Peggy Sattler MPP, London West

Government of Ontario
 

Hello Neighbour,

Restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues will reopen at 50% capacity starting Monday January 31. This is welcome news for small business owners and their employees in our community, who have been stretched to the limit throughout the entire pandemic and are still waiting for financial relief for the current round of closures. I have heard from several small business owners about the urgency of direct financial support, and have taken their concerns to the government. Please reach out if you are a small business owner and need assistance. My office will do what we can to help.

With every other province and territory now signed on to the federal child care deal, families in London West are watching fees drop by as much as 50% in other provinces, and asking when they will get access to affordable child care in our city. For decades, successive provincial governments allowed fees to climb to the highest levels in the country, leaving parents to make difficult choices. This affordability crisis has pushed women out of the workforce, and has hampered our economic recovery. We need a deal now.

My office hears regularly from families, seniors, frontline workers, and community members who are doing their best to keep up with the many announcements, policies and program changes during this pandemic. As students return to in-person learning at schools and post-secondary institutions, and businesses begin to reopen, it is especially important for me to understand your questions, concerns and suggestions. Thank you to all who have taken the time to share your experiences.

Finally, many thanks to the London organizations that took the time to participate in the Legislative Assembly pre-budget consultations. Our community was well-represented, with valuable input and recommendations provided to MPPs by Alzheimer Society Southwest Partners, CMHA Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services, Middlesex London Food Policy Council, Neighbourhood Legal Services, Gender Equality Coalition of Ontario, Pillar Nonprofit Network, Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness, L'Arche London, London InterCommunity Health Centre, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, District 11 Thames Valley and London Health Coalition. Some common themes were the need to repeal Bill 124 and to invest in affordable and supportive housing. We will find out soon if the Ford government was listening.

Stay safe and take 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:
 

January 31 Public Health Measures

On Monday, January 31, the entire province will move to Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen, with some modifications from previous version of this step. New measures in place beginning Monday include:
  • Social gatherings limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
     
  • 50% capacity limits at most indoor public settings as well as many attractions, with a further maximum of 500 people at concert venues, theatres, cinemas, indoor spectator areas of sports and recreation facilities.
     
  • Food and drink will now be permitted in cinemas, theatres, concert venues, sports and recreation facilities, gaming establishments, and racing venues. Patrons are required to remain seated while consuming food or drink.
     
  • Recording names and contact information of patrons will no longer be required at food and drink establishments, sports and recreation facilities, gaming establishments, meeting and event spaces or strip clubs, or for in-person teaching and instruction, including personal physical fitness training, or tour and guide services.
     
  • Active COVID-19 screening will be required for people entering concert venues, theatres, cinemas, and racing venues.
     
  • COVID-19 limitations on open hours for indoor dining and liquor service will be lifted.
     
  • Only indoor locations will be permitted to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
     
  • Weddings, funerals, religious services, rites or ceremonies will be limited to 50% capacity indoors and the number of people who can maintain 2m physical distancing outdoors. 
     
  • Food and drink establishments in workplaces where only people who perform work are permitted to dine, or in airports or hospitals, will no longer be limited to 50% capacity.
 

Surgeries Resuming Gradually

Thousands of people had their surgeries put on hold on January 5, when the government instructed hospitals to stop all non-urgent procedures to preserve critical care and staff capacity during the Omicron wave. When the premier announced plans for the January 31 reopening, without any commitment to resume surgeries, my colleagues and I called on the government to get surgeries back on track. Thankfully, the government since announced that some surgeries will also resume on Monday, January 31, though they will not begin everywhere all at once.

But hospitals need more than permission to go ahead with surgeries—they need the staff and other resources to do them, and I am calling on the government to provide both immediately. Londoners faced staggering wait times for some surgeries before the pandemic, and that problem has only grown, here and across the province. We need a real plan and a strong investment to clear the backlog. Non-urgent does not mean unnecessary, and many people are facing surgery delays that leave them living with pain and worrying about their illness progressing.

