Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

Yesterday's news of a summer reopening was a welcome relief to many. I know that Londoners are frustrated and exhausted by the public health measures to control COVID-19. But with increasing vaccination rates, and with declining case counts, percent positivity and hospitalizations, we are finally nearing the end of this long and painful lockdown.

Families, seniors and young people are eager for this weekend's return of tennis, basketball, pickleball, skateboarding, golf and other outdoor activities - which health care experts said should never have been closed in the first place. Many thanks to all who joined our campaign to safely reopen these outdoor activities and amenities. It's a great example of the effectiveness of public pressure when it is backed up by evidence.  

A safe return to school was a missing piece in the government's reopening plan, leaving parents frazzled and their children missing the critical benefits of safe, in-person learning. I know that London families are still debating whether their children will attend school in-person next year, and a clear strategy to invest in school safety would offer the peace of mind needed to make a decision.

The Official Opposition is pushing the Ford government to plan for expanded surgical capacity and dramatically ramped up procedures as soon as it’s safe, given the hundreds of thousands of Ontarians whose surgeries were cancelled during the pandemic. British Columbia has already shown that it can be done, with a fully-funded plan that cleared 95 per cent of its backlog as of March. In Ontario, the Financial Accountability Officer reported that there will be 419,200 surgeries and 2.5 million diagnostic procedures backlogged in Ontario by September.

Here in London, my office is continuing to advocate on behalf of the many small business owners who were excluded from the Small Business Support Grant, were denied the grant even though they are eligible, or were approved but are still waiting for the grant to arrive. Small businesses have struggled enormously throughout this pandemic, and deserve government support. Please contact my office if you own a London West small business and are having trouble accessing the grant.    

Read on for details, and thanks as always to everyone who has reached out with your thoughts and concerns. I have been working to bring these directly to the government every day. 

Please note that the Middlesex-London Health Unit has issued a heat alert and hot weather safety tips for this long weekend. I hope you're able to get outside and safely enjoy a beautiful long weekend!

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:
 

Outdoor Amenities Reopening

I want to say a big thank you to everyone in London West who joined our campaign to reopen safe outdoor activities and amenities! I shared the concerns I have heard from many London West residents about keeping these facilities closed, and I urged the government to follow the recommendations of public health experts and let people play!

On Monday, the government voted down the Ontario NDP motion to bring back outdoor activities that experts have said are safe. By the end of the week, they responded to calls from thousands of Ontarians and started listening to the science. The mental and physical health benefits of outdoor activity make this a victory for everyone!

The following recreational amenities can reopen starting at 12:01 am on Saturday, May 22:

  • Playground, parks and recreational areas, including areas containing outdoor fitness equipment
  • Baseball diamonds and batting cages
  • Soccer, football and sports fields
  • Basketball, tennis, platform tennis, table tennis, pickleball, and lawn game courts.
  • BMX parks, skate parks, cycling tracks and bike trails
  • Golf courses and driving ranges
  • Frisbee golf locations
  • Horse riding facilities
  • Shooting ranges, including those operated by rod and gun clubs, and archery ranges
  • Ice rinks, tobogganing hills., snowmobile, cross country ski, dogsledding, ice skating and snow shoe trails
  • Boat and watercraft launches

No team sports or recreational classes are permitted, and individuals from different households must maintain 2m of distance. Any activity that is likely to result in people coming within 2m of each other is not permitted. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded on Saturday to allow these amenities to be used by up to five people. 

 

Roadmap to Reopen

The Ontario government has released its Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to gradually lift public health measures based on provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators such as ICU and hospitalization rates, case rates and percent positivity. Regardless of these factors, there will be at least 21 days between each new stage.

Step 1 of the plan will begin two weeks after 60% of adults have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (expected the week of June 14). At this stage, the following will be allowed to reopen:

  • Outdoor gatherings up to 10 people
  • Outdoor dining up to 4 people per table
  • Outdoor fitness classes, personal training and sports training up to 10 people
  • Essential retail at 25% capacity and can sell all goods
  • Non-essential retail at 15% capacity
  • Retail stores in malls closed unless the stores have a street facing entrance
  • Outdoor religious services, rites and ceremonies limited to permit 2m physical distancing
  • Horse racing and motor speedways without spectators
  • Outdoor horse riding
  • Outdoor pools, splash pads and wading pools
  • Outdoor zoos, landmarks, historic sites, and botanical gardens with capacity limits
  • Campsites, provincial parks, campgrounds and short-term rentals

Step 2 will begin at least 21 days later once 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 20% have been fully vaccinated. At this stage, the following will be allowed to reopen with capacity limits:

  • Outdoor gatherings up to 25 people
  • Indoor gatherings up to 5 people and other restrictions
  • Outdoor dining up to 6 people per table
  • Outdoor sports and leagues
  • Outdoor meeting and event spaces
  • Non-essential retail at 25% capacity; essential retail at 50% capacity
  • Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times
  • Outdoor cinemas and performing arts
  • Horse racing and motor speedways for spectators
  • Outdoor tour and guide services
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15% capacity
  • Public libraries
  • Outdoor waterparks and amusement parks
  • Fairs and rural exhibitions

Step 3 will begin once 70-80% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 25% have been fully vaccinated. This represents a more full return to normal life with indoor dining set to resume and indoor recreational and fitness facilities allowed to reopen.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

Since my last newsletter, eligibility at mass vaccination clinics in Middlesex-London has been expanded to include everyone born in 2003 or earlier, or about aged 18 and over.

