For many years, advocates have been calling out issues in long-term care in Ontario. Now, during COVID-19 we have seen a broken system fail after years of mismanagement by the provincial government and private for-profit long-term care corporations. The lack of regulation and oversight has created dire situations across the province, and now the Ford government is moving to ensure that they protect their friends in the long-term care industry.
Since COVID-19 first struck Ontario, long-term care corporations have been scooping up former Ford government staff to work as lobbyists on their behalf. This revolving door has raised many eyebrows, and now we are perhaps seeing the fruits of their labour.
Today it was announced that the Ford government is considering a proposal to protect long-term care corporations from civil liability for their handling of COVID-19. It’s absolutely outrageous that the government would take this moment to stand up for long-term care corporations, and not the residents and staff of those homes who were failed. The time is now to stand up for the nearly 1800 seniors and 7 staff who have lost their lives – not the corporations who failed them. Any corporation that put profits over people should be held accountable for their actions.
Across the front lines, workers have been let down. Today, along with my colleagues I am calling on the Ford government to extent pandemic pay to all front line workers immediately. These workers are putting their health at risk everyday to keep our society moving, and they deserve to be compensated fairly for the work they are doing. It’s extremely frustrating that so many of these workers were led to believe that they would be receiving this compensation and they still are not.
Every frontline worker should be included without exception – and the pay should be retroactive to March 11, when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.
Workers and small business owners across our community are doing such an incredible job supporting us during COVID-19 – and they deserve the exact same support back from the government. One great example comes to us from Moberly Natural Foods, who took the time earlier this week to stock a free pantry in our neighbourhood. I want to send a sincere thank you to the team at Moberly for taking this initiative. It has been incredible to see the way our community has come together during these trying times.
Sadly, even before COVID-19 Toronto was in the midst of a housing crisis.
Now, with the massive financial hit that many members of our community have taken as a result of the pandemic, the crisis has worsened. For those who rent their homes, the prospect of being sent an above the guideline rent increase (AGI), or facing a renoviction is daunting.
The biggest challenges in fighting back against these measures is a lack of information and transparency. Today is the launch of RenovictionsTO, a project to track AGIs and renovictions across Toronto, so that tenants can have more information to protect themselves from predatory landlords. Their website has an interactive map, where you can see other reports that have been filed, and read useful information about your rights when you’re facing an AGI or a renoviction. I would encourage everyone to check out the site here.
As we all know, Toronto is still in phase one of the reopening plan. Meanwhile, we have seen many other parts of the province move to phase two. One of the key reasons that we have not been able to move forward is that the bulk of new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario are occurring right here in Toronto. For our city to move forward with the reopening, we need to continue to see our case numbers decline. For that reason, I am once again calling out to our community to be cautious at this time.
Make no mistake, COVID-19 is still among us, and that means that we need to maintain physical distancing from anyone who is not in your bubble of 10. It also means that we all need to be washing our hands frequently, wearing masks whenever possible, and checking in on the most vulnerable members of our community and getting them the support that they need.
Finally today, an update from my Monday newsletter.
It has now been confirmed that the Federal government is extending CERB for another eight weeks across Canada. This means that CERB will now be providing a maximum of 24 weeks of support instead of 16 weeks for anyone who qualifies for the program. This means that if you were one of the first applicants in July, you remain eligible to receive CERB.
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."
Here are today’s new developments:
- Ontario has reported fewer than 200 new cases of COVID-19 for the fourth day in a row, with the bulk of cases found in Toronto, Peel Region and Windsor-Essex, the regions yet to move into Stage Two of reopening.
- As outbreaks among migrant farm workers in southwestern Ontario continue, a COVID-19 assessment centre launched to quell the spread of the virus among farm workers is closing due to poor turnout. Less than 10 per cent of the 8,000 migrant workers in Windsor-Essex have been tested. MPP Taras Natyshak says it’s the Ford government’s job to get control of the outbreaks, and that immediate action must include measures like deploying mobile testing units directly to farms.
- Doctors from Toronto’s SickKids Hospital say children in Ontario should be able to return to school come September, though COVID-19 probably won’t be eliminated then. The doctors are helping to create guidelines on a safe reopening of schools. During yesterday’s Question Period, MPP Marit Stiles asked how the government will help schools ensure they have the necessary precautions in place given that school board funding from the province remains long-overdue.
- Trudeau says his government will deliver a snapshot of the federal finances in the House of Commons on July 8 – the federal deficit is currently estimated at about $250 billion.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- Andrea Horwath says it's shocking that Doug Ford is considering protecting companies that operate long-term care facilities from civil liability, given that many of these companies have completely failed to protect seniors in their care.
- Horwath said the government must ensure the Mississauga Fire Department gets the N95 masks they need.
- John Vanthof says Ontario should follow British Columbia's lead in protecting migrant farm workers and preventing further outbreaks and deaths among them - While B.C. centrally cared for and quarantined migrant workers, Ontario has failed to do so. Mexico will continue to send migrant workers to B.C., but not to Ontario.
- Ian Arthur responded yesterday to the Ford government's reinstatement of key provisions it quietly suspended back in April, which had allowed the government to make environmental decisions without telling the public. "The government quietly suspending vital provisions of Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights was troubling, particularly in light of Ford's ongoing attempts to claw back the environmental standards and procedures that keep our water, land and wildlife safe," Arthur said.
Featured Art Submission
The New Frontiers Of Conceptual Art is a book of poetic prose where I take a few dozen of my colleagues and customers from the gift shop in Mount Sinai Hospital, imagine what kind of artists they'd be, and write about the artworks they would create.
The book is available here: https://trevorabes.com/shop/