Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

In my last newsletter of 2021, I wish you a safe and restful holiday shared with loved ones, even if your gathering is smaller than you had hoped.

As we enter the new year facing an Omicron surge, I know that many are feeling anxious, exhausted and discouraged. I have heard your frustration about lack of access to rapid testing and booster shots, and your worry about the impact of public health measures on your jobs, your businesses, and your financial security. Please know that I am bringing all these concerns forward and I am pushing hard to make sure that our community gets the support we need to get through this. 

The challenges ahead are significant; however, the vaccines give us the ability to prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed, and to bring an end to the pandemic. Locally, more than 91 percent of residents aged 12+ have had at least one dose of vaccine, and 88.7 percent have had two doses. Many have already received their booster dose, or are tenaciously hunting down booster appointments. Thank you to all who have chosen to do the right thing for themselves and for our community by getting vaccinated — it is making a difference. Despite rising cases among vaccinated people, the risks of hospitalization and ICU admission remain very, very low for those with at least two doses. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the dedicated health care workers who are working through the holidays to administer vaccines and COVID tests, and to the hospital workers who will be caring for largely unvaccinated patients.

To those celebrating Christmas, I hope it is a merry one. To all who are reading this newsletter, may you find warmth and comfort in the spirit of the season. It is an honour to represent the people of London West.   

Stay safe and take care,

My community office will be closed for the holidays beginning Friday December 24. We will reopen Tuesday January 4 and will work to respond as quickly as possible to all phone and voicemail messages.

If you need help accessing government services, please call 211, email [email protected] or visit 211ontario.ca where you can search listings or use a web chat. 211 provides information and referrals to community, social, health-related and government services. 

 
In this newsletter:
 

Many thanks to London West Indigenous artist Annette Sullivan for permission to reproduce her beautiful painting "Star Blower" for my holiday greeting card, and the message of peace, reconciliation and hope that it conveys.

"Elders say 'We come from the stars, and return to the stars.' Star Blower is an ancestor from my Indigenous community guiding others safely home." - Annette Sullivan

 

Ontario's Child Care Workforce Crisis

On December 15, I joined the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario (AECEO) and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC) for a province-wide emergency roundtable on the child care workforce crisis. The full recording of this powerful and emotional event can be viewed here

In London and across the province, the child care workforce crisis is causing programs to limit their hours, close rooms and close programs, and is leaving educators increasingly burnt out. Immediate government action is needed to address the lack of support for the ECE workforce and child care programs, and the lack of respect for their contribution to the wellbeing of children and families. I am committed to sustainable, long-term solutions and a workforce strategy to improve wages and working conditions for the ECE workforce. We will continue to push for Ontario to sign on to the federal government's $10 a day child care deal — for the Ontario families struggling to pay the highest child care fees in the country, and for the dedicated professionals the sector relies on.

 

Mental Health Support

This time of year always brings extra stress, but it comes on top of two years of worsening mental health during the pandemic and an Omicron crisis that is heightening anxiety. Visit the CMHA Ontario website for tips on how to take time for self-care, survive the holidays, fight back against isolation, and stay healthy while maintaining a physical distance.

There are many resources available in our community. Please reach out if you need help!

 

Support for Small Business

The capacity restrictions needed to blunt the Omicron wave have left small business owners struggling once again, just as they were starting the long process of recovery from earlier lockdowns.

The government finally announced a very limited support program that will provide partial rebates for property taxes and energy costs, and penalty-free tax deferrals. The program will only open for application in mid-January, and the full list of eligible businesses will only be released at that time, leaving many local business owners worried they will not get the cashflow relief they need to make it through the end of the year, much less the rest of the pandemic. There is a real concern that small local businesses in desperate need of support may already be gone by the time their property tax bill comes due for 2022. Some may even close for good by the time applications open in mid-January.

I will continue to call for a comprehensive package of worker and small business supports for any person or local business that loses income due to the Omicron wave. This includes direct financial grants to small local businesses so they can keep paying their staff while capacity limits are in place, as well as a commercial eviction ban. It also includes 14 paid sick days for all workers, widespread distribution of rapid tests, and easier access to boosters for all. Anything short of these measures will result in job losses and business closures that we simply cannot afford. Workers and small mom-and-pop businesses should not have to pay the price for this wave.

