Thank you for everything you are doing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These are difficult times, but Sudbury is rising to the challenge. Together, we’ll get through this.
My community office at Barrydowne Road is closed, but my team is continuing to respond to your inquiries by phone and email.
I know many of you have questions about this pandemic and the supports available to help you and your family during this uncertain time. My team and I will share information with you as we have it, and find out the answers when we do not. Please note that the below information is up to date as of the evening of April 3rd, 2020.
I will be sending these updates out by email regularly to keep you informed. Please sign up for these emails here.
I want to thank all of the public health staff and health care workers who are working tirelessly to combat this pandemic. Thank you to all of the frontline staff- the grocery store workers, the pharmacists, the delivery drivers, the transit drivers, and the first responders. You all deserve an enormous debt of gratitude.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns to 705-675-1914 or JWest-CO@ndp.on.ca. My team and I are here to help.
Here are some recent developments:
• Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Canadians can start applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on April 6. The benefit provides about $2,000/month to Canadians who have lost work or wages during the pandemic.
• Projections Released
After the NDP urged Ontario to release COVID-19 modelling data, the province released projections that show COVID-19 could cause between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths in Ontario overall -- to ensure we avoid reaching the higher end of that range, Ontarians are urged to maintain vigilant social distancing and hand-washing practices, and stay home as often as possible.
• Mandatory Self Isolation
Ontario's chief medical officer of health stressed that anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, is suspected of having it, and/or lives with someone who has COVID-19 or may have it, must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.
• Mental Health Resources
After calls from the NDP to support frontline workers with 24/7 free mental health resources, the Ontario government said it will expand online mental health services as Ontarians endure the COVID-19 crisis.
• Essential Workplaces List
Ontario announced it is shrinking the list of essential businesses allowed to stay open, something the NDP called on the Ford government to do earlier this week.
• Support for Food Banks
The federal government announced $100 million for food banks across the country, as Canadians face lay-offs and financial uncertainty.
Here are some concerns the NDP is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:
• Updated Projections
The NDP would like to see projections updated and released publicly every 48 hours.
• Prevent City Staff Lay-Offs
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the Ontario government to intervene and prevent city staff lay-offs around the province by funding municipalities to keep staff on the payroll.
• Rent Support
The NDP has called for an 80% rent subsidy during the pandemic. This would help renters and landlords get through this crisis without months of crushing debt.
• Safety on Construction Sites
Andrea Horwath and the NDP would like more workplaces deemed non-essential, including allowing only construction that is truly essential.
• Support for Health Care Workers
Andrea Horwath and the NDP urged the Ontario government to step up support for health care workers, who desperately need better protection and more resources.
The NDP's proposed six-point package of solutions include a call to:
1. Issue an emergency order to ensure health care workers can have personal protective equipment, and legally protect the right for workers to determine whether they require equipment like masks in any given scenario.
2. Issue an emergency order to require all organizations to donate ppes not being used
3. Hike Personal Support Worker (PSW) pay to $22, and aggressively ramp up efforts to get staff into home care or long-term care homes, as well as a retention fund for PSWs. (Many have left the field due to chronic underpaying and understaffing).
4. Invest $5 million to provide health care workers with round-the-clock emergency mental health supports
5. Scale up child care centres for health care workers and locate them near hospitals, assessment centres and other health care facilities
6. Cancel all parking fees at hospitals and other health care facilities
Ontario’s State of Emergency and Closure of all Non-Essential Workplaces
On March 31, the government extended the State of Emergency and associated emergency measures, which includes the closure of non-essential workplaces and restrictions on social gatherings. The State of Emergency will now be in effect until at least April 13 2020.
As a result of this declaration and its associated orders, the following establishments are legally required to close:
• All non-essential workplaces (You can find a full list of essential workplaces that are permitted to be open here), if you have questions about what is permitted to be open call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659;
• All licensed child care centres;
• All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery; and
• All outdoor recreational facilities, including sports fields, playgrounds, off-leash dog parks, beaches, sports courts, picnic areas, community gardens, and outdoor exercise equipment.
Public schools are closed to teachers until Friday, May 1, 2020, and to students until Monday, May 4, 2020. As these dates come closer, this decision will be re-evaluated based on public health advice.
All organized public events and social gatherings of more than 5 people are prohibited. These gatherings do not apply to households with five or more people, or child care centres supporting frontline health workers and first responders.
Provincial Measures and Supports
Here are some of the provincial measures that have been put in place to assist people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:
• Eviction moratorium
The Ministry of the Attorney General granted an order suspending the enforcement of residential evictions until ordered otherwise by the court. Tribunals Ontario will not issue any new eviction orders until further notice.
