Since my last update, things have been changing rapidly with the government and community response to COVID-19, including the declaration of a state of emergency in Ontario and in London.
Yesterday the Ontario legislature unanimously passed two pieces of emergency legislation to address the COVID-19 crisis. I was privileged to be one of the 26 MPPs who attended the debate.
The first bill provides unpaid, job-protected leave to workers who are in self-isolation or quarantine, or those who need to take time off work to care for their children or other relatives. It also eliminates the requirement for workers to provide sick notes.
The second bill allows for 24/7 delivery to grocery stores to allow shelves to be restocked overnight, temporarily waiving noise bylaws that may impact the delivery of goods. It also gives municipalities the ability to conduct council, local board and committee meetings electronically in these exceptional circumstances.
While our Official Opposition caucus supported both pieces of legislation, we know that so much more needs to be done. We’ve heard from constituents who are concerned about paying their bills, utilities, mortgages or rent when their shifts are cancelled and their employer shuts down. We've heard from parents who can't work from home and don't know where to find childcare. We've heard from bar and restaurant owners who fear they will not be able to re-open, and businesses that can't make payroll or loan repayments.
We will continue to urge the government to move quickly to provide people and small businesses with immediate financial relief and the support people need to get through this crisis.
In the face of such anxiety and uncertainty, there are so many people to thank. We are profoundly grateful for the health care workers who are working selflessly and tirelessly on the front lines (even while grappling with a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment); the grocery store clerks, pharmacy cashiers, and other service workers who are making sure we can access essential goods and services; and all those who are staying home, avoiding physical contact, and washing hands frequently to limit the spread.
It has been incredible to see our community coming together to support one another. Neighbours are picking up groceries for vulnerable seniors or those who are isolating, and sharing essentials with others who can't find them. Local artists are offering free online shows to keep people entertained and connected, and people are pledging to support local businesses who have voluntarily limited their operations to help flatten the curve.
If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact my office. Although we are closed to in-person meetings, staff remain available to help by phone (519-657-3120) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
All the best,