Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

With Ontario's ICU beds nearing capacity and our healthcare system on the brink, it has been a week of unprecedented chaos and confusion in Ontario politics.

On Friday, the Ford government responded to the biggest health crisis our province has ever faced with new police powers and a clampdown on playgrounds and outdoor sports. Not only did these new measures suggest that the devastation of the third wave is the fault of individual Ontarians, but it completely ignored the advice of the independent Science Advisory Table. Experts on the Science Advisory Table considered immediately resigning, and physicians responded with anger and despair.

Law enforcement agencies, including the London Police Services Board and the London Police Association, rejected the extension of police powers. Anti-racism and civil rights advocates warned that increased policing will unfairly target the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities that have already been hardest hit by COVID-19. Families rallied against the closure of playgrounds, and people launched petition campaigns to reopen outdoor recreational amenities.

In a stunning turnaround, the Ford government partially walked back some of the new measures. Playgrounds remain open, and instead of randomly stopping people, police can only stop people they "suspect" of participating in an organized public event or social gathering. A similar reversal took place just a week earlier, when the Minister of Education told parents on Sunday that schools would remain open, and Doug Ford announced the next day that schools would close.

This is a government that is flailing and a Premier who has lost his way.

Data clearly shows that workplaces are the major source of COVID-19 transmission. We saw this in our own community when 82 workers tested positive at the Cargill plant. But rather than close all truly non-essential workplaces and support workers with paid sick days and paid time off to vaccinate, the Ford government blamed essential workers for causing the spread. This may finally be changing, with the announcement that some form of paid sick leave is being considered.

This government's sudden policy reversals and mixed, confusing messages – whether it comes to school safety or how to book a vaccine – have undermined public trust. And its failure to take strong and effective action early on has dragged us into a lockdown much longer than it needed to be.

We are worried about rising case counts in London. We are worried about a 25% reduction in our vaccine supply when one of our neighbourhoods has the highest positivity rate in Ontario. We are worried about what happens when physicians are forced to make unthinkable decisions about who gets an ICU bed.

It's easy to feel powerless right now – but we can't give up hope and we can’t stop pushing for action that will really make a difference. The Official Opposition will keep proposing legislative changes to fight COVID-19 and we will keep calling on MPPs across party line – and all Ontarians – to join us.

We will get through this. 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:
 

Our hospitals and intensive care units are overrun. People are dying and Doug Ford chose carding, not paid sick days. He chose a police state instead of vaccines for essential workers. Families are frustrated and under increasing stress as regulations seem to change every hour.

Join your Ontario NDP London MPPs to hear from your neighbours and ask questions. 

On Monday, April 26 at 7pm, we will host a city-wide Emergency Town Hall where we will pass the mic, and hear from you and your neighbours on what we need to do to save Ontario.

Register to Participate
 

COVID-19 Vaccine Booking

If you are eligible, please book an appointment.
You must have an appointment to get a vaccine. If you arrive at a clinic without an appointment, you will be turned away.
Vaccine eligibility in the Middlesex-London Health Unit has just been expanded to include individuals with the following high-risk health conditions:
  • Obesity (BMI over 40)
  • Treatments causing immunosuppression (for example, chemotherapy, immunity-weakening medications)
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities (for example, Down Syndrome)

Vaccinations at Pharmacies and Primary Care Settings

Individuals born in 1981 or earlier are also eligible to receive a vaccine through a participating pharmacy or primary care provider. These appointments are not booked through the health unit's system or the provincial booking system.

Find a list of participating pharmacy locations here to find out how to book an appointment through an individual pharmacy, or check with you primary care provider to find out whether they are offering COVID-19 vaccines.

 

Fighting COVID-19 in Ontario:
The Way Forward

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, a group of scientific experts and health system leaders who evaluate and report on emerging evidence related to the COVID-19 pandemic, have released a new report that lays our very clearly what will work and what will not work to help stop the spread of the virus.

What Will Work

  • Closing all non-essential workplaces
  • Paid sick days, and paid time off to get vaccinated
  • Accelerated vaccinations for essential workers in hot spots
  • Limiting travel between regions
  • Focusing on public health guidance that works
  • Allowing safe ways to maintain social connections and outdoor activity

What Will Not Work

  • Policies that harm racialized, marginalized, and vulnerable people
  • Inconsistent policies with no clear link to scientific evidence
  • Discouraging safe outdoor activity
New Democrats are putting forward proposals in line with this advice, and we are calling on the Ford government to stand with us in the fight to save Ontario by finally listening to the experts.
 
