Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Dear Neighbour,

First, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to anyone affected by today's Westmount building collapse, especially the families of the workers trapped or injured and the worker rushed to hospital without vital signs. There are many critical questions about how this workplace tragedy happened and how it could have been prevented. 

With our local COVID-19 case count trending steadily upward over the past few weeks, it was announced today that London will move into the Red-Control category of the reopening framework as of Monday and new public health guidance has been issued by the Middlesex-London Health Unit. We can still enjoy the holiday spirit without letting our guard down, and it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant as a community. The outbreak at London Health Sciences Centre has shown how quickly the virus can spread.  

Recently Ontarians learned from the Auditor General that the government's COVID response was slower and less effective than it could have been, and this week the Financial Accountability Officer reported the government is sitting on $12 billion in unspent COVID relief funds. The vaccine may be the light in the tunnel that we all need to keep doing our part, but 10 months into the pandemic and days before vaccinations start, it is not good enough for the government to simply sit back and wait. The government must immediately invest the $12 billion to hire staff in long-term care, dramatically expand testing and contact tracing (including for students), give workers paid sick days, and build isolation centres, to prevent more unnecessary suffering and tragic loss of life while the vaccine rolls out in the months ahead. 

This is also not the time for MPPs to go home, which is what happened on Tuesday when the government unexpectedly adjourned the Legislature two days early. The fall session was notable for several highly contentious bills, including Bill 229 which undermines the vital role of conservation authorities in watershed protection and helps insider developers access Minister's Zoning Orders (MZOs) to pave over environmentally sensitive lands. My office has been flooded with emails from Londoners who are unanimously and overwhelmingly opposed to these measures that put our environment at risk.   

Although Queen's Park will not sit again until February, we will continue pushing the government to take action on the many urgent issues that need to be addressed, in particular, allocating the $12 billion dollars of available funds to keep Ontarians safe and our struggling economy alive.

Stay safe and take care,

 


In this newsletter:
 

Stay Home If You Are Sick Act

On Tuesday, I tabled the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act. My bill provides a made-in-Ontario framework for paid sick leave for all Ontario workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Almost 60% of Ontario workers, especially those who are low-wage, do not have access to paid sick days. They face an impossible choice if they are sick or if their child is sick. Staying home to recover or care for their child means giving up their paycheque, while going to work sick risks infecting their co-workers.

When staying home sick is not an option, especially in a public health emergency, it puts us all at risk. This bill will enable workers to stay home when they are sick.

  • It requires employers to provide 10 days of sick leave, seven of which are paid, plus an additional 14 paid sick days during an infectious disease emergency.
  • It makes the leave flexible, to recognize the reality of workers’ lives and caregiving responsibilities.
  • It removes the requirement for doctors’ notes.
  • It directs the government to create a two-part financial support program to assist employers to provide both types of sick leave, particularly struggling small businesses that have been hanging by a thread because of the lack of direct supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can find more information about my bill, and a petition urging the government to pass it now, on my website at peggysattler.ca/paidsickdays.
SIGN THE PETITION
Watch my press conference announcing the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act to learn why it is so important to our collective health.
I urged the premier to commit to passing my bill and giving Ontarians the paid sick days deserve, and our health and economy needs.
 

London Restaurants Need Support

Restaurant owners and workers are struggling to make ends meet, while being gouged by delivery apps that charge up to 30 percent when Ontarians support local establishments by ordering take-out and delivery.

For months, we have been calling for a cap on those fees to help struggling restaurants during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the government's recent legislation to cap delivery fees at 15 percent only applies to restaurants that are closed to in-person dining because they are in lock-down or by order of the local Medical Officer of Health. It does not apply to chains, or to restaurants that are struggling but permitted to remain open. This comes as a second blow to London business owners that were shut out of financial support while London was in the Yellow-Protect and Orange-Restrict categories. 

My colleagues and I want all restaurants and bars province-wide to be protected from gouging, and able to access support to help them stay afloat. Small businesses are an important part of the fabric of our community, and we need them to still be with us when we're able to visit them again.

 

Visible minorities disproportionately affected

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has released a new report that shows visible minorities are vastly overrepresented in London-area COVID-19 cases. While people who identify as visible minorities make up 17% of the population in Middlesex-London, they account for 32% of confirmed COVID cases. MLHU began collecting race-based data related to COVID-19 in April while the government did not require it province-wide until June.

The MLHU report on social determinants of health states, "The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing health inequities." As my colleagues and I have been saying since for months, our provincial response to the pandemic must take health equity into consideration when we are planning everything from access to PPE to supporting long-term recovery.
 

Where is the Schools Report?

We learned in the Auditor General's COVID-19 report that the government paid a private American consultant millions to develop a back to school plan that they may not have even followed. The government refuses to release the report so that Ontarians can see where taxpayer money went instead of being used to make classes smaller and safer.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in Ontario schools are increasing every day. With over 5,000 school-related cases, more than 1 in 6 schools across the province have a current COVID case. It is not enough to have preventative measures in other parts of our communities while classrooms are still crowded. We need to cap class sizes now, while there is still time to implement when students return from their winter break. It is worth wondering whether a limit on class sizes was one of the recommendations in the pricey consultant report that the government wants to keep secret.
 

Around London

Please join me to give the gift of life this holiday season through the Canadian Blood Services' Days of Giving!

  • December 16, 2020
  • Spots available 11am - 7pm
  • At Canadian Blood Services (820 Wharncliffe Rd S)

To donate blood or plasma with my group, you must book a spot by contacting my community office at psattler-co@ndp.on.ca or 519-657-3120.


