Community News Update - November 18, 2020

Dear Community,

Today we reported another 1417 cases of COVID-19, along with 32 more deaths in Ontario. This marks the most deaths that we’ve seen in a single day during the second wave and is a number that will likely continue to rise in the coming weeks. While we will not know for sure until Friday, it is being hinted at by the provincial government that stricter lockdown measures will be arriving soon in the hardest-hit areas, including Toronto.

I will be keeping a very close watch on what comes down the pipeline Friday, and it is my sincere hope that the Ford government listen to this province’s health experts and use their best advice in a transparent manner. One of the most disturbing story's that has come out this week is in regards to the secrecy that is being imposed on the COVID-19 advisory panels, with members of the panels being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

It is vital that the decisions being made about COVID-19 are not political. At this moment we need evidence-based policy creation – that will use the best science we have available to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives in our province. Anything else is deeply irresponsible.

Among those Ontarians who lost their lives today was a Child and Youth Worker in the Toronto Catholic District School Board, the first known death of a staff member from an Ontario school since they reopened in September of this year. I am sending my deepest condolences to the family and friends, and well as the students and colleagues of the worker who has passed.

Sadly, this passing comes at the same time that Ontarians are battling with the Ford government to do more to make our schools safer, and in particular, the government has been wavering on whether or not they are considering another shut down of schools around the coming holiday season. In the last 48 hours, we have heard both that the government would consider closing schools, and also that they would not. While I appreciate the magnitude of the decision that must be made here, one thing should be very clear:

If we’re at the point where we need to consider closing our schools, surely, we must be at the point where we can invest what’s needed to shrink the sizes of our classrooms. Hopefully, we’ll see some positive action from Minister Lecce on this front soon.

Finally, today, while I know that we’re in a painful and stressful moment right now, filled with uncertainty, fear, and sadness, it’s important to remember that we are going to get through this together. While we aren’t there yet, it’s so important that we are all taking the time to reflect on what we’re going through and to process the pain, as well as take the time that we need for self-care.

There is no shame – no matter how you need to process.
In Solidarity,

Jill Andrew

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