Eligibility coming soon:
The province announced late Friday that pharmacies and some health unit vaccination clinics will begin booking vaccinations for youth aged 12-17 on Sunday, May 23. Several London pharmacies will carry the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only vaccine approved for this age group. Pharmacies operate their own booking systems, and you can find websites and contact information for participating pharmacies on the provincial website.

MLHU has not indicated whether our region expects to receive the vaccine supply necessary to expand eligibility at their clinics to this group ahead of the expected timeline, which would see youth 12 -17 become eligible to book a shot at a mass vaccination clinic during the week of May 31.

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

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.

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 in Pharmacies

London pharmacies are now offering Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines. You can find participating pharmacies listed on the provincial pharmacy location website. Individuals 18 and over can get vaccinated at a pharmacy now, and beginning Sunday, May 23, individuals 12 and over will be eligible to receive a vaccine from pharmacies offering Pfizer.

First doses of AstraZeneca are still paused in Ontario, but second doses of AstraZeneca are now proceeding. For a limited time during the week of May 24, individuals who received their first dose of AstraZeneca during the period of March 10, 2021 to March 19, 2021 may opt for an earlier dose interval of 10 weeks with informed consent. If this applies to you, contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where you received your first dose to book an appointment.

 

Around London

London ACORN's next Tenants Rights Information session with Neighbourhood Legal Services will focus on rent abatement and filling out T6 and T2 forms.

The free session will take place Wednesday, May 26 at 6pm via Zoom. Register online.

The Thames Valley District School Board, London District Catholic School Board and London Police Service are seeking feedback on the School Resource Officer program. Students, past students, and families are invited to participate in a survey about the SRO program between now and Monday, May 31, 2021.

The survey is available in English, French, Arabic, and Spanish.

Ontario Renovates Funding

The 2021 Ontario Renovates Program is now accepting applications. Funding is limited and will be accepted on a first come, first served basis, so anyone interested in accessing the funds should apply immediately.

The program provides grants and loans to low-to-moderate income seniors aged 60+ and persons with disabilities that reside in the City of London or Middlesex County. Homeowners may apply for a one-time grant up to $5,000 for home accessibility modifications and/or forgivable loan up to $15,000 for home repairs. Applicants will be required to provide documentation for income and asset eligibility.

You can fine more details on the City of London website, or by emailing [email protected] or calling 519-661-CITY (2489) Ext. 5524 or 5523.

 

At Queen's Park

The Conservative's Bill 282, the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act, will help to improve road safety in Ontario. However, the bill has serious consequences for e-bike riders, with new definitions that will make many e-bikes suddenly illegal. Kudos to Ben Cowie from the London Bicycle Cafe for his advocacy to raise the government's awareness of the negative impact of their legislation. Despite NDP efforts to amend and improve the legislation, the government inexplicably chose to ignore the concerns that were raised and refused to make the necessary changes. It remains to be seen what this will mean to businesses like the London Bicycle Cafe and e-bike owners who will suddenly be in violation of the new law.  
After learning that Middlesex-London does not have nearly enough vaccine doses to meet demand, I rose in the Legislature to ask why Londoners are not getting our share of vaccine supply - in either MLHU vaccination clinics or in pharmacies. I am glad to report that several local pharmacies have since announced that they will be administering doses soon. 

I joined Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath to call for a full, public, independent judicial inquiry into Ontario's COVID-19 response. It’s important that we learn what went wrong, to give people the closure and accountability they deserve, and to ensure that the mistakes that were made never, ever happen again.

We also need to know what went right. There are lessons to be learned from the incredible success stories created through the hard work of nurses and frontline health care workers, local public health authorities, hospitals, teachers and education workers, municipal councils and non-profits.

Add your name to our call for a full inquiry. Let's make sure that future governments are equipped with the knowledge they need to better respond to future emergencies!

 

COVID-19 Developments

Update on COVID-19 Projections

The latest modeling from the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table suggests that Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case numbers will fall to 1,000 per day in early June and stay there for a month if reopening begins on June 2. The Advisory Table says that with daily vaccinations running at 130,000 per day, as they have been over the past two weeks, the province could see daily cases fall to under 500 per day by July if reopening begins on June 16. 

Epidemiologists also evaluated two scenarios where public schools resumed in-person instruction on June 2. In-person school operations would increase daily case counts by 6 to 11%. They say the reopening of schools could be “manageable” given the current trajectory of cases and hospital occupancy.

The Table is asking the province to emphasize allowing outdoor activities as much as possible in any reopening plan, and to avoid allowing indoor dining, gym or locker room activity and other public activity in indoor settings for the time being.
 

Outdoor Visits in Long Term Care 

The Ministry of Long-Term Care has announced that beginning Saturday, May 22, friends and family can visit long-term care homes to see residents for an outdoor visit. The updated Directive #3, as well as the ministry’s visitor policy and guidance document set out the following:
  • A maximum of two general visitors at a time per resident in addition to two essential caregiver(s).
  • Children under the age of two years do not count towards the general visitor maximum.
  • General visitors need to be actively screened upon arrival and should not proceed beyond entry points / areas in homes.
  • General visitors do not need to undergo a rapid antigen test as their visit will be outdoors.
  • General visitors need to maintain physical distancing and wear masks and every effort should be made to ensure different groups of visitors are also physically distanced.
  • Recognizing that not all homes have enough outdoor space, these visits may also take place in the general vicinity of the home. Homes should leverage nearby amenities such as local parks or parkettes to enable family and friends to visit their loved ones.
 
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.