 
 
I was delighted to attend Here Comes Santa, a creative and safe family event to bring holiday joy to the neighbourhood in place of the usual Hyde Park Santa Claus Parade. Many thanks to the Hyde Park Lions and Hyde Park BIA for organizing, and to all who dropped off much-needed donations for the Northwest London Resource Centre Emergency Food Cupboard, which provides food, hygiene items, and baby products for community members in need.

The London Police Services Board is seeking applications from citizens to participate on two Advisory Panels: 
  • Anti-Racism Advisory Panel (ARAP); and
  • Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Panel (MHAAP)
 

Your Voice at Queen's Park

I called on the government to provide whatever supports and resources are necessary to help LHSC contain the COVID-19 outbreak. 
I spoke with 980 CFPL's Devon Peacock about why I urged the province's involvement in the LHSC outbreak.

Speaking to the motion condeming McVety's hateful invective
Participating in second reading debate on Bill 213


Charles McVety, well known for his racist, homophobic and anti-Islamic statements, has struck a deal with the government—and without following due process—to allow his Canada Christian College to grant university degrees through Bill 213. I spoke in support of an Opposition Day Motion calling on the legislature to condemn the extreme and hateful invective of Charles McVety and oppose any efforts to make his Canada Christian College into an accredited university. You can read the full text of the motion here. Many government MPPs were clearly uncomfortable voting against the motion and did not cast a vote, which meant the motion carried. Later, those same government MPPs voted to pass Bill 213 into law. 


 

At Queen's Park, I shared the words of vulnerable Londoners struggling to survive in ODSP poverty. They have been forgotten by the government during this pandemic, with no increase to ODSP rates, and the elimination of a meagre pandemic top-up that many eligible people were not aware of.

This week, it was reported that the government is moving to reduce access to appeals for people whose social assistance applications are denied. Yet 60 to 70% of the time, those appeals determine that ODSP applicants are actually eligible for benefits, and taking away access to that process is unconscionable. We need to increase benefits and fix the approval process—not deny appeals!
 

COVID-19 Developments

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has issued new public health guidance and recommendations to help us Celebrate the Holiday Season Safely.  Please refer to the MLHU website for more details. The province has also provided some advice about safe holiday celebrations.
  • Safe: Stay with your household and celebrate the holidays with others virtually. If you live alone, you may consider having close contact exclusively with only one other household.
     
  • Use Caution: Outdoor gatherings with people who aren’t part of your household.
     
  • Unsafe: Indoor gatherings with anyone who isn’t part of your household.
 
London and all of the the Middlesex-London Health Unit region will move into the Red - Control level of the province's COVID-19 Response Framework. This means that there are heightened guidelines and measures in place for many sectors and businesses. Please visit the MLHU website for more information about provincial restrictions and additional measures recommended or required by the MLHU.
New restrictions at the Red-Control level include the following:
  • A limit of 5 people indoors and 25 people outdoors for all organized public events and social gatherings involving members of the same household. Permitted only where physical distancing can be maintained.
     
  • Screening of patrons is required at most establishments, including retail.
     
  • Bars, restaurants and meeting/event spaces must close by 10 p.m. No more than 10 people can be inside and no more than 4 people can be seated together. Dancing, singing, and live music are prohibited.
     
  • Liquor cannot be sold after 9 p.m. or consumed after 10 p.m. in most establishments.
     
  • At the gym, a maximum of 10 people are allowed in areas with weights and exercise machines or in classes, except for outdoor classes, which can have 25 people.
     
  • Patrons may only be in sports and recreational facilities for 90 minutes and no spectators are permitted except to supervise children. Team sports games and practices are not permitted, but training is allowed. Activities likely to result in people being closer than 2m apart are prohibited.
     
  • A maximum of 10 people can be seated in a mall food court. For all retail, patrons must stand at least 2m apart when in line, whether indoors or outdoors.
     
  • Personal Care services requiring removal of face coverings are prohibited. 
     
  • Movie theatres are closed except for drive-ins. Performing Arts Centres must also be closed to spectators.

  • Applications are being accepted now for another one-time provincial cheque for parents called Support for Learners. Eligible parents or guardians will receive a one-time payment of $200 for each child up to age 12 or $250 for each child or youth up to age 21 with special needs. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2021, and a separate application must be submitted for each child.
     
  • University Hospital is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and appointments at the hospital have been postponed, and visitors for most patients are not permitted except virtually. Despite the outbreak, LHSC reminds patients that the hospital remains open, and it is important that you do not delay seeking care for any urgent or emergent needs. 
     
  • To help reduce wait times and manage customer flow, ServiceOntario is now offering appointment booking at 42 of its busiest locations, including at the Dundas & Talbot location in London. Due to the risks associated with COVID-19, it is strongly recommended that customers continue to access services available online and only book an in-person appointment if necessary.

    If you are having trouble accessing any provincial services, my staff are available to help you at psattler-co@ndp.on.ca or 519-657-3120.
     
  • Senior drivers aged 80 and above may renew their driver's licences without completing a Group Education Session. In addition, drivers who would normally be required to visit a ServiceOntario centre to update their driver's licence photo may now renew online using their current driver's licence photo. These changes mean that all Class G and M drivers are now eligible to renew their licences online at ServiceOntario.ca. The extension of the validity of driver, vehicle and carrier products that would have expired on or after March 1, 2020 remains in effect until further notice.
     
  • A COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in Canada and is expected to be purchased by the federal government and begin to be distributed to provinces this month. The Ontario government has identified key populations to receive the vaccine in the first few months:
    • Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
    • Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
    • Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
    • Adult recipients of chronic home health care.
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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