I want to start today by acknowledging the horrific events that occurred in Nova Scotia over the weekend. I want to send my sincere condolences to every single family and community member impacted by this violence. This was an act of terror - terrorism - that has ripped through a community at a time when everyone was working so hard to survive COVID-19.
If you are feeling particularly affected by this event, I would encourage you to reach out to some of the contacts listed at the bottom of this email.
We also learned over the weekend of further deaths at Isabel and Arthur Meighen Manor here in Toronto-St. Paul’s. The latest reports indicate that 18 residents have now died, with 50 more residents who have tested positive and fourteen staff post of them PSWs.
Again, I want to send my most sincere condolences to the friends and families of those who have passed. This is an unimaginable tragedy and underscores why it is of the utmost importance that every single one of us do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19. It also underscores and exposes what we know is a long term care system that has historically been grossly underfunded, staff overworked and underpaid and a lack of oversight. Families should never have to pay the ultimate price.
For those of us feeling fatigued of physical distancing we must maintain our physical distance, wash our hands regularly, and try not to touch our faces. These simple steps will and have saved lives.
As we continue through this difficult journey together, I want to remind everyone that my office is there to help. On Saturday night, I hosted my first Digital Town Hall. I was joined by Ontario Official Opposition MPPs Joel Harden, Teresa Armstrong, Lisa Gretzky, and Jamie West.
We answered question spanning from support for our front line workers, culture and gender-based violence, eating disorder support, to the hard realities and barriers facing Ontarians on ODSP and OW, the need for rent protections and the crisis facing our small businesses.
We answered as many questions as we could from the community and I will be sure to host another Digital Town Hall soon, so keep your eyes out for that! If you missed it this Saturday, you can watch the whole thing on my Facebook page. I want to send a very sincere thank you to everyone who participated in the event - we has almost 2,000 participants viewing along throughout the digital town hall.
Much of what we discussed were the many inequities that have been brought to light during COVID-19, as our social safety net is being put through its paces. Those who are marginalized, economically strapped, Indigenous, Black and other racialized Ontarians, are under the most pressure right now, and it is vital that we extend our support to those in need.
It is also very clear that we need to have race-based data and other social demographics to track the reach and impact of COVID-19. While Doug Ford has indicated that he does not believe this to be necessary, experts from across disciplines recognize that this data is of the utmost importance. You can read our full statement on its importance here.
Another concern that has been raised from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic is that we need to be housing the homeless to prevent spread in the homeless population. It is becoming increasingly clear that without rapid changes, the homeless population are at extreme risk, and the shelter system is not equipped to provide adequate social distancing. We asked our Ontario Premier months ago to declare a State of Emergency where homelessness was concerned. The Ontario government declined. Let this pandemic be an opportunity for us to NOT repeat past ignorance.
Thank you community for your ongoing calls. I really do thank you for checking in on me and my family too. The steps being taken by everyday people in our community have made an incredible positive impact, and we need to stay laser focused on those tasks. But it is also time that the Ford Government take further steps to keep us safe.
As my friend and colleague MPP Joel Harden said rightfully on our Digital Town Hall, we are NOT in this together if the most vulnerable people are being left behind. We must be in this together and that requires bold and long-term commitments including direct financial support to Ontarians - to our beloved Toronto-St.Paul's - from our Provincial Government.
If you have a positive story from our community OR a virtual event you're hosting that you want amplified, please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
Birthday, Anniversary Greetings
During normal times, my office sends out congratulatory scrolls to folks across the riding to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones! While we're taking physical distancing measures, I will be continuing this digitally. If you have a birthday coming up in the family and you would like a special video message from me, please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca.
Calling Local Artists
If you are local artist, and you have a piece of work that you’ve been putting time into, we would love to share it with the community! We know that #ArtsSavesLives and minds especially during traumatic times. If you’re interested in sharing your art please email us at JAndrew-CO@ndp.on.ca
ALL art submitted MUST be accompanied by a short artists statement (50 words or less) to help contextualize the art. Additionally, there are no guarantees that submissions will be included in the newsletter. Thank you for sharing your work with us and our community."
Here are today’s new developments:
- Canada’s House of Commons resumed today, with the federal Conservatives blocking an agreement reached by the other parties for sittings of Parliament to be limited while the pandemic continues -- federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on the government to provide more financial aid for students and others put out of work by COVID-19.
- Canada is bracing for potential shortages of critical drugs needed to treat COVID-patients, and has put a call out for new suppliers.
- Ontario appears to have avoided the worst-case pandemic scenario, with new projections suggesting the province saw the community spread of COVID-19 peak earlier than anticipated, which health officials attribute to vigilant social distancing measures — officials stressed that these measures must be continued for Ontario to eventually ease up and re-open the economy.
- The projections are far less promising when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes and other congregate settings, where the curve continues its upswing -- despite outbreaks impacting 127 long-term care facilities, the Ford government has failed to take appropriate action to mitigate the spread, says Andrea Horwath.
“Facts are facts, regardless of whether or not the premier chooses to believe in them. Black, Indigenous and racialized Ontarians already faced barriers to access and worse health outcomes before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the spread of COVID-19, these health inequities could be compounded by other social and economic inequities, leading to even more dire health outcomes.”
What we’re working on:
With long-term care and other group home settings the epicentre of the pandemic, Horwath called on the Ford government to intervene with a host of measures, including taking over the management of long-term care homes most at risk, mandating that all workers limit to one facility—including temp agency workers—and raising wages for workers to $22 an hour.
The NDP provided a fact-check to Doug Ford’s dismissal of the importance of Ontario collecting race-based data.
Here are some things we’re hearing from our community members:
Ontario drivers say they need immediate relief on their auto insurance premiums, something the Ford government's approach falls far short of.
People are raising concerns about the state of long-term care and seniors homes before COVID-19 — a problem the NDP has been raising for years.
Ongoing concerns about small businesses that are failing, with some facing eviction — through no fault of their own — because there is no provincial support in place for expenses like commercial rent.
Featured Art Submission
So, many artists I know produce art note cards. They are original, beautiful and unique.
So, many essential workers could use a thank you note in lieu of a warm hug.
So, I found a bunch of of my art post cards and am offering them to all those
who are lucky enough to be out walking past my house.
So, please drop by, at a distance, and take a card.....or
...my fellow artists, you can drop some art cards you've produced to share in my bag,
or start an art card distribution of your own!
(I've wrapped mine in separate cellophane bags for protection.)
Time to share and give thanks,
Stay well, stay safe, stay creative!
my display at 345 Balliol St., Toronto
Find Out More: artistsgarden.blogspot.ca