In 2021, the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) calculated that the province needed to invest $1.3 billion to clear the backlog of surgeries created by earlier slow-downs and halts during the pandemic, but the government allocated just a fraction of that, $324 million. As a result, the number of people waiting only grew. The Ontario Medical Association says there are 20 million backlogged health services, and the wait for heart surgery is 14 months long. In contrast, the BC government hired health care workers vital to surgeries, increased operating room hours, and invested in additional equipment. In its July 2021 progress report, the BC government said 98.7 per cent of postponed procedures had been completed.

To meet the demand for surgeries, my colleagues and I have proposed extended operating room hours, a recruitment and retention plan to incentivize staff to return and stay in health care, and a centralized referral system that would help connect the next patient in line with the next available surgeon. Londoners, and our neighbours around us who rely on LHSC as a surgical hub for the region, need this action now.

 

Child Care

Ontario is the only province or territory that has not reached a deal with the federal government for $10/day child care. Even as the premier was hinting this week that a deal was close, the federal minister stated that the government is still refusing to say how it would spend the money.

We know where the funds must go: to creating safe, reliable, and sustainable child care that provides decent work and good pay for the skilled professionals who do this incredibly important work. That's why my colleagues and I are fully supportive of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care's open letter on child care safety, endorsed by MPP Andrea Horwath, and more than 50 health experts, labour organizations, professional organizations, child care programs, community organizations, and more.

To keep children and families safe, the letter urges the Ontario government to:

  • Reinstate eligibility for publicly-funded PCR tests to include children, families, Early Childhood Educators, child care providers and staff;
  • Recommence COVID-19 case reporting in the child care sector;
  • Increase financial support to licensed child care programs to ensure recruitment and retention of qualified staff;
  • Provide 10 permanent paid sick days to support child care workers and families with mandatory isolation periods; and
  • Take responsibility for the health and safety of families and workers by clearly guiding operators facing cohort dismissals due to positive COVID-19 test results in their programs.

The letter also highlights the fact that child care programs need more than a one-time allotment of Rapid Antigen Tests, N95 masks and HEPA filters. They need an adequate and ongoing supply so that none of these safety tools have to be rationed in spaces occupied by unvaccinated young children. And the government must sign on to the federal child care plan and follow the child care community's Roadmap to Universal Child Care in Ontario.

I agree with every one of these calls to action, and will continue fighting for all of these things. Child care is critical to our pandemic recovery, and to the health of our economy and our communities going forward. We must make the investments necessary to make child care work for every working family.

 

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

January 27 was the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, where we remember the survivors and the 6 million victims who were brutally murdered by the Nazis.

To learn more, I invite you to follow the Auschwitz Memorial on twitter and to visit Montreal's Holocaust Museum site to hear the stories of survivors.

Never Again means Never Forget.

 
Did you know that only a third of Ontarians consider their current state of mental health to be 'very good' or 'excellent,' according to a recent CMHA Ontario poll? CMHA Ontario offers two services that are culturally responsive, safe, and accessible: BounceBack and Living Life to the Full. They are free, evidence-based, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) skill-building programs that can help adults and youth 15+ better manage their symptoms of low mood, stress, worry and mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety.

These services also remove the language barrier, which often prevents many individuals from seeking the mental health supports they need. To learn more about each program, and the many languages they are available in, please visit the links above.
 

Around London

Thank you to London West resident Elizabeth Giles for sharing this heartfelt and thoughtful reflection on the valuable work of long-term care staff in our community and across the province.

My loved ones are at the McCormack Home.
But I have no doubt what I am witnessing is happening at other Long Term Care facilities.
Staff working long hours, working double shifts, even coming in on their days off to take care of my family members while setting theirs aside.
Even putting their family in jeopardy of exposure to the virus they could bring home.
Yet they carry on with such super human stamina, grace, and professionalism.
But more important….a humanity that we could all make an example of and inspire to.
They do this without many families even being aware of.
I hear their interactions with residence without them knowing.
I see the evenness, and gentle patients they give every resident equally.
Even before this crisis I have wondered ‘how do they do it’?
They are surviving on mere threads, physical and mentally.
But with Covid, they have morphed into true “Angels”!
To say ‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem sufficient.
My gratitude is beyond works.

