Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

The news about the pandemic continues to change rapidly. Yesterday, the Premier announced that the provincewide stay-at-home order will be extended until at least June 2 in order to "protect this summer for all Ontarians." Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said daily COVID-19 case counts will need to be "well below" 1,000 before the stay-at-home order could be lifted, but was silent on the specific metrics that will be used. And despite calls from the government's own Science Advisory Table, the Ontario Medical Association, the Toronto Board of Health and others, the Ford government doubled down on the closure of outdoor recreational amenities like golf courses and tennis courts until at least next month.  

I recognize that people are feeling tired, frustrated, stressed and isolated. They are worried about their own mental health and the well-being of their children and other family members. They long for a return to normalcy. But as we saw with today's declaration by the Middlesex-London Health Unit of a COVID outbreak of at least 14 cases linked to a funeral, the importance of following public health advice can't be overstated.

My colleagues and I will continue to push for the measures that health experts say are needed to prepare for a safe reopening and bring this prolonged lockdown to an end, including:

  • Closing non-essential workplaces
  • Focusing on hotspots
  • Opening outdoor activities safely
  • Legislating paid sick days
  • Investing in a safe return to schools

This lockdown has been difficult for all of us, and has lasted longer than it should have because Ford failed to listen to the advice of his own experts. Many thanks to everyone who has been doing their part, while waiting for the Premier to do his.

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:
 

Reopen Outdoor Recreation

When the Ontario Legislature returns on Monday May 17, the Official Opposition will force a vote on the following motion:

That, in the opinion of House, the Ford Government should allow outdoor amenities and activities to immediately re-open safely in keeping with the recommendations of the Ontario Science Table and other public health experts as part of an overall effort to promote the mental and physical health of Ontarians during COVID-19 lockdown orders.

When medical experts are supporting calls for the safe reopening of outdoor recreational amenities, it is frustrating and disheartening for the Ford government to keep those amenities closed. Denying people access to activities that are good for our physical and mental health is cruel, and just adds to the struggles people are already enduring as the pandemic drags on. Families need outdoor amenities to be safely opened.

Earlier this week my colleague Catherine Fife, MPP for Waterloo, raised this issue during Question Period. You can watch video of her questions, and the government's response, below:

Who advised the Ford cabinet to close outdoor activities?

Why did the government ignore the Science Table advice and what evidence did they use to close outdoor activities? 

Let me know your thoughts by taking this quick survey!

 

As Nursing Week draws to a close, I want to express my immense gratitude for all the nurses who have been there for us and our families. During this pandemic, nurses have worked hard each and every day and night, every single shift, month after month. They are exhausted yet they have persevered and continue to care for Ontarians. The government needs to treat them like the frontline heroes they are, with proper PPE, paid sick days and automatic WSIB coverage when they get COVID-19 at work, and fair compensation. If you or someone you know is a nurse, please tell them they are trusted, respected and appreciated by their patients and by the people of Ontario.

 

Long-term Care Update

My last newsletter highlighted the scathing report of the Long-Term Care Commission and since then, the Official Opposition has been pushing for accountability for the Ford government's failure to protect vulnerable seniors from the deadly second wave. While the Premier protects his Minister of Long-Term Care from calls for her resignation, the Ontario NDP is seeking justice through letters to the OPP and to the Chief Coroner urging a formal investigation into the finding that 26 seniors died not from COVID-19, but from neglect and dehydration.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

I have received many emails about second-dose appointments and will be sure to pass along information as soon as it is available. Earlier this week, the Official Opposition called on the government to implement a plan to speed up second doses

Since my last newsletter, eligibility at mass vaccination clinics in Middlesex-London has been expanded to include the following:

  • Individuals born in 1981 or earlier, or aged 40 and over
  • Essential workers aged 16 and over who cannot work from home and are in Group 2 of the provincial vaccine roll-out plan (note that essential workers no longer need to receive booking information from their employer and can book directly at covidvaccinelm.ca)
  • Individuals aged 16 and over with at-risk health conditions

Beginning today, Friday May 14, high risk health care workers are eligible to book second-dose appointments by calling the COVID-19 Vaccine Booking line at 226-289-3560. (The online booking system cannot be used for second-dose appointments.)

You can find full eligibility details on the Middlesex-London Health Unit website.

Eligibility expected to open soon:

  • Week of May 17: individuals 30 and older
  • Week of May 24: individuals 18 and older
  • Week of May 31: youth aged 12 - 17

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)

Middlesex-London will open a fourth COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Friday, May 25 at the Earl Nichols Recreation Centre. Appointments can be booked at this site now.

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.

Please Note: Ontario has paused the rollout and administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine out of an abundance of caution due to an observed increase in a rare blood clotting condition. Some pharmacies are now delivering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but there are currently none doing so in London.

 

Seniors Dental Care &
Prescription Drug Coverage

Starting August 1, 2021, more Ontario seniors aged 65 and older will be eligible for dental coverage and  assistance with pharmacy co-pays through the province.

The Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program will be available to 

  • single seniors with an annual income up to $22,200 (previously $19,300)
  • senior couples with a combined annual income up to $37,100 (previously $32,300).

These new income thresholds will be used for applications received after July 1. Seniors who meet the current eligibility can continue to apply now.

Eligibility thresholds for the Seniors Co-Payment Program will be updated to include

  • Single seniors with income up to $22,200 (previously $19,300)
  • Senior couples with a combined annual income up to $37,100 (previously $32,300)

Apply nowvto make sure you are enrolled before August 1.

