The infection rate locally and across the province has increased exponentially over the past few days, and yesterday rent for residential and commercial tenants came due.
With regard to the increase in infection numbers, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has asked that local Medical Officers of Health take stronger steps to enforce quarantines and social distancing. No formal statement is currently posted but he is reported as calling on local Medical Officers of Health to use the law to order COVID19 patients and their contacts into quarantine. The Premier also stated Ontario had to be ready for a surge of people being infected.
We can expect stronger action in the next few days by the authorities.
Opposition leader Andrea Horwath sent a letter to the Premier, asking for a substantial tightening of the rules around essential workplaces and in particular related to construction. Given that infection numbers are climbing, this has to be addressed.
Yesterday was April 1st and tenants, commercial and residential were faced a tough day.
Residential tenants in many large buildings have been given notice by their landlords that they expect rent. As I have been calling around the riding many tenants are still employed or have other income and will be paying. Tenants who have recently lost work or contracts and have no income are in a much tougher spot. It is very clear that we need a moratorium on evictions and provision of rent subsidies by the Province to make sure people are not further affected by this situation.
Small landlords and their tenants face a tough situation as well. Tenants have told me that in a number of cases landlords have just sat down with them and worked out an agreement. In others it has not been like that. In one case a woman who is renting her basement as a unit lost her job as has the tenant, they both need help. The case for Provincial action is strong to ensure all of us are able to get through this crisis.
In case you want to check out your legal rights – Community Legal Education Ontario has this web guide - https://www.cleo.on.ca/en/publications/tenantsaccess/eviction.
Small businesses are facing a tough time. There are a number of difficulties with the Federal government loan program for small businesses which are just being explored by those businesses now. Owners and employees both live in this community and we need government to step up to limit the damage.
Lastly, Opposition Education Critic, Marit Stiles, has written to the Minister of Education asking him to address a number of the big questions that remain after his announcement that schools will remain closed in April. How will he deal with situations where students don’t have access to computers? What can be done to help students with special needs and a number of others. Her complete letter is in Resources below.
I hope you find all this useful. My staff and I really appreciate the suggestions and observations that you send in. This has been a tough time but it has been good to get to know so many more of you better.
Take care, stay home (if you can) and wash your hands,
Andrea Horwath’s letter to Premier Ford:
Dear Premier Ford,
I am writing to request a review of the industries and businesses currently exempted from the emergency management orders to cease operation.
In particular I would like you to review the blanket exemption for construction, an industry in which it’s often impossible to practice safe distancing. Protecting workers’ health and safety, and ensuring we’re doing every practical thing possible to stop the spread of COVID-19, must be Ontario’s priority right now. I ask you to look seriously at limiting construction activity to emergency and essential work only.
Ontario has included some services and businesses on their list of essential services that other provinces have not. In Quebec, car dealerships have been ordered to close, except as necessary for maintenance and repair; and construction, except as required for provision of emergency services, has been ordered to stop.
On Wednesday, the City of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen De Villa, said there is a need to “… reduce the number of open workplaces and businesses. To be clear, it’s not within my jurisdiction as the local medical officer of health to make determinations as to what businesses remain open, but I assure you we are working here at the city of actively engage our provincial partners to see what can be done to reduce the number of open workplaces and businesses so as to reduce the spread, while at the same time meeting essential needs.”
Now, more than ever, precaution can save lives and we must not hesitate to take whatever steps are needed to slow the spread of COVID-19. I urge you to conduct an immediate review of the list of essential services to ensure that Ontario is doing everything we can to protect vulnerable citizens and prevent infection.
I further urge you to work with the federal government to ensure affected businesses can access wage subsidies and other support for affected workers, and to provide provincial wage support where federal initiatives fall short of what is needed for people and businesses to keep their heads above water.
Andrea Horwath Leader of the Official Opposition
Marit Stiles letter to Minister Lecce:
Thank you again for meeting with MPP Doly Begum and I last week. We appreciated the opportunity to share the concerns and questions of Ontario families, students and education/childcare workers, and the discussion that ensued.
Following up on that meeting, I look forward to reconvening shortly to discuss details of the announcement that was made yesterday regarding the continuation of school closures and Phase 2 of the government’s learning plan.
Many parents, students and educators have already been in contact with me to share their questions and concerns, and in the spirit of ongoing collaboration at a very difficult time, I would respectfully submit the following for your consideration:
- Will educators be involved in all aspects of the planning and development of the courses?
- How will this strategy recognize families’ differing capacities to support their children’s learning, including essential workers and parents who are working from home, as well as newcomer families and families where English is the second language?
- Has a final decision been made on assessment/grading or is the Ministry open to other models, such as a pass/fail model with feedback? Many universities have shifted to a pass/fail outcome measure for students.
- How will grading/assessment work for students in Full Day Kindergarten, where learning is play-based and assessment is based on observation?
- What consideration is being given to supporting teachers and other education workers who have children at home, caregiving responsibilities or who, themselves, may become ill?
- How will these programs support vital learning beyond the 3Rs? For example, how is the government proposing to approach the delivery of arts – including dance and drama – courses through Phase 2?
- What factors were considered in the “hours per week” assignment for each grade?
- What will Boards do when students can’t meet these expectations? Some educators and parents have expressed concerns about the ability of some students to use remote tools, and failure to recognize that families (as noted above) have a range of capacities.
- What plan is in place to support students with special needs and students with IEPs? What is the Ministry’s vision of how Boards should provide this support? Including the work of professionals, paraprofessionals and educational assistants?
- Is Learn at Home mandatory for all students?
Thank you again, Minister, for your openness to working together to find the best solutions at a very challenging time. I think we all appreciate the enormity of the task ahead. It is so very important that we continue to collaborate and seek the input of educators, staff, experts to serve the best interests of our students and families.
Marit Stiles MPP Davenport Official Opposition Education Critic
Forecasting the Epidemic
Web developer Colin Foster sent in this tool for seeing how the epidemic would develop with and without action on our parts. His explanation is below and the link is below that.
It's my hope that if people can *see* a forecast that draws a clear picture of our situation, they will be more likely to "hold the line" (stick with their isolating efforts, etc.) because if they don't, in two weeks we'll go from 6,266 cases to 69,000 (as of this writing).