Today, Ontario has reported another 1076 new cases of COVID-19, including 361 here in Toronto.
It was also announced today that 27 public health regions in Ontario will be loosening their restrictions, with only Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, and the North Bay-Parry Sound district remaining in their lockdowns.
Ideally, this would be a positive step, frustratingly, however, the move to ease restrictions in regions around Ontario is not being coupled with any new public health measure to ensure that we are not stuck in a third wave of COVID-19 soon - and it’s happening while we are still seeing over 1000 cases a day. While of course, everyone wants this lockdown to end we must be careful in this moment - especially with the UK strain of COVID-19 now spreading in Ontario. In fact, there is modelling data that indicated that we could reach up to nearly 10,000 cases a day if that strain becomes the predominant strain in our province.
Knowing that this risk is potentially looming, it is absolutely vital that we bring our case counts down further, and provide more support to Ontarians.
I’m proud to stand with Andrea Horwath in her call for:
- 10,000 more PSWs for long-term care homes;
- Paid sick days for all workers;
- Provincially funded, and organized workplace testing;
- Comprehensive in-school testing;
- Capped class sizes at 15;
- An eviction ban, and rent subsidies for people and small businesses.
If we open our province once again without taking the steps that we know are needed to stop the spread of COVID-19 – we are very likely to see a sizable third wave. But if we take the steps that our public health experts are recommending, and open back up slowly, and when it’s safe to do so, we will put ourselves in a position where this could be our last lockdown.
Next week, the Legislature will return, and of course, COVID-19 will be front and centre – and you will see from the Ontario NDP a push to bring forward a legislative agenda of help and hope, as we work together to affect positive change for our communities. Key points that you will see raised are: paid sick days, an eviction ban, improvements to long-term care, increased wages for PSWs, safe schools, protecting small business, and an equity strategy that our province desperately needs.
I’m excited to get back to Queen’s Park to share the stories from Toronto-St. Paul’s that need to be heard by the government.
Throughout this pandemic, I’ve done my best to share with our community resources that I’ve across – and that I believe will have a positive impact. One of the groups that I’ve been most impressed by, whose work is so incredibly pertinent at the very moment in time is Being Here, Human. Starting on February 15, they will be running a workshop called “Grief in the Margins, a writing workshop that is a space for BIPOC folk to share their lived experiences of grief and loss.
If you’re interested in learning more, click here.
Finally, tomorrow afternoon (at 1PM) will be an exciting day for me as I will be putting my name forward to once again be the nominee for the Ontario NDP in Toronto-St. Paul’s in the next election. All are welcome!
If you’re interested in tuning in, you can RSVP here.