Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

While we can take heart that more vaccines are finally arriving in the weeks ahead, we can't let our guard down when it comes to staying healthy and protecting each other from getting sick.

As of this weekend, more than 200 people in the London area have died from COVID-19, and more than 10,600 cases have been confirmed. 94 COVID-19 patients are being cared for in London Health Sciences Centre, including 35 patients in critical care or ICU and 32 patients transferred from out of region. Provincially, case counts have only slightly declined, while positivity rates increased from 8.5 percent on Sunday to 9.7 percent today.

To keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed, and to prevent the application of a triage protocol that threatens persons with disabilities, this government must keep the focus on a targetted, equitable vaccination strategy and on prioritizing the protection of people who are most at risk. 

That means delivering paid sick days, and thanks to the strong support for paid sick days from Ontarians, and the enormous pressure on the government to act, a new paid sick days program was introduced and quickly passed in the Legislature last week. After voting against paid sick days at least 25 times since February, the PCs promised the "best plan in North America." What they delivered falls far short, providing just three paid sick days and only until September 25. This won't help the worker who tests positive or needs to quarantine for 14 days, and is nowhere near the paid sick days program recommended by the government's own Science Table.

My colleagues and I will continue to push for what experts, mayors, boards of health, and many businesses say is needed to keep our communities safe: adequate and fully-paid sick days that are permanent and seamlessly accessible for every worker in the province. Many thanks to all who have reached out to support our efforts. 

May 3-9 marks both Education Week and Mental Health Week in Ontario.

This week we salute the incredible work of education workers, school leaders and trustees who have helped support students throughout this pandemic, and we won't stop calling on the Ford government to invest in and support our public education system so that schools can reopen safely. The theme of this year’s Mental Health Week is understanding our emotions, which can help us feel better even during times of unprecedented stress and anxiety. Check out the full agenda of online activities and useful resources at CMHA Middlesex.  

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:
 

Worker Income Protection Benefit

On April 29, the Ford government introduced the Worker Income Protection Benefit, which requires some employers to provide up to three days of paid leave because of reasons related to COVID-19, including:

  • going for a COVID-19 test
  • staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • being sick with COVID-19
  • going to get vaccinated
  • experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination
  • having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other authority
  • taking care of a dependent who is:
    • sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19
    • self-isolating due to COVID-19

Employers are required to pay eligible employees the lesser of their regular wages or a maximum of $200 for each day of paid leave. Employers cannot require a doctor's note.

These paid sick days are only available to employees who are covered by the Employment Standards Act, and do not apply to gig workers, independent contractors or federally regulated employees. Employees who are already entitled to three days or more of paid sick time through their employer are not entitled to additional days.

This new entitlement is retroactive to April 19, 2021. Any employee who took an unpaid sick day for an eligible reason on or after April 19 can choose to be paid for that leave, but must advise their employer in writing before Friday, May 13.

The program expires on September 25, 2021.

Employers who did not already provide paid sick days can apply for a reimbursement from the Ontario government of up to $200 per employee day taken.

Will the Worker Income Protection Benefit provide the paid sick days you need to feel safe at work? Please take a moment to let me know.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

Approximately 800,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Ontario per week at the start of May, ramping up to 940,000 doses per week by the end of May, alongside more shipments of Moderna. This increase in vaccine supply should allow the province to further accelerate its vaccine rollout and get more shots into arms.

The updated vaccination plan has allowed individuals with at-risk health conditions and those who cannot work from home to become eligible a little earlier than previously planned, and it predicts that all adults in Ontario will be eligible to book a vaccine appointment by the week of May 24. The Middlesex-London Health Unit has clarified that while eligibility to book an appointment may open that week, bookings would be for well into June and possibly July.

Read the full April 29 Vaccine Implementation Update here.

Eligibility at mass vaccination clinics in Middlesex-London has recently been expanded to include the following:

  • Individuals born in 1966 or earlier, or aged 55 and over
  • Pregnant people
  • The first group of essential workers who cannot work from home (details here) – employers must register their workplaces, and employees will receive log-in details to book a vaccine appointment from their employer
You can find full eligibility details on the Middlesex-London Health Unit website.

Mass Vaccination Clinics

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.

Book online at covidvaccinelm.ca or by calling 226-289-3560 (8:00 am to 7:30 pm daily)

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.

 

Long-term Care

Two recent reports have shown the full extent to which the provincial government allowed Ontario seniors to live, and die, in horrible conditions. 

The Long Term Care Commission's full report, which was released only after the Ontario NDP demanded transparency, describes seniors in anguish, begging for help, and dying alone and in pain with no one to comfort them. It details brutal, understaffed chaos, where people died of dehydration because there was no one to bring them water. I want to thank the witnesses who bravely shared their testimony to inform this important report.

Ontario’s Auditor General also released a report last week showing that the staggering loss of life and inhumane suffering in long-term care was made worse by Doug Ford’s dangerous choices. Both reports show that inspections were cancelled, facilities were dangerously understaffed, and employees were denied paid sick days. The commission report calls privatized, for-profit long-term care sharply into question, as the tragic outcomes of the past year are the result of successive PC and Liberal government focusing on saving money for private owners instead of providing dignified care and saving lives.

