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Hello <<First Name>>, 

This past weekend brought some warmer weather and an opportunity to enjoy some fresh spring air. I noticed some families enjoying walks, and finding the time to get out of their homes. At the same time, those people were respectful and considerate of others by maintaining a safe distance from their neighbours. I know staying indoors can feel like a burden for some, so I was very pleased to see people find the solace that nature can provide, while maintaining the collective effort required to defeat this virus.

This weekend, we also received an update on Education, one of the more inspiring collective efforts we're witnessing during this time. I want to applaud all of the parents and teachers and principals working so hard to ensure our young minds are not left without knowledge and stimulation they need to be ready for the near future. We learned that the current school closure will extend to May 31st, and that the government is planning and expanded summer learning program. More details on that will follow, but we have also received assurances from the Minister of Education that the next time we hear from him on school closures, it will be to provide clarity on the what to expect for the balance of school year. Learn more about that announcement via the Government's press release HERE.

Today, the Ontario Government announced a framework for re-opening the economy. Unfortunately, details were scarce, and no start date has been provided. I'm pleased we've reach the point where this discussion can begin, but we need to remain cautious and continue to rely on the best advice of public health professionals. One of the issues that still need to be addressed is the issue of wide-scale testing. Ontario has the lowest testing rate in the country, and we continue to urge the government to take action to increase capacity. Many frontline workers are also going without the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to perform their jobs safely. These issues need to be addressed before we can consider a safe re-opening. Read more in our leader Andrea Horwath's' press release below.

I know that in the coming weeks, the good news will start to accumulate. We have worked so hard to reach this point, and we all know more effort will be needed. Our party has been urging the government to increase pay to frontline healthcare workers for weeks, and while we are happy to see some support, we will be asking for the pay increase to be backdated to the start of the crisis. Community gardens will be opening soon, and General Motors will be manufacturing masks out of the previously closed Oakville plant. I will be sure to share more of these positive stories as they cross my desk.


As always, my office is here to help. Please call at 416-243-7984, or email us at fhassan-co@ndp.on.ca.

Take care, stay home, and wash your hands.

Best Regards,



Faisal Hassan
Member of Provincial Parliament
York South — Weston
 
Each level of government has useful information to support you during this crisis. For more information, visit the resources below:
News Release 
 

Vague re-opening plan missing actions to make new economy safe


Caution is good. Testing, inspecting, and expanding access to PPE is still needed: NDP
 

QUEEN’S PARK — Successfully re-opening the economy will take action, not just words and passive monitoring, says Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath.

“The government needs to dramatically ramp up inspections and testing. They need to get personal protective equipment into the hands of workers in workplaces that are re-opening. And they need a plan to stop the outbreaks still raging in long-term care,” said Horwath. “The government can and must do more if we are to safely move forward. There is an active role only the government can play in making the re-opening successful and safe.”

The government’s framework for re-opening was rightfully committed to following the advice of public health, and re-opening cautiously and in phases — the NDP supports that approach. But the NDP also wants to see the government’s role include:

Proactive and on-site inspections of re-opened workplaces to ensure physical distancing and infection control. Even with the current limited number of businesses operating, workers report that they cannot get on-site inspections of their work conditions.

Dramatically ramping up testing of people in the community, including asymptomatic people. Ontario continues to have the lowest testing rate in the country and experts say we need much more testing before businesses re-open.

Expanding the availability and use of personal protective equipment in workplaces that are re-opening.

Dramatically ramping up containment efforts in long-term care and other congregate care settings to save lives, and stop the wildfire from spreading back into the community — including a plan for workers that come and go from homes where deadly outbreaks continue to rage, and are still growing.

“We have to learn from SARS. We have to learn from countries experiencing a second COVID-19 wave. If the province doesn’t put a robust plan in place to dramatically expand testing, inspections and infection control, we could see a resurgence of this deadly virus.”

Horwath said the government’s framework is disappointingly vague, leaving people and businesses without information on what each phase will look like, which could lead to misinformation.

Background

Lauren Lapointe-Shaw, a clinical epidemiologist, assistant professor at University of Toronto and scientist at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, said Ontario needs to do much more testing if it hopes to relax its physical-distancing rules – possibly as many as 10 times more tests...“If we remain in this situation where we are behind the eight ball with testing and contact tracing, it’s going to be hard to come out of physical distancing.”
April 27, 2020

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-ontarios-covid-19-testing-continues-to-lag/

David Fisman told TVO: “What we need to do now, as we start to think about reopening the economy, is think about how we’re going to use testing for situational awareness and surveillance.

April 24, 2020

https://www.tvo.org/article/covid-19-the-week-in-review-with-epidemiologist-david-fisman-april-19-24

Marty Warren, United Steel Workers District 6 Director

“The overwhelming number of field reports that we have received show that investigations are not taking place on site, but rather by phone or even video. Also, the expectation seems to be that internal workplace processes with employers and the union will somehow suffice without orders or enforcement of such orders.”

https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/covid-19-health-safety-complaints-and-work-refusals-in-ontario

Community News: 

Neighbourhoods in our community are making a direct effort to support local small businesses. The Rockcliffe-Smythe neighbourhood has started a crowdsourced Google Doc listing information on a variety of local businesses and services available as a result of COVID-19.
Looking for work? Need help applying for CERB? Maybe you're looking to hire staff? The Career Foundation continues to offer employment services for job seekers and employers through telephone and internet. To learn more about the one-on-one service, visit them at https://careerfoundation.com/ 

The Toronto Foundation for Student Success has partnered with school boards across the province to support families in need with help for groceries. Eligible families will have heard directly from their schools, but if you need support, please reach out to your local school for more information on eligibility, or email info@tfss.ca

Workplace safety is vital to preventing the spread of COVID-19. If you feel you may be at risk, or are concerned for your safety, please call the Health and Safety information line at 1-877-202-0008
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Copyright © 2020 Member of Provincial Parliament - York South-Weston, All rights reserved.


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