Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

To all Londoners celebrating Eid al-Adha, I hope you enjoyed a peaceful holiday over the past few days, after an exceptionally difficult period for our London Muslim family. With the last three Eids occurring under significant restrictions, I know that long-awaited reunions among family members made for a particularly joyous and healing celebration.

I want to thank the many community leaders who took time away from Eid to participate in the July 22 National Summit on Islamophobia. In advance of the Summit, I joined my MPP colleagues Terence Kernaghan and Teresa Armstrong in calling on local school boards to mark June 6 as the official Day for the Elimination of Hate.  As MPP for London West, I remain fully committed to listening to the community and most importantly, to acting on recommendations for a comprehensive strategy to address Islamophobia and all forms of hate. 

This week, special air quality advisories for southern Ontario highlighted once again the devastating reality of climate change as 166 active forest fires raged across Northwest Ontario. The majority of these fires are in Kiiwetinoong, the only Ontario riding with a majority Indigenous population. Five First Nations are in the process of evacuation and more are on standby. Vulnerable people and families, especially in fly-in communities, need help to leave their homes, and to be flown out of their communities and into nearby locations for safe shelter. Without provincial government resources and support for evacuation efforts, these fires will only become a greater humanitarian, health, and climate disaster for the people of Northern Ontario. And without strong climate action from all levels of government, our collective future is at risk. The Ontario NDP's commitment to investing in climate, jobs and justice has never been more critical.

At the same time, we also need a government prepared to invest in supporting the health of Ontarians. Yet a new report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) revealed that the Ford government withheld $10.3 billion from Ontarians during the pandemic, including sitting on over $1 billion earmarked for long-term care and public health. Overall, the Ford government spent $10.3 billion less than promised last year — while seniors suffered in long-term care, students were unable to attend school in-person, and businesses struggled with lockdowns. Instead of squirreling away billions of dollars, we should have been investing in solutions, not refusing to spend. That is another reason why we need a full public inquiry into Ontario's COVID-19 response.

As always, thanks for reading. Take care and stay safe.

 

My community office is available to help with provincial programs and services by phone at 519-657-3120 or by email at [email protected] In-person meetings can be arranged by appointment only. 


In this newsletter:
 

New Career & Training Opportunities

The pandemic has left many people out of work or underemployed, and looking to pursue new career opportunities or to upgrade their skills. The NDP has put forward a plan to create 100,000 new good, green jobs in highly valued trades, and to provide equitable training opportunities that leave no one behind in our changing workforce.

The Ford government has gone in entirely the opposite direction, as CBC News recently revealed that they stopped enforcing certification in the skilled trades in 2018. NDP MPP Wayne Gates has written a letter to the Minister of Labour demanding that enforcement resume immediately. By choosing not to invest in enforcing certifications, the government is devaluing the work of skilled tradespeople, undermining consumer confidence and putting Ontario's workers in harm’s way.

For those interested in career and training opportunities, the following new programs are available to Ontarians:

  • Black Boys Code and Lighthouse Labs, with support from the provincial government, are offering a free full-time 12 week bootcamp to equip Black youth in Ontario (age 18 – 29) with the education and technical training needed to become a professional a web developer. (Note that this program is open to all genders.) Black Boys Code London also has other programs available to help Black youth learn and develop technical skills.
     
  • Workers can now access over 17,000 free online courses focused on building skills most in-demand by employers in fields such as information technology, finance and business administration. Employment Ontario career experts will coach each worker on which courses match their needs and personal career goals. The free online training is available until March 31, 2022 through LinkedIn, and workers can contact their local employment service provider or go to linkedin.firstwork.org to sign up.
     
  • The Second Career program now offers fast-tracked entry into the program, and increased amounts for rent, mortgage, transportation, child care, and other expenses for workers who are retraining for new careers after being laid-off because of COVID-19. To learn more about Second Career, contact an employment service provider in your area.
     
