Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

This week marked the close of the fall session at Queen's Park, with MPPs not scheduled to return to the Legislature until February 22, 2022. Over the last three months, I am proud of the proposals brought forward by me and my colleagues to make life better for people — from permanent paid sick days to investments in affordable housing, from help for small businesses to $10/day child care, and much more. It was frustrating to watch the government vote all of these proposals down, especially as things are getting harder and harder for Ontarians. I have been hearing from more and more people in London West who are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living, to access the health care they need, to get help for struggling kids, and to find high quality seniors care.

Here at home, I know that the arrival of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in London has many of us concerned. As epidemiologists and Public Health officials continue to review the data, one of the best gifts we can give to our community is to keep our vaccination rates high. Although people who are vaccinated can still get COVID, data shows that unvaccinated people are 13 times more likely to end up in hospital, and 23 times more likely to have to go into intensive care. It is inspiring and heartening to see so many London children getting their shot, with 23.5% of 5-11 year olds in our region receiving a first dose by December 5. As new Science Table modelling projects nearly 3,000 daily COVID cases by January, my NDP colleagues and I are continuing to call for vaccine mandates for all education and healthcare workers, expanded and free access to rapid tests, and an accelerated program of booster shots

Three Medical Officers of Health from across our region issued a joint letter on how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 during the holidays. The letter strongly recommends that social gatherings be limited to no more than 10 people, and that non-essential indoor contact between unvaccinated individuals aged 12+ and people who are not part of their household be avoided. People are also urged to work from home as much as possible. These recommendations were echoed by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Of course, you can still have fun while keeping safe, and I hope that everyone is able to enjoy some festive season celebrations.

Take good care,

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:
 

COVID-19 Updates

Today, the province made several major announcements regarding COVID-19 measures.

Vaccine Certificate Updates
  • Beginning December 20, youth aged 12-17 will require proof of vaccination to participate in organized sports in recreational facilities.
     
  • Beginning January 4, enhanced vaccine certificates with a QR code must be used in settings where proof of vaccination is required.
     
  • The province will not lift proof of vaccination requirements in settings where it is required on January 17, as was previously planned.
     
  • Starting on December 15, Ontario will begin a new process to provide an enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate with QR code for individuals who have an eligible medical exemption or are participating in an active, Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial. Physician notes will not longer be accepted as proof of exemption beginning January 10, 2022.
Important for Business & Organizations
  • In settings where proof of vaccination is required, the Verify Ontario app will have to be used beginning January 4. Proof of vaccination requirements will not be lifted on January 17.
     
  • Beginning January 10, physician notes will not longer be accepted as proof of a medical or clinical trial exemption. These exemptions will be incorporated in the Verify Ontario app.
Upcoming Booster Dose Eligibility
  • Starting Monday, December 13, individuals aged 50 and over will be eligible to schedule a booster dose 168 days (approximately six months) after their second dose.
     
  • Starting January 4, individuals 18 and over will be eligible to schedule booster doses for 168 days (approximately six months) after their second dose.
     
  • Individuals receiving dialysis are now eligible for a booster dose 56 days after their second dose.
You can see more COVID-19 updates at the end of this email.
 

Around London

Our community grieves with the family of Alexandra Stemp, an 8-year-old girl killed in a horrific crash on November 30. Alexandra's family is asking Londoners to continue to light their homes in blue in her memory. Alexandra was an active Brownie member, and the colour blue is a symbol of friendship and togetherness for Girl Guides. Londoners are invited to join the tribute by putting on a blue light or hanging something blue in their window. 
Congratulations to the Old South Community Organization (OSCO) and the Hyde Park BIA on two wonderful London West Christmas events! At the OSCO Christmas Market, I picked up delicious tourtieres from Growing Chefs and volunteered at the OSCO Christmas Tree sale with Ron, Margaret and Jack. The next day I ran into Hyde Park BIA CEO Donna Szpakowski while shopping at the first-ever Hyde Park Christmas Market, and was impressed by the many local sponsors that helped to make the market a success. 
If you're looking to support local this holiday season, check out the London Community Recovery Network's Find It In London holiday gift guide.
 

Far too many Ontario parents are paying child care fees the size of mortgages, and London families are facing child care costs that are second only to the GTA. We desperately need the province to take action, after years of increased child care fees have left Ontario families paying more than anywhere else in the country. Now, the government is dragging its feet and delaying signing a deal with the federal government for $10/day child care in Ontario, which could save London families an average of $7,590 per year in 2022 and $12,576 per year by 2026.

10 provinces and territories are taking action on rising childcare costs, with deals to make life more affordable for families. Doug Ford still refuses to sign a deal. Click here to add your name and download a petition to tell Doug Ford to get $10 per day child care in Ontario!

