Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

The week after Labour Day is always one of transition—from summer to cooler weather, from vacation to work or school. However you spent it, I hope your week has gone smoothly!

For MPPs, the week normally signals the return to Queen's Park. With Doug Ford's decision to prorogue the Ontario Legislature, however, we will not be back in session until October 4 and the government will not have to face the Opposition in Question Period or at committees. Prorogation also means that any business on the legislative agenda and bills that were awaiting second or third reading effectively "die" on the Order Paper. Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath called the move an “unprecedented abdication of responsibility during a crisis” given the work that has to be done to deal with the growing fourth wave of COVID-19 and prevent another lockdown—not to mention the urgent action needed on climate change, health care, housing and other pressing priorities.

With students and staff heading back to school, I suspect that many families experienced a mix of both excitement and some nervousness this week. While we are still a long way from a "normal" school year, I wish everyone a great return to the classroom. The Official Opposition continues to call on the Premier and the Minister of Education to do everything possible to ensure that every student and school in the province is protected from the spread of COVID-19. The Ford government must pull out all the stops to keep students safe, and to keep schools open.

The return of schools and post-secondary institutions means thousands of additional contacts between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, which in turn, increases community risk of infection from the Delta variant. On August 30, I joined London MPPs Terence Kernaghan and Teresa Armstrong for a sobering presentation on COVID-19 modelling in the London region, developed by Ivey Business School professor Dr. Lauren Cipriano and LHSC Critical Care Chief Dr. Wael Haddara, who are also members of the Ontario Science Advisory Table. They conclude that high rates of vaccination coverage in people over the age of 12 and mask wearing in public settings will not be sufficient to prevent an overwhelming resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall of 2021, and urge moderate public health measures now to avoid more disruptive measures later. Check out Dr Cipirano's recent interview with CBC London

Finally, with disturbing reports of often violent anti-public health intimidation campaigns targeting small business owners, their staff and even hospitals across Ontario, the NDP is proposing new legislation that would make targeted harassment of people and businesses upholding public health rules in safety zones a provincial offence, punishable by a fine of up to $25,000. The legislation will respect people’s right to protest, but will also allow a safe space for owners to operate their businesses and for people to patronize those businesses free from harassment. Last week, hospitals were targeted by anti-vaccine activists, including a cancer patient leaving a Kingston hospital being shouted down by protestors waiting outside. This is unacceptable and it must stop.

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:
 

Vaccine Certificates

On September 1, a vaccine verification system was announced for Ontario, with access to certain settings restricted to eligible individuals who are fully vaccinated beginning September 22. This marked a complete about-face for Premier Ford, who had earlier refused to implement vaccine passports, despite mounting calls from Ontario's business community and public health officials for a consistent provincial approach to vaccine verification.

In July, a report from the Ontario Science Table had highlighted the benefits of vaccine certificates in preventing another lockdown and incentivizing COVID-19 vaccination. Sure enough, just days following the provincial announcement, the Middlesex-London Health Unit reported a 50% jump in walk-ins at pop-up clinics across our community.

With vaccine passports already in place in Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba, it is unfortunate that Ontario delayed so long.

The announcement was also short on details, and some Londoners have contacted me to raise concerns about equity and accessibility. A vaccine certificate that is built as a smartphone app does not work for vaccinated people who do not have smartphones. And people who were vaccinated without presenting a health card may not have their data captured in the system. We will be watching closely to ensure that the system is equitable and leaves no one behind.

At this point, the province has stated that as of September 22, 2021, Ontarians must be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide proof-of-vaccination along with photo ID to access the following:

  • Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout)
  • Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment)
  • Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres (for wedding and funeral receptions, negative rapid antigen COVID-19 tests from no more than 48 hours before the event can be provided to allow in place of vaccination until October 12)
  • Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth recreational sport
  • Sporting events
  • Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
  • Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs
  • Racing venues (e.g., horse racing)

These requirements will not apply to retail shopping, outdoor dining, attending workplaces and religious services, and for essential services (grocery stores, pharmacies and banks). Children who are not yet eligible for a vaccine, and individuals who cannot receive a vaccine for medical reasons and who present a doctor's note, will be permitted entry into these spaces.