• OSAP payment deferral
A six-month deferral on OSAP payments has been announced.
• One-time Payout for Children Out of School
Families with school age children are eligible for one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.
• Government documents extended
The validity period for divers’ licenses, health cards, license plates, Ontario photo cards, and Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration certificates and other products has been extended.
• Electricity disconnections banned
The Ontario Energy Board is extending the current ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment for all residential customers to July 31, 2020. Low-volume, small business customers will now be protected by the ban. OEB is also calling on distributors to be more flexible on arrears payment arrangements.
• COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool
Interactive self-assessment tool that asks a series of questions to help inform those who are concerned they may have contracted COVID-19.
• Learning supports while schools are closed
Several learning tools have been launched to support students and parents seeking learning opportunities, including through TVO. A second phase will be launched should schools remain closed.
• Waiting period for OHIP coverage waived
The three-month waiting period for OHIP coverage has been waived.
• Changes to the Emergency Assistant Program
The Emergency Assistance Program has been expanded to assist people with limited income, assets or credit, who are in crisis or in an emergency situation, and those who are not eligible for federal assistance.
• Child care services provided to frontline staff
Certain child care centres will be exempt from the order to close, to provide child care support for frontline workers.
Federal COVID-19 Measures and Supports
Here are some of the federal measures that have been put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
• Mandatory Isolation when returning to Canada
On March 25, the federal government announced an emergency order that requires all people entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. This order is in effect for everyone entering Canada, including those without symptoms of COVID-19. The federal government will use its authority under the Quarantine Act to ensure compliance with the order. A failure to comply with the order is a legal offense.
• Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The taxable benefit will provide $2,000 per month for up to four months, for workers who have lost their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB will be accessible online in early April. You can get ready to apply online by setting up your CRA My Account now, and signing up for direct deposit to get your benefit more quickly.
• Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers
The Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
• Canada Emergency Business Account
This program will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced, due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Contact your financial institution to apply for these loans.
• Extra time to file income tax returns
The filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals will be deferred until June 1, 2020. Any new income tax balances due, or instalments, can be deferred until August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
• Mortgage Support
Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19. Canadians who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship as a result should contact their financial institution regarding flexibility for a mortgage deferral.
• Financial help if you are outside Canada
Canadians, and, in exceptional circumstances, Canadian permanent residents, outside the country who are directly impacted by COVID-19 will be able to apply for an emergency repayable loan to facilitate their return to Canada and to cover basic essential needs while they work towards their return. Each application will be assessed according to their specific situation and needs. This emergency assistance is a repayable loan.
Worker Rights during COVID-19
My office has received many questions about workers’ rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those working at essential workplaces.
Changes made to the Employment Standards Act expand job-protected unpaid leave due to an infectious disease emergency. Employers cannot require employees to provide medical notes to prove they are eligible for this leave.
If you have questions about whether you are entitled to the protected unpaid leave in relation to COVID-19 contact your union representative or call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416 326-7160 or 1 800 531-5551.
The health and safety of workers must always be a priority. Under the Ontario Health and Safety Act, you have the right to refuse unsafe work.
If you have concerns about health and safety at your workplace, contact your union representative or the Ministry’s toll-free health and safety information line 1-877-202-0008 between 8:30am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday.
Public Health Updates
Updates to COVID-19 self-assessment tool:
The Ministry of Health’s self-assessment tool has been updated. Use the tool to determine what steps you should take if you exhibit symptoms.
The following websites provide daily updates on pandemic response:
Public Health Sudbury & Districts
Information on prevention and protection measures and where to seek further medical assistance.
Public Health Ontario
Public resources and factsheets on self-monitoring and self-isolation, and links to guidelines and statements from national and international public health organizations
Ontario Ministry of Health
Find out how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick and how to recognize possible symptoms. Updated twice daily, in 30 languages.
Government of Canada (Health)
Prevention and preparedness measures, public resources and factsheets, and symptom information.
Government of Canada (Travel Advisory and Advice)
Information on travel advisories and restrictions related to COVID-19.
A free and confidential service where Registered Nurses are available to take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Public Health Sudbury & Districts call centre
For general information about COVID-19:
Call 705.522.9200 (Press 1), toll-free 1.866.522.9200.
Availability: during regular business hours, and extended hours on evenings and weekends (subject to change based on call volumes).
Callers can leave messages and Public Health staff will call back within 24 hours, unless extenuating circumstances.