Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

On May 27, 2021, we learned of the horrific discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children buried in an unmarked mass grave on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. This week in the Legislature, my colleague MPP Sol Mamakwa shared the deep pain First Nations communities are experiencing, and my thoughts have been with all those in London West who are struggling with that trauma and grief.

The Ontario NDP is calling for the province to work with First Nations communities to complete a full, formal investigation of the grounds of all former residential schools. We are also committed to standing in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples who continue to struggle for human rights and for justice — which includes clean drinking water, equitable access to health care and education, safe and dignified housing, and the recognition and activation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Today marked the final day of the spring session of Legislature. Although the government has no plans to return until September, there is obviously much work to be done to ensure we make it through the third wave, avoid a fourth wave, and provide the supports people and small businesses need to recover. Instead, the Legislature is rising without a plan to enable schools to reopen safely (but an announcement that classrooms will remain closed), without a plan for small businesses to reopen and stay open, and with a vaccine rollout in chaos again. We should have continued to sit and work together at Queen's Park, where Doug Ford's government can be held accountable each day.

Rest assured, whether at Queen's Park or in London West, I will continue to work hard for our community. 

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:
 

Schools Will Remain Closed

This week's announcement that Ontario students will continue with remote learning for the remainder of the school year was difficult news for many London West families. Children's mental, physical, and emotional health is suffering as a result of the lengthy school shutdown and the disruptions over the past year. Parents are exhausted after months of juggling jobs with at-home learning. Many are struggling to keep their kids engaged in school and feeling helpless because they don't know how to support them. 

I know that many parents—and especially women—are also facing financial pressures after leaving their jobs or reducing work hours, adding to the stress of managing family and home life during a pandemic.

Ontario is the only province in Canada with schools still closed, a direct result of the choices of the Ford government. The Ford government chose not to spend the money on smaller classes, ventilation, or accessible testing. They chose not to prioritize vaccinations for teachers and education workers. They chose not to provide paid sick days so that parents could keep symptomatic children home. They chose not to implement a broad-based program of asymptomatic testing. In short, they ignored the experts time and again, marching us straight into the third wave that could have been avoided or at least shortened.

The Ontario NDP is calling for urgent investments to make our schools as safe as possible and ensure a safe September re-opening:

  • smaller class sizes
  • better ventilation, including windows that open
  • urgently vaccinating teachers, education workers and eligible students
  • a broad, in-school asymptomatic testing program that families will actually want to use
 

Stay-At-Home Order Lifted

The province has lifted the Stay-at-Home order, but all other measures remain in place, including:

  • restrictions on gatherings, businesses, services and activities
  • limiting indoor gatherings to households only and outdoor gatherings to up to five people, with limited exceptions
  • maintaining a cap of 25 per cent capacity for essential retail where only certain goods are permitted to be sold
  • restricting non-essential retail to curbside pickup and delivery only
  • limiting short-term rentals to individuals in need of housing
  • allowing Ontario Parks and campgrounds on public lands to be used for day-use only, subject to limited exceptions.

While Ontarians are now able to leave home to travel within the province to a secondary residence for any reason, they are not permitted to host members of another household indoors except for a person from another household who lives alone or a caregiver.

You can find a simple, easy-to-understand summary of restrictions in place before Step One of Ontario's reopening at ontario.ca/reopen.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

Eligibility

Everyone aged 12 and over is now eligible for a vaccine in Ontario. You can book a first-dose appointment at a mass vaccination clinic or at a participating pharmacy. (Note that individuals 12-17 can only get Pfizer and should be sure to book where it is offered.) As always, you can find full eligibility details on the Middlesex-London Health Unit website.
 

Second Doses

Earlier in the vaccine rollout, the province mandated an extended four-month interval between first and second doses in an effort to deliver first doses to as many people as possible. There are some exceptions to this rule, and as vaccine supply increases, more people are becoming eligible for a shorter interval between doses.

  • Second doses for those aged 80+
    The Middlesex-London Health Unit will begin to offer those over the age of 80 the opportunity to re-book earlier second dose appointments starting Monday, June 7.
     
  • Second doses for students
    Individuals 17 and under who are returning to school in September are now eligible for a 56-day dose interval. Second doses that were scheduled before this policy was in place can be re-booked.
     
  • Second doses for those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca 
    Beginning June 4, all individuals who received a first dose of AstraZeneca are eligible to receive a second dose at a 12-week interval, and can choose whether to receive a second dose of AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). Individuals will be considered "fully immunized" after either second dose. Individuals should contact the pharmacy or primary care setting where they had their first dose to book a second dose.

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)
 

Around London

Londoners are mourning the loss of Jane Bigelow, London’s first female mayor and an inspiration to those called to civic and political action by her example. She was a trailblazer and activist committed to social justice, environmental protection, arts and culture, and gender equity, with a clear and unwavering sense of what needed to be done and a no-nonsense determination to do it. She was a treasured mentor and supporter to many, and it was an honour to celebrate International Women’s Day with her in 2014, the first IWD following my election as MPP. A long-time New Democrat, Jane’s legacy extended across party lines, with countless women becoming engaged in community and political life because of her. Sincere condolences to her family. May she rest in power.


Small and medium-sized businesses with 150 employees or less can now get free rapid antigen tests through the StaySafe™ London Rapid Antigen Screening Program. Businesses can order their free screening kits online at StaySafeLondon.ca, and pick their kits up at the London Chamber of Commerce Office in Downtown London. Businesses will receive a two-week supply of pain-free rapid screening tests that can be performed at work and only take 15 minutes to provide a result.


