Let me start today by saying Ramadan Mubarak to everyone celebrating this holy month in difficult circumstances over the next 30 days. I hope that all of you are able to observe this time in your own way, even while unable to gather together as you would in normal times. Ramadan is an important time to remember the importance of compassion, generosity, and hope – things we all need right now.
To everyone who is observing, I wish you a blessed Ramadan.
Today, I have issued a public call out to the provincial government to increase funding and staffing at long-term care homes across Ontario. In the last week, we have seen locally in Toronto-St. Paul’s the devastating effect that COVID-19 can have in a long-term care facility, with 18 confirmed deaths at the Isabel and Arthur Meighen Manor, and over 500 COVID-19 related deaths in Ontario. For years, we have seen consistent underfunding, understaffing and lagging inspections in these facilities – and it cannot go on any longer.
A positive step was made today when the province announced that the workers at Participation House in Markham, an assisted living home for adults with disabilities that is currently experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19, had their wages doubled. I am adding my voice to the call from Andrea Horwath to apply this deal to all of our front-line heroes working in assisted living and long-term care homes. Heroes deserve to be treated like heroes.
It is also essential that we know exactly what is going on in our communities. I continue to be very concerned that outbreaks are not being adequately disclosed publicly. It is vital that everyone knows clearly where and when outbreaks of COVID-19 are occurring. Right now, many people are living with a very real fear of an outbreak of COVID-19 at a facility that they live in, or that a loved one lives in – and there is no fear like the unknown. It’s time to ensure that there is clear communication and transparency from the government about where and when these cases are breaking out.
There has been some unsurprising, yet disappointing news today as we have learned that Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce’s announcement last week that indicated to students, teachers, and parents that there would be 21,000 new iPads coming to Ontario schools was misleading. We have now learned that the devices that Mr. Ford and Mr. Lecce referenced in their press conference are already owned and distributed by school boards across Ontario.
Now is NOT the time for the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Education Lecce to be taking credit for the hard work of our underfunded school boards and staff. This is terribly shameful. Not to mention now is not the time to LIE to Ontarians.
As we continue further into the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to share a reminder that we’re going to get through this. I know it feels like we have isolated for an eternity and that the news about COVID-19 can feel overwhelming. But there is light at the end of this tunnel, and if we keep working hard as a community to fight COVID-19 and support one another, we will get through this. I am so proud of the incredible networks of support in Toronto-St. Paul’s and it is an honour to represent such a thoughtful, caring, and dedicated community.
I want to send a huge message of support to our front-line workers in the grocery stores and medical facilities who are putting themselves in harm’s way to protect our community. I want to offer a special thank you to our cleaners. They are all our front-line heroes. And I want to send a daily reminder to everyone that we owe it to those essential workers to do everything that we can to keep them safe. That means washing our hands, keeping our distance and checking in on those who we know are in the most need.
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. And if you should decide to share your video on social media do tag us @JillsLastWord on Twitter and Jill Andrew - MPP, Toronto-St. Paul's on Facebook.
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."
News and Updates
- Canada is boosting support for COVID-19 research, including clinical trials for a vaccine, and creating a task force to look into tests to identify antibodies to the virus. The World Health Organization has warned that immunity to the virus may not be clear-cut.
- Municipalities across Canada are asking the federal government for an emergency funding boost of at least $10 billion, as cities and towns see their revenues plummet and their public health and social service costs spike -- Doug Ford has declined to say whether Ontario will change the rules to allow municipalities to run a deficit, and has failed to heed calls from the NDP to throw municipalities a lifeline and provide financial support.
- The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) announced it will have to temporarily lay off about 1,200 workers in the coming weeks, the result of a greatly decreased ridership – the NDP’s Transit critic responded with a call for the Ford government to use its power to stop these transit layoffs, and give desperately needed financial support to municipalities.
- Ontario announced new measures to support residents and staff in vulnerable settings like homeless shelters and homes for adults with developmental disabilities - the NDP has been calling on the Ford government to immediately increase measures to save lives in vulnerable sites like shelters and long-term care homes, and to make a plan to ensure Ontarians with disabilities are no longer excluded from access to testing and treatment.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- The NDP is calling for all long-term care facilities and other congregate care settings experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 to be posted online -- the call comes after at least 31 deaths were confirmed at a Pickering long-term care home that had reported just four deaths days before.
- Staff at a Markham assisted living home for adults with disabilities that is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak have reached a deal to see their pay doubled during the outbreak, plus stronger health and safety protections -- Andrea Horwath is calling for the same deal to apply to all workers in congregate care settings, who are risking their lives to keep residents safe.
- NDP Education critic Marit Stiles says school boards across Ontario have heard from parents anxious to receive the iPad the Ford government said their child would receive as an aid to learn during the pandemic -- the NDP has learned that Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce mislead the public, and that families will not, in actuality, be receiving any additional devices.
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.