Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

I hope that you are enjoying the summer, and taking advantage of long-awaited opportunities to reconnect in person with friends and family.

While we entered the summer with optimism about a return to (almost) normal, there has been a worrisome rise in COVID case numbers as the highly-contagious Delta variant continues to spread. This week Dr. Peter Juni, the head of the Science Advisory Table, declared that Ontario is "most definitely" in the fourth wave of COVID-19, a wave that could sweep quickly through our unvaccinated population. The Middlesex-London Health Unit has already reported signs of this happening. Since June 28, 92.9% of our area's COVID-19 cases, and 94% of hospitalizations and deaths, have been among people who were not fully vaccinated.

Since my last newsletter, the province has announced some details of what will happen when we exit the three-step Roadmap to Reopen. Limits on capacity and social gatherings, as well as most public health measures, will be lifted. Indoor masking and the requirement for passive screening through signs at businesses and organizations will remain in place.

In order to get to the exit, at least 80% of eligible Ontarians aged 12 and over must have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 75% must have received two doses, with no public health unit having less than 70% of their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.

Thankfully, it has never been easier to get the COVID-19 vaccine in our regionIf you are eligible for a vaccine but have not yet got your shot, please do not delay any longer. If you are having any trouble getting vaccinated, please contact my office and we will help. Vaccination will not only help protect you and your family, it will also protect the vulnerable people in our community who cannot receive a vaccine.

As always, thank you 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:
 

Back to School Plans

Earlier this month the Ford government released their plan for the return to school in fall, which includes:

  • daily in-person instruction with some cohorting of students, and the option of remote learning for those who prefer it
  • mandatory masking for Grades 1-12 and recommended masking in kindergarten
  • school vehicles operating at full capacity with assigned seats, mandatory masks in vehicles for students in Grades 1-12, enhanced cleaning, and windows to be open when feasible
  • assemblies, clubs, extra-curricular activities and field trips permitted, with restrictions
  • music education permitted, with restrictions
  • libraries, learning commons, cafeterias and other shared spaces permitted to be open, with restrictions
  • expectations for school boards to optimize ventilation, either through enhanced best practices for mechanical ventilation, or with the introduction of HEPA filters in schools that do not have mechanical ventilation systems

You can read the plan in full here.

A follow-up document was released on August 11 with guidelines on dealing with school COVID-19 outbreaks, and different protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff.

If you are a parent, student or education worker, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Ford government's plans! Please contact me at [email protected] or 519-657-3120 to provide feedback. 

I am very concerned that a number of key issues have been overlooked, putting both the school year and the well-being of students and school staff at risk.

Many students are struggling academically after a year of disruption, but without smaller class sizes and additional educational supports, it will be difficult for teachers to offer the one-on-one support needed. Similarly, I have heard from countless families about the toll the pandemic has taken on students' mental health, yet the plan does not include any new mental health supports. Instead, as revealed by the Financial Accountability Officer, the Ford government is proceeding with an $800 million cut to education funding this year.

The COVID-19 outbreak guidelines for schools don't go nearly far enough to protect kids and staff or provide reassurance to families, especially amid rapidly rising cases and a highly contagious Delta variant. The plan fails to make vaccines a requirement for teachers and education workers, fails to reduce class sizes so that students aren't packed dangerously into classrooms, and fails to implement paid sick days for families of children presenting COVID-19 symptoms.

It also skimps on the funding needed to ensure properly ventilated classrooms. For example, the Thames Valley District School received just $200,000 from the province to improve ventilation, but spent $65 million in the past year on ventilation upgrades.

Without these crucial protections, we risk looking at another school year of outbreaks and disruptions. The NDP will continue to push this government to invest in keeping schools safe, with a Safe September plan that includes:

  • Smaller, safer class sizes
  • Improved ventilation with clear standards, classroom inspections and public reporting
  • Mental health supports
  • Paid sick days and family care days for everyone, including parents so they can keep sick kids at home, and all education workers
  • A proactive strategy to reach out to families to get students vaccinated.
  • Mandatory vaccinations for all teachers and education workers
  • Adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the existing list of immunizations that students need to register for school

This is not the time or place to try to save a buck. More than ever, we need to invest in education. We should be doing everything possible to implement an air-tight plan to keep kids in class, You can download a petition here to join New Democrats in calling for a real plan to ensure a safe school year.