Nobody should have to endure what long-term care residents have in Ontario during this pandemic. The premier, long-term care minister, and for-profit companies that allowed this to happen must be held accountable. We need to act urgently on these reports to ensure that this never happens again.

The Ontario NDP has a plan to improve the lives of seniors, in and out of long-term care. We are committed to

  • helping live at home longer with more help
  • a fully public and community-based long-term care system, with no more for-profit companies cutting corners to pay shareholders more
  • small, more family-like homes
  • turning PSW gigs into well-paid careers, and having enough staff there every day to ensure every resident gets at least four hours of hands-on care and attention

You can read our plan here to see how an Ontario NDP government will transform long-term care in 2022.

 

Around London

On April 28, I hosted the 2021 Leading Women Leading Girls Awards to recognize ten inspiring Londoners who are making valuable contributions in our community. Even though it was a virtual event, we all felt the warmth of community at this year's celebration.

If you missed the event, you can watch a replay or read about the recipients on my Facebook page. There are still many more women in our community who are worthy of recognition. You can nominate someone now for a 2022 Leading Women Leading Girls Award!


On April 26, London's NDP MPPs, with special guest Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, held an Emergency Town Hall to hear from residents about their priorities and concerns. With hundreds of viewers, we were not able to hear from everyone, so I encourage you to email me at [email protected] or call my office at 519-657-3120 to share your views and suggestions.


 
On April 30, I was pleased to attend a Virtual Inter-faith Iftar to break the fast with Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faith leaders as well as many other community leaders and special guests. Many thanks to Forest City Muslim Magazine, local partners and volunteers for hosting this special Iftar to bring diverse members of our community together during Ramadan, despite the challenges of the pandemic.

  • The London Chamber of Commerce 2021 Business Achievement Awards are set to take place on September 22, and nominations are open until June 3. Nominate your own company or a business you know that is excelling in one of the following categories:
    • Business of the Year (Small, Medium & Large Company)
    • Agribusiness
    • Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Environmental Leadership
    • Excellence in Human Resources
    • Innovation
    • Manufacturing 
       
  • The Thames Valley District School Board has launched the Trustees’ Community Connection Series. The sessions are open to all students, families and community members and will provide the opportunity to learn more about the role of trustees and hear from local experts in the fields of education, student wellbeing and mental health. The first session will take place on May 6. It will feature a keynote address by Dr. Claire Crooks on "Strengthening connections to promote post-pandemic wellbeing" and breakout sessions with school trustees. Register on the TVDSB website.
 

At Queen's Park

Last week, I rose during Question Period to once again urge the Ford government to implement paid sick days for all Ontario workers. Instead of the "very comprehensive plan" they promised, the new Worker Income Protection Benefit is completely inadequate and temporary. We will keep fighting for the decent work every Ontarian deserves. 


The government of Ontario has launched a survey to collect feedback on strengthening accountability for municipal council members with regards to code of conduct enforcement, including input on AMO's recent recommendation. The survey is open until July 15, 2021, and takes about 15 minutes to complete. Click here to participate.

 
 

A group of concerned Ontarians has launched My COVID Story to use the power of storytelling as a means to drive government action in response to the pandemic. Many doctors, business owners, essential workers and concerned Ontarians have already spoken up and shared their stories, but there are too many stories still left to be told. Go to mycovidstory.ca to share yours.

 

COVID-19 Developments

  • Applications are open for the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit, which provides $400 per child up to Grade 12 or $500 per child up to 21 with special needs. If you received a Support for Learners payment before April 23, you do not need to apply again, and will receive the new benefit automatically. If you did not apply for the Support for Learners Benefit, or did not receive it until after April 23, apply here to receive the COVID-19 Child Benefit. Applications are open until May 17.
     
  • The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released new projections on April 29. The latest data shows that our efforts are making a difference and cases are levelling off, but ICU occupancy is at a record high and still rising, putting incredible pressure on our hospital system and increasing the surgical backlog. The Advisory Table has recommended
    • further limiting essential workplaces and keeping sick workers at home
    • continue progress on an equitable distribution of vaccines, focused on hotspots
    • making outdoor activities safer by distancing and masking when you are with people from outside your household, and avoiding indoor activities, which pose a significant risk
       
  • The province has issued an order that authorizes hospitals to, under certain conditions, transfer patients to a long-term care or retirement home without the consent of the patient or their substitute decision-maker. 
     
  • Ontario has issued two new emergency orders in an attempt to bring more health-care workers into hospitals. One order allows workers to provide patient care outside their regular scope of practice, consistent with duties assigned by a hospital. The other allows out-of-province health care workers to practice in an Ontario hospital without registering with regulatory colleges in the province. 
     
  • Ontario will now allow long-term care and retirement home staff who have been fully vaccinated to work in more than one facility.
     
  • A provincial order restricting travel into Ontario from the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec and allowing for checks at these borders was originally set to expire on April 30, but has been extended to May 5.
     
  • NACI has updated its Recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines specifically with regards to AstraZeneca and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. NACI recommends both should be limited to people over the age of 30 who don't want to wait for Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.
     
  • The Ontario government is extending the current one-year tuition freeze for colleges and universities by an additional year. The freeze applies to Ontario residents only.
 
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.