- Elizabeth Giles
 

On Saturday, January 29 at 4pm, the London Muslim Mosque will host London Remembers, a panel discussion and community conversation to mark Canada's first National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia. Everyone is welcome to join and reflect on the tragedies, pray for the lives lost, share experiences, and heal together. You can join in-person or live via YouTube or Facebook.

The Ontario NDP will also mark the day with an announcement about the Our London Family Act, an anti-Islamophobia bill written by the NDP in partnership with the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). I want to thank the Thames Valley District School Board for their letter of support for the Our London Family Act. TVDSB trustees passed a motion at their last meeting calling on the provincial government to pass the Our London Family Act, to give Ontario schools new tools to help young people understand and combat Islamophobia. The Our London Family Act will be tabled by the NDP when the legislature resumes in February.

 
Starting Monday, January 31, the Middlesex-London Health Unit is running Community Hub COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in schools to make it easy and convenient for families to get vaccinated. Click here for more information.

In addition, the Province of Ontario’s GO-VAXX bus mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic will return to London on Sunday, January 30 from 11am to 6pm at the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre (1119 Jalna Blvd in London’s White Oaks neighbourhood). The mobile bus clinic will provide first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to anyone five years of age and older, as well as second and booster doses to those who are eligible. Appointments are required. To book, call 1-833-943-3900 or visit covid19.ontariohealth.ca after 8am on Saturday, January 29.
 
This year, I will be hosting my London West Community Recognition Awards virtually on Wednesday, March 23, 2022.The awards celebrate the passion and commitment of London West volunteers who work tirelessly to make our community a better place. Click here to read about the 70 inspiring volunteers who have received a Community Recognition Award since 2017!

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create challenges for our community, I am proud of the efforts of the brave and compassionate volunteers who have stepped up over these last two years to support their fellow Londoners. They have nurtured the flame that COVID-19 threatened to blow out. The Community Recognition Awards are an opportunity to show our appreciation for their commitment and service.

I hope you will join me for a virtual celebration of some amazing Londoners!

Click Here to RSVP
If your organization would like to nominate an outstanding volunteer for a Community Recognition Award, please contact my community office at [email protected] or 519-657-3120.
 

COVID-19 Developments

  • Updates to Ontario Regulation 364/20: Rules for Areas at Step 3, which will take effect on January 31, have now been published. Click here to read the regulation.
     
  • The Middlesex-London Health Unit has provided the following clarification on the use of Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) in symptomatic individuals: A single negative RAT test in an individual with COVID-19 symptoms is not an indication that they do not have a COVID-19 infection. However, in the case of two consecutive negative RATs, separated by 24-48 hours, the symptomatic individual is less likely to have a COVID-19 infection. Therefore, symptomatic individuals who test negative on two consecutive RATs within 24-48 hours can end their self-isolation when they have no fever and their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours in the case of gastrointestinal symptoms). Household members of the symptomatic individual who has two negative tests may also discontinue their period of self-isolation, as long as they remain symptom-free.
     
  • The province has updated its COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sheet for Children (age 5-11).
     
  • The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has published new guidance on the use of booster doses in adolescents 12 - 17 years of age. The guidance recommends booster doses in this age group for those who may be at higher risk of sever outcomes from COVID-19 infection due to an underlying medical condition, who are resident in a congregate living setting, or who belong to a racialized and/or marginalized community disproportionately affected by COVID-19. This guidance was released on January 28 and is not yet reflected in provincial booster eligibility.
     
  • The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has also published new recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in children 5 - 11 years of age. The committee has strengthened its recommendation that all children in this age range be vaccinated, excluding those who may have contraindications. NACI also now recommends that moderately to severely immunocompromised children in this age rage should be offered a third dose of the vaccine.

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)
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.