 

$10-a-day Childcare

For decades, governments in Ontario have failed to make child care more affordable, resulting in astronomical fees for parents in our community. Many young people are holding off starting a family because they simply cannot afford child care or find a suitable space.    

A March 2020 report showed that Londoners were paying higher fees for toddler and preschool care than any other Canadian city outside the GTA. 

Now, Ontario families are watching as other provinces and territories including British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Yukon, PEI, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador sign new agreements with the federal government for a $10 per day childcare program. Ontario is left behind in a shrinking group of provinces and territories to not sign on to the plan.

The Ontario NDP is calling on the province to negotiate an agreement with the federal government on $10 a day child care. We're also demanding improved wages for ECEs and child care professionals, and investments in child care capacity to support the recovery from COVID-19. Ontario's NDP is committed to working with the federal government to bring in a universal system of high-quality public and not-for-profit child care that costs families only $10 per day.

Click here to read the full statement from our child care critic.

 

Vaccine Certificates & Mandatory Vaccination in Healthcare and Education

Despite the Science Advisory Table's recommendation for vaccine certificates, the Premier continues to insist that the existing provincial vaccine receipt is all that is necessary. But the receipt was never intended to be a secure proof of vaccination and is too easy to counterfeit. And while businesses can opt to use the federal system expected in the fall, that system is being designed for international travellers and may not meet the needs of organizations that want to keep their staff and visitors safe.

The millions of Ontarians who did the right thing and got a vaccine deserve a certificate program that will help us return to normal life. Asking every individual business to design a different system for themselves with no provincial guidance is a mess, confusing, and a real burden for people and businesses.

Earlier this week I joined London MPPs Terence Kernaghan and Teresa Armstrong, as well as London's mayor and the London Chamber of Commerce, in urging the Ford government to provide a reliable vaccine verification system that any Ontario organization can use. Click here to read our statement.

As the Ford government leaves Ontarians on their own to manage higher-risk indoor and group settings, more and more large organizations, like Western University and the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (which oversees hospitals in Stratford, St. Marys, Clinton and Seaforth), are stepping up to protect our community with vaccine requirements. And more and more healthcare organizations are calling for mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers, including the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, the Ontario Medical Association, and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.

The Ontario NDP fully supports mandatory vaccination in health care and education (including post-secondary education and child care) based on science and public health priorities as a means of protecting the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us: seniors, people with disabilities, people who are sick, and children who can’t yet get their vaccines. At the same time, we must also ensure that we are identifying barriers facing people who have yet to be vaccinated and do the work to reach them.

 

UN Report on Climate Crisis

A new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is warning that higher temperatures, droughts and extreme weather will only increase in the years to come, and that human activity is unquestionably the primary cause of climate change. The report calls for rapid action to reduce emissions from fossil fuels.

Londoners have long prioritized climate action, and there is political will locally to mitigate these impacts. In April 2019, London City Council passed a Declaration of a Climate Emergency, and has developed a Climate Emergency Action Plan, including a carbon calculator

The Ontario NDP has also put forward the boldest plan in a generation to tackle the climate crisis - a plan rooted in equity, affordability, and reconciliation. Read more about it here.

Read the statement from our critic for Climate Change.

 

Around London

Hutton House's FREE Back On Track program is helping local individuals 30 and older with barriers to employment who are currently or recently unemployed. The program offers online employment workshops, a $200 completion bonus, and a 300 hour paid placement. 
The Gender Equality Coalition of Ontario is hosting the seventh event in its 2021 Speaker Series on August 19th. Register to attend the panel discussion and Q&A session on Indigenous Culture & Gender Equality, which will be moderated by Tracey Whiteye of the N'Amerind London Friendship Centre.

The London and Area Works Job Fair will be hosted, once again, as an interactive virtual event on September 21, 2021. The job fair is free for job-seekers to attend, and will offer opportunities to speak directly with hiring companies through the online platform. Click here to register.
The City of London is hosting "Through the Decades," a series of outdoor family movie nights in different areas of the city, including one in London West: The Princess Bride at Storybook Gardens on August 13. Click here to see the full lineup. Registration is required to attend.

Do you know someone who has started an environmental group, raises awareness about sustainability, has reduced their climate footprint, or started a green initiative? Then you should nominate them for a Green Leader Award! The London Environmental Network and Green Economy London are seeking nominations for the following awards: Youth Leader, Sustainability Champion, and Lifetime Achievement. Submit a nomination by August 15, 2021.

