I know COVID-19 is top of everyone's minds and I understand that people are concerned for their health and unsure of what the next few weeks will hold.
I want to start by thanking all Ontario’s public health and front-line health care workers, who are doing an incredible job keeping people safe and informed, and are working hard to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario.
Currently, the risk of contracting COVID-19 in Toronto is low. However, given the global situation, things could change rapidly and we should recognize the potential transmission risk and continue to monitor closely the advice given by our public health officials, like the most recent statement from Toronto's Medical Officer of Health.
While the virus can make anyone sick, it is important to remember that some people are at greater risk of developing more serious symptoms — especially older people and people with compromised immune systems or underlying health issues. We should all be taking steps to support vulnerable populations and to check on family, friends, and neighbours. Please also refer to this Vulnerable populations and COVID-19 guide, put out by the Public Health Agency of Canada.
This virus has certainly highlighted why universal health systems and social safety nets are crucially important. Paid sick days and emergency leave are essential to ensuring people stay home when they are sick to prevent transmission, even if symptoms are mild. It is important to self-isolate and follow other advice given by health professionals but unfortunately, without paid sick days, many of us have to choose between staying home without pay, potentially losing our jobs, and being able to pay the rent and put food on the table. This is not a choice anyone should be forced to make, especially during a pandemic.
The NDP has called for emergency legislation to give workers paid sick and isolation days if they need them, and to forbid employers from requiring a doctor's note. We are also urging the government to create solid contingency plans for hospitals, shelters, public services, workers, and businesses. We would like to see these contingency plans widely and effectively communicated.
As you are likely aware, the government has closed schools for an additional two weeks after March break. School resumes April 6, 2020.
As of this writing, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is recommending that you avoid pubic gatherings of over 250 people and practice “social distancing” — which means keeping whatever distance is possible under the circumstances, in addition to following the personal safety strategies below.
Following the recommendations of the Ontario Public Service, the community office will be closed to in-person visits but we will be trilled to help you by phone at 416-690-1032 or email: Rberns-McGown-QP@ndp.on.ca or Rberns-McGown-CO@ndp.on.ca.
We are rescheduling our upcoming Community Conversation on homelessness (March 26), out of an abundance of caution. We are keeping a close eye on updates from public health officials and will reschedule our public events when we can all feel safe.
We will do our best to keep you updated via the MPP website and public Facebook pages — and to continue to provide whatever help our office can. In the coming days, a COVID-19 self-assessment tool will be available at Ontario.ca/coronavirus.
Please reach out if you have questions or concerns.
Finally, I am very aware that many of us are worried about how we are going to get through the tough time ahead of us. It will be a test of all of us in Beaches-East York as a community, but I am certain that we will rise to the challenge. Please do remember that we are all in this together. Let’s all try to support each other and our local businesses, and above all, let us all please be kind.
Warmest wishes and be well,
As always, Email or call my office (416-690-1032), I want to hear what issues matter most to you. I look forward to continued work with each and everyone of you to build our community over the next few years.