Initially, all Ontarians will use vaccine receipts and photo ID as proof of vaccination. A QR code system is being developed and will replace the paper or PDF receipt on October 22.

  • If you provided a green photo health card when you received your vaccine, you can download a copy of your receipt at covid19.ontariohealth.ca.
  • If you provided a red and white health card, call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900 to request that an agent email you a copy of your receipt.
  • If you were vaccinated outside of the province or you did not present a health card, please contact the health unit for help getting the proper documentation.
 

Safe September

It is not too late for Ontario to have the safe September that everyone deserves. The Official Opposition continues to champion a Safe September plan that would make class sizes smaller, improve ventilation to minimum standards, roll out comprehensive rapid testing to schools province wide, and much more.

Our plan includes:

  • Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers and education workers
  • Adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required immunizations for students
  • Improved ventilation with public reporting and provincial standards
  • Smaller class sizes
  • Mental health and learning supports
  • A comprehensive rapid testing program that gives every school in Ontario access to the gold standard of rapid, take-home COVID-19 tests for students
  • Proactive planning to ensure immediate vaccine roll-out for children under 12 as soon as approved by Health Canada
  • Ending hybrid learning
  • Ensuring families have the paid sick days and care days they need
If you are a student, education worker or parent, please send me an email at [email protected] to let me know what your school needs to ensure a safe September.
 

Post-Secondary Exemptions

London is proud of our many post-secondary campuses and we welcome the thousands of students who arrive each fall to attend college or university. At the same time, we are very much aware that COVID-19 transmission on campus affects transmission in our community. Just months ago, the postal code with the highest COVID positivity rate in the province was located in London, in the area around Western University.

That is why the government's August 31 release of the COVID-19 framework for post-secondary education (while students were already moving into residences) has raised serious concerns. The new regulations exempt almost all post-secondary institutions from physical distancing and capacity limits for indoor instructional spaces, including classrooms and labs. The exemption does not apply to Indigenous Institutes.

This is deeply troubling for the Ontario NDP and also for Ontario's college and university faculty, because it flies in the face of expert recommendations, and puts students, faculty and staff at risk. The Ford government must work with colleges and universities to develop a plan that protects community safety, as well as to provide a range of safety measures, including onsite rapid testing, improved ventilation systems, and other upgrades. Students also need culturally-responsive mental health services and more support for international students navigating an unfamiliar health system.

I commend the leadership that local institutions have shown by implementing vaccine and mask mandates on their campuses. But the Ford government must also step up to keep campuses safe for post-secondary students and staff.

 

Provincial Cards Expiring

Ontario is reinstating the renewal requirements for health cards, Ontario Photo Cards, driver’s licences, licence plate stickers and other driver and vehicle products, that were temporarily extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health cards, photo cards, driver's licences, accessible parking permits, and non-commercial licence plate stickers must be up to date by February 28, 2022.

  • Everyone will need a non-expired Ontario photo health card by February 28, 2022. Red and white health cards will no longer be accepted.
     
  • For driver's licenses only, Ontario has waived the requirement to update the driver's license photo for people whose photo would have needed to be replaced between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2022, so that these licenses can be renewed online.
     
  • Ontario has paused the Senior Driver's Group Education Session program and has waived the requirement for drivers aged 80 and older to visit a Service Ontario in person to renew their licenses. They may renew online.
     
  • Novice drivers with G1, G2, M1 or M2 licences expiring between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2022, will have until December 31, 2022, to complete testing to maintain or upgrade their licence, and drivers who enrolled in a Beginner Driver Education (BDE) course between March 1, 2019, and December 31, 2021, will have until December 31, 2022, to complete their course.
     
  • Please click here for more details, including information regarding vehicle registration and safety inspections and for commercial drivers and vehicles.
Click the following links to renew your provincial products online:
 

Around London

It was a pleasure to join London West residents Pete and Jan Denomme to mark the closing of the London Music Club after 17 years, and to thank them for their outstanding contribution to London's arts community and music scene. Despite the hardships of COVID-19, London remains a music city. I will continue to urge provincial government support for arts and culture because of the employment it generates, the talent it nurtures, and the joy it brings to our lives.  


