Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

Ontario marked a sombre anniversary this week. It has been one year since the province's first COVID-19 case was confirmed, and as of today, more than 6,000 lives have been tragically lost.

Sincere thanks to all who have reached out to my office over these many months with your questions, concerns, and ideas. We are hearing from hundreds of people every day, and my small and dedicated team and I are working hard to get back to people as quickly as possible.

Many of you have raised concerns about the impact of the pandemic on mental health, especially for young people. Social isolation, financial worries, separation from loved ones and the challenges of remote learning are all taking a huge toll. After years of underfunding mental health and addictions services, the pandemic has heightened the urgency of increasing funding and resources for mental health and addictions — now and as we recover from COVID-19.

My colleagues and I will continue to urge the government to make the investments needed to support Ontarians' mental health and wellbeing and build healthier communities. On Tuesday, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a study showing that Ontario continues to sit on billions of unallocated COVID-19 federal funding. Equally troubling, Ontario has spent less than any other province outside Atlantic Canada on supports for people.

This week we saw more tragedy in the long-term care sector, with confirmation of the "brutally unforgiving" COVID variant claiming 49 lives and infecting 214 residents of Roberta Place in Barrie, and horrifying stories of "war-zone" conditions at Grace Villa in Hamilton. In London, we learned of the devastating loss of 19-year old Yassin Dabeh, who worked as a contract cleaner at Middlesex Terrace Long-Term Care, where 13 residents have died since an outbreak was declared on December 23, 2020.

More and more Ontarians are recognizing the moral and ethical imperative of taking profits out of long-term care, including 800+ doctors, healthcare providers and researchers who released an open letter calling on the province to act immediately to end the humanitarian crisis in Ontario's long-term care system. My colleagues and I will keep fighting for every one of their recommendations, and are committed to removing for-profit corporations from our system of long-term care.

Stay safe and take care,

 

Although my community office is closed to in-person meetings, we remain available to help with provincial programs and services by phone at 519-657-3120 or by email at [email protected]


In this newsletter:
 

Vaccination Update

The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is seeking input from Londoners on the Middlesex-London COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, the guiding document for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in our region. Once you have read the plan, you are invited to complete the survey by February 3, 2021.

Eligibility for vaccinations is determined by the regional Vaccine Prioritization Advisory Committee, which reviews eligibility weekly based on the vaccine doses available in our region and provincial direction

The Committee's January 27 report states that due to delays in manufacturing, the only vaccine currently available in our region is Pfizer-BioNtech, and no additional product is expected before the week of February 1 at the earliest. As a result, the committee has further prioritized within the province's direction to focus on long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents, staff, and essential caregivers. 

ELIGIBLE FOR FIRST-DOSE: 

  • Long-term care home residents (all eligible long-term care residents in London and Middlesex County have already received their initial dose of vaccine.)
  • High-risk retirement home residents
    • Co-located with long-term care homes 
    • Containing a memory unit 
    • Identified as Red or Yellow by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority 

ELIGIBLE FOR END-OF-DAY DOSES 

At the end of each day at mobile clinics, there may be a small amount of additional vaccine available that is to be used to avoid wastage. Individuals are eligible for these doses in the following order: 

  1. Long-term care or high-risk retirement home staff, first dose 
  2. Long-term care or high-risk retirement home staff, second dose if appropriate 
  3. Essential caregivers

No other individuals are currently eligible for the vaccine in this region. Doses are also not currently available to people who have active respiratory symptoms.  

Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, and First Nations elder care homes will receive a second dose 21-27 days after their first dose, and all other second doses will be scheduled to up to 42 days after first dose. 


Reopening Schools

While today's announcement of the return to the classroom for London-area students and education workers came as a relief to many families, no new measures were announced to protect students and staff. Elementary students will return on Monday February 1, and secondary students will return on Thursday February 4, to coincide with the start of the next quadmester.

The government has yet to respond to the updated SickKids recommendations for robust testing and contact tracing, and stronger infection prevention and control measures, in light of increased rates of community infection. After the January 21, 2021 Toronto Star report that the government ignored expert advice when schools reopened in the fall, it is no wonder that parents remain concerned.

My colleagues and I will continue to call for stronger protections for students and staff, such as a 15-student cap on class sizes, better and safer ventilation in classrooms, a comprehensive asymptomatic testing strategy for students, and paid sick days for all workers.