 

Help Deliver Vaccines

 

Host a Vaccine Clinic

Businesses, community groups and places of worship can help get more vaccines delivered in our community by hosting a vaccine clinic.

Employers must meet certain eligibility requirements to host a clinic, and can contact the Ontario Together Contact Centre at 1-888-777-0554 to learn more.

Community groups and places of worship can arrange a visit from the GO-VAXX mobile bus clinic, by contacting [email protected]

 

Volunteer

Ontarians aged 16 and older can visit the Ontario COVID-19 Volunteer Portal to register to volunteer to help with the vaccination rollout. There are a variety of roles available based on the individual's abilities, knowledge and experience, as well as the needs of the local health unit.

Health care professionals who would like to volunteer can visit the Health Workforce Matching Portal to register to volunteer. The province has recently made it possible for retired nurses, physicians, dentists and firefighters to volunteer through this portal. Individuals who registered on the portal previously are encouraged to log in and update their profile and availability.

 

New COVID-19 Rapid Testing Site

for School Age Children and Health Care Workers

On Wednesday, January 5, 2022, the Thames Valley Family Health Team will open a new COVID-19 testing site using Rapid Molecular Testing which provides accurate COVID-19 test results within 15 minutes.

This site will only test the following groups of people:

  • Health workers in the primary and community care sectors who are asked for a negative test in order to return to the workplace.
  • School age children (Kindergarten to Grade 12) who are asked for a negative test in order to return to school.

Appointments will be available Monday to Friday, between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm (closed on statutory holidays) and will be booked online at covidtestinglm.ca by selecting 460 Springbank Drive as the preferred location or by calling 226-236-6295. Appointments will be made available to book each evening at 7 pm for the following day. No walk-in appointments will be available. 

 

Around London

The critical need for blood donations does not stop during a pandemic, and is especially important during the festive season. Many thanks to the London Muslim Community for organizing a Blood Drive on December 18, 2021. 

To help limit the risk of infection to donors, volunteers and employees, Canadian Blood Services has rigorous precautions in place, including wellness checkpoints, mandatory masks, enhanced environmental cleaning and strict physical distancing.

Visit blood.ca to donate, or call 1 888 2 DONATE.
 
Elevate Entrepreneurship is a free 5-week micro-certification and incubator to equip Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and Women entrepreneurs with the tools they need to manage startup challenges and growth while developing a network of peers and mentors. It is a project of TechAlliance and Fanshawe College Corporate Training Solutions. Click here for more information and to apply.
 

In the Media

YMCA using grant towards technology, fundraisers, Stratford Beacon Herald, December 16, 2021

 

Budget Consultations

The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs will be holding pre-budget consultations in January. This is an opportunity for Ontarians to have their say in the province's budget priorities. Virtual hearings for Southwestern Ontario stakeholders will be held on Friday, January 21, and the deadline to request to appear is Monday, January 10 at 6pm.

If you or your organization would like to speak at the hearing or provide a written submission, you can register here. Please be sure to let me know that you have registered and share your written submission with me at [email protected]
 

COVID-19 Developments

  • The Middlesex-London Health Unit has released the following new advice:
    • If you develop respiratory symptoms, consider your illness as COVID-19, even without a positive rest result. Self-isolate immediately, and tell the people in your household and close contacts to isolate.
    • If you test positive for COVID-19, self-isolate immediately. Do not wait to be contacted by public health. Tell the people in your household and your close contacts to isolate.
       
  • COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening has been updated to include a question that asks whether anyone in the household has tested positive on a rapid antigen test, in which case, children should not attend.
     
  • Public Health Ontario is strongly recommending that in the context of the Omicron variant, individuals in closed or crowded spaces, or having close contact with others not from their household should wear a respirator mask (N95s, KN95s) or well-fitted medical mask. A high quality 3-layer non-medical mask (i.e., cloth masks) can be a reasonable alternative if necessary. Fit-testing a respirator mask is not required for community use, but individuals should be aware that if they are not fit-tested, they cannot be assumed to filter out all of the air inhaled.

Everyone born in 2016 or earlier is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario, and everyone aged 18 and over is 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)
Please note that first and second doses are also still available!
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.