Are you looking for work in the London area?
The Local Jobs Hub lets job-seekers search for positions available in our region from a wide range of job boards. The Local Jobs Hub allows you to find opportunities no matter where they are posted, includes information on salaries, transit routes, childcare and more, and can also translate job postings into more than 100 languages.
Are you searching for a career that suits your skills? 
The London & 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.
 

Doors Open London will take place virtually from September 18-19, 2021 with the theme “Celebrating 20 Years of Doors Open London.” It is a free weekend celebration of everything that makes our city an amazing place to live, and the city's largest collective celebration of history, heritage and culture. Doors Open London is one of the longest-running community celebrations in Ontario. The family-friendly event offers online access to heritage and cultural sites and programming, free of charge. 


Nominations are now open for the City of London's Diversity, Race Relations & Inclusivity Award. The award recognizes individuals, groups and organizations that contribute to the promotion of diversity, race relations, inclusivity and human rights in London, and that promote London as a welcoming city. Nominations will be accepted until 9am on Thursday, September 30, 2021. Click here for more information and to make a nomination!
 
One of the ways we can stand up against Islamophobia is to counter hate with acts of kindness and love. Every Saturday at 1pm, wholesome meals are available to anyone in need at the Muslim Soup Kitchen. The Soup Kitchen is located at the Hyatt Mosque at 282 Hamilton Road and is a collaboration between all the Muslim organizations in London to provide means to anyone who is hungry, regardless of religious background, age, financial status, etc. If you are interested in being involved or donating food, please e-mail [email protected] 
 
M.I. Friends is a new program that offers FREE tools, videos, and resources to help children build resiliency and help parents support their child. Developed by experts at The Mary J. Wright Child Youth and Development Clinic at the Western University Faculty of Education Western, M.I. Friends provides children with a comfort toy (named Poppy) to help children manage stressful situations when big feelings arise. The program is available to families at no cost. 
 
 

COVID-19 Developments

Remarkable progress continues to be made in getting Londoners vaccinated, and I offer my profound thanks to all those who have already received their shots and the healthcare workers and volunteers who are helping with London's vaccination campaign. But we need to get many more needles into arms to reach the 90 percent that experts recommend to protect against the Delta variant.

Fortunately, It has never been easier to get your shot.

Everyone born in 2009 or earlier is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario, as well as for an accelerated second dose: 

  • Walk-in or make an appointment at the MLHU mass vaccination clinics at Western Fair Agriplex or Caradoc Community Centre
    • 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 226-289-3560 to book, 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)
  • Beginning this week, the only mass vaccination clinic continuing to operate in London is at the Western Fair Agriplex. Certain individuals can also be vaccinated at the Children's Hospital clinic, and there are also pop-up clinics continuing around the city, as well a mass vaccination clinic at the Caradoc Community Centre in Mount Brydges. 
     
  • The Middlesex-London Health Unit is strongly recommending that all employers and business operators in the region implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy in order to ensure two-dose vaccination for anyone eligible in their workplace, business or facility. Guidance for employers and business operators, including a primer for how to implement mandatory vaccination policies in the workplace can be found on the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s website.
     
  • The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released stark new projections on September 1. The predictions show the range of possible scenarios for this fall using five different models, and project that with the Delta variant, our current level of vaccination and contact rates will not be enough to avoid increased cases and overwhelmed ICUs. The report recommends moderately reducing contacts now to avoid a lockdown later this year, and suggests measures such as
    • reducing indoor density
    • maintaining physical distancing and masking
    • limiting large gatherings
    • working from home whenever possible
    • encouraging more vaccination
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.
 

New & Noteworthy

  • In late 2021, the province will introduce a digital ID, a new form of secure, electronic government‐issued identification that, over time, will offer convenient online and in-person access to public and private sector services, while protecting data privacy. The province is seeking input on the development of a clear, robust and effective policy framework for the program. Click for more information, and send your comments to [email protected] by September 23, 2021. Please copy me on your submission at [email protected]
  • Voting is now open for the City of London's two People’s Choice categories of the 2021 Urban Design Awards, which celebrate urban design projects in London and the efforts of developers, architects, landscape architects, planners, and designers. Voting is open until September 30, 2021.