  • Ontario's new Small Business Health and Safety Training Program will cover Health and Safety Representative Basic Training eLearning Program course registration costs for an employee who is appointed by their colleagues as a health and safety representative. Small businesses with 6-19 employees can also apply for $150 towards the labour cost of having an employee complete the course. Small businesses can apply for reimbursement through the Small Business Health and Safety Training Program starting in Fall 2021. More details will be available soon.

If you are interested in a career in manufacturing, check out the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning & Development Board's MYFuture Program to access industry training, hands-on learning, relevant certifications, and employment placement help.

 

Culinary Recovery Program

The Culinary Tourism Alliance will be launching a unique recovery program aimed at supporting local businesses along the food tourism value chain and encouraging local travel within Ontario. This effort has been made possible with support from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

“The Great Taste of Ontario” is a campaign that will allow Ontarians to have the opportunity to discover new tastes and culinary delights, and also play an integral role in helping to rebuild the tourism industry in Ontario and support farmers and food and drink producers. Click here to learn more.

 

Paid Sick Days

The CBC reports that there has been much lower uptake on the Ford government’s paid sick days program than the government predicted. The program was introduced far too late in the pandemic to provide sick days when the most people really needed them, and the three days it offers is completely inadequate for those who do fall sick. Even the vaccine can cause side effects for days.

The government’s poor communication about the program is likely also to blame for low uptake. I believe many workers still aren’t aware they are entitled to any paid sick days, and many small businesses don’t know they can access financial support for providing them.

We also know that workers do not claim paid sick days unless they need them. It’s long past time to amend the Employment Standards Act and make them permanent.  The Ontario NDP will continue to fight for permanent paid sick days, plus an additional 14 paid sick days paid by the province during an infectious disease emergency. Paid sick days must be a regular, well-known part of Ontario’s Labour rules so employees know: stay home when you are sick.

 

Around London

One of the ways I have been supporting our local small businesses is by visiting London West patios. My recent stops have included The Singing Chef, Storm Stayed Brewing, the Byron Freehouse, and Taverna 1331. You can follow #PatiosWithPeggy on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and please let me know which restaurant you think I should check out next!
 
Happy Pride to everyone celebrating in London with the Virtual 2021 Pride London Festival! The festival continues until Saturday July 24, and many of the events from the past 10 days can still be viewed online.
The second annual virtual Sunfest was a big hit, drawing more than 100,000 views and counting! You can still catch all of the amazing performances on the Sunfest Facebook page and YouTube channel!
The Middlesex-London Food Policy Council and London Environmental Network are hosting a public forum to discuss potential City of London bylaws and policy amendments to make it easier to grow food within the city. Click here to register.
The Hyde Park Picnic On The Pond at Hyde Park Village Green is a series of free public events where you can grab a bite to eat from different food trucks and enjoy some live music from different artists at each picnic.
 
The Middlesex-London Health Unit, Western University and London Health Sciences Centre will co-host an Instagram Live event on Friday, July 30, from 12:30pm to 1:30pm with Dr. Taryn Taylor and Dr. Carol King. The event is aimed at answering COVID-19 vaccine questions from people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or thinking about having children. 
The Gender Equality Coalition of Ontario, an organization founded by Londoners to achieve gender justice in our society, has opened membership for individuals and organizations. To help with Covid-19 recovery, they have made the membership fees free for the first year. There are also volunteer opportunities available with the coalition.
 

Support for Muslim students

A London teacher is organizing two virtual student support meetings this summer in response to the deadly hate attack last month. The support sessions, run by Thames Valley District School Board educators from the Muslim community, social workers and other professionals, will let students discuss topics and suggest improvements to the school system to remove barriers and improve their well-being The virtual meetings will take place July 28 and August 25 from 4pm to 5pm. For more information, email [email protected].
 

Londoners have shown extraordinary kindness throughout the pandemic, and I want to remember and preserve that community sprit by recognizing those who went above and beyond as London West COVID Heroes.