Long-term Care

The open letter released on January 27, 2021 by Doctors for Justice in LTC made nine recommendations for urgent government action to control the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, including ending for-profit long-term care, legislating a minimum standard of care, ensuring fair pay and more full-time jobs in the sector, and giving essential caregivers unrestricted access to their loved ones in care. The letter also calls for an accelerated vaccine roll-out, a move that the Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has also said will save lives, and could have saved hundreds of lives already.

The letter comes just days after the Ontario Medical Association called on the government to act now to end the health and humanitarian crisis in the province. One of the OMA's two recommendations is to provide paid sick days for all workers, including those in long-term care homes, "so they can stay home if they have or suspect they have COVID rather than feel they must go to work to earn money for food or rent."

My colleagues and I urge the premier to implement each of these expert recommendations immediately, to protect our most vulnerable Ontarians and give them the care they deserve. 

 

Online mental health support is available for Ontarians through Bounce Back Ontario. It is a free self-help program that’s effective in helping people aged 15 and up who are experiencing mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression, or may be feeling low, stressed, worried, irritable or angry.

 

Around London

 
  • Nominations are now open for the London Chamber of Commerce 2021 Business Achievement Awards! Celebrate a local business and nominate here.
     
  • The London Police Service is conducting focus groups and individual interviews with Londoners who self-identify as members of Indigenous, Black or other ethno-cultural communities and who have either personally interacted with the police or personally observed interactions between a member of the LPS and the public. If you are interested in participating, please contact Dr. Hina Kalyal at 519-280-8954 or [email protected].
     
  • Applications are still open for the London Police Services Board Anti-Racism Advisory Panel and Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Panel. The application process closes January 31, 2021.
     
  • The 2021 EmployerOne Survey by the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board and London’s BIAs is now open. Businesses can complete the survey to help employment services, HR and hiring professionals, advisory groups, research groups, and service practitioners better understand how our community can emerge stronger and support London’s small businesses.
 

At Queen's Park

The Ontario government is now accepting submissions for its 2021 budget consultation process. If you have ideas to share, you can email your submission to [email protected]. Please copy my office at [email protected]. The deadline to send a submission is February 12, 2021 and submissions must be 500 words or less. You can also participate in an online survey.


Demand Paid Sick Leave

The last two weeks have seen a chorus of calls for mandatory paid sick days for all workers. When MPPs return to Queen's Park in February, I will seek unanimous consent to move my Stay Home If You Are Sick Act quickly through the legislative process. The bill will ensure that every worker in Ontario has paid sick days now and after the pandemic, while providing financial support for struggling small businesses to provide them.

 

COVID-19 Developments

  • The Ontario government has temporarily prohibited the enforcement of residential evictions. Tenants may not be forced to leave their homes while the provincial declaration of emergency and stay-at-home-order are in force. The emergency order also protects homeowners facing eviction due to court orders for possession of their properties. The ban applies to eviction enforcement only, and still allows eviction notices to be delivered to tenants. The Landlord and Tenant Board is able to hold hearings and issue eviction orders that can be enforced as soon as the ban is lifted.
     
  • Applications are now open for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which provides $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible businesses that were required by the province to shut down or significantly restrict operations, and who experienced at least a 20% revenue loss during last year's provincial shutdown. Read the application guide here, and apply online by March 31, 2021.
     
  • A reminder that the deadline to apply for Support for Learners is February 8, 2021. Eligible families will receive $200-$250 per child up to grade 12.
     
  • A 211 Southwestern Ontario website is now live. It provides information on social, community, health, and government services in Southwestern Ontario. A COVID-specific province-wide 211 website is also still available.
     
  • Electricity prices will remain at the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour until February 9, 2021. This lower rate is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for Time-Of-Use and tiered customers.
     
  • The Ontario government has extended eligibility for emergency child care to:
    • Individuals working in fuel distribution and oil refineries;
    • Education staff who are required to report to work in person while their children continue with remote learning;
    • Grocery store and pharmacy workers;
    • Truck drivers;
    • Farmers and those who support food or agricultural product supply chains;
    • Individuals involved in the collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste; and
    • Individuals working in the manufacturing and distribution of disinfectants and sanitizers.
       
  • The government extended the declared provincial emergency to February 9, and a motion of the Legislature will be required for a further extension. Orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and Reopening Ontario have been extended, with the exception of one regulation regarding Drinking Water Systems and Sewage Works. 
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 101
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: [email protected]
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