E-newsletter- December 18, 2020
As 2020 draws to a close, none of us could have predicted what the COVID-19 virus would do to our lives, our economy and our futures. It is only because of the dedication and vigilance of all of us in Etobicoke – Lakeshore and throughout the province that we are able to get through this together. The pandemic has been a stern test of our resiliency, our willingness to help each other and our ability to adapt to an every changing world.
We are on track to beginning 2021 on a happier and more optimistic note. The Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine is being rolled out in long-term care homes in Toronto and Ottawa. We should have another vaccine, produced by Moderna, available in Ontario by the end of this month. Unlike the Pfizer - BioNTech vaccine, Moderna’s vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra low temperatures, making it easier to transport. What’s more, having two vaccines will allow us to react quickly as supplies ebb and flow, or if one vaccine proves particularly effective in a specific population.
After almost a year, we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel with COVID-19.
LONG-TERM CARE STAFFING PLAN
It is clear, now more than ever, that immediate and deliberate action is needed to improve Ontario’s long-term care sector so that we can protect, provide appropriate care, and bring dignity to our most vulnerable today and into the future.
We continue to work hard to solve the long-standing and systemic challenges facing the long-term care sector, so that our loved ones have the quality of life they deserve.
The Ontario government is launching one of the largest recruitment and training drives in the province’s history to deliver on its commitment to improve care for seniors in long-term care homes. The province released its long-term care staffing plan that sets out actions to hire more staff, improve working conditions for existing staff, drive effective and accountable leadership, and implement retention strategies.
Acting on expert recommendations, and building on the government’s 2020 Ontario budget commitment to increase hours of daily direct care to four hours per day for each long-term care resident, the new staffing plan focuses on six key areas of action to be delivered over four years:
- Investing up to $1.9 billion annually by 2024-25 to create more than 27,000 new positions for personal support workers, registered nurses and registered practical nurses in long-term care to meet the direct care commitment; in addition, providing a 20 per cent increase in direct care time administered by other health care professionals such as physiotherapists and social workers.
- Accelerating and expanding education and training pathways in order to prepare and train the tens of thousands of new staff that will be required.
- Supporting continued professional development and growth of long-term care staff to improve retention.
- Improving working conditions for staff by coordinating with long-term care employers to increase full-time employment and promote innovative approaches to work and technology.
- Driving effective and accountable leadership in homes across the province to improve oversight, guidance and medical outcomes in long-term care homes.
- Measuring progress against key performance indicators.
This ambitious plan will make Ontario the leader in Canada in the provision of care in long-term care homes.
The challenges of fixing Ontario’s long-term care system are complex and will require partnerships with professional associations, labour unions, regulatory bodies, long-term care homes, and education and training providers to recruit and educate tens of thousands of new staff over the next four years.
NEW MONEY FOR SAFE RE-START IN TORONTO
Our government is allocating an additional $695 million to municipalities, to help ensure they do not carry budgetary operating deficits into 2021. For Toronto, that means an additional $398 million in assistance.
BUILDING THE ONTARIO LINE
Building subways is what our government campaigned on, and we are delivering on our promise to build the modern, reliable, and sustainable public transit system that the people of the City of Toronto so desperately need.
We are moving forward with the Ontario Line project, one of the four priority subways projects representing the single largest investment in subway expansion and extensions in Canadian history.
As our population continues to grow across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the City of Toronto is predicted to become the largest employment centre and engine of economic growth in the region.
Increasing the transit network’s capacity into downtown Toronto, other major employment areas, and neighbourhoods throughout the City is critical to unlocking the GTA’s potential as a leading international metropolitan area and maintaining its appeal to residents, job seekers, and major employers.
The Ontario Line will connect more communities underserved by today’s transit network, creating a more resilient and integrated transit network that will attract transit users from across the City. It will shorten travel times by an average of seven minutes per trip getting travelers where they need to go faster than ever before while also improving the day-to-day travel experience for all riders.
Improving public transit is also vital to supporting Ontario’s economic development and recovery. For every $1B we invest in transit, we support over 10,000 hours of full-time employment in a one-year period , boost Ontario’s real GDP by another $1B, provide hundreds of millions of dollars in time savings to each commuter, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing congestion and getting cars off the road.
During construction, the Ontario Line is expected to support over 4,700 jobs per year between 2020 and 2030, with continued employment after 2030 for the operations and maintenance of the line.