 
In recognition of the National Day of Mourning, I will join the Ontario Federation of Labour and my colleague, NDP MPP Wayne Gates to talk about workplace health and safety, the human cost of COVID-19, and the groundwork we need to lay to ensure we have a government that prioritizes people over profit and does their job to protect workers so workers don't die doing their jobs. Register online to attend.
 

Around London

Join me on Wednesday, April 28 at 7pm for the 2021 London West Leading Women Leading Girls Awards!

This virtual celebration will honour the contributions of women and girls who are making a difference in our community through exceptional leadership in working to improve the lives of others.

Register to Attend

The Wright Clinic is a new not-for-profit, community-based dental clinic that offers routine dental care to Londoners facing barriers due to income or housing insecurity. Learn more about services and eligibility on the clinic website.

The COVID-19 vaccine supply for the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) is being cut by 25 per cent, according to the medical officer of health. However, COVID rates in London and Middlesex have caught up to the GTA, where additional doses are being redirected. London's Ontario NDP MPPs have urged the government to recognize the seriousness of the situation in our city and supply vaccines accordingly, including by recognizing the N6A postal area as one of Ontario's hot spots with the highest case rates and ensuring every essential worker who wants a vaccine is able to be vaccinated in the wake of a deeply concerning outbreak among workers at the Cargill facility in London.

Ontario’s auditor general will review the province’s vaccine rollout, including how hot spot postal codes were selected. NDP leader Andrea Horwath requested last week that auditor Bonnie Lysyk investigate how the 114 hot spot postal codes were chosen.
 

At Queen's Park

 
 
Last Friday, Ford said “everything is on the field” in the fight against COVID-19. Everything but paid sick days, which public health experts all say are desperately needed to curb workplace spread. Twice this week, I asked the government to legislate paid sick days for every worker immediately, and they flatly refused.

Businesses in London West are struggling, and it did not have to be this way. At Queen’s Park, I shared the concerns of business owners who have been let down by this government and need Ford to start following expert advice.

 

COVID-19 Developments

  • Both the provincial declaration of emergency and the Stay-at-Home order have been extended for an additional two weeks to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and will now continue until May 20, 2021.
     
  • Under strengthened shutdown restrictions, people are not allowed to gather indoors or outdoors with anyone you do not live with, except one other person from outside of the household that lives alone. Organizers of any gathering that violates this regulation may be fined up to $10,000 while each attendee can be ticketed up to $750.
     
  • The capacity of weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies is limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions are prohibited, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services are permitted.
     
  • The Ontario government has changed an earlier order that would allow police officers to stop anyone not in their residence and require them to provide their address and explain why they are not at their residence. Under the new order, a police officer or other provincial offences officer must have a reason to suspect that an individual may be participating in a gathering that is prohibited in order to require the individual to provide information necessary to determine whether they are complying with rules.
     
  • The provincial government is restricting travel into Ontario from the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec with the exception of purposes such as work, health care services, transportation and delivery of goods and services or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights. People entering Ontario along these borders can expect to be stopped, and to provide identification and explain the purpose of their trip.
     
  • Vaccine eligibility at Middlesex-London Health Unit vaccination clinics has just been expanded to include individuals with the following high-risk health conditions:
    • Obesity (BMI over 40)
    • Treatments causing immunosuppression (for example, chemotherapy, immunity-weakening medications)
    • Intellectual or developmental disabilities (for example, Down Syndrome)
       
  • Individuals born in 1981 or earlier (aged 40+ or turning 40 this year) are now eligible to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at pharmacy and primary care settings across the province. Find a list of participating pharmacy locations here to find out how to book an appointment through an individual pharmacy, or check with you primary care provider to find out whether they are offering COVID-19 vaccines.
     
  • London Health Sciences Centre is expecting to take in more COVID-19 patients from overwhelmed Toronto-area hospitals. LHSC has opened 18 new ICU beds and could open another 17 to 20 in the coming weeks, which could lead to further surgery cancellations.
     
  • The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table's latest projections, released April 16, are available online. It shows that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are at their highest levels since March 2020 and variant cases continue to rise sharply. High ICU occupancy is compromising care for all patients. Vaccination is not reaching people at high-risk fast enough to overcome the level of serious illness in our communities and our hospitals, and without stronger system-level measures and immediate support for essential workers and high-risk communities, high case rates will persist through the summer. The report says that Ontarians can help themselves and others by limiting mobility to truly necessary trips and always wearing a mask and keeping 6 feet distant when in contact with anyone outside their household.
 
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.