Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Applications open
Canadians out of work due to COVID-19 can finally apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), with staggered application days depending on your birthday.
I am hearing concerns from many in the community who are ineligible for CERB because of the nature of their work, because they are a student, or because they continued to earn some income. It's a particular concern for gig and contract workers, artists and musicians. I have raised those concerns with our MP and federal counterparts and I was pleased to see the Prime Minister announce that the program is expected to be adjusted in the coming days. In the meantime I will continue to raise the issue and push for universal benefits that help everyone.
Provincial Child Benefit available
The provincial government's emergency child benefit application is also online as of today. Eligible parents will receive a one-time per child payment of:
$200 for children aged 0 to 12
$250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs
Learn more and apply here.
Education Update – Remote learning
With the Minister of Education’s announcement last week that schools will remain closed until at least May 4, 2020, many Ontario children and youth will be reconnecting with teachers and other educators for the first time this week. What that means will vary from class to class, school to school and school board to school board. Every family has different circumstances, and some families face bigger challenges than others. And that goes for the families of education workers too.
I wrote a letter to the Minister of Education asking for greater clarity for Ontario students. In the meantime, my advice to everyone is ‘small steps’. There are many ways to do remote learning. And we need to remember that this is a most unusual circumstance. It will not be business as usual. We need to be understanding and forgiving of each other. And please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to share your experiences, frustrations, concerns and successes on this new learning path.
New guidance on masks
Wearing a homemade or makeshift mask (as opposed to medical-grade masks reserved for frontline health workers) could be a good idea when in close contact with others, like at the grocery store or on transit, Canada's top doctor said today -- this should not replace physical distancing and frequent hand-washing, and Canadians should continue staying home unless absolutely necessary.
Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers
Despite assurances from the Ford government that more protective masks for health care workers are on their way, today Ford said Ontario is in danger of running out of masks and other personal protective equipment by next week (the NDP has been calling for Ontario to step up support for health care workers regarding issues like PPEs). US President Donald Trump's directive to ban U.S. exports of N95 masks reportedly caused the blockage of three to four million masks bound for Canada from supplier 3M, though Ford said 500,000 of those masks are still on their way.
Here in Toronto, the University Health Network is collecting donations of PPE and other needed supplies. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416 340 3935 to speak to one of their staff to discuss current needs and guidelines.
In Davenport, my office is working with local individuals and groups including Davenport Mutual Aid, to help flag PPE needs and get equipment where it needs to go. We are also reaching out and asking local businesses -- like salons and tattoo parlours – to donate any supplies they have.
Supporting small business
Yesterday, Andrea Horwath launched the NDP's Save Main Street proposal, a plan to keep small and medium-sized businesses afloat, with greater supports for companies, charities and community-based nonprofits. I have been working hard to bring forward concerns and proposals from our local businesses to address the absolutely devastating impact the pandemic is having on them. I am so pleased to see many of these proposals reflected in the Save Main Street plan. Please help us get the message out to the Ford Government by sharing the plan widely.
Cancel and cover prescription co-payments for seniors
No senior in Ontario should have to skip their pills or skimp on food as a result of the pandemic. But if seniors have to pay for each prescription each month, some of them will be forced to make difficult choices.
That’s why the NDP is calling on the Ford government to cancel and cover the prescription drug co-payments required of seniors during the COVID-19 crisis.
Physical Distancing: Keep it up
While most Ontarians are working hard to flatten the curve by staying home, we’re still hearing concerns that non-essential gatherings and work continues. As difficult as it is, the distancing measures that have happened so far have saved lives – and we need to keep it up.
If you must leave home for essentials, keep a 2 metre distance at all times. That distance needs to be respected when exercising too – the fact is, there are a lot of us – and if we all exercise at the same time, or crowd the sidewalks, we’re putting people at risk.
Physical distancing and mental health
Physical distancing disrupts our normal social routines. During times of uncertainty and change, it is normal for people to worry. If you begin to notice signs of depression or hopelessness in yourself or a loved one, please seek help. Get support if you need to talk. For more information see these resources from Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health:
Davenport Mutual Aid
The Davenport Mutual Aid Network is a space meant for mutual aid, where people can take care of each other in Davenport during the COVID-19 pandemic. "We are here to share information, resources, support, & create strategies for taking care of each other in the short term, as well as strengthening our community networks for the long term." Get involved on Facebook.
Neighbourhood Rally to Support the Stop
The Stop Community Food Centre is meeting a surging demand for emergency food services - and they need our help. If you can spare a few dollars, join the neighbourhood rally and help support the Stop's amazing work.
FCJ Refugee Centre seeking support
The FCJ Refugee Centre is seeking monetary donations, grocery gift cards, personal care kits and toys, games and books to support women, youth and other precarious migrants who are ineligible for emergency benefits.
Diabetes Canada Donation Bins
Diabetes Canada donation bins are overflowing, and some are becoming a dumping ground for well-meaning citizens who want to support our work. Due to the covid-19 pandemic and crucial physical distancing orders by governments that non-essential services be stopped, the pick-up of all textile donations by Diabetes Canada from homes and donation bins across Canada stopped on March 23rd.
The current donations at the donation bins and, in some unfortunate instances. the dumping of garbage at donation bins is posing a serious health and safety issue.
Diabetes Canada has been urging the public to hold off on their bin donations until business resumes.