Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

Last week we recognized the one-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic with a tribute to the more than 7,000 lives tragically lost in Ontario. Shocking details were also released by the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission about the measures that could have been taken by the Ford government to protect vulnerable residents, and to prevent a second wave that became even more deadly than the first.

While it took far too long to vaccinate long-term care residents, it is welcome news that the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine across our community is finally underway. With more vaccines arriving daily, public health and frontline workers are doing their best to get shots into arms as quickly as possible, and all residents are encouraged to get the first available vaccine when their eligibility period opens. For many of us, however, the wait will be weeks if not months, and we must remain vigilant in following public health guidance. 

At Queen's Park, my colleagues and I continue to call upon the government to accelerate the roll-out and to ensure equity in the distribution of the vaccine. That includes our demand for paid sick days, so that no one has to make the impossible choice between losing their pay to keep their community safe, and going to work sick so they can feed their families.

I am holding a Virtual Town Hall this Thursday, March 18 and I hope you will join me by telephone or online. You will have the opportunity to ask questions live, and to share your questions, comments and concerns. 

Thank you for everything you are doing to look out for one another at this time.

Take care and stay safe,

 

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:
 
 

Join me for a live and interactive Virtual Town Hall!

On Thursday March 18, I am holding a live and interactive virtual town with my special guest, Abe Oudshoorn, an Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Western. We’ll be talking about the help Londoners need to get through the pandemic, and the actions necessary to protect public health, prevent another lockdown and ensure a strong recovery.

Please join us at 7pm to share your questions and concerns about the issues facing our community and our province, including

  • Vaccination strategy
  • Variants of concern
  • Paid sick days
  • Keeping schools safely open
  • Long-term care
  • Support for vulnerable Londoners

I welcome hearing your comments and ideas on these or any other issues!

London West residents can participate by phone or online, and will be able to submit questions to me and Abe, either ahead of time or during the conversation.

Register now to submit your question in advance!

REGISTER NOW
 

Vaccine Update

New Eligibility
Vaccine eligibility in the Middlesex-London Health Unit has recently been expanded to include adults 16 years of age and older who are chronic home care recipients. Service providers will contact individuals regarding the vaccine. Eligibility was also recently expanded to include many new healthcare workers. For up-to-date information about eligibility, visit the Middlesex-London Health Unit website and check for weekly updated from the local Vaccine Prioritization Advisory Committee.

Delay of Second Doses
I have heard from many constituents who are concerned about the delay of second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines until four months (112 days) after the first dose for most individuals. This move was ordered by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and supported by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) as a means of vaccinating more people with a first dose. You can read more about the decision in the MLHU news release. NACI has summarized differences between vaccines on their website

Pharmacy and Primary Care Vaccination Pilot
The province has not included Middlesex-London in a pilot to expand delivery channels of COVID-19 vaccine to include pharmacies and primary care settings. In three participating health units (Kingston, Toronto and Windsor), adults aged 60-64 can receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in these settings. 

Looking Ahead
The province recently updated its vaccination plan, including more specifics about groups that will be prioritized in Phase 2, which is set to begin in April, depending on the availability of vaccines. Groups that will be eligible for the vaccine in Phase 2 include:

  • Adults aged 60-79 years of age
  • Individuals with some high-risk health conditions and some essential caregivers
  • People who live and work in congregate settings
  • People who live in hot spots with high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission
  • Certain workers who cannot work from home

Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force says the goal for completing a first round of COVID-19 shots in adults is now June 20. Meeting this goal will depend on whether the vaccine doses are delivered as anticipated.

 

Long-term Care

While the spread of the virus in long-term care homes has slowed considerably, thanks in large part to vaccination, it is critical that we continue to investigate what went wrong and ensure seniors are protected from this ever happening again.

A recent CBC News investigation revealed that one in 12 long-term care facilities were caught violating crucial infection prevention and control measures between June and January, while the pandemic was well underway. 78% of these violations were committed in homes owned or managed by for-profit companies, highlighting once again the need to take the profits out of long-term care.

