We must start on a solemn note today, as it is the Day of Mourning. A day where we reflect on the fact that many workers are not safe in their workplaces and remember the workers who have died as a result. I was honoured to be invited by the Toronto & York Region Labour Coucil to say a few words as part of a recorded message in support of workers.
This year, the Day of Mourning hits especially close to home for all of us as our front-line workers continue to be put in harm’s way due to COVID-19 and a lack of PPE in many cases. Let’s make a commitment together that we will work towards a society where everyone can go to work knowing that they will be able to come home safely.
Long-term care homes desperately need more support. After years of chronic underfunding and understaffing, we are now seeing a crisis explode in our long-term care facilities – and it has put staff and residents in grave danger. We need to make sure that these facilities get every support they need as quickly as possible, and once we’re through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that we continue to maintain a high level of care – so that we’re never caught in this position again. It is time for this government to immediately pass our Time to Care Act legislation into law so that more of our loved ones in long-term care can get the care they deserve.
Sadly, it’s not just long-term care homes that are in need of more support. Stories are also beginning to emerge of people who are in the process of cancer treatment – and are no longer able to go to a hospital to get their treatment. As a result, they are in the very difficult position of needing to pursue out of hospital treatments. Those patients are being left on the hook for thousands of dollars a month of medical bills as a result. Today, I join my colleagues in the Ontario NDP in our call to cover the cost of these drugs, in full.
On a more positive note – I would like to give a huge shout out to everyone who has been helping out with the creation of the Free Pantry Project and is helping to keep those shelves stocked! The Free Pantry Project now has more than 12 locations along St. Clair Ave W – and you can find your nearest location by checking out their website here. This project is working to help alleviate some of the food insecurity that has emerged in our community since the initial outbreak of COVID-19. To the community members who have taken the lead on this – I want to send you a thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
Finally today, I want to send a firm message of support to everyone who is feeling alone right now. I know that this is an incredibly difficult time – but please know that you are loved.
This community is pulling together right now in a beautiful way. We have to maintain this sense of cooperation as we continue to do everything we can to flatten the curve. That means washing our hands as much as possible, staying indoors unless necessary and supporting those who are vulnerable in our community.
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."
Today's News Updates
- Canadian public health officials released new modelling numbers today, which show Canada is making progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19, though thousands more cases, and deaths, are expected by early next month, and Canadians are urged to continue physical distancing measures.
- While the increase in new cases slow down, Canada’s forecasted COVID-19 fatality is higher than was initially predicted due to widespread outbreaks in long-term care and seniors’ homes. -- the NDP has been calling on the Ontario government to do far more to protect seniors and long-term care workers.
- With rent due May 1, commercial property landlords and tenants have expressed confusion and doubt about Canada’s commercial rent assistance program, saying details on eligibility and the extent to which they might stand to benefit are scarce -- the NDP has been urging the Ford government to give businesses desperately-needed rent relief and other supports.
- Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office released its preliminary review of the virus’s impact on hospital capacity – the findings include that pre-pandemic, Ontario had a low number of hospital beds and high occupancy rate compared to similar jurisdictions, and that Ontario’s testing target is lagging.
- A report out by Toronto’s University Health Network finds that an estimated 35 people may have died during the COVID-19 pandemic because their cardiac surgeries were postponed.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- Andrea Horwath joined workers across the country in marking today's National Day of Mourning -- the NDP will be tabling a bill championed by Labour critic for Workplace Health and Safety Wayne Gates, to ensure that all essential workers have presumptive WSIB coverage for COVID-19 during the pandemic.
- The NDP continued to urge the Ford government to launch a strategy to protect seniors and long-term care workers in the battle against COVID-19--the proposal includes an order for Public Health to take over management of long-term care homes where seniors aren't properly protected, plus mandating what homes must communicate to residents and their families.
- The NDP issued a much-needed reality check to Ontario's flawed rent relief program, which many in the province's business community are expressing serious concerns about.
- Andrea Horwath is asking the province to cover the full cost of take-home cancer drugs for people that need them, an ask the NDP has long pushed for, but which has taken on increased urgency during the pandemic, when many Ontarians have had their in-hospital cancer treatments put on hold.
Here are some things we’re hearing from our community members:
- 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
SeXT: Sex Education by Theatre
In their own words:
The video is called “It Wasn’t Me: A Quarantine Parody,” and it’s a parody of Shaggy’s iconic song tackling topics including anti-Asian racism, coping with quarantine and isolation, mental health, promoting public health guidelines, dating in the time of COVID, and gratitude for frontline workers.