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Thursday, September 9 - Update


Dear friend,

After enduring one of the longest school shutdowns in the world, over a million unvaccinated children are now returning to Ontario schools. We are all excited, hopeful, and very nervous.  

I want to thank all the hard work and advocacy that our community has taken to make our schools as safe as possible. I want to share a recent petition created by the Clinton Parent Council who are very concerned about the high class sizes and the government’s reluctance to properly fund a virtual learning option for families and children who request it.  

In the coming days and weeks I will be safely visiting schools - outside visits only - so please come over and say hello.


Yours, 

 
Jessica Bell, MPP
University-Rosedale


My newsletter this week includes:

 

We need safe schools now, including rapid testing

I have been hearing from so many parents and teachers who are extremely worried about the safety of schools, and how long they will remain open.  

The latest safety issue we are advocating for is the immediate rollout of a comprehensive rapid testing program for all Ontario schools. 

Here’s what we know so far. The Ontario government is offering free rapid testing to private schools, but public schools have only limited access to testing. The government has implemented a pilot project to distribute rapid take-home tests to 13 health units to supply testing kits to vaccinated staff and students at select secondary schools who are asymptomatic following a COVID exposure. But the pilot does not include daycare or elementary kids — who remain ineligible for vaccination — nor does it cover Ottawa or Toronto, where school testing efforts have largely been headed by local hospitals. This rollout is utterly unfair. To keep schools as safe as possible, all students in Ontario deserve access to rapid testing ASAP. I encourage you to contact Minister Lecce at Stephen.Lecceco@pc.ola.org (please cc-us at jbell-co@ndp.on.ca) to call for immediate safe rapid testing for all.

Vaccine Passports are starting on September 22nd 

On September 1st, the Ford government finally announced that the province will be implementing vaccine certificates. I fully support this move and believe it is an essential tool to ensure that we reduce the spread of the Delta variant, keep people safe, and help our economy recover. 

As of September 22, 2021, Ontarians will need to provide proof of full vaccination (two doses + 14 days) and proof of identity to be eligible to access certain non-essential services and locations. You will need to access your vaccine receipts. Download these here and scroll down to proof of vaccination or contact the provincial vaccination booking line to order a copy.

As of October 22, an enhanced vaccine certificate and a verification app with a QR code will be available as well. For more information about the vaccine certificate program see here.

We propose safety zones to protect businesses from anti-public health protestors

I have encountered anger and distrust of mainstream media, public health, and government at the door during this federal election. Our office is also receiving calls from constituents, customers, and businesses, especially in the Kensington and Chinatown area, who have been harassed, pushed and insulted by protestors because they are wearing masks or implementing public health rules in their workplace. The police should be doing more to protect people from harassment. 

To protect businesses from people harassing and shouting at customers and workers, we will be introducing legislation to establish physical safety zones, similar to what exists around abortion clinics. There is a point where free speech becomes harassment. 

Long term, there is a need to heal the growing social and economic divide in our society through a comprehensive economic recovery program, and more. I welcome suggestions on how our office can address this growing intolerance, and social and economic divide.

Ministry issues last minute guidelines for post secondary schools 

 

Universities and colleges, including the University of Toronto, are currently welcoming students and implementing measures to keep the school community safe. 

While all universities and colleges have a vaccine strategy, a recent memo from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities stated that as of Sept. 7th, the province will “remove physical distancing and capacity limit requirements for indoor instructional spaces (e.g., classrooms, labs, etc.) This applies to indoor instructional spaces only”. Masking will still be required.

Students, faculty and staff at Ontario’s colleges and universities should not have to risk contracting COVID-19, or be forced to endure prolonged campus closures, because Ford refuses to listen to experts and invest in safety. I join NDP critic for Colleges and Universities Laura Mae Lindo in calling on the Ford government to immediately reinstate physical distancing requirements and provide financial investment in capacity limits.

I welcome feedback and updates from the University of Toronto community on U of T safety policies.

  

Are you having difficulty getting a third vaccine dose? 

The province has announced that a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be available to select vulnerable populations:

  • Transplant recipients (including solid organ transplant and hematopoietic stem cell transplants);

  • Patients with hematological cancers (examples include lymphoma, myeloma, leukemia) on active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy) for malignant hematologic disorders;

  • Recipients of an anti-CD20 agent (e.g. rituximab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab);

  • Residents of high-risk congregate settings including long-term care homes, higher-risk licensed retirement homes, and First Nations elder care lodges

My office has been hearing from people who are eligible for a 3rd dose, but are having difficulty acquiring one. We have reached out to the Ministry of Health for direction. If you are eligible for a booster COVID-19 vaccination and are having difficulty getting one please reach out to my office at jbell-co@ndp.on.ca

Where can I vote on September 20?

Voting will be more difficult this election than in previous elections. Unlike in previous years, Elections Canada will not be making it easier for students to vote on campus. To vote by mail, you must apply before September 14. The Elections Canada office for University-Rosedale is located at 672 Dupont Street, Suite 500.This office is open for voting from 9am to 9pm everyday. For more information on how to vote at an Elections Canada office see here. Advanced polling days will take place from September 10-13th. For more information about where to vote, and health and safety measures see here

I have heard from many concerned parents regarding what safety precautions and regulations are in place for polling stations in schools. The TDSB has made the decision to allow voting in some schools, but only if there’s a direct path to the polling station, there is a separate entrance and exit, and the public is able to be separate from the students. Most of the schools to be used will be middle schools and high schools. 

It’s time to renew your expired documents

The province has announced that it is ending the extension for expired Ontario documents, including OHIP cards, Driver's Licenses, license plate stickers, accessible parking permits, and Ontario Photo ID cards. 

While renewal requirements have been paused during the pandemic, the province has announced that anyone with one or more of these expired documents must renew by February 28, 2022.

Service Ontario has published a suggested schedule for those who need to renew, to avoid overcrowding. This link also provides information about how to renew each document, and how to book an appointment for eligible services.

Join me at the Harbord Resident Association Fall Fair

Please join me Sunday, September 12th at the Harbord Resident Association fall fair. In lieu of their usual Fall Fair, they will be offering a scaled back event. All events are free with donations to the artists encouraged and participants are encouraged to wear masks and observe social distancing. For more information see here.

Concerned about Climate Change? Here’s how to get involved

Extreme weather has become the new normal, and many of us are anxiously wanting to get more involved in climate activism so we can transform our city and province into a truly green and resilient place.  

For those looking at getting more involved in climate activism, I encourage you to review, support and connect with the many organizations that are active on climate issues. Thank you to the Toronto Climate Action Network for developing this list. 

Shake Up The Establishment

The National Observer

LeadNow

350 Canada

Climatefast

Climate Emergency Unit

Apathy Is Boring

Climate Action Network

Environmental Defence

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Community office:
                                      719 Bloor Street W, Unit 103                                      
                                              Toronto, ON  M6G 1L5                                           

                                              Phone: 416-535-7206                                             
Email: jbell-co@ndp.on.ca 

 

                                               







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UniRoseONDP · 801 Shaw St. · Toronto, Ontario M6G3L9 · Canada