COVID-19 has had an undeniably tragic impact on many of our families here in St. Paul's. I have just released an Open Letter to the Premier, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Long-Term Care regarding the crisis at the Salvation Army Isabel and Arthur Meighen Manor – a long-term care facility in our community. As of this writing, the facility has recorded 42 deaths from its 168 patients, with over 100 other staff and patients testing positive for COVID-19. I am calling for immediate action from the Ontario Government to intervene and ensure that the necessary supports are on the ground as soon as possible. The level of care at the facility must be improved immediately, and I am calling on the government to present a plan of action within 48 hours.
You can read the full letter to the Premier, the Minster of Health and the Minister of Long-Term Care here.
At the same time, we are beginning to see some of the restrictions put in place across Ontario be eased.
Some retailers are opening for curbside pickup, provincial parks are opening across Ontario (for day use only – full rules here) and more. In this moment, it is more important than ever that we proceed cautiously. The last thing we need right now is another spike in cases. Currently we are still seeing the majority of new cases of COVID-19 traced to community spread – and it remains our collective duty to flatten the curve. I must also say this very frankly: There is no cure or vaccine as of today for COVID-19 so I cannot stress how important physical distancing continues to be. So, as we continue to see restrictions loosened, please make sure that you are still washing your hands as often as possible and keeping your trips out to a minimum.
The importance of our constant vigilance in this moment is echoed by the news from the Loblaws at Christie and Dupont. Over the weekend, they released their third advisory that staff had tested positive for COVID-19. Following this, they closed the store and have now announced that the store will now only serve as a PC Express store – providing only pick up for online orders – and keeping their pharmacy open. This is a solemn reminder that while we are going to get through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not out of the woods yet.
There is more work to be done.
We continue to see new resources emerge in response to COVID-19. Over the weekend it was announced that through a few partnerships, all frontline staff in any industry impacted by COVID-19 will be able to access a psychologist through the Ontario Psychological Association’s Disaster Response Network (announcement coming this week). Services like these are invaluable for everyone who has been affected – and we need to see an expansion of this service to the broader community. It is almost impossible to quantify the impact that COVID-19 has had on mental health, but suffice to say, it has not been positive. More supports are needed across the board.
Finally, I want to send a quick reminder that this evening I will be hosting the Ontario NDP Black Caucus on my Facebook Live for a Town Hall!
We will be going live at 7PM and I would encourage you to join us! You can click here to see the stream.
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."
- Canada announced a new loan program to support large companies such as airlines and oil and gas firms - there have been widespread concerns about the federal government's commercial rent relief program for small and medium-sized businesses.
- As businesses re-open, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has asked Canada's and Ontario's Ministers of Health to establish clear safety standards on issues like what is appropriate PPE and how it must be used--the NDP has stressed that Ontario's health and safety guidelines don't cut it, and that clear, enforceable rules are needed .
- The Ontario legislature will sit and hold a question period tomorrow, with the Ford government expected to extend Ontario's state of emergency -- In a virtual press conference held today, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced she will table a motion calling for an independent, public inquiry into the province's long-term care system, and will also seek a thorough public inquiry into Ontario's pandemic readiness and response, overall.
- The city of Toronto has a new online venture to help independent local businesses and artists build sell goods and services virtually.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- Andrea Horwath will table a motion tomorrow that will call for a full, independent public inquiry into why the long-term care sector was in crisis before the pandemic hit, how seniors were left so vulnerable, and what the role of for-profit long-term care will be going forward.
- A second public inquiry sought by the NDP will examine Ontario's readiness prior to the pandemic, and the province's handling of the crisis – giving the province a roadmap for what to do differently next time.
- NDP Education critic Marit Stiles released a statement over the weekend calling out a memo that Education Minister Stephen Lecce sent in which he criticized students, teachers and parents for "inconsistent uptake" of learning via video conferencing.
Featured Art Submission
In their own words:
Here is a shot of some art my son Jasper pinned up at Roseneath Park to cheer the neighborhood, a painting I did to calm my anxieties and a quilt that I am slowly working on that (clearly!) embraces the beauty in imperfection.