Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

Yesterday I returned from an intense weekend at Queen's Park, where we used every tool we have to fight back against the government's unprecedented use of the notwithstanding clause to silence their critics.

At the same time, I remain focused on the actions needed to help our community heal and bring about the systemic change we need in light of last week's horrific London terror attack. The pain and grief and anger in London is palpable as we mourn the loss of four members of our community to an act of anti-Muslim terrorism, and as we think about little Fayez struggling to comprehend the loss of his mother, father, sister and grandmother.

Madiha, Salman, Yumna, and Talat were friends and neighbours to many in London West. They were a family who always showed up to lend a helping hand, who offered smiles to everyone, and who had hearts of gold. They were the best kind of people, targeted because of their Islamic faith.

Last Tuesday, 10,000 people gathered at a vigil that included leaders of federal and provincial parties, from the Prime Minister to the Premier.  On Friday, 1,500 joined a multi-faith march against hate, and on Saturday, our community came together again for the funeral. At the site of the attack, flowers and messages of support are left day and night, and homes and sidewalks across the city are adorned with chalk hearts and words of love.

These remarkable acts of solidarity are just the beginning of the difficult road ahead for our community. Some people in London refuse to accept the reality that racism and discrimination exist in our city and in our province, but this vicious act of terror has brought us face to face with some ugly truths, and we cannot turn away.

As your MPP, I have spoken up in support of the call for a National Action Summit on Islamophobia. I am thankful to the federal MP Lyndsay Mathyssen for taking quick action to secure a unanimous vote at the House of Commons to move forward. I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that the province of Ontario is an active participant in that summit, and that we implement the recommendations that are made. I wholeheartedly support the call of local TVDSB trustees, including Oakridge student Tasnia Rahman, for all three levels of government to be involved.

We can only truly heal by making real change, and that begins by listening to the voices of those most affected. I am grateful to members of our Muslim community for sharing their calls for action with me, and I am committed, most importantly, to acting on those calls. 

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:
 

Government Silences Critics

For the first time in the history of this province, a government has passed laws that had been found by the courts to violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In April, the government pushed through widely-opposed legislation that would limit the ability of advocacy organizations to reach out to Ontario voters during the year before an election. Last week, an Ontario Superior Court Judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional and violated the Charter.

The government could have appealed the legal decision, or they could have reintroduced the previous legislation that had already been found to provide a reasonable balance. Instead, they wasted no time calling an emergency session of the Legislature to reintroduce his unconstitutional legislation, making use of a little-known and rarely-used clause in the Charter, the Notwithstanding Clause, that allows a province to enact legislation even if it contravenes Charter-protected rights.  

Hundreds of Londoners contacted me to oppose this bill, and I stood with my colleagues as we did everything we could to stop this anti-democratic bill. Despite our efforts, and despite the public outcry, the government used their majority to pass Bill 307 into law. 

June 14 was a dark day for democracy in our province. What was clear during the emergency weekend session is the shocking disconnect between the government using the Legislature to bolster their own re-election prospects by muzzling the people they have failed, and their lack of urgency in dealing with the real priorities and pressing concerns of Ontarians, like addressing racism and Islamophobia, paid sick days, raises for PSWs, a safe return to school, and the crisis in affordable housing. 

This law means that with an election already less than a year away, families of long-term care residents, parents of children with autism, teachers and school communities, working people, environmental advocates, and frontline health care workers are restricted in their ability to speak out about the ways the government's policies have hurt them.

This decision violated the trust of Ontarians. People deserve a government that protects and prioritizes them, not one that only springs into action to preserve their own power. 

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

  • Individuals who received a first dose of AstraZeneca are now eligible for a second dose after 8 weeks. The second dose can be AstraZeneca or another vaccine, and can be booked through the health unit (choose option #5 - “I received my first dose elsewhere and now need to book a second dose”) or at a participating pharmacy.
     
  • Individuals who received their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna on or before May 9 will be eligible to book their second dose at a shorter interval starting tomorrow, Wednesday, June 16, by 8:00 am. Second doses can be booked or rescheduled through the health unit at covidvaccinelm.ca or at a participating pharmacy.
     
  • The Middlesex-London Health Unit will be receiving a 70% increase in its allocation of COVID-19 vaccine over the next several weeks, which will allow MLHU to accelerate second doses sooner. As a result, they are hiring a number of staff to expand the vaccination effort. Find available positions online.
     
  • Individuals can log in to the provincial COVID-19 vaccination portal to download or print an electronic receipt for each dose of COVID-19 vaccine they’ve received. In order to get a receipt, you will need your green photo health card, date of birth, and postal code. 

If you are eligible, please book an appointment for a vaccine

at a mass vaccination clinic, online at covidvaccinelm.ca or by calling 226-289-3560 (8:00 am to 7:30 pm daily.

OR

at a participating pharmacy; many local pharmacies now carry both AstraZeneca and mRNA vaccines.

 

Since the start of the pandemic, London West neighbours have supported each other in incredible ways, and I want to honour the kindness that Londoners have shown during this difficult time with a NEW recognition program, London West COVID Heroes

If you know someone who has gone above and beyond to help out during the COVID-19 crisis, please nominate them here. I will present the awards personally for now, and I look forward to an opportunity for our community to gather to celebrate COVID Heroes in the future!

The last 15 months have taught us a lot about stepping up, and by celebrating these acts of kindness and support, I know we can carry that community spirit forward as we emerge from the pandemic.