If you know someone who lives in London West and has helped a neighbour, or the community, to manage COVID-19, please click here to nominate them today

 

New & Noteworthy

  • Eligible Ontarians now have the option to receive digital reminders from Service Ontario for their licence plate sticker, driver’s licence and health card, including email, SMS/text or voicemail reminders 30 and 60 days in advance of their renewal date. Signing up is easy and free and can be done by visiting Ontario.ca/Reminders.
  • The Ontario Government is creating a new youth environment council, to provide young Ontarians in grades 9 to 12 with more opportunities to share their insights and ideas on climate change and other key environmental issues impacting the province’s future. Ontario youth in high school are encouraged to apply to be members of the consultation group by completing an application form on ontario.ca/YEC by August 4, 2021 at 11:59 pm. Candidates must currently be in grades 9 to 12 now, or as of the 2021 fall school year, and should have a passion for the environment, an understanding of key climate-related issues and solutions in their regions, and work or volunteer experience with activities related to climate change and the environment.

 

COVID-19 Vaccine Developments

Everyone aged 12 and over is now eligible for a vaccine in Ontario, and for an earlier second dose. You can get your shot at a mass vaccination clinic, a pop-up clinic, or a participating pharmacy.

Walk-in at any vaccination clinic

You do not need an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine at an MLHU mass vaccination clinic. Walk-ins will be accepted until one hour before closing each day. Click here to see current clinic hours and which vaccines are offered at each clinic. Those who prefer an appointment can still make one, and all existing appointments will be honoured.
 

Transportation to Clinics

The Middlesex-London Health Unit has partnered with The Boys & Girls Club to provide transit services for seniors and clients with mobility issues, to get to mass vaccination clinic sites at the Western Fair Agriplex, North London Optimist Community Centre, and Earl Nichols Arena.

Transit vehicles are wheelchair accessible and drivers will provide door-to-door service between a residence and a vaccination site. Caregivers are welcome to accompany clients who require mobility assistance, and everyone using the transit service will be required to supply and wear a mask while in the vehicle.

To book a ride through the Boys & Girls Club transit services, call 519-434-9119 between 8am and 5:30pm, Monday to Friday.
 

Get Vaccinated at Home or In-car

Homebound individuals can arrange a vaccination at home by calling the health until at 519-663-5317. Individuals can also arrange an in-car vaccination at a mass vaccination clinic by calling 226-289-3560. Both phone lines are open 8am to 7:30pm, Monday to Friday.
 

More COVID-19 Developments

  • Starting in August, there will be reduced hours and days of operation for mass vaccination clinics in Middlesex-London. This is consistent with provincial direction to reduce hours at mass vaccination clinics and MLHU will turn its focus to mobile and walk-in pop-up clinics, as well as providing opportunities to be vaccinated at community events. Click here to see the new clinic hours.
     
  • Starting August 9, 2021, at 12:01am, Canada will begin allowing entry for non-essential travel to American citizens and permanent residents, who are currently residing in the United States, and who have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada.
     
  • The Middlesex London Health Unit's last remaining Section 22 Class Order, which applied to fitness facilities, has been revoked.
     
  • The province has eased restrictions in long-term care, retirement homes, and other congregate care settings, including updating visitor policies to align with Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen.
     
  • Health Canada recently released Highlights from the first wave, a report that analyses the social and economic factors linked to higher rates of COVID-19-related death between January and August of 2020. Key findings in the report include significant differences in COVID-19 death rates for people living in large cities, as well as those living in lower-income neighbourhoods, in apartments, or in areas with more people who speak neither English nor French, were born outside of Canada or recently immigrated to Canada, are part of a visible minority. The report concludes that this is a health equity issue, meaning these are avoidable health differences between groups that must be addressed through a health equity approach, which promotes healthy living and working conditions for all. Click here to read the report.
For the most up-to-date information, please refer to linked sources and the COVID-19 information provided at the Middlesex-London Health Unit website, COVID-19.Ontario.ca, London.ca/covid-19, Canada.ca/coronavirus. You can also find a range of helpful resources on my website at peggysattler.ca/covid19resources.