Tomorrow is Good Friday, marking the start of Easter Weekend. I know that many of my Christian constituents are having to forego Easter services this weekend. Many are also missing an annual family gathering that they looked forward to to mark the start of Spring and to most importantly relish in the physical presence and warmth of loved ones.
I encourage everyone during these difficult times to reach out to each other as best you can via phone or virtual means and find ways to be together in spirit even without physical gatherings. We know that not everyone is 'okay' and as we learned in our grief literacy workshop with being here, human our experiences of loss and feelings of discomfort are a natural response. There is no shame or guilt in however we are feeling throughout this unprecedented journey we are all on together.
However, we do have some good news as well to share with your little ones: the Easter Bunny has been declared an essential service so the egg hunt in your home is cleared to proceed! (The Easter Bunny has been instructed to hide all eggs six feet apart.)
The challenge facing us right now goes beyond anything we’ve seen in most of our lifetimes, and the response that we’ve seen so far from this community has been incredible. Neighbours have been helping vulnerable neighbours with groceries so they don’t need to put themselves at risk. Many of us are taking on economic hardship to stay home and keep each other healthy and safe and for some of us there just isn't the luxury to stay home. I also want to give a hearty #StPaulsShoutOut to the cheers across Toronto-St. Paul’s every night for the health care workers out there on the front line.
Our community is filled with heroes and please rest assured that when we get past COVID-19 we will absolutely celebrate them in person. From the grocery store clerks, first responders to the TTC drivers keeping our essential workers moving, we have seen everyday people take on burdens that we could never have expected.
Thank you to every single person making a difference in our community right now and that includes all the fantastic children and youth who have been so brave and so cooperative with their parents and families during this time. Young people, I know it's difficult especially as the weather continues to get better but your support is going such a long way. Thank YOU for being young leaders!
We can’t lose sight of the goal here – to make it through this as safely as possible. Our community is doing a great job and we need to make sure that we stay focused on doing everything that we can to flatten this curve and protect our health care system.
I draw great strength from all of you – please keep those positive stories (and artwork!) coming.
I will continue to advocate for and with you.
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
With Easter beginning tomorrow, many members of our community are celebrating digitally this year. If you’re interested in following along check your local churches website!
You can find a list of places of worship here: https://www.jillandrewmpp.ca/services_and_assistance
Ontario NDP Rent Relief Package
We are calling for the following:
- Six-month freeze on rent increases
- A legislated moratorium on evictions, lockouts or disconnection s of tenants for the next four months
- Make it illegal for a landlord to threaten a utility shut off or eviction
- 80% rent subsidy - up to $2,500 per month
While there have been a number of statements made by the Ford government, much of what they said has not been enshrined in law. We need to actually pass these regulations in order to ensure that tenants have the protection they deserve.
Read more here:
Statistics Canada released stark job numbers today, reporting Canada lost more than one million jobs in March. Ontario lost about 403,000 jobs in March; the province is putting together a committee to look into economic recovery post-pandemic.
Could we have been more prepared?
Canada had prepared a report over a decade ago predicting a coronavirus-like pandemic, with steps to overcome it. The government clearly underestimated the implications of COVID-19.
More Modelling Data Released
Models released this morning forecast how the COVID-19 pandemic could pan out on a national scale, with numbers dependent on how rigorously Canadians maintaining social distancing – Trudeau said we should expect to see multiple waves of COVID-19 over the coming months (likely involving various waves of social distancing measures), and that a return to normalcy will happen once a vaccine is ready.
Supporting Long Term Care Workers
Ontario has yet to mandate that long-term care workers limit their work to one home, as a way to slow the spread of the virus. Many PSWs hold multiple jobs to make ends meet -- the NDP's proposal for saving lives in long-term care include immediately raising salaries for workers like PSWs and nurses to a minimum of $22/hour.
Update on Testing
Again today, there are reports that not enough testing is taking place. CBC reports that shortages of swabs prompted testing centres to refuse to test 25 per cent to 30 per cent of those who showed up this past week.
What we’re working on:
In light of grim unemployment numbers and reports of floundering small and medium-sized businesses, the NDP continues to call on the provincial government to provide more direct support for people — like direct financial help, and an 80% rent subsidy, as well as business rent subsidies and remote work set-up funding to help employers keep folks on the payroll.
The NDP called on the Ford government to fund accommodation costs for frontline health workers afraid to go home after their shifts each day because of a loved one at home who is immunocompromised.
Horwath called on Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott to immediately increase Ontario’s woefully low COVID-19 testing numbers, and broaden our tight testing criteria — the Ford government has spent weeks saying testing will be ramped up, but has yet to make that happen.
Here are some things we’re hearing from our community members:
Ontarians with disabilities and their families are anxious about their health and ability to pay their bills during the pandemic. Ontario's policy of clawing back supports like EI from a person's ODSP cheque means families who qualify for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will see their ODSP support wiped out--the NDP is calling on the government to stop Ontario's clawback policy.
People are worried about keeping up with their auto insurance payments. With Ontarians driving far less and accidents fewer and farther between, the NDP is calling on the Ford government to give Ontarians a 50 per cent break on auto insurance for three months.
Save Main Street Proposal:
Small & Medium Businesses Matter to the NDP
Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said today’s announcement that the Ontario government has tasked the majority of its cabinet to look at jobs and economic recovery is disappointing for those who were desperately hoping for an announcement that would help them financially, right now.
“We need action, now, to save families and businesses from economic hardship, not just a plan to pull together cabinet ministers for yet another committee.”
The NDP’s proposals so far have included:
- An 80 per cent rent subsidy for people up to $2,500 per month
- A utility payment freeze
- A $2,000 payment to bridge the gap while people wait for federal financial support
- A 50 per cent discount on auto insurance
- A 75 per cent commercial rent subsidy up to $10,000 per month for three months
- A remote-work set up fund, which could help them with things like setting up an online retail operation, or buying laptops and software for staff
- An auto insurance grace period for taxis and car-sharing drivers
- A designated emergency fund for small businesses and entrepreneurs who have faced historic barriers to accessing traditional capital, as proposed by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce.
Where to get updates on Coronavirus
For accurate information on COVID-19 - Public Health Agencies are the best sources.
Find them here:
Canadian Public Health
Public Health Ontario
Toronto Public Health
Other Key Contacts and Resources
MP Carolyn Bennett
City Councillor Josh Matlow
TDSB Trustee Shelley Laskin
TCDSB Trustee Norm Di Pasquale
Good Neighbour Project
Nia Centre for the Arts
Ontario Ministry of Health
Women 4 Us
Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres
Ontario Arts Council
SPRINT Senior Care
Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts
Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
Toronto Community Housing
You can also find daily updates on my website