Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Dear Neighbour,

As summer winds down, people across the province are preparing for a return to something a little closer to business as usual. For many people, though, the fall is bringing increased risk and uncertainty.

Families have made difficult back-to-school choices, even as the government's plan for their children's safety continues to evolve. Guidance documents on managing COVID outbreaks in schools were just released this week, and both local school boards have announced masking policies for all students as well as a delayed school start.

Some parents have chosen to keep their kids at home, knowing that this will require working from home (or quitting their jobs) and could negatively affect their children's social and mental well-being. Many have decided to send their children back into packed classrooms, understanding the risk that the lack of physical distancing will create for their kids and older or immuno-compromised loved ones. 

Despite the widespread recognition of smaller class sizes as a key strategy to protect children from the virus, the government has refused to reduce the number of students in elementary classrooms - even after the additional school reopening funding provided by the federal government. This is leaving parents, school boards, teachers and education workers scrambling to sort out a safe September without the resources they need. We must do everything possible to keep our schools and communities safe while there is still time, and I appreciated the advocacy of Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath during her visit to London this week.  .

Residents of long-term care homes are also worried because the government has failed to adequately prepare homes for a potential second wave of a virus that has already led to deaths of over 1,800 seniors in Ontario. It's especially concerning that the government may return control of homes where residents were badly neglected to their for-profit owners, and may even reimburse them for financial losses. It is irresponsible for the government to do this before investigations have been completed, and a detailed, public review has been conducted. The province must be prepared to permanently take over homes where the evidence calls for it. Ontarians deserve a public, community-based, non-profit long-term care system—one that doesn’t siphon away frontline funding to pad the pockets of multi-national corporate shareholders, including former premiers..
 
Lastly, many local businesses continue to struggle, but support programs are winding down. For example, commercial evictions will be allowed again in the province of Ontario next month, just as the largely ineffective commercial rental assistance program comes to a close. The Standing Committee of Finance and Economic Affairs is holding hearings on how COVID-19 has impacted small and medium enterprises. Business owners can send written statements until 6pm on Friday August 28. If you are a small business owner, please consider letting the government know what you need to recover from this pandemic.
 
I know that we are all eager to have more normalcy in our lives, but we are not out of the woods yet. As you enjoy the last days of summer, please remember to observe physical distancing, practice good hand hygiene, stay home when sick, and wear a mask indoors or where physical distancing is not possible. We can help prevent the resurgence of COVID-19 in our community by continuing to work together.

Stay safe and take care,

 

 

Paid Sick Leave Saves Lives

More than half of Canadian workers have no paid sick days. Health providers at the Decent Work and Health Network have released a ground-breaking new report on how Canada and Ontario can close this paid sick day gap.

Paid sick days are an issue not only of public health, but also of equity. Low income, racialized, and women workers are the least likely to have the basic protection of paid sick days, and the most likely to have to choose between staying home when sick or putting food on the table.

With experts warning of a fall peak of COVID-19, and students returning to school in just a few weeks, we need to make paid sick days available to every worker before it’s too late.

This report, the first of its kind, explains the benefits of permanent, universal, and seamlessly accessible paid sick days for every worker, and shows us how to make it happen.

 

Around London

Londoners Complete Lake Erie Challenge

Congratulations to Londoners Rose Sirois and Rachelle Cardinal who were among the seven Ontario athletes to complete the Canadian Freshwater Alliance's third annual Lake Erie Challenge. Rose kayaked 20 km from Kingsville to Leamington, and Rachelle travelled 20km from Amherstburg to Colchester on a stand-up paddleboard. The Lake Erie Challenge was started in 2018 to celebrate Lake Erie, raise awareness about the environmental issues that it faces, such as toxic and harmful algal blooms, and show that it is possible and vital to protect and preserve the lake. 

 

Watch MLHU COVID-19 Town Hall

On August 17, the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Chris Mackie, held a COVID-19 town hall. If you missed it, you can still watch the town hall video online.
 