 

Support for Families and and Learners

This week, I wrote to the Minister of Education to urge him to allow families to apply retroactively for the now-closed Support for Families and Support for Learners programs, which preceded the current COVID-19 Child Benefit, and provided $200 to $500 per eligible child.

These programs should have been made as accessible as possible for every family in Ontario. Instead, the timelines for application were very short and the government made no attempt to reach parents directly to let them know about the program. I have heard from numerous London West families who did not learn about the funding in time, whose applications had errors that they only learned about after the deadline, or whose applications were not processed due to technical glitches. You can read my letter to the Minister here.
 

 

Around London

Western University Student Council's President, Matt Reesor, and VP External, Mackenzy Metcalfe, introduced me to their incoming successors, Zamir Fakirani and Eunice Oladejo. I look forward to another exciting year working with these dynamic student leaders. 

I had a great discussion with participants of the Northwest London Resource Centre's Rights & Responsibilities Series for newcomers about the role of the provincial government and the supports and services my MPP office can provide.


  • The Age Friendly London Conference is a series of FREE sessions on wellbeing and resiliency with dynamic speakers and valuable information. It will run every Wednesday in June and is open to everyone. Register online or by calling 519-661-5575.
     
  • The Caregiver Strategies Virtual Program is a FREE online program for family or friends providing care to a senior with information about living with frailty and practical strategies to support caregivers in their caregiving role. Through self-directed online learning and weekly facilitated virtual discussions, this FREE online course runs for six weeks beginning May 31 and covers the following topics: Caring for the caregiver, Pain, Staying active, Nutrition, Bladder health, Medication Management, Changes in Thinking and Social Engagement. Register online or by calling 519-661-2489, Ext. 7208

The Sunfest Committee has decided to present, for the second year in a row, a virtual edition of London’s largest summer festival. TD Sunfest Connected 2021 will be livestreamed on July 8, 9, 10 & 11 and will feature unique, professionally produced sessions by approximately 25 top international and national world music & jazz ensembles. Keep checking www.sunfest.on.ca for details.


The Thames Region Ecological Association (TREA) has continued their excellent work, protecting and improving our environment despite the challenges of the pandemic. Their new resources for Londoners include:

  • Workshops on Climate Action: In these videos, local champions show you ways you can make your home, garden, and habits more environmentally friendly.
     
  • The London Thing Library: TREA and Reimagine Co have partnered to create the London Thing Library, where you can borrow instead of buy equipment to use at home like food processing tools, garden tools, and household items you might not use frquently. The Thing Library will open in June, and TREA has already published a series of workshop videos to show you how to use some of the kitchen equipment that will be available.
     
  • Waste-Free Initiative: TREA has released a series of activity booklets and guides for both children and adults to help families embrace a waste-free lifestyle. They have also created curriculum tools and teacher's guides for Grades 3 - 8.

The City of London is one of a growing number of municipalities to adopt Vision Zero principles, a global movement to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Since youth drivers are more likely to be involved in these types of crashes, the Vision Zero Youth Network recognizes that starting with youth can lead to greater support among the entire community. Help make your community safer by applying to become a Vision Zero Youth Network Amassador at teenslearntodrive.com/vzyn!

 

At Queen's Park

1 in 7 Middlesex-London families struggle to put food on the table, but school nutrition programs are grossly underfunded. I asked the government to commit the funding necessary to ensure that all students have access to daily, nutritious meals in school.
Some minimum wage workers will be worse off under the Ford government's sick days program than they were before. Ontario workers should not have to give up pay in order to stay home if they are sick. Why does the Premier think that he deserves 14 days of full pay to follow public health advice but the essential workers he likes to call heroes don’t?
 

COVID-19 Developments

Stay-At-Home order Extended

The government has extended the Stay-at-Home Order (O. Reg. 265/21) until at least June 2, 2021. All public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will also remain in effect.


Long-term Care Updates

The Ministry of Long-Term Care updated Directive #3 for long-term care homes and released a revised guidance document, and the following activities are now permitted:

  • Physical contact, such as hand-holding and hugs, between fully immunized residents and their fully immunized essential caregivers;
  • Communal dining without enhanced precautions, including physical distancing, in homes that have at least 85% of residents and 70% of staff, or 70% of the home overall in retirement homes, fully immunized; and
  • Resumption of organized indoor activities without enhanced precautions, including physical distancing, in homes that meet the same immunization thresholds.
  • All residents who do not have COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19 or contact of a case, regardless of their immunization status, can leave their homes on an essential absence, including outdoor exercise, buying groceries, or visiting the pharmacy, while the Stay-at-Home order is in place.

Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant

The Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant provides one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in the tourism and travel sector. There is a limited list of eligible businesses, and businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant (OSBSG) cannot receive the new grant as well.

Applications are open now and the deadline to apply is June 25, 2021.


Rapid Testing for Workplaces

The province is offering on-site rapid antigen tests for employees of eligible small and medium-sized businesses across the province. Chamber of Commerce members can order tests through the London Chamber of Commerce, while non-members with 150 or fewer employees can order tests through the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. Tests are only available to workplaces allowed to be open under current orders

With rapid antigen tests, employees can self-swab under the supervision of a trained person, and the tests provide a result in about 15 minutes without lab processing. 

If you are not eligible for free test kits, you can still buy them and hire or train people to do on-site COVID-19 testing. The province has created a directory to help you find a service.

 
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.