Marit Stiles MPP, Davenport

Government of Ontario

COVID-19 Community Update

Published on July 9, 2020

It has been a busy few days at Queen’s Park, with lots of bills debated and a massive new omnibus bill tabled - more on that below.
But on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to address the Assembly specifically to pay tribute to Davenport’s pandemic heroes – the people, small businesses and community agencies that have gone above and beyond to help us get through COVID-19. From the frontline health care workers to neighbours banging pots and lending a hand: Thank you. 



Watch the video: 

My Members' Statement from July 8.
 

Growing concern about school reopening

This week I’ve also been working hard to highlight the lack of planning the government has shown when it comes to safely reopening schools this Fall. I have heard from countless parents who are anxious about how to manage when work resumes but full-time school doesn’t.

Simply put, if kids can’t get back to school, working parents can’t get back to work.

New Democrats are calling for the government to implement an immediate action plan including:

  • Guarantee that parents will be able to access paid, job-protected leave until school and child care fully resumes.
  • Immediate funding to stabilize the child care sector to prevent fee increases and layoffs.
  • Hire more teachers and other education workers to allow for more, smaller classes.
  • Immediate funding for urgent school repairs and upgrades, including infection control (eg: touch-free sinks and soap dispensers).
  • Funding for more school busses to allow for physical distancing.
  • Additional support for students with special needs or who are struggling online.
  • Strike a COVID-19 recovery school advisory group that includes frontline education workers, parents and students, school boards and parents.
  • Consult with municipalities to find ways to use available public infrastructure so that school and child care centres can resume in-person for as many children as possible in a safe and healthy way.
  • Guarantee that no essential workers currently receiving emergency child care will lose child care provision when the emergency child care program ends

I asked the Minister of Education directly about this during Monday’s Question Period:

Questioning the Minister of Education on the glaring gaps in their back to school 'plan'

De-streaming announcement

The Minister also announced this week that the government will move forward on de-streaming our schools beginning in grade 9. This is welcome first step but long-overdue, and is the direct result of the decades of advocacy by Black community leaders, parents, educators and students. As events in recents years have shown, there is much more work to be done to eliminate anti-Black racism in our school system and ensure that all students feel valued and supported in learning and life. 
And more urgently, local experience in our community – at Oakwood Collegiate Institute – has shown success in de-streaming requires smaller classes and more direct support for students. So far the Ford Government has refused to acknowledge this or make any commitment to provide this support.

 

Toronto MPPs Call for New Deal for Cities

Toronto’s NDP MPPs joined forces this week to call for immediate relief for our city and other municipalities hurting from the economic, health and social impact of COVID19. It’s time for our provincial and federal governments to step up their support. We need a New Deal for Cities. You can watch our video here.
 
 

Legislative updates

Omnibus legislation 

The Ford government introduced an omnibus bill yesterday that, while billed as a COVID-19 recovery bill, makes numerous changes to legislation but, as Andrea Horwath stressed, does nothing to help families, long-term care homes, small businesses, schools, day cares, First Nations and municipalities devastated by the pandemic
 

Bill 184 is the government’s bill that would make it easier to evict people. We have been challenging this from the start, but at committee the government moved amendments to make it even worse: further limiting the ability of tenants to defend themselves and making the changes retroactive to the beginning of the pandemic. Truly a cruel bill - I’ve heard from hundreds of you on this and I will be voting against at final reading next week.

Watch my comments on this bill here.
 

Bill 175 - If an eviction bill in the middle of a pandemic wasn’t bad enough, the Conservatives also rushed through Bill 175 this week, which opens the door to privatization of homecare. I voted against this deeply flawed bill and called for real action to improve senior’s care.

Watch a clip of my comments here.
 

Emergency powers power-grab

The Ford government also introduced legislation Tuesday that would give it extraordinary powers to write emergency orders for up to two years, a move that our NDP caucus swiftly challenged because it will remove transparency, and move important decision-making behind closed doors.   

 

Childcare Lunch and Learn

On Friday, July 3, I invited my colleague Doly Begum, our Critic for Early Learning and Child Care, and Alana Powell from the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario, to join me for a lunchtime discussion about child care, COVID-19 and supporting parents and kids as the economy reopens. Thank you to everyone who tuned in and shared your questions, ideas and concerns. You can watch a recording of the talk on my Facebook page here. 

 

Around the Community

Thank you to everyone who came together this week in Dovercourt Park to call for a redistribution of police resources and an end to police violence against Black, Indigenous and racialised people. I was really inspired by the turn out and I’m proud that these demands have formed the basis of the Opposition’s proposals to end police violence and systemic racism in Ontario, demilitarize police forces and give municipalities control over their police budgets. You can read the policy document here.

 

More updates

  • Emergency Orders were extended today until July 22.
     
  • Face masks or coverings became mandatory in indoor, public places in the City of Toronto starting Tuesday of this week. For more information on properly wearing a mask, visit: toronto.ca/facemasks 
     
  • The Canadian Armed Forces have ended their support work in Ontario’s Long Term Care homes. Their report on the state of Ontario’s LTC sector helped shine a light on the horrific conditions facing vulnerable seniors in some homes, the government’s lack of action to protect them, and the need to get profit-making out of the sector.
     
  • Ontario reported 170 new cases of COVID-19 today, the highest number since late June. 86 of those were from Windsor-Essex, where outbreaks among migrant workers are ongoing. We have been urging the Ford government to do more to protect migrant workers, including allowing farm workers who have COVID-19 to isolate with pay. Right now, Ford’s policy is to have these workers continue working, even when positive for COVID.
 

What your Official Opposition has been working on

  • Our NDP caucus is calling on the Ford government to address the unfair patchwork that’s preventing families from visiting their loved ones in long-term care homes, arguing that the rules should reflect the essential role family members play in caring for the well-being of seniors. 
     
  • Despite Ford’s claims that he didn’t know some long-term care homes lack air conditioning in residents' rooms, Andrea Horwath emphasized that the NDP has been calling for minimum AC requirements in long-term care since at least 2006, and that the NDP has been bringing the matter to Ford’s attention since 2018. Horwath called on Ford to pass legislation today to require air conditioning in all long-term care residents’ rooms. 
     
  • Kitchener Centre NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo tabled a private member’s bill to establish a first-ever Senior’s Advocate for Ontario, to act as an independent voice for seniors and family members who act as caregivers. 
     
  • The NDP critic for Community and Social Services Lisa Gretzky said Ford’s plan to end pandemic top-up payments for people receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or Ontario Works (OW) will hurt the province’s most vulnerable. 
     
  • NDP critic for Persons with Disabilities Joel Harden asked Ford to release a concrete plan to ensure that the learning needs of students with disabilities are supported when school opens this fall. 
I was proud to stand in solidarity with Ontario’s nurses this week as they fight for equality, dignity & respect.
 

Public Health Updates

Toronto.ca/coronavirus

Information from Toronto Public Health on local cases, how to protect yourself and where to seek further medical support.

Ontario.ca/coronavirus

Information from Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

Find out how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick and how to recognize possible symptoms. Updated twice daily, in 30 languages.

Canada.ca/coronavirus

Information from the Government of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada

Updates on the national response and access to emergency support benefits.