MuslimFest is coming back to London for the second year on Sunday, August 15. This time it's going to be bigger and more exciting with full-day programming, LIVE shows, concerts, comedy. and more. There will be a Kid's Fun Village, 50 ft Ferris Wheel, 100 ft obstacle course, and lots more. This is a FREE EVENT and everyone is welcome. Register to attend or volunteer!

Join Cody Groat, Six Nations band member and Assistant Professor, for a presentation on the history of the Indian Residential School System and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action. Wednesday, August 18 at 10 am via Zoom. Email [email protected] to attend.

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology is hosting a Heritage Scavenger Hunt from August 27 - September 5. Register your team for this free, family-friendly week-long outdoor adventure exploring archaeological heritage at 10 locations across London. Teams can complete up to five activities at each of the ten locations, and submit their entries to be eligible for prizes. Click here to register.

Through Neighbourhood Decision Making, Londoners submit
ideas to improve their local communities through City-funded
projects, rally their neighbourhoods to vote for their ideas and see
the winning ideas come to life. Residents can submit project ideas between August 16 and September 21, 2021.
Pillar Nonprofit Network will announce the finalists for the 15th Annual Pillar Community Innovation Awards on August 25! Register to meet the changemaking individuals and organizations who are investing in positive community impact in our region and enjoy a vocal performance by the talented and inspiring Travae Wiliams.

The Hyde Park BIA and local businesses are excited to bring to you 2021 Virtual Pondfest!
On August 21, bring your screen outside and enjoy this day long online festival that is fun for the whole family! This year's Pondfest includes magic, music, workshops, and more. Get your tickets now!

You can also visit the Pondfest website any time to play the Pondfest Sailboat Racing Game (on PC or Android) to win Hyde Park Dollars.


Londoners have shown extraordinary kindness throughout the pandemic. I want to celebrate that community sprit by recognizing the compassion and thoughtfulness for others demonstrated by 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

 

COVID-19 Developments

Everyone 12 years of age and older is eligible for a vaccine in Ontario, and for an earlier second dose. It has never been easier to get vaccinated in London:

  • Walk-in or make an appointment at any MLHU mass vaccination clinic
    • Call the Boys & Girls Club transit services at 519-434-9119 (8am - 5:30pm, Monday to Friday) to book a ride if you have mobility issues and cannot get to a clinic yourself
    • You can also get vaccinated in your car at a mass clinic (call to book: 226-289-3560, 8am - 7:30pm, Monday - Friday)
  • Visit a community pop-up clinic in your area of the city
  • Make an appointment at a participating pharmacy
  • If you cannot leave your home, arrange a vaccination at home (call 519-663-5317, 8am - 7:30pm, Monday - Friday)

  • Individuals who received a COVID-19 vaccine outside of Ontario can now report it to the Health Unit electronically. For more details, go to the Health Unit’s website here.
     
  • The National Institute of Ageing at Ryerson University developed a COVID-19 Risk Calculator and Visit Risk Decision Aid to help determine how risky someone’s planned interactions could be with friends or loved ones. The Public Health Agency of Canada has also released resources for making an informed choice about going out safely and the benefits of getting vaccinated.
     
  • The Ontario government has provided some details of what exiting the roadmap will look like for the province. Capacity limits will be lifted in all sectors and for social gatherings and organized public events. Masking will still be required in indoor public settings, but active screening will be replaced by passive screening  when entering businesses. In addition, physical distancing or plexiglass barriers are to continue in public spaces, and all businesses will be required to have a safety plans. 
 

New & Noteworthy

  • Although expired health cards remain valid until further notice, SeviceOntario has started mailing out health card renewal reminders for priority groups. People are encouraged to renew their health cards now, to reduce crowding and waits once the extension of expired cards is lifted. Those who receive a letter will be able to renew cards using the mail-in process, while anyone can renew their health card online. If you must go in-person to renew a card, you can now book an appointment at ontario.ca/appointment to help reduce your wait time.
     
  • Ontario food and beverage processors can now apply for OMAFRA funding to help improve their operations, increase their competitive edge and adapt to challenges as we move beyond the pandemic. Applications for phase one of the intake will be accepted until September 2, 2021 for projects to be completed by September 30, 2022. Click here for more information.
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.