 
 
 

COVID-19 Developments

Provincial Government Updates

Orders Extended Under the Reopening Ontario Act
All orders under the Reopening Ontario Act have been extended to September 22, 2020, with the following exceptions:

The extended orders include the Rules for Areas in Stage 3.

Indoor Capacity for Meeting & Event Facilities and Fitness Centres Expanded
Professional meeting and event facilities can now have up to 50 guests for each indoor meeting room or event space within the facility, provided they adhere to a plan approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. The number of people permitted is also limited by distancing requirements, and outdoor gathering limits are unchanged.

Sport, fitness and recreation facilities now also have a capacity limit applied on a per room basis, and can have up to 50 patrons for each indoor sport or fitness room, while ensuring physical distancing of at least two metres.


Infant Hearing Checks Resume
Infant Hearing Program agencies are now starting to resume in-person services. If your baby didn’t receive the newborn hearing screen due to the COVID-19 outbreak, your child can still receive a hearing check. Infant Hearing Program lead agencies will arrange a hearing check for all babies who missed their newborn hearing screen. In London, contact the Thames Valley Children's Centre at 519-663-0273 or 1-877-818-8255.

 

London Updates

$500 Mask By-law Fine Approved
The City of London has now received approval for a set fine of $500 that may be applied to individuals, either customers or employees, not wearing a face covering or mask, or to businesses that do not have proper signage displayed in accordance with the City's Mandatory Face Coverings By-law.


City extending two-hour free parking in London’s core this fall
To help support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City is extending two-hour free parking in London’s core through September. .

 

Federal Government Updates

CERB Ending
The Government of Canada is ending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), effective September 27, 2020. People who still need income support may be able to access one or more of the following programs, which will be available for one year beginning September 27:

  • an Employment Insurance (EI) program with broadened eligibility, and an increased minimum benefit rate of $400/week.
     
  • a new Canada Recovery Benefit, for those who are not eligible for EI, mainly the self-employed and including those working in the gig economy, which will provide a benefit of $400/week for up to 26 weeks. The program will be available for one year, beginning September 27.
     
  • a new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which will provide $500/week, for up to two weeks, for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. The program will be available for one year, beginning September 27.
     
  • a new Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit, which will provide $500/week, for up to 26 weeks per household, to Canadians who have to miss work to care for a child or family member with a disability who cannot attend school or daycare because of COVID-19, such as in the event of a school closure.


Canadians already receiving benefits through Service Canada will be transitioned to the EI program once they have received the maximum CERB benefits for which they are entitled, if they are EI eligible and continue to need income support.

Canadians who are currently receiving the CERB from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) who believe they are entitled to EI will need to apply through Service Canada after September 26.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) would administer the new Canada Recovery Benefits, and Canadians would be able to apply through the CRA.  In the coming weeks, the CRA will provide more details on how and when Canadians can get ready to apply at www.canada.ca/coronavirus.


Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Canada Revenue Agency has opened applications for Period 5 – the first period of the enhanced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program, which has been extended until November 21, 2020. Program changes for Periods 5-9 include increased eligibility, higher subsidy rates for especially hard-hit employers, and a guarantee that employers will not receive a subsidy rate lower than they would have under the previous rules.
 

New Resources

Support for Tourism & Hospitality Workers 
If you are a tourism and hospital worker, and you are out of work or working less due to COVID-19, help is available through the Tourism & Hospitality Emergency Response. Visit TourismHospitalityWorkers.ca for information on training, employment supports, and relief programs. You can also register for the Tourism & Hospitality Workers’ Registry to receive information about job opportunities, safe return to work, and regional and virtual employment services.  This initiative is led by OTEC and funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre and the Government of Ontario.
 

Pandemic Planning: Reopening for Business
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has released the e-course Pandemic Planning: Reopening for Business, to help organizations across Canada safely return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics covered in the course include how coronavirus spreads and its symptoms, employer and worker duties and responsibilities in a COVID-19 return to business plan, methods of control (including cleaning and disinfecting), how to manage the workplace and prepare workers for a safe return, and understanding the impacts of a pandemic on mental health.

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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