We’re seeing new sectors of our economy reopen across Ontario. Starting this Friday, June 12, childcare centres across Ontario will be able to re-open under certain conditions. Those conditions include: centres will have to limit occupancy of a “defined space” to ten people in total (including both staff and kids). While we are all excited to see the return of the services that we rely on, I am weary of how this decision was made, with little consultation with childcare centres across Ontario. We are all eager to open but every sector needs the support they need from our government in order to open responsibly and without having to go further and further into debt to do so.
Stakeholders have weighed in and have raised several legitimate concerns about this reopening plan. First and foremost, asking childcare centres to provide an expanded service (multiple “defined spaces”), without any extra funding is going to be incredibly difficult. On top of that, the childcare centres are only receiving a few days advanced notice to prepare. I want to send a clear message to the government that they need to be in constant dialogue with each industry as they plan the reopening, it is imperative that they are hearing from the experts as they take each step in reopening Ontario’s economy.
Sadly, in the case of childcare centres, it appears that many are going to need to increase their fees to continue operating in the manor that’s been laid out by the government.
It is not just our childcare centres that are going to need more support from the government to get through phase two of the reopening plan. In fact, across our entire workforce, we need to see strengthened regulations to protect workers. Perhaps the most glaring omission from our labour regulations right now is paid sick leave.
Simply put, to battle COVID-19 we just can’t have people coming into work while they’re sick.
Without paid sick leave, that is exactly what’s going to happen. Especially among our society’s most vulnerable, who are the most financially insecure, we need to have this basic protection. We have already seen outbreaks among migrant workers, including two deaths. The fact is, for many Black, racialized, sole-parent families and low-income Ontarians, when they get sick, they are faced with the decision to either keep food on the table or stay home from work. We have to eliminate this choice and ensure that everyone is able to stay home sick without fearing a personal financial crisis.
Here in Toronto-St. Paul’s, we are seeing exciting initiatives emerge in our community to help support our local businesses.
Today, I am going to highlight the work on of The Eglinton Way BIA. They have launched a Digital Expansion Program, open to any business in their catchment. This program will provide funds to local businesses who are looking to expand their digital reach and their presence online. They will be providing up to $1000 per business to cover 50% of the digital marketing costs of local businesses. This is a wonderfully forward-thinking idea, to help businesses invest in themselves and make the transition to online commerce – which during COVID-19 has seen a rapid expansion in use.
For more information on this program, check out their website here.
Another exciting program that I would like to share with you is the City of Toronto's Black Youth Fellowship that will debut in 2021 and will be providing 10-15 Black youths with the chance to get hands-on experience working with elected officials. The goal of the program is to create a platform of empowerment for the next generation of Black public servants across Canada. This program is being put together under the umbrella of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and it is incredibly exciting to see this project come together.
For anyone who wishes to support the Black Youth Fellowship, you can donate to cover the operating costs of the program by going here (Note: Please specify the donation is for the Black Youth Fellowship).
Finally, today, a reminder as the weather continues to get more beautiful that while signs are starting to look up, we have not seen the end of COVID-19 yet and there is no vaccine for COVID-19 yet. That means that we all need to remain vigilant to slow the continued spread of the virus. That means that we need to be washing our hands, we must keep our physical distance from one another, and when in public wear a mask unless you have a medical condition that prevents this. Protecting yourself, protects others and our work together IS saving lives.
Hang in there St. Paul's. We've got this!
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
Here are today’s new developments:
- Opposition parties at the federal level have blocked a Liberal government CERB reform bill that would include penalization of fraudulent CERB applications – Jagmeet Singh says the penalties would target vulnerable people, and force them into unsafe working conditions. Jagmeet Singh is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to extend the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) for at least another four months, as the relief payments for Canadians out of work due to COVID-19 end in July for many.
- COVID-19 cases among people in their 20s appear to be on the rise in Ontario, though the shift could be attributable to recently loosened criteria around who is eligible for testing.
- Premier Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott are awaiting test results for COVID-19. Minister Stephen Lecce said today that his test has come back negative after Ford, Elliott and Lecce all appeared together at Tuesday’s press conference at Queen's Park, but stayed away from Queen’s Park on Wednesday.
- Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities announced that some in-person training at post-secondary institutions will restart in July for students requiring a practicum or lab work to graduate – Chris Glover, said the announcement has left many questions unanswered, and that post-secondary institutions hit hard by COVID-19 will need financial support - something the Ford government has refused to provide.
Solutions I'm pushing for:
- I am calling for the Ford government to provide York regional police with all information necessary to consider an investigation into the death of a senior caused by apparent neglect at Woodbridge Vista Care Community, a Vaughan nursing home operated by the company Sienna. Andrea Horwath has previously called for the government to take over management of all Sienna-operated homes, and an independent judicial public inquiry into the long-term care sector's response to COVID-19.
- Jennie Stevens has written to Doug Ford and the Minister of Public Safety expressing concern over troubling reports that Canadian Armed Forces members who disclosed inhumane conditions in long-term care homes could face "consequences."
Featured Art Submission
Canada's Ballet Jörgen