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Dear Neighbour,

The Ontario Legislature resumed briefly today to pass two emergency COVID-19 bills which I mentioned in my update yesterday. Below, you will find summaries of the bills and links for more details about them. Also, all public hearings on all outstanding bills before the legislature were suspended so that we can have proper hearings at a later date. 

Over the past few days, my office has received a large volume of emails and phone calls from constituents with questions and concerns. I’ve compiled a list of information on the top five key issues that we’ve received:

1. Evictions
Despite a spokesperson for the Attorney General confirming on Monday that evictions would be suspended during the pandemic, some tenants in our community have been receiving eviction notices. After following up on this issue and the following the announcement from the Premier this morning, the AG’s office applied for a court order to suspend the enforcement of evictions until further notice. Sheriff’s offices have been asked to postpone any scheduled enforcement of eviction orders currently set for this week. If an eviction case is proceeding against you contrary to today’s announcement, please let us know immediately.

2. Telehealth
You may have experienced very long wait times (one constituent was on hold for five hours!) on your call with TeleHealth to receive medical advice. The Ontario government is working to keep up with the increase in calls from people across the province. Today they announced 1,300 new lines have been added to TeleHealth.

3. Rent relief
The federal government in their relief package for people during this crisis included a deferral of mortgage payments for homeowners but nothing for tenants. With EI cheques at 55% of regular income expected to be received mid-April and other supports (GST credit + Child Benefit) not expected until May, people are rightly worried about paying rent (due in two weeks) when they have lost their income. My caucus colleagues and I have offered Premier Ford and the government, to draft legislation and ensure same-day passage to have new emergency laws in place so that no one is punished for missing rent. As well, we have offered to build a plan to widely and effectively communicate the new law to landlords and tenants. Please see Andrea Horwath's public statement below.

4. Transit
Many of you want to see Toronto follow other municipalities in Ontario like Ottawa, Hamilton and Guelph in not collecting transit fares in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19. As this is a municipal decision, I would urge you to contact Mayor Tory about this. I support the public call for a suspension of fares during this time.

5. Social Assistance
Effective immediately and until further notice, Ontario has implemented the following:

  • there is no need for clients to worry about submitting their income reports at this time (unless they submit electronically)
  • Special Diet Allowances, already in pay, will continue, even if set to expire - clients should not worry about getting their signed forms in for now (unless they submit electronically)
  • The province will not require forms and verification for Mandatory Special Necessities as we will issue these benefits and obtain what is needed later on (unless they submit electronically)

Wash your hands. Stay home, if you can. Be kind. We are all in this together.

Warmly,

Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
Emergency COVID-19 Legislation

Bill 186, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 
The Bill amends the Employment Standards Act, 2000 to address when emergency leave is available to employees in case of infectious disease emergencies.

The amendments entitle an employee to a leave of absence without pay, starting on the prescribed date, if the employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position because of various reasons related to a designated infectious disease, including that the employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment; that the employee is in quarantine or isolation; that the employee is providing care or support to another individual; or that the employee is affected by travel restrictions. Restrictions on the entitlement are specified, and related amendments are made addressing the evidence of entitlement required when the entitlement ends and the regulation-making powers. More on the bill here.

Bill 187, Municipal Emergency Act, 2020
The Municipal Act, 2001 and the City of Toronto Act, 2006 are amended to provide that, during emergencies, should they choose to, members of councils, local boards and committees who participate electronically in open and closed meetings may be counted for purposes of quorum. More on the bill here.

Horwath calls for strong, legislated eviction protections during COVID-19 pandemic
QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement regarding news that some landlords are attempting to evict tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“We are very troubled to be hearing that landlords continue to attempt to evict tenants, despite the moratorium on eviction orders being issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m calling on Doug Ford to table a bill when the Legislative Assembly returns next week to guarantee in law that no one can be evicted for any reason during the pandemic, nor punished in any way for missing a rent payment.

As much as possible, Ontarians should not be leaving their homes as we all practice social distancing, and they certainly should not be tossed onto the streets and left to scramble for a new home right now.

I’m offering the support of the Official Opposition to draft this legislation and ensure same-day passage, as well as to build a plan to widely and effectively communicate the new law to landlords and tenants.

The federal government’s support package is a welcome relief for many – but it’s too slow to flow, and will leave folks with half as much income for the month. For many in Ontario’s challenging housing market, that just won’t cut it when it comes to paying the rent and keeping the lights on.”
Reminder: For the most up-to-date information and contact information for Toronto Public Health, Ontario Ministry of Health, and the Public Health Agency of Canada please visit my website here.
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Community Office

2849 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6P 1Y6
Tel: 416-763-5630
Fax: 416-763-5640
Email: bkarpoche-co@ndp.on.ca

Queen's Park Office

Room 204, North Wing, Main Legislative Building, Queen's Park, Toronto. ON M7A 1A8
Tel: 416-325-3017
Email: bkarpoche-qp@ndp.on.ca

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