Ontario’s Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission has also been unveiling disturbing realities about government decisions. Most recently, expert testimony revealed that the Ford government rejected proposals that could have saved lives in long-term care homes because of the cost. A number of proposals went to the Ministry of Long-Term Care, including proposals from hospitals to send help, moving seniors out of crowded rooms, and hiring additional staff. They were all deemed to be too expensive—a cold and callous decision to make while so many Ontarians were getting sick and dying in these homes.

Earlier, testimony from the long-term care minister revealed that she chose to maintain the “iron ring” story rather than speak publicly about her concerns and get seniors the help they needed, putting politics ahead of the lives of people in care.

In a small victory, the Legislature unanimously approved an Ontario NDP motion called “Voula’s Law” to prevent care home operators from issuing trespass orders to ban family members who speak out about their loved ones’ living conditions. Supporting the motion is only the first step; the Ford government must now act on the decision and put an end to this cruel practice.

New Democrats will continue to propose real solutions that will make a difference for people in Long-term Care, and an Ontario NDP government is committed to a complete overhaul of seniors care.

 

Climate. Jobs. Justice.

The Ontario NDP recently introduced Ontario's boldest ever climate plan, the Green New Democratic Deal.

We have been consulting on the plan for more than a year, getting input and ideas from industry, labour, climate scientists, First Nations, educators and everyday Ontarians. The result is a plan based on values we all share: equity, affordability, and reconciliation. It’s rooted in justice, and committed to a transition that leaves nobody, and no community, behind.

Highlights of the plan include:

  • Make Ontario net-zero by 2050
  • Mandate all newly built public, residential and commercial buildings to be net-zero emissions by 2030, alongside a world-leading building retrofit program
  • The creation of 100,000 permanent jobs from an ambitious building retrofit program, and as many as one million total jobs throughout the life of the deal
  • Ontario’s first zero-emissions vehicle strategy, ramping up electric vehicle sales to hit a 100 per cent target by 2035
  • A new, more fair cap-and-trade program
  • Electrifying all municipal transit by 2040
  • Giving $600 to households to install electric vehicle charging stations at home, and requiring new homes to have vehicle charging capacity
  • Establishing Ontario’s first Youth Climate Corps
  • Restoring the powers of the Environment Commissioner
  • Planting one billion trees by 2030

See the full Green New Democratic Deal here. I welcome your thoughts on how we can best implement this bold and ambitious plan. Our children and our future depend on it. 

 

Around London

Culturas 360 is a free online music showcase launched by London's own Sunfest and eight other international music festivals, as part of a commitment to rebuilding and continuing the essential work for cultures, music, artists and audiences.

It will take place March 27 and 28 via YouTube, and feature a lineup of international performers.

Anova has launched a new locally-produced podcast. Hosted by Dr. AnnaLise Trudell, Peace by Piece is a bi-weekly podcast to enable meaningful and educational conversations with experts and innovators about what makes a world without violence.

The City of London is now accepting applications for the 2021 Innovation and Capital Stream of the London Community Grants Program. Applications are being accepted until March 29, 2021 at 4:30pm in the following categories:

  • Innovation grants are provided to new, emerging organizations and/or initiatives that engage in dynamic community partnerships, innovative improvements to service delivery and system collaboration, and/or generate new ideas.
     
  • Capital grants are provided for projects involving construction or purchase of physical assets, including, but not limited to, land, building and associated renovation costs.

This program will grant funding to community organizations to advance the priorities of The City of London's Strategic Plan.


Statistics Canada is still looking to fill 9,000 temporary positions across Ontario, including many in London, to support the 2021 census. Job start and end dates vary by position and location, but will be between March and July 2021. There are both full-time and part-time positions available. Apply online.

 

At Queen's Park

On International Women's Day, I joined MPPs Terence Kernaghan and Teresa Armstrong, to introduce the Viewer Discretion Act, which will ban the unsolicited distribution of graphic anti-choice images to homes without the use of a plain envelope indicating the content and sender. This legislation responds to the overwhelming calls from London residents to protect people, and especially children, from exposure to these traumatizing images against their will in their mail or on their doorsteps. 