Submissions are open for the Forest City Youth Film Festival! Young filmmakers of Southwestern Ontario can showcase their skills for a chance to see their film on the big screen and win prizes. Even if you can't make a film, there is a category for pitching an idea!

Get more details at fcff.ca. The deadline to submit is June 30, 2021.

There are just a few days left to nominate a nonprofit, charity, individual, business, social enterprise, education or government sector organization that has a made a positive impact in our region for a Pillar Community Innovation Award. The deadline is June 6, 2021.


The 2021 Forest City London Music Awards & Forest City London Music Week will feature over 20 events to preserve, celebrate, encourage, and support the Southwestern Ontario music community. You can attend free music related seminars, Battle of the High School Bands, the FCLMA Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and two Music Awards galas, and more! Check out the full program at fclma.ca.


The Green Jobs Fair is a free virtual event for anyone looking to get started in the green economy in Southern Ontario. Participants can listen to pitches from different leaders in the sector to hear why their work is right for you, then choose two careers to learn more about in small group breakout sessions where you can ask questions and meet others in the field. Sessions will be held on June 8, 2021 at 12 pm and June 16, 2021 at 5:30pm. Register for one or both sessions.

 

On June 15, Elder Abuse London Middlesex is hosting "Insights into Elder Abuse," a free virtual presentation with Patrick Fleming, Chair of EALM and lawyer Michael Lamb. Register on Eventbrite to attend.

 

At Queen's Park

Ford Government Extends Emergency Powers

Currently, a number of emergency orders containing COVID-19 measures are in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) and the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA). These include regulations regarding gatherings, what businesses may be open, how orders will be enforced, the ability for employers to override collective agreements, and more. 

Last summer, the Ford government passed a bill giving themselves the power to create and extend COVID-19 measures without debate or legislative oversight. The Ontario NDP opposed this overreach at the time, and we opposed it again this week when the government voted to extend those powers until December. 

Clearly, the government has failed to use its emergency powers to respond effectively to COVID-19. Instead of offering paid sick days, speeding up the vaccine rollout, and providing proper supports to ensure our schools remain safely open, the government chose to restrict safe outdoor recreation, introduce unnecessary police powers, and initiate lockdowns without delivering financial support to those who needed it. Despite the extraordinary power Ford gave himself, the government failed to implement the measures the Science Table was calling for to prevent a disastrous third wave.

The Official Opposition is completely opposed to the extension of the emergency orders, and I spoke strongly against the government's motion when it was debated on May 20, 2021.

Some people have asked why a total of only 58 MPPs participated in such an important vote on the motion to extend emergency powers (36 PC "Ayes" and 22 NDP, Liberal and Independent "Nays"). During COVID-19, the recognized parties agreed to proportionally reduce numbers of MPPs at Queen’s Park through alternating cohorts. This allowed the government to maintain its majority, while limiting out-of-region travel and enabling physical distancing in accordance with public health directives. Throughout the pandemic, the NDP urged the government to implement some form of virtual proceedings, which could have enabled all MPPs to participate electronically in votes. Unfortunately, the government refused to consider this option. With the exception of the budget, all of the government bills and motions that have passed with recorded votes during COVID-19 have had similar reduced numbers of MPPs voting. For every one of those votes, regardless of the total number of MPPs voting, the outcome was never in doubt because the Conservatives have a majority of the seats.

It is shameful that the Conservatives chose to introduce such an anti-democratic, unnecessary and ineffective power grab in the first place. 

 

COVID-19 Developments

  • Ontarians can enjoy free day use of all provincial parks, Mondays through Thursdays until September 2. Starting June 7, 2021, daily vehicle permits will be available in advance of arrival at 17 parks, allowing permit holders to guarantee a spot.
  • The province has announced that restrictions in long-term care homes will be eased, effective Wednesday, June 9. Working with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Directive #3 has been updated, as well as the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s visitor policy and guidance document, to set out the following:

    • Residents who have been fully immunized can leave their long-term care homes for day and overnight social outings and trips.
    • Residents with mobility limitations or health conditions (essentially, factors unrelated to weather) that make participating in outdoor visits highly unlikely or impossible may have one general visitor at a time inside the long-term care home, in addition to an essential caregiver.
    • Regardless of resident and visitor vaccination status, brief hugs can now take place. Where both the resident and visitors are fully immunized, close physical contact, including handholding, can now take place safely. It continues to be important that residents and visitors adhere to public health measures in the home, including good hand hygiene and appropriate masking.
       
  • The National Advisory Committee on Immunization announced an updated recommendation that people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca may be offered a subsequent dose of another vaccine to become fully vaccinated, and the province has implemented this recommendation. More details above.
     
  • Details about how employers can access the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit are now available online. Employers can submit claims to the WSIB for reimbursement of eligible sick pay, and payments are expected to begin by the end of the month. 
     
  • Ontario will require long-term care homes to have COVID-19 immunization policies for staff that require each staff member to either provide proof of vaccination of each dose, provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated, or participate in an educational program about the benefits of vaccination and the risks of not being vaccinated. Homes will be required to track and report on the implementation of their policies, including overall staff immunization rates. Long-term care homes must have their COVID-19 staff immunization policies fully implemented by July 1, 2021.
 
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.