E-newsletter- July 31, 2020
Today is a big day in Etobicoke and across Toronto as nearly all business and public spaces, including indoor restaurants, gyms and playgrounds will be able to reopen as part of Ontario's reopening framework. Learn more: Stage 3
I would like to share the announcement made by Premier Ford and Minister Lecce yesterday for the safe reopening of school for students, staff and school communities this September.
Our plan for re-opening schools in September is based on detailed advice from leading medical and public health experts. All publicly-funded elementary schools will be reopening province-wide, five days a week. Secondary schools with smaller populations will reopen with a normal daily schedule, five days a week, while most secondary schools will start the school year in an adapted model of part-time attendance with class cohorts of up to 15 students alternating between attending in-person and online.
The opening of schools will be supported by an over $300 million investment in PPE, additional staff, cleaning supplies as well as mandating masks for staff and children in grades 4 and above (with medical exceptions).
Our plan for reopening safely is deliverable, and one that ensures that students can maximize their time in the classroom, being taught face to face by a teacher. For more details please visit: Guide to Reopening Schools, News Release, and Letters to parents.
STAGE 3 – WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
As part of Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage, details include:
- Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people.
- Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.
- Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.
Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of which stage.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts and other officials have advised the following, high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, even if a region has entered Stage 3:
- Amusement parks and water parks
- Buffet-style food services
- Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements
- Overnight stays at camps for children
- Private karaoke rooms
- Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
- Saunas, steam rooms, bathhouses and oxygen bars
- Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3 and the public health guidance necessary to keep the people of Ontario safe, visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario
Our government is committed to protecting the health and safety of all those living in long-term care. That’s why early in the pandemic we created an iron ring around the most vulnerable. It is clear, more needs to be done and we will continue to make these improvements.
The system is broken due to decades of neglect. We are committed to learning what went wrong and ensuring those mistakes aren’t repeated. We will get to the bottom of what has gone wrong concerning COVID-19 in long-term care. That’s why we have launched an independent commission.
The people of Ontario deserve a timely, transparent and non-partisan investigation. Commissioners will investigate how COVID-19 spread within long-term care homes. They will learn how residents, staff, families were impacted and the adequacy of measures taken by the province and other parties to prevent, isolate and contain the spread.
Above all, the commission will provide the government with guidance on how to better protect long-term care home residents and staff from any future outbreaks. For more information, visit: Independent Commission
Yesterday, Minister Lecce, announced our government’s plan to align school reopening with gradual child care expansion, by allowing licensed child care centres across Ontario to open at full capacity, starting September 1.
In addition to licensed child care centres, EarlyON Child and Family Centres will be permitted to reopen with in-person programming. Before- and after-school programs for school-aged children will be permitted to operate with standard ratios and maximum group size requirements.
We will continue to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table to ensure the health and safety of the children and staff.
To note, the reopening of child care and early years programs of full group capacity will include enhanced health and safety procedures, such as:
- Requiring all child care staff to wear masks (New requirement);
- Providing additional cleaning of child care centres;
- Screening of children and staff;
- Maintaining attendance records for rigorous contact tracing;
- Ensuring frequent hand washing; and
- Establishing safety protocols in the event a staff member or child becomes ill, or tests positive for COVID-19.
For more information, please visit: Child care.
Premier Ford announced that the Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is providing up to $4 billion in urgently needed one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities. This funding will help local governments maintain the critical services people rely on every day, including public transit, while dealing with potential municipal budget shortfalls.
To review the announcement for more details, click here.
MODERNIZING THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
The Ontario government released its plan to modernize the child welfare system. The strategy focuses on strengthening families and communities through prevention, early intervention and seeking more permanent homes for children and youth in care when they cannot stay in their own homes or communities.
Children and youth in care have experienced significantly worse outcomes in comparison to those in a family setting. This may sometimes include lower graduation rates, higher risk of homelessness and deviation from our justice system. That is why we are transforming the child welfare system, to ensure more families stay together and children and youth in care have the supports they need to be safe, succeed and thrive as they transition from care to adulthood.
The strategy to redesign the child welfare system has five pillars that focus on:
- Strengthening family well-being through community-based prevention services that keep children safe in family-based settings;
- Improving the quality of residential care provided to children and youth;
- Promoting the development of stable and lifelong connections and supports for youth, with a focus on education and employment opportunities;
- Improving the adoption experience and focusing on family-based options over group care where appropriate; and
- Creating a more efficient and effective child welfare system that is financially sustainable.
The new child welfare strategy was developed with input from youth, families, caregivers, First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners, lawyers, community organizations, frontline workers and child welfare sector leaders. They participated in over 100 engagement sessions over the past year and provided over 3,000 responses to an online survey.
You may also observe the Overview of Ontario’s plan to Redesign the Child Welfare System. For the full details, please view the Ontario’s Quality Standards Framework and the Children and Young Persons’ Rights Resource that will help give children and youth a stronger voice in decisions about their care as well as support residential services providers in delivering high-quality care.
CITY OF TORONTO
City Council approved a few new bylaws as we move to Stage 3.
- A bylaw will require restaurants and bars to have people remain seated at all times other than going to the washroom, exiting and entering and paying has been passed. Restaurants will also be required to collect contact information from at least one person from each party and keep it for 30 days.
- Staff screening for COVID-19 symptoms will be mandatory at the start of every shift.
- Condo and apartment buildings are required to adopt a mask or face covering policy for enclosed common spaces, including lobbies, elevators and laundry rooms.
- Children and those who cannot wear a mask for a medical reason remain exempt from the rule, which goes into effect next Wednesday, Aug. 5.
- The city will be reopening 800 playgrounds on Friday. The city notes that outdoor playground equipment will not be sanitized and updated signage with public health guidance will be posted.
- Toronto is also opening 10 additional child care centres by Aug. 4 to support parents as more people return to work.
The City of Toronto closes many streets for their ActiveTO project, plan your drive and avoid closures. Please visit: ActiveTO. For information on the City of Toronto COVID-19 response, please visit: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/
My constituency office will be re-opening to the public by appointment only starting on August 4, we are currently available by telephone 416-259-2249 and by email email@example.com.
Christine Hogarth, MPP
Please visit my COVID-19 link: https://www.covidsupports.ca/mpphogarth/ for the latest COVID-19 news and support.