The big news from today is that many regions in Ontario are moving into Stage 3 of the reopening plan this Friday – but not Toronto. Our community, along with many other parts of southern Ontario are to remain in Stage 2 until there is a further reduction in cases.
While Toronto is not yet moving into Stage 3, it’s important that we start looking ahead to understand what Stage 3 means, and what will remain closed. Businesses where large numbers of people gather – with little opportunity for safe physical distancing will remain closed, those include buffet-style restaurants, overnight camps for children, saunas, steam rooms, and more (for full details on Stage 3, click here).
While buffets will not be able to open, all other restaurants will be allowed to open and will be allowed to offer dine-in eating. A key caveat to this, is that seating must be 2 metres apart – unless there is a barrier (like plexglass) between tables.
Gathering limits will be increasing with Stage 3, with indoor gatherings being allowed up to 50 people and outdoor gatherings up to 100 people.
Now, while we all want to reopen our province, it’s vital that we are approaching the reopening plan cautiously, or we will risk taking one step forward and two steps back. It’s absolutely critical that the government is providing funding to businesses that wish to reopen to ensure that they’re able to do so safely. Businesses will need financial support to make the renovations and adjustments necessary to provide a safe workplace for their staff and patrons.
It’s also going to be vital to invest in public health, so that we are able to perform contract tracing. We will inevitably see outbreaks of COVID-19 as we re-open, and we must have the resources on hand to effective contact trace those outbreaks to mitigate the harm that they cause.
It’s also incredibly important that as we are moving into Stage 3 of the reopening, that we continue to make every effort we can to be responsible ourselves. That means that we all need to be wearing our masks while we are out in public, we need to be washing our hands frequently, and making sure that we continue to maintain our social bubbles of 10. Just looking south to the United States, we can see the risks that we run if we don’t re-open carefully – so let’s stay diligent and stay safe.
Sadly, in some parts of Ontario, we are continuing to see lengthy delays for COVID-19 testing results. In Hamilton, it has been reported that tests are taking up to two weeks to arrive, when they should be arriving in two days. Delays like this put the reopening plan at risk, and the Ford government must address these issues as they arise time and time again across our province. Today, MPP Monique Taylor raised this issue directly with the government – let’s hope that they take this seriously and ensure that tests are being completed in a timely and efficient manner.
Today, I was also at Queen’s Park, and asked a question in Question Period to the Premier about the governments supports – or lack thereof – for women during COVID-19.
It has been well documented that women have been hit the hardest during COVID-19. In fact, women not only represent the majority of cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, they are also the majority on the frontlines, with over 90% of nurses, 75% of respiratory therapists, 80% of medical lab staff and 90% of PSWs in Ontario being women. It’s unacceptable that this government continues to leave women behind in their plans, and today I addressed that directly. I asked the government to tell us what their plans are to support women, and I received a non-answer. In my follow up question, I asked the government to implement the Intersectional Gender Equity Strategy motion that I introduced last year.
This question was also ignored.
I refuse to accept that this government believes it’s okay to not address the systemic challenges that impact women in Ontario each and every day. You can watch the full Question Period exchange here.
Today, I also spoke up against Bill 159, the Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act. This bill is supposed to address the continued issues that have arisen within Tarion - but it completely fails in this regard. We have tabled our own piece of legislation that would demolish Tarion and build a new system of protection for homeowners in Ontario, Bill 169.
You will be able to see my debate from the house on this issue in my Wednesday newsletter.
Over the weekend, we sadly had to cancel our Community Food Tables due to thunderstorms in Toronto. They will be back up and running this weekend! If you are interested in donating or volunteering to your nearest table, see the sign-up links below.
Finally, I want to send out two local shout outs!
This weekend, Lift: the bra project was in our community collecting used bras that they clean and then donate them to shelters and organizations that are in need. If you are interested in supporting this project, please check out their website here!
Next, I want to send a huge shout out to the creator of Toronto Neighbourhood Walks, Jayden Daniels. Toronto Neighbourhood Walks is an app that provides an audio walking tour of neighbourhoods in Toronto. So far, there are three featured areas, Upper Forest Hill, Cedarvale, and Humewood. This is a great physically distanced activity to get to know the history of our community! The app is available for download on the App Store and Google Play, and they suggest making a donation to the North York Harvest Food Bank when you download the app!
So dear community let's keep doing our best to keep on keeping on - masks, hand washing and social distancing. We will continue to work together to meet our goals.
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."
Table Locations for Saturday July 18
729 St. Clair Ave W ( located at St. Clair West and Rushton)
Click here to volunteer at St. Matthew's
Oriole Park Community Garden from 11am to 3pm
201 Oriole Parkway (near Frobisher and Lascelles)
Click here to volunteer at Oriole Park
Vaughan and Winona from 11am to 3pm
529 Vaughan Road
Click here to volunteer at Vaughan and Winona
Marian Engel Park from 11am to 1pm
285 Melita Ave (just west off of Christie)
News and Updates
Here are today’s new developments:
Most of Ontario will move to Stage 3 of the province's economic reopening Friday, with businesses including bars, restaurants, movie theatres and gyms opening up. Toronto, York and Peel regions, Durham, Windsor-Essex, Haldimand-Norfolk and Lambton regions will remain in Stage Two.
Andrea Horwath said the move to Stage Three should include support from the Ford government to help fund the costs of businesses' reopening. We also called for more resources to public health. Horwath said problems with testing, contact tracing and isolation are holding some regions back – and failing to fix these issues could cause Ontario to take one step forward and two steps back.
Ontario reported 116 new cases of COVID-19 today, as the province prepares to ease further restrictions.
Solutions we’re pushing for:
Andrea Horwath visited local businesses and officials in Kingsville, Leamington and Essex this weekend, calling for the Ford government to adopt the Save Main Street plan.
During question period today, Horwath urged Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce to make classes smaller — so all students can return to school five days per week this fall — by hiring more teachers and educator workers, and funding extra spaces for children to learn.
Taras Natyshak criticized the Ford government for handing over COVID-19 testing in hotspots in Windsor-Essex to a private corporation with deep Conservative Party ties, making the testing approach less coordinated in the region.
MPPs from Northern Ontario said Ford must stop excluding Northern schools from reopening plans.
MPP Monique Taylor called on Ford to put an end to excessive wait times for COVID-19, urging him to fix the broken testing system.