Information for constituents.
Following the direction of the NDP, the province released the COVID-19 modelling data which shows that COVID-19 could cause between 3,000-15,000 deaths in Ontario overall. Together, we must ensure we avoid reaching the higher end of that range. We can do this by maintaining vigilant social distancing and hand washing practices, along with staying home as often as possible. The NDP would like to continue to see these projection updates released publicly every 48 hours.
In addition, the Ontario government has announced a shorter list of essential businesses allowed to stay open following health recommendations. Prior to this announcement, the NDP called on the Ford government to do this and we are happy to see the government taking suit. But, Andrea Horwath and the NDP would like to see more workplaces deemed non-essential; including allowing only construction that is truly essential to continue.
Unemployment and Food Insecurity:
To help with food insecurity during this crisis, the Federal government announced $100 million for food banks across the country, as Canadians face lay-offs and financial uncertainty. The province also launched an online portal to match skilled health care workers currently not employed in the system with employers.
Canadians out of work due to COVID-19 can apply for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This program is expected to be adjusted in the coming days due to criticism that it does not cover enough workers.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
The Trump administration’s ban of exporting N95 respirators to Canada came with much contention, but 3M has announced an agreement with the White House to allow its continued export of N95s and other PPEs to Canada, we hope this supply will also reach Northern and Remote communities to fill the dire needs in these areas. Even with this announcement, Premier Ford warned Ontarians that the province remains low on PPEs for health care workers and is pushing for Ontario companies to retool their supply chains to help meet the need.
It has been recently recommended by Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, that wearing a homemade or makeshift mask (as opposed to an N95 mask, reserved for frontline health workers) could be a good idea when in close contact with others. This should not replace social distancing and frequent hand-washing measures, and Canadians should continue to stay home as much as possible.
Impact on Ontario’s most vulnerable seniors:
With rising outbreaks in long-term care homes, we are hoping to see increased investments in long-term care and home care to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 amongst our most vulnerable seniors. This includes the NDP’s call on the Ford government to cancel and cover the prescription drug co-payments required of seniors during the COVID-19 crisis.
Impact on Education:
To offset costs of distance learning for students, parents can apply for one-time funding from Ontario.
-$200 for children 0-12
-$250 for special needs children 0-21
If your school is not listed as your child attends school on a First Nation, choose the following options on the application:
-First, “my child is not enrolled in public or private school”
-Then, “my child is not attending any day care or school”
-Ontario municipalities will be given up to $4 billion to share from the $19-billion fund the federal government and provinces pledged to help cash-strapped municipalities recover from the pandemic - the NDP says the money isn't enough to protect jobs and crucial public services like child care and transit. Toronto alone faces a shortfall of $1.35 billion. Municipalities are still reeling from Ford's deep cuts two years ago, to essentials like public health, ambulance services and child care, and need long-term, stable funding.
Long-term Care commission:
-The terms of the Ford government's long-term care commission were released, including the news that it will be led by associate chief justice of the Superior Court Frank Marrocco, the judge who defended Mike Harris during the Walkerton scandal. The commission will not be binding, and Doug Ford wouldn’t commit to implement its recommendation, if it makes any.
-The NDP emphasized other concerns with the commission, including that its scope is too narrow, and that much of it will be held behind closed doors, without the input of families whose loved ones have died in long-term care during the pandemic. Documents will also be allowed to be kept secret.
-The results of a study on the staffing crisis in long-term care confirms what the NDP has been calling for for years: that the government must immediately hire more staff in nursing homes, and make those jobs full-time and better paid. Even after the sector saw 1,840 tragic deaths, Ford has committed no funding to improve long-term care staffing to better protect residents.
Back to school Plan for September:
-The Ford government finally released its back-to-school plan for September, which includes elementary students heading back five days a week and, for high school students in a number of jurisdictions, a mix of in-classroom and remote learning. The plan drew swift criticism from the parents, teachers, education workers, unions, and students, which says it puts students and staff at risk by putting them into overcrowded, packed classrooms. The NDP called out the Ford government for putting students' health and academic success in jeopardy, as its low-budget plan fails to invest in hiring the thousands of teachers, educators and custodial staff that are needed to ensure students return to smaller, safer classrooms.
Please feel free to reach out via email to let me know how you’re doing, and to let me know what you’re concerned about at [email protected]