You can watch our press conference, where we were joined by Katie Dean of the Viewer Discretion Legislation Coalition and local parent Sarah Grossi, on my Facebook page.

The Speaker’s Book Award recognizes works by Ontario authors covering historical and cultural aspects of the province with special consideration given to works focusing on Ontario’s parliamentary heritage and on provincial political discourse. Online applications for the Speaker’s Book Award are accepted from March 1 to May 14, 2021. The winning book will be announced in autumn 2021.


I rose in the legislature to share the words of London West residents who are frustrated by Ford’s slow and sluggish COVID-19 vaccine rollout. More transparency and a provincial plan to ensure equitable access is long overdue.

My colleague, MPP Sol Mamakwa, got his COVID-19 vaccine publicly because First Nations and public health leaders asked him to lend his example to combat vaccine hesitancy in northern First Nations. He helped show people in First Nations and remote communities that the vaccine is safe.

On March 11, Doug Ford rose in the Legislature and attacked Sol for his leadership, undermining Indigenous leaders, public health leaders, and vital ongoing vaccination efforts in Indigenous communities.

Watch Sol's response here, and add your name here to demand Doug Ford withdraw his baseless accusations against MPP Mamakwa, and take immediate steps to fix the damage he has done to Indigenous vaccination efforts.


On March 1, the Ford government voted down my Stay Home if You Are Sick Act, which would have guaranteed paid sick days for every Ontario worker. New Democrats have been fighting for paid sick days for years, and we absolutely will not give up. 

Join our Paid Sick Days Now campaign by sharing your own story on social media with the hashtag #PaidSickDaysSaveLives. Help us grow the movement for Paid Sick Days so that no worker has to choose between keeping their community safe and keeping their lights on.


I have heard from many people in London West who are rightfully outraged by the government's introduction of Bill 257, legislation that makes retroactive changes to planning laws allowing developers to pave over protected wetlands. Hidden in an unrelated bill about rural broadband internet access, Schedule 3 of the bill will prevent local communities from objecting to unlawful Minister's Zoning Orders.

This is yet another example of the government putting developers’ profits ahead of protecting wetlands. As the official opposition, we are calling on the government to remove Schedule 3 from the bill. We also learned that the Ford government has secretly signed six new MZOs, half of which benefit a single PC donor. Our environment should never be for sale, and that's why New Democrats are committed to protecting and expanding the Greenbelt.

Today Bill 257 was scheduled for committee hearings. Please sign up to participate in the committee process if you would like to share your concerns or perspectives in person (via Zoom) or in writing. The deadline to request to appear is Wednesday, March 24 at 12pm and the deadline for written submissions is Friday, March 26 at 7pm.

 

COVID-19 Developments

  • Applications are now open for the Accelerated PSW Training Program at Fanshawe College, a tuition-free opportunity to complete PSW training in six months, rather than the typical eight months, including three months of paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. You can also find program availability at other Ontario colleges here
     
  • The latest projections from Ontario's COVID-19 Science Table reveal that while vaccinations in long-term care have paid off, our progress has otherwise stalled. Cases are rising again in most health units and variants of concern are spreading more easily than early variants, and now make up around 40 per cent of new cases in Ontario. The report stresses that continued masking and distancing are essential to controlling variants of concern, and determining whether we return to normal or enter a third wave.
     
  • Voluntary diagnostic COVID-19 testing has begun at Thames Valley District School Board. Testing will take place each week on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 2pm and 7pm at selected secondary schools where students from selected elementary schools will also be invited to be tested. Families of eligible students will be emailed, and you can visit tvdsb.ca/testing to keep up to date on future clinics being added each week. 
     
  • Western University and Fanshawe College have both announced plans to return to more physical classrooms in September.
     
  • Health Canada has authorized the use of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Ad26.COV2.S), also referred to as the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. It is a viral vector-based vaccine rather than an mRNA vaccine that uses a harmless virus to build a robust immune response against the spike protein found on the COVID-19 virus.

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.