MAKE A NOMINATION
 

Around London

Two days after the attack, our grieving community came together in the thousands to mourn the Afzaal-Salman family and show our collective resolve to ending Islamophobia and hate. Thank you to all who gathered to support #OurLondonFamily. All Londoners deserve to feel safe on our streets and in our places of worship. (Photo by the London Police Service.)
On Friday evening, Londoners gathered for a Multi-Faith March Against Hatred, walking 7km together from the site of the attack to the London Muslim Mosque. Thank you to the faith leaders who organized this powerful display of solidarity and brought our community together to begin the hard work of rooting out racism. (Photo provided by Susan Toth)
On Saturday, thousands gathered once again for the funeral of Salman Afzaal, Madiha Salman, Yumna Afzaal, and Talat Afzaal. (Photo provided by Patrick Morrell, CBC)
All week, people have left flowers, candles, messages of hope and other dedications at the corner where the Afzaal-Salman family members were killed. Day and night, Londoners have visited to pay their respects and process the tragedy that occurred here.

The London Free Press has compiled an album of photos showing chalk hearts drawn on sidewalks and paper hearts on windows and doors of homes across the city to show love and support for the Muslim community.
Many Londoners are also displaying these and other lawn signs. "We Stand With #OurLondonFamily" signs can be ordered by donation here.
 

Your Voice at Queen's Park

While in the legislature over the weekend, I asked the government what concrete steps they will take to begin the work of ending Islamophobia in Ontario. I also urged them to restore the funding they cut from the province's Anti-Racism Directorate and provide additional funding to local organizations like the Muslim Resource Centre for Social Support and Integration—funds that will be urgently needed to respond to the trauma that the London Muslim community has experienced.

 

In speaking to Bill 307, I reminded the legislature that this bill will silence the voices of people who want to engage in the debate on the consequences of government actions, including those that have allowed white supremacist ideologies to take hold and systemic racism to fester in our public institutions. That is why this legislation is so dangerous: it silences the public debate that is so critical at this moment in our city, and it will muzzle people who want to have honest discussions about how public policy entrenches and stokes Islamophobia.

We cannot play politics with people’s lives. Four people have died in London, and these conversations must happen.

 
June is National Indigenous History Month, and June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day. For the second year in a row, Londoners will have to go forego our usual gathering in Wortley Village, but we can still take time to learn about and celebrate Indigenous history and culture.

Biindigen, Western’s Indigenous Learning Circle, has created a wealth of virtual activities and resources for the community to learn and unlearn about Indigenous histories, cultures and Peoples.

The Indigenous Running Club's Virtual run, presented by N'Amerind, is open to all Indigenous people in Ontario, who can run a distance of their choice between June 18 and June 21, and submit their race results to earn a medal and win prizes. Learn more and register online.
 

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (#WEAAD), and the Learning Network at Western's Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children has released two infographics with recent statistics about elder abuse in Canada.

The Learning Network also offers the following resources:

If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse

The Seniors Safety Line takes calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 200 languages. They can tell you about programs and services in your community, and can also provide counselling. Their phone number is 1-866-299-1011.

The Seniors’ INFOline is part of Ontario’s Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility. You can contact them for information about government programs and services related to older adults and elder abuse. Call 1-888-910-1999 or 1-800-387-5559 (TTY).

To find other supports in our area, call 211 or go to the 211 Ontario website.

 

Canada Day Lawn Signs

Again this year, we will protect our neighbours by foregoing Canada Day community events, but I know that Londoners will still find ways to more quietly celebrate this remarkable country, its diversity and our connection to one another. 

It is also a day to acknowledge the Indigenous peoples whose land we occupy, and to show our gratitude by committing to meaningful reconciliation. We have all been shaken by the recent and ongoing discoveries of the remains of children in mass graves at former residential schools, which have revealed the darkness in Canada's history and also our present, and it is more important than ever that we do the work to make our country a more equitable, inclusive, and just place to live. One of the things that make Canada the best nation in the world, however, is our commitment to working together to make it better. 

To help Londoners celebrate on July 1, free Canada Day lawn signs are available at my constituency office. Quantities are limited, so please call 519-657-3120 or email [email protected] to arrange a pick up.
 

COVID-19 Developments

  • The province has announced that a small number of professional and elite-amateur sport leagues and events will be able to return to play under stringent public health and safety protocols, in advance of the broader return to play for amateur and recreational sport. In addition, events hosted by a National Sport Organization (NSO) that is either funded by Sport Canada or recognized by the Canadian Olympic Committee or the Canadian Paralympic Committee, may also return to play under certain circumstances.

  • The federal government has announced that exemptions to travel restrictions and quarantine measures are expected in early July for fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter Canada . Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said that affected travellers will still have to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and stay in isolation until the test comes back negative, but will not have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for two weeks on their return. Until these changes take effect, current travel restrictions still apply.
     
  • A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at University Hospital. There are fewer than five cases associated with this outbreak. The hospital's Emergency Department remains open and is safe for patients who need emergency care, as the risk of infection for patients remains low. The London Health Science Centre reminds Londoners not to delay seeking care for any urgent or emergent needs. 
     
  • In order to accelerate the deliver of second doses, the health unit will suspend almost all non-COVID-19 programming and services temporarily between June 17 and July 7, to redirect resources to vaccination efforts. Essential services will still be provided.
 
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.