Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Dear Neighbour,

The summer session of the Ontario Legislature ended this week on July 21, with the passage of two highly contentious bills that were rushed through the legislature with limited debate, and without any opportunity for public input or amendment.

Bill 195 allows the government to extend emergency orders for as long as two years after the end of Declaration of Emergency. The legislation was opposed by MPPs from all opposition parties, as well as many civil society organizations, as an unprecedented overreach of parliamentary democracy. It was also opposed by a lone Conservative MPP, Belinda Karahalios from Cambridge, who was removed from the Conservative caucus for taking a principled position against her party.

Bill 197 (the so-called "COVID Recovery" act) is a sweeping omnibus bill that does almost nothing to provide the support that people and small businesses need to deal with the financial and other hardships of COVID-19. Instead, Bill 197 erodes our public education system and undermines environmental protection, along with other troubling changes. According to Ontario's Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, the bill also violated the public consultation requirements of the Environmental Bill of Rights.

Auditor General Lysyk also announced on Friday that she will be investigating the Ford government’s misleading spending claims on the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), a concern that was highlighted by the Financial Accountability Officer (FAO) in his recent report on OAP funding. According to the FAO, waitlists for service have increased to 27,600 children in 2019-2020 from 24,900 last year. The FAO said that the Ford government’s revised budget of $600 million falls far short of the $1.4 billion that is needed for a needs-based autism program that doesn’t leave children languishing on wait lists.The Official Opposition is continuing to push for a fully funded needs-based autism program to ensure that - like health care - children can access autism services based on need rather than age, or arbitrary financial allocations per child.

Long-term care was once again in the news this week, as Ontarians await details of the government’s long-term care commission. A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that for-profit long-term care homes in Ontario saw significantly worse outbreaks of COVID-19 and more related deaths than their non-profit or municipally run counterparts, increasing the urgency of demands to put care before profits. A survey of long-term care home staff conducted by the Ontario Health Coalition revealed that 95 percent of LTC workers say that their long-term care homes are short staffed, causing many residents to go without basic care needs being met. 

The Official Opposition will continue to call for a fully independent, find-and-fix long-term care judicial inquiry that includes scrutiny of the role of profits in long-term care, and ensures enough staff on each shift to provide a minimum of four hours of hands-on care per resident per day. PSW jobs must also be full-time, with better pay, benefits and job security.

With an extended heat warning in effect for Middlesex-London until July 28, I hope that you and your families are able to find some respite from the heat. Given the end of the COVID-19 Declaration of Emergency and the rising of the Ontario Legislature, please note that I will be issuing my newsletter every two weeks instead of weekly. My next issue will be August 8. 

Stay safe and take care,     

 

 

Essential Caregiver Strategy

My MPP colleague Lisa Gretzky tabled a motion this week urging the immediate implementation of a COVID-19 Essential Caregiver Strategy to recognize caregivers as more than just visitors. The strategy would give residents in long-term care, group homes and all congregate care settings the right to fully access their essential caregivers and support persons, while giving facilities the resources they need to provide safe access. It would also require any future policies regarding essential caregivers to be made in consultation with residents, patients, families, experts, and workers. 
 
Without the essential support of family caregivers during the pandemic, many families have been racked with worry about their loved ones. Advocacy groups and experts including the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, and the National Institute on Ageing, have all released detailed essential caregiver plans, urging the safe return of essential caregivers and support persons back into congregate care settings.

Current visitation policies may exclude family caregivers, or are confusing, inconsistent, or difficult to implement. This has kept family caregivers and other support people away from children in group homes and seniors in long-term care who need the extra support and care. We must put a strategy in place now so that if a second wave of COVID-19 hits, or if another similar situation arises in the future, essential caregivers can continue to be there for the people who need them.

 

Around London

ACORN London

MPP Terence Kernaghan and I joined the new London chapter of ACORN Canada to raise concerns about the fast-tracking of evictions allowed under Bill 184, which passed into law this week, and the lifting of the moratorium on evictions at the end of July. As an organization that represents low and moderate income tenants, ACORN members delivered a letter to the Landlord and Tenant Board calling for an extension of the moratorium on evictions, as well as a Rent Forgiveness Program for all vulnerable tenants.