POVERTY REDUCTION STRATEGY
Ontario’s new poverty reduction strategy is focused on helping more people get back to work and participate in the province’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
Our new five-year strategy will help support Ontario’s economic recovery by connecting people experiencing poverty with training, health and other supports. This will set them on a pathway to jobs and financial resiliency, while helping people keep more of their hard-earned money.
In the short term, it is about connecting people to opportunities and making life more affordable, and in the long-term, the aim is to empower people so economic downturns are less likely to lead to poverty.
The strategy recognizes the different experiences of poverty and disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain populations, including youth, women, Black and racialized communities, and Indigenous people.
The strategy emphasizes the collective need for collaboration between the province, federal government, municipalities, Indigenous partners, non-profit organizations and the private sector to address poverty.
GIVE THE GIFT OF LOCAL HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN
As we enter the holiday season, our government is encouraging everyone to support our hardworking business owners by choosing local Ontario foods, beverages and products as a part of their festivities. Shopping local for Ontario made, grown and produced food, beverages and other items – online or by phone – helps support local businesses across the province, as well as our provincial economy.
I encourage you to help promote the gift of local food, beverages and products. You may follow Foodland Ontario on social media to get food and recipe inspiration for the dinner table, and look for the Foodland logo to know you’re buying Ontario. You can also visit the Ontario Made Holiday Gift Guide to support local businesses and find products made right here in our province.
INCREASING ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTIONS SERVICES
It has always been our mission to ensure that those who need the extra help, have access to the services and supports they need during these difficult times.
Our government is investing over $147 million to immediately expand access to critical mental health and addictions services for Ontarians of all ages during the COVID-19 outbreak, and to support capacity pressures experienced throughout Ontario’s mental health and addictions system.
This investment builds on our government’s $46.75 million in emergency funding for these services during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure Ontarians had access to both innovative and in-person services, and to make other innovative supports available.
By adding more staff, accommodations and housing, virtual supports and other provisions, to continue providing safe in-person services where appropriate, including supports for frontline workers, these investments will address the increasing demand for services during this critical moment in Ontario’s fight against COVID-19.
This funding through the health care sector will be provided in the following areas:
- Over $62.2 million in community-based mental health and addictions services and inter-professional primary care teams.
- $8 million in targeted, culturally safe services for Indigenous peoples.
- Over $10 million to help specific vulnerable populations, such as those in residential settings that may be at high risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, those at risk of homelessness, social isolation and individuals in the justice system.
- Over $15.4 million to expand virtual mental health and addictions supports, making it easier for Ontarians across the province to access these resources, including the internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy programs already being used by thousands of Ontarians, virtual addictions supports, and virtual supports for health care workers.
In addition, over $51.5 million will go towards mental health and addiction services delivered in different settings outside the core health care system. This will provide support for seniors, first responders, students and vulnerable populations.
If you are in need or know of someone in need of disposable masks, my office still has a small supply generously donated by Amax Health Canada. If you need a mask, you are welcome to come by my office and pick one up (while supplies last). Thank you Amax Health!
REMINDER - GREAT LAKES BREWERY HOLIDAY FOOD DRIVE
Great Lakes Brewery is hosting its annual food drive, the “Hops for Hunger” campaign in support of Daily Bread Food Bank.
Kicking off on December 1st, and running for the duration of the month, Great Lakes Brewery will be working hand-in-hand with Daily Bread in a variety of ways, to help raise funds for their hunger relief efforts, while gathering much needed food donations and building community spirit.
REMINDER - LAKESHORE WEST GO SERVICE
Beginning Friday November 27 at 7pm, there will be no GO Train service between Long Branch GO and Union Station as construction crews will be carrying out important track work on the Lakeshore GO corridor. Instead, GO buses will be running between Port Credit GO Station and the Union Station bus terminal.
That means if you normally take the GO Train from Long Branch GO, Mimico GO, or Exhibition GO – you will either need to get to Port Credit GO to catch a GO bus or use the TTC to complete your journey.
You can get more trip information on the GO Transit webpage.
Dropping off donations to the Firefighters’ toy drive with toys bought at Funny Bones.
Contributing to the toy drive at 22 Division.
Giving blood was easy and safe!
Please note that my office will be closed Thursday, December 24, 2020, reopening on Monday, January 4, 2021.
Christine Hogarth, MPP