unprecedented shutting down of the economy. It is unlikely that there will be the same willingness to accept such drastic measures a second time, which reinforces the need to continue to follow public health advice on reducing risk.

You can listen to the entire Town Hall on my website at:
www.peggysattler.ca/2020-06-25-covid_19_town_hall_with_dr_chris_mackie

I wish you and your family a happy July 1 this Wednesday. I will be joining Canadians across this vast and beautiful country in reflecting on what it means to be Canadian and acknowledging our shared responsibility for meaningful reconciliation with the First Peoples who were stewards of this land before us. 

 

 

Long-Term Care

This week we learned that the percentage of Canada's COVID-19 deaths among seniors in long-term care facilities is almost double the average of those in other OECD countries, largely because of the scale of the outbreaks in Ontario and Quebec. 

Troubling news also surfaced that the Premier was repeatedly warned about the horrific state of long-term care well before the Armed Forces pulled back the curtain, but twice refused to approve urgent requests for increased funding from within his own Cabinet. While families were being promised that everything was being done to protect their loved ones in long-term care homes, funding and staffing measures that would have saved lives were rejected. 

At Queen's Park, the Official Opposition joined families gathered on the lawn to protest the government's plans to protect long-term care corporations from liability for failing to protect their residents. We believe that families deserve justice and accountability from the private, for-profit companies that allowed the kind of neglect, lack of infection control, and appalling conditions to occur. We continue to call for a fully-independent judicial public inquiry into long-term care, and how this pandemic has played out. 
 

Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous Racism

A funeral was held this week for Ejaz Choudry, a Mississauga man who was the ninth Black, Indigenous or racialized person in Canada to die since April 20202 in an interaction with police. Most of these nine people lived with mental health issues and were in crisis when police arrived .    

An estimated 70 per cent of police-involved fatalities in Canada involve issues of mental health and addictions, and disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous or racialized communities. It is time for the violence to stop. For too long, police officers have had to assume the role of front-line mental health workers, without the specialized skills and training required to deal with mental health emergencies. Police budgets have ballooned to become the number one line item for many city budgets. Police oversight mechanisms have failed to provide the trust and confidence people need in the accountability of police services.  

Instead of expecting police to deliver mental health supports, we must demand increased investments in community-based mental health, social services, and crisis workers to help people in abject trauma. Let’s invest in Black, Indigenous, and racialized peoples’ lives. 

This week, the Official Opposition released a paper on this crucial subject, with specific commitments for change. I invite you to read it, and share your thoughts with us at psattler-qp@ndp.on.ca

 

Canada Day Lawn Signs

To help Londoners celebrate, I am offering FREE Canada Day lawn signs. Drop by 240 Commissioners Rd West (end unit) at the corner of Knights Hill Rd for contactless pickup. There are signs posted on the property - please help yourself! 

Signs will also be available for pickup Monday and Tuesday from 9:30am to 4pm outside my office. If you are not able to pick up a sign, and would like one delivered, please contact my office at psattler-co@ndp.on.ca or 519-657-3120.

 

The Hyland Reopens!

The Hyland Cinema, which specializes in art, independent, international and mainstream films, has installed an outdoor screen in its parking lot and already sold out its first shows on July 1 and 2.

 

COVID-19 Developments

Provincial Government Updates

Declaration of Emergency Extended to July 15
Ontario will remain under a Declaration of Emergency until July 15. This allows the government to issue new emergency orders and review existing emergency orders to determine when and if orders can be safely amended or removed as the economy reopens across the province. The Premier indicated that this may be the final extension, but any decision to extend further will be made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

At Queen's Park, I participated in the debate on extending the Declaration of Emergency, and you can read my full comments here

Emergency Orders Extended to July 10
Current emergency orders will remain in force until July 10, with the exception of restrictions that limited access to indoor sports and recreational fitness activities facilities. These facilities can now be used to train amateur or professional athletes, or to run certain non-contact amateur or professional athletic competitions in accordance with public health requirements. The changes will also enable many sports and recreational organizations to again offer sport training programming. A full list of emergency orders can be found at Ontario.ca/alert.

Reopening the Economy and Migrant Workers
With this week's announcement that the City of Toronto, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex will reopen, all of Ontario has now moved to Stage 2 of reopening, with the exception of the Municipality of Leamington and the Town of Kingsville.  These areas are being held back due to alarmingly high transmission rates in the local agriculture and agri-food sector, particularly among migrant farm workers.

Last weekend in London, a third migrant worker died of COVID-19. Appearing before a parliamentary committee, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu called the treatment of migrant workers during COVID-19 "a national disgrace.”  At Queen's Park, the Official Opposition continues to urge the government to strengthen measures to protect migrant farm workers.

New Math Curriculum
In the midst of all the uncertainty around the return to school in the fall during the COVID-19 pandemic, this week the government announced a new elementary school math curriculum.

The timing of this announcement raises concerns. I have received many emails and phone calls from anxious parents worried how they will find child care when their children are home, if schools reopen with a modified alternate-day schedule of both in-class and online instruction. School boards have been given just two months to prepare for the safe return to school, and September will already be a challenge for families, teachers and students without having to add the implementation of a new curriculum into the mix. 

 

London Updates

TVDSB Survey
The Thames Valley District School Board has launched an online survey to capture the concerns and expectations of families about the reopening of schools in September. Parents, students, and community members are invited to complete the survey by June 30. It is anonymous and takes 5-10 minutes. The survey can be provided in a different language by sending a request to research@tvdsb.ca.

City offering modified learn-to-swim lessons this summer
The City of London is offering learn-to-swim lessons at select aquatics locations beginning July 6. Swim lessons will be modified to follow guidelines and health precautions set out by the Province of Ontario and the Middlesex-London Health Unit, including physical distancing and group size restrictions. Details of lessons and swimming levels may be found at london.ca/swim2020. Registration will begin July 2 at 8:30 a.m.

 

Federal Government Updates

Canada Student Services Grant
The new Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) provides qualified post-secondary students and recent graduates with volunteer opportunities while supporting not-for-profit organizations with flexible solutions to address COVID-19 during summer 2020. Students can apply for grants from $1,000 up to $5,000 after completing qualifying volunteer hours. Visit iwanttohelp.org for more information.


Temporary layoff time limits extended
Federally regulated private-sector employerers will temporarily be allowed more time to recall laid-off employees before the lay-off automatically becomes a termination.

  • For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.
  • For employees laid off between March 31, 2020, and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020, unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff.
These changes, which came into effect on June 22, 2020, do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights, or to employees whose employment had already been terminated prior to the coming into force of the amendments, and will not apply to layoffs occurring after September 30, 2020.
 

New Resources

CLEO has added new information about the law and legal services during the COVID-19 situation, including answers to the following questions:

Please visit COVID-19: Updates on the law and legal services on Steps to Justice for information on other areas of the law including housing law, criminal law, family law, and provincial offences.

The response to COVID-19 is evolving rapidly, so please refer to linked sources and the following websites for the most up-to-date information: 
Canada.ca/coronavirus 

You can also find a range of helpful resources on my website at peggysattler.ca/covid19resources.
 

At Queen's Park

I rose in the legislature to ask the Premier how he will prevent a deadly second wave of COVID-19 if people cannot afford to stay home from work when they're sick, and why he is going against all public health advice and refusing to implement a paid sick leave program.
 
 
 
Community Office
240 Commissioners Rd W, Unit 106
London, ON N6J 1Y1
Tel: 519-657-3120
Queen's Park Office
Room 359, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A5
Tel: 416-325-6908
Email: psattler-qp@ndp.on.ca
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