From Steven Newsletter: May 8

Friends –       

I hope you and your family are well and staying safe.

I continue to commend all of you for staying strong and remembering what you are doing is working. We’re starting to see signs that physically distancing and efforts toward testing are slowly flattening the curve.

But – as I’ve said before – while physically distancing is what we need to do – the fact is, that it is incredibly straining on many. During Mental Health Week, let’s remember to continue to reach out to loved ones. It often makes all the difference.  And most importantly, if you are suffering, please talk and know it’s okay to share how you feel and the challenges you face. 

For my part, I promise you that our Liberal team at Queen’s Park will continue to fight to ensure you and those you care about have access to the mental health care you need.

In that vein, over the past weeks, our team has worked hard to advise the Provincial government on how to keep Ontarians healthy and safe. We’ve been abundantly clear with recommendations and calling the government to task when they have let essential decisions slip.

To keep up to date on all of our recommendations to the government so far, visit https://ontarioliberal.ca/coronavirus/

Here are some examples of how the Liberal team has stepped up to the plate in a big way (full details on each initiative are outlined further in the memo). We have advocated for the provincial government to:

  • Take action to protect vulnerable seniors
  • Suspend time of use rates to reduce hydro bills
  • Expand protections for renters
  • Suspend WSIB premiums and other payroll charges to help small business 
  • Introduce alcohol sales for licensed restaurants who offer take-out and are trying to prevent their businesses from closing
  • Scale up mental health services
  • Give front-line healthcare workers a raise

As the crisis continues to evolve, our team and I will continue to collaborate with the government to keep Ontarians healthy and safe.

We are preparing to launch a number of fun and informative initiatives for Liberal members as well as those interested in learning more about the Ontario Liberal Party.

Follow me here to get the latest news and watch the latest videos.

The fact is it takes an army of us and every one of us to rebuild our Party.  Following me helps to show your support, but more importantly, it helps to keep you informed about our latest ideas and actions.  It helps me listen to what you support and what you want to make happen.

Let’s do this together!

Alongside our Liberal caucus, I’ve focused on collaborating with the government and providing advice on how to end this pandemic and protect Ontarians from the fallout, sharing the feedback we’ve heard from Ontarians across the province and public health experts.

1. Demanded better for vulnerable seniors

BC moved to protect its seniors a month ago by limiting the number of homes Personal Support Workers could operate in. Ontario put that in place just last Wednesday. This is something I called for on March 30. I was happy to see the Government make this change on April 25.

On April 15, we learned Ontario inspected comprehensively just nine of 626 long term care homes in all of 2019. This is absolutely astounding, and Premier Ford’s government must be held accountable. On April 16, I called for a public inquiry on long term care home and retirement home deaths. I’ve also made several recommendations on changes for long term care homes, which you can read here.

2. Suspending time of use hydro rates for 45 days

 On March 20, I encouraged the provincial government to consider a six-month suspension of time-of-use electricity pricing to help Ontarians pay their hydro bills. Then on March 24, the government announced they would be suspending time-of-use rates for 45 days. You can read more about my recommendations to the provincial government in the Toronto Star.

3. Expanded protections for renters

On March 27, I recommended that the province provide financial support to landlords so they can provide rent relief for low to middle income tenants. The Premier has said there will be no evictions during this time, but there’s still more to be done. You can read more about my recommendations here.

4. Introducing alcohol sales for licensed restaurants who offer take-out

On March 20, I advised Premier Ford to provide creative supports to our hard-hit restaurant and hospitality sector—allow those who provide take-out and delivery service to temporarily sell alcohol. I was pleased to see his government to do just that on March 26.

5. Suspend WSIB payments

On March 20, I recommended suspending payroll payments like WSIB and Employer Health Tax premiums for six months for small and medium sized businesses. When the government released its economic response to COVID-19 on March 25, I was pleased to see they decided to provide temporary relief from WSIB and EHT premiums.

6. Scale up mental health services

It’s become clear that the impact of this crisis on our mental health will be considerable and we will need support in order to weather the storm. That’s why on March 20, I recommended that we dramatically expand access to mental health care services. On April 2, I was pleased to see the Government did just that.

7. Give front-line healthcare workers a raise

Many care providers work in more than one care facility. The recommendation from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health limiting the number of facilities a worker can work in is creating difficult choices and financial hardship for care providers and their families. That’s why on March 30 I wrote a letter to the Premier and recommended he give healthcare workers a $4/hour wage enhancement. On April 25, the Government accepted our recommendation.

The provincial and federal governments have taken a number of actions to fight the health and economic impacts of the crisis.

For more details on Ontario’s economic response to COVID-19, click here.

For the latest information on COVID-19 in Ontario, click here.

To apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, click here.

For more details on Canada’s economic response to COVID-19, click here.

For more details on Canada’s response to COVID-19 overall, click here.

Visit ontarioliberal.ca/coronavirus for ideas on how you can help fight the impacts of COVID-19.

Here is advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada on the steps to take to prevent the spread of the virus and keep you and your neighbours safe.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
    • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • When coughing or sneezing, cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
    • Dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Practice social distancing:
    • Avoid non-essential gatherings
    • Avoid common greetings, such as handshakes
    • Avoid crowded places
    • Limit contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
    • Keep a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from other.
  • Clean the following high-touch surfaces frequently with regular household cleaners or diluted bleach (1-part bleach to 9 parts water):
    • Toys, toilets, phones, electronics, door handles, bedside tables and television remotes

 For more information, please visit the Government of Canada website on COVID-19.

Steven Del Duca

Leader, Ontario Liberal Party

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