If you are facing eviction and don't know what to do, please contact my office. 

 

Western Ontario Health Team Announced

The province has approved the Western Ontario Health Team serving London and MIddlesex. The purpose of the health team is to provide coordinated care as patients transition between providers like hospitals, home care and long-term care. Most people in London West will experience no change in the way they access healthcare as the Western Ontario team focuses its first year on serving patients with COPD or heart failure who need more coordinated care to prevent future hospital visits. 
 

Green and Just Recovery Town Hall

Many thanks to the diverse local organizations that came together to host the Green and Just Recovery Town Hall on July 22, including the Council of Canadians London Chapter, Women & Politics, Urban League London, Climate Action London, London Environmental Network, For Our Kids,  Association of Iroquois and Allied IndiansMiddlesex-London Food Policy Council, London Poverty Research Centre and Atlohsa. The event featured presentations by youth climate activist Genevieve Langille, AIAI Grand Chief Joel Abram, and Malvin Wright from the Black London Network, followed by a panel of elected representatives. I was pleased to participate along with London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos and Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer. 
 

As surgeries begin to be rescheduled and people resume regular activities, there are over 21,000 blood donation appointments that need to be filled between now and the August long weekend. London has over 1,000 of those appointment slots available!

Donation times are by appointment only. You can book yours by calling 1-888-2-DONATE, online at blood.ca, or with the GiveBlood app, available on the App Store or Google Play.

 
 

COVID-19 Developments

Provincial Government Updates

Declaration of Emergency and Emergency Orders 
The provincial declaration of emergency expired on July 24, however, most of the emergency orders that were introduced under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) remain in force until July 29. This includes orders that guide business operations and public gatherings under Stage 3 of the reopening framework.

Although the official emergency has ended, COVID-19 is still very much present in Ontario. As the economy reopens, it will be more important than ever to follow public health and municipal orders on physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, staying home when sick, and wearing masks in indoor public places and on public or commercial transit.  


AffordAbility Fund Closing
The AffordAbility Fund, which has helped Ontarians pay for energy-saving upgrades since 2017, will stop accepting applications on July 31, 2020. To find out what you qualify for, visit affordabilityfund.org. Apply online or by calling 1-855-494-FUND (3863).

The following programs will continue to accept new applications:


Social Assistance COVID Emergency Benefit Ending

If you are on ODSP or OW and have additional expenses related to the COVID-19 outbreak (and don’t receive Canada Emergency Response Benefit income) you are eligible for monthly payments of $100 for a single person or $200 for a family until the end of July 2020

Although people with disabilities were among the hardest hit by COVID-19, the government did not implement this benefit automatically, which excluded many people on social assistance if they did not apply. The government has indicated that the benefit can not be claimed retroactively, but applications for July benefits can still be submitted by email to ODSP.EmergencyBenefit@ontario.ca or calling 1-888-444-2412 with your name, member ID and your additional expenses.

 

London Updates

Mandatory Mask By-Law
City of London Council has passed a mandatory mask by-law. Whereas the health unit's previous by-law placed the onus on business owners to ensure masks were worn in their facilities, the municipal by-law makes individuals accountable for wearing a face covering or mask in all enclosed publicly-accessible spaces in London. 

Operators of enclosed public spaces are required to post visible signs with specific messaging about the by-law that indicates the face covering requirement.

The by-law includes exemptions for those who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, children under the age of 12, and other accommodations under the Ontario Human Rights Code. The by-law also permits the temporary removal of a mask or face covering when receiving services, having a meal, or engaging in athletic or fitness activity.

Full details are available at london.ca/mask-bylaw and in the by-law.

 

Federal Government Updates

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will expand eligibility for the program, and extend it until December 2020. The Council of Canadian Innovators will host an information session about the updates on July 27 at 11:30 a.m. Interested business leaders can register online.


Essential Services Contingency Reserve
The federal Ministry of Public Services and Procurement has announced that eligible essential service business or organizations may apply to receive personal protective equipment, non-medical masks and disinfection products to address urgent, short-term (45 days) needs through the Essential Services Contingency Reserve. Registration in the program will open August 3, 2020.

 
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.
 
 
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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