I want to send a thank you to everyone in our community for keeping committed this weekend to respecting physical distancing measures in our parks.
The scenes we saw from Trinity-Bellwoods Park were unacceptable.
Unlike some who have tried to rationalize the behaviours we saw at Trinity-Bellwoods Park as the actions of youth or people just too cooped up who needed some fresh air - that does not fly - not when many children and youth have gotten the message and are practicing responsible physical distancing. I know that many of us do not have a backyard or balcony. Some of us do not have air conditioning and it painfully exposes some of the inequities many are facing during this pandemic.
I was glad to know that we did not replicate these scenes in St. Paul's. I understand that as the weather keeps improving, the temptation to get out and spend time with our loved ones grows – but it’s my duty to remind everyone of just how important it is for us to maintain our physical distancing. Case numbers in Toronto are rising once again – and most of that new spread is occurring in community. Let’s not let temptation get the better of us – let’s stay focused on working together to put COVID-19 behind us.
For weeks now, the Ontario NDP has been calling for the provincial government to take over private homes that were in desperate need for support. The takeover of these two homes is overdue, and is still not enough. We need to continue to expand this program to ensure that residents of long-term care facilities across Ontario are getting every ounce of available support.
But it’s not enough to be getting help into long-term care homes, it is also vital that the government do more to track and prevent community spread of COVID-19. While the government has been setting targets, they’ve also been consistently missing them. In fact, across Ontario last week we averaged around 50% of our goal – testing just about 10,000 people a day – instead of the target number of 20,000. This is an abject failure and jeopardizes all of the reopening efforts we’re seeing across our province.
One of the main reasons that we have seen such low testing rates is because testing sites are not mobile. We need a plan to take our tests to the people that need them – static testing sites will never get our rates up the way that we need. We’ve been calling for mobile testing sites for some time now, and we need the government to act on this immediately to ensure that we’re able to quickly identify new cases of COVID-19 and do the contact tracing necessary to keep community spread to a minimum.
Finally, a piece of uplifting community news from our friends at Children’s Art Studio Inc, who have partnered with Wychwood Barns Sewing Studio to produce free masks for the community! I should note that these are not medical grade masks but are suitable for helping you protect others - and yourself. You can find the masks pinned on their unit door at the Wychwood Barns – and you are encouraged to grab one!
I want to send a deep thank you to everyone who is working on this project!
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:
- Trudeau says his government will look at bringing in 10 days of paid sick leave for workers – a policy the federal NDP has been pushing for, and which federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had made conditional upon his party’s support for suspending the full House of Commons sitting schedule - Singh said the NDP will continue pushing the government to make paid sick leave permanent, beyond the pandemic.
- The federal government’s commercial rent relief program for small businesses opens today – the program has been widely panned, with many business owners saying their landlords have refused to sign on. In Ontario, business groups called on Doug Ford to issue a moratorium on commercial evictions, a call he's continuously refused – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath again called on Doug Ford to help stop struggling businesses from going under, and to adopt the NDP’s plan to Save Main Street, which includes a 75 per cent commercial rent subsidy.
- Frontline workers still haven't received the pandemic pay top-up that Ford promised some of them a month ago. According to a letter sent by a group of health care CEOs to the Premier, this failure has led to "extreme morale issues" for frontline staff and created conflict for employers – Andrea Horwath issued a statement calling the Premier’s failure to pay workers “unacceptable,” and reiterating the call for all frontline workers to get a pay raise. The wages must flow immediately, she said, and must be retroactive to the beginning of the crisis.
- Ontario's COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise, with today marking the fifth consecutive day that new case numbers surpassed 400. For over a week now, the province's testing numbers have fallen far short of the stated 20,000-test goal - Andrea Horwath said it's clear Ford's strategy of limiting community testing to assessment centres isn't working.
- After months of horror stories coming out of long-term care, the Ford government says it will take over two private, for-profit long-term care facilities that are failing to protect residents against COVID-19 - Andrea Horwath says there are many more long-term care homes that should be put under the province's management. For weeks, the NDP has been calling for Ontario to take over direct management of long-term care homes.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
- NDP Municipal Affairs critic Jeff Burch will table a motion in the Legislature this week that would give emergency financial support to municipalities badly impacted by COVID-19. Burch's motion mirrors a proposal put forward by a coalition of Ontario's municipal leaders and frontline municipal workers.
- The NDP is pushing for mass testing of asymptomatic people outside assessment centres, stressing that Ford asking people to simply show up at assessment centres is not enough. Horwath has been calling for broader testing to include everyone in congregate living situations, systematic workplace testing and random sample testing in the community using mobile assessment centres.
- Horwath says Ontario needs a new strategy for bringing COVID-19 testing to people, noting that with testing numbers so low and the economic recovery underway, the government is putting people at risk.
Featured Art Submission
In their own words:
It is also my homage to the market, a unique place like no other.
If you can spot them, included are caricatures of well known Toronto musicians, Richard Underhill, Brownman, Rick Lazar, Steve Goof, David Rotundo and Michael Johnson. Also included are local personalties, Kitsch Lorraine and Martin Heath of the Cinecycle plus Toronto's unofficial mascot...the raccoon!
The piece is a black light work which takes on a glow in the dark, surrealistic look when the tube is on. Euphoria in Kensington Market is currently on display at Alma Art Studio, Artscape Wychwood Barns viewable by socially distanced appointment.