I'd like to start by saying Chag Pesach Sameach to all my Jewish constituents who will be observing a Passover different from all other Passovers over the next eight nights. I know that many of you are feeling the absence of family particularly sharply, as folks that are accustomed to celebrating together are forced to distance themselves this year for public health reasons. I hope that everyone will find a way to check in with family and observe the holiday as best they can.
The story of Passover celebrates the resilience of an oppressed people in maintaining their identity and culture under slavery. It also remembers a night when people waited in their homes and trusted that if they followed the instructions given to them by their leaders, a terrible plague would spare them, and they would emerge free on the other side. This is a story which many will find particularly poignant right now.
So in the spirit of the holiday, I remind everyone: this year we celebrate alone, next year we will celebrate together!
I hope everyone participating is able to take some comfort in a Seder tonight – especially in these trying times.
Today is also the International Day of Pink, a day for everyone to take a stand against bullying, discrimination, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and transmisogyny. The Day of Pink is especially important this year, as social distancing measures mean that for many – they might actually be stuck inside with those who are causing them pain.
I want to send a message to our community that we must never be silent when I see bullying – and I would encourage everyone to stand up for each other against bullying.
Finally, I’d like to extend another reminder that we’re in this battle with COVID-19 together – we continue to hear reports that some people are not following physical distancing protocols. While the vast majority of people are taking the necessary steps, we need everyone on board.
I know our community will get this right.
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 and 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.
With Passover beginning tonight at sundown, many in our community are turning to digital gatherings this year. If you're interested in participating, check out the calendars here:
Here are today’s new developments:
Canada’s emergency wage subsidy — criticized by small business owners for not giving help to a wide enough range of employers — will expand its eligibility criteria.
Criteria will also broaden for businesses applying to the Canada Summer Jobs program.
Reports that Ontario is severely lagging in the number of COVID-19 tests it does daily have raised alarm bells amongst health experts— while the province's labs can accommodate 13,000 tests per day, Ontario has only been doing about 3,500. Andrea Horwath and the NDP want testing dramatically increased, including regular testing for all health care workers, first responders and seniors in long-term care.
In his press conference today, Doug Ford wouldn’t say why Ontario has fallen so behind on testing, but stressed that 13,000 tests per day is the goal, and said Ontario has the capacity.
What we're working on
Amid reports that Ontario is woefully behind on COVID-19 testing, the NDP is calling on the Ford government to immediately increase testing to include regular tests for frontline health workers and seniors in long-term care.
“Ontario needs to do literally everything possible to protect our health care heroes, first responders and vulnerable seniors,” Horwath said. “Health care workers alone make up at least one in 10 cases of COVID-19, demonstrating the urgency to increase testing, even of non-symptomatic health care staff.”
The NDP believes the government should require auto insurance prices give everyone a 50% discount for three months, and that insurance companies must offer a deferral for those experiencing income loss due to COVID-19. With fewer cars on the road, and fewer accidents, drivers should get the benefit of that – not insurance companies.
Andrea Horwath released a list of recommendations for Ontario to better protect and support seniors during COVID-19.Here are some things we’re hearing from our community members:
Families with relatives in long-term care may be grappling with the decision to remove their loved one from care.
With Ontario limiting prescription refills to 30-day supplies during the pandemic, some Ontarians--seniors especially--are worried about being able to afford more frequent dispensing fees. The NDP is calling on the Ford government to cancel and cover the prescription drug co-payments required of seniors during the pandemic.
While most Ontarians are working hard to flatten the curve by staying home, we’re still hearing concerns that non-essential gatherings and work continues.