Community News Update - October 7, 2020

Dear Community,
COVID-19 cases in Ontario are continuing to grow every day at a disconcerting rate. For many weeks our cases numbers were slowly creeping up, but in the last few days and weeks we have seen the full arrival of a second wave of COVID-19.
I know that sometimes these emails might sound repetitive, with me continuing to remind everyone that we need to take all the precautions we can to keep everyone safe. But right now, we are in an incredibly important moment, and the right response will bring our cases back down, while the wrong response will send us into uncharted waters for Ontario.
Frustratingly, we are still not seeing the action from the Ontario government that we need. Government is refusing to listen to the calls for action by experts like Dr Eileen De Villa, who has been advocating for days now to restrict things like indoor dining, and indoor group fitness in Toronto.
But the Ford government has refused to act on these recommendations, digging us deeper into our COVID-19 outbreak. Instead, taking the time to claw back pandemic pay from some frontline health workers.
We do not have to look far to see how bad things can get when COVID-19 gets totally out of control, with over 200,000 dead in United States, and over 1,000,000 dead worldwide. We need our provincial government to come to the table with serious supports for Ontario, and until they do, we must continue to do all we can as individuals and community members to keep ourselves and each other as safe as possible.
Sadly, without the supports that people need to survive, many members of our community are not in a position where they can turn down unsafe work, and many small businesses will not survive another shut down. Each and every one of these challenges must be addressed by the Ford government, but up until this point they have buried their heads in the sand when it comes to the second wave.
On top of that, the solutions that they are bringing to the table are a joke.
Today they offered to allow restaurants to permanently sell beer that you can take home, and $1000 to small businesses to renovate to operate more safely during COVID-19. Neither of these proposals comes close to addressing the magnitude of the challenges on the road ahead.
It is time that the Ford government adopt a real plan, one that will not just pick at the edges of this problem, but that goes right to core of the challenges we’re facing.
The Ontario NDP’s Save Mainstreet plan which I have stood in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in support of advocating for our small businesses here in St. Paul's addresses these issues for small businesses comprehensively. And if they don’t want to use our plan, the least they could do is look at its core principals. Real rent relief for businesses, rent freezes, protection from ANY evictions, and protections from utility shut offs.
Beyond protecting small businesses, we need to be investing in our response to COVID-19. We cannot allow an enormous backlog of tests to build up in our system. Testing needs to be run quickly and efficiently, and we need more boots on the ground to make that happen. Again, here the government continues to deny there is a problem, even though there are currently tens of thousands of unprocessed tests in the system.
And don’t get me started on their actions on education with over 7000 students being pulled out the TDSB today because parents do not feel safe sending their children into overcrowded classrooms. 
All of this is simply to say that we are in an incredibly challenging moment right now, and while I will continue to advocate for better action from the Ford government, we also need to be taken every precaution we can in our everyday lives to slow the spread of this thing.
That means, wearing our masks whenever we’re out and about, only breaking physical distancing boundaries with those that we live with, and washing your hands as often as you can. We are going to get through this together, and the work that we put in now to keep our community safe will save lives down the road.

Finally today, a couple local events and call outs:

In Solidarity,

Jill Andrew

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