Taras Natyshak MPP, Essex

Government of Ontario

Covid-19 Update: Ford refuses to conduct a public inquiry; School closures extended, and Auto Insurance Premiums

Published on May 19, 2020

Hello friends,

Our community’s adherence to prevention measures are flattening the curve in Windsor-Essex.  Dr. Wajid Ahmed,  medical officer of health, announced Tuesday that the Windsor-Essex Health Unit is expanding the testing criteria to area residents experience just one symptom of COVID19.   As the province eases restrictions on businesses, Dr. Ahmed reiterated that vigilance in preventative measures are more important than ever pointing to the Spanish flu’s second wave as being “much bigger and much more dead[ly] than the first wave.”

The Prime Minister announced Canada's border will remain closed to all non-essential travel until, at least, June 21. Last week, Brian Masses pressed the government to ensure protective measures, PPE and testing, are in place before loosening restrictions.

The Ontario NDP introduced a motion calling for a full, public and independent inquiry  Ontario's long-term care system. The motion called on the Ford government to exercise their power under the Public Inquiries Act, 2009. The purpose of this Act is to establish an effective and accountable process for public inquiries where there is a public interest to independently inquire into facts or matters and make recommendations regarding those facts or matters.  A full public inquiry under the Act is the only inquiry that will inspire confidence in the public.

The motion was voted down by the Ford government, effectively denying the public answers regarding why our most vulnerable were dis-proportionally put at risk of COVID19.  The governments refusal to invoke the Public Inquires Act raises serious questions about the governments desire for transparency and accountability. Organizations, experts and unions have criticized Ford’s refusal, including  a union representing more than 60,000 frontline health care workers.

The Ontario NDP will continue to call on Premier Ford to do right thing.  A crisis spanning over 200 for-profit long-term care homes, leaving 1,400 unnecessary deaths demands transparency and accountability.  If this crisis does not warrant a full public inquiry under the act, I am uncertain what this government believes does. 

In lieu of a public inquiry, the Ford government ordered a commission into long-term care.  The commission is essentially a review made behind closed doors and without independent oversight, accountability, and/or transparency.  Their decision to opt for a commission over a full inquiry is deeply concerning.

In-person classes will not be resuming for Ontario public school students this school year.  Students will continue to learn from home until the end of June. NDP Education critic Marit Stiles said in a statement that as parents return to work and child care centres remain shut, the government needs a plan to step up support for families.

Many small businesses are struggling to keep there businesses a float, even as restrictions are eased.  The Ford government continues to ignore calls from small businesses owners to ban commercial evictions. The NDP has been echoing this call, pointing to a survey released this weekend showing that 63 per cent of businesses said they couldn't make May rent. Many small businesses are falling through the cracks in the federal rent support program, and the NDP is urging Doug Ford to help businesses. 

Our Auto Insurance critic Tom Rakocevic called on Ford to step up and lower auto insurances rates. The government regulator is a month late in approving quarterly auto insurance rates, which raises concerns if the approval includes yet another auto insurance rate increase as accidents and claims have seen a drastic decline during COVID-19. 

My constituency office continues to receive calls where insurance providers are increasing premiums. The Ford government continues to ignore these concerns about auto insurance profiting from the pandemic, placing his faith in the industry to compensate drivers.

Over the weekend, I joined in to help with the Unemployed Help Centre of Windsor Inc. and Unifor Local 444 distributing emergency food boxes to the communities of Essex and Harrow.  The program was so successful that due to demand, food boxes will now be available to pick up at the Essex Centre Sports Complex parking lot from 9am to 12pm and at the Harrow Arena parking lot from 1pm to 4pm.  I cannot thank the organizers of this initiative enough for their continued dedication and support to our community.

And finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone of you in the community.  We are in this together, and our success relies on it.  I continue to be amazed by the wonderful people in our community.  I could not be more proud to represent this community in Queen's Park.

With regards,

Taras