 

In the Media

Gig workers should get minimum wage, government committee says — but not full job protections, Toronto Star, December 9, 2021

Ontario nudged to improve safety net for gig workers, iPolitics, December 9, 2021

Brother of man killed in London building collapse seeks answers, London Free Press, December 8, 2021

Pressure mounting on province for answers in fatal apartment collapse, London Free Press, December 3, 2021

‘An indescribable tragedy’: Messages of condolence, support pour in following London, Ont. crash, Global News, December 1, 2021
 

Your Voice at Queen's Park

Sir Arthur Currie Public School in London West opened its doors just four years ago and already has 22 portables on site. To deal with chronic overcrowding, neighbourhood students are facing long bus rides to another part of the city. London students deserve small class sizes and high quality school environments to learn in, not the overcrowding and long bus rides they are currently getting. I am calling on the government to approve the new schools that are urgently needed in our community, and to ensure that new school funding will actually alleviate chronic overcrowding in fast-growing areas like Northwest London.

The government's new long-term care legislation will do nothing to help London West seniors like Irma Crowther. Irma is living with extreme dementia and has been at the top of the long-term care crisis list for eight months. In that time, she has been shuffled from home to hospital to a retirement residence, but she is still waiting for a long-term care bed where she can finally get the care she needs. My colleagues and I have proposed many amendments to improve the government's bill, but every single one was voted down. Aging Ontarians deserve a real plan to overhaul long-term care, and we have one. Please contact me if you'd like to know more.

Repeal Bill 124

Proud to stand with nurses by signing the RNAO pledge for the repeal of Bill 124. The shortage of nurses in Ontario has reached a crisis that is spiraling out of control. Nurses are leaving the profession because of stress and burn-out, and a government that is forcing them to take a pay cut instead of the compensation they deserve. My colleagues and I support nurses. Bill 124 must be repealed now. 

Government misspent $1 billion in business support

The  Auditor General's 2021 Report revealed that the government gave away nearly $1 billion to corporations that didn't qualify for the Ontario Small Business Support grant or didn't need support  — all while many eligible London West businesses struggled to access the funds they urgently needed. 

The report documents the $210 million that was handed out to ineligible businesses, including some not even in Ontario. A further $714 million was given over and above reported losses, with some companies reporting no revenue losses at all and still receiving the grant.

I am angry that the government turned its back on struggling small businesses that legitimately need help to survive the pandemic, while carelessly handing out a billion dollars to others who didn't need it. The Auditor General's report also pointed out the massive gaps in eligibility that left so many struggling business owners without any hope of support.


New bill to promote racial equity in education

MPP Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) introduced a bill to embed equity language into the legislation that shapes Ontario’s education systems, in order to fight systemic anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and anti-Asian racism in primary, secondary and post-secondary schools.


Government votes down $20/hr minimum wage amendment

The government denied workers better pay by voting down an amendment that would have put Ontarians on the path to a $20 minimum wage. We tried to replace the low-wage policy set out in the Fall Economic Statement with a new schedule outlining a path to $20/hr with support for businesses to get there.

 
 

COVID-19 Developments

Everyone born in 2016 or earlier is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario, as well as for an accelerated second dose. Some individuals are now eligible for a third booster dose.

  • Make an appointment at an 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 226-289-3560 to book, 8am - 7:30pm, Monday - Friday)
  • Visit a walk-in pop-up clinic
  • 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)
  • The province is recommending re-vaccination with a new COVID-19 vaccine primary series post-transplantation for individuals who receive hematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT), hematopoietic cell transplants (HCT) (autologous or allogeneic), and recipients of CAR-T-cell therapy, due to the loss of immunity following therapy or transplant. 
     
  • Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine is available in limited quantities in Ontario. Individuals with allergies to other vaccines will be prioritized to receive the vaccine, and others may be able to get it based on availability. Call the Middlesex-London Health Unit at 226-289-3560 to request this vaccine.
     
  • The Ontario COVID-19 Science Table has released updated projections showing a real rise in cases, and predicting ICU occupancy to grow in January. The report also says that experience in other countries suggests we need to boost immunity with third doses while also continuing to vaccinate 5-11 year olds, and maintaining public health measures to reduce spread. 
     
  • The COVID-19 Science Table also released a report recommending that voluntary rapid antigen testing be implemented in elementary schools in areas where case rates are high. It also recommends a "test to stay" approach in schools that would allow exposed students with no symptoms to attend school with a negative test, as an alternative to the self-isolation currently required.
     
  • The Middlesex-London Health Unit has confirmed that a cluster of COVID-19 cases includes the Omicron variant of the virus. MLHU is continuing to investigate cases associated with the cluster.
     
  • The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations has released updated guidance on booster shots
     
  • The province has extended access to its temporary three COVID-related paid sick days until July 21, 2022.
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.