Dear Neighbour,

I hope you are keeping well and will have some time to unwind this weekend. It's important to take time for yourself during these trying times.
Quick Updates
  • Once again I want to stress the need for everyone to practice physical distancing at all times. It will help slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Today a province-wide Emergency Alert was issued for all travellers returning to Ontario. To learn more, please visit this website:
Lately, my office has been receiving a high volume of emails and phone calls on workers’ issues. 

Below are the top three questions asked. As well, given a number of you have raised various issues concerning your workplace, please find below resources you can access.

1. When will the province provide Personal Protective Equipment?
This is the top question from health care providers. I’ve heard from family physicians in our community, PSWs in Long Term Care facilities, nurses and others who work at our local St. Joe’s Hospital and more that the supply of PPE is running critically low. 
The Ontario government announced that
$75 million will be invested to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to frontline staff. To date, the government has acquired 12 million sets of surgical gloves, 1 million N95 respirators and nearly 6 million more surgical masks. We will be keeping on top of this issue to ensure that we do not run out of medical supplies and PPE and that it will be distributed to the frontlines as soon as possible.
2. Why is my work considered ‘essential’?
I have received a lot of questions from many of you who do not think that your workplace should be considered ‘essential’ and for some, your workplaces fall into a grey zone. There has been particular concern about construction sites. 
 list of ‘essential workplaces’ released by the Ontario government after the announcement of the mandatory closures of all non-essential services for 14 days, was very long. Many of you have questions about how extensive the list of essential businesses is. Your questions are legitimate, the government needs to explain some of the items on that list. In response to questions from the media, Premier Ford has said that the government is reviewing this list and that the government received 53,000 calls to seek clarification. We hope that the Premier will be able to provide more clarity on this soon.
3. What are my rights as a worker during COVID-19?
There is a lot of concern about your rights as a worker during this pandemic. You deserve clarity and consistency on this.
The Employment Standards Act, 2000 was recently amended to include an unpaid, job-protected infectious disease emergency leave.  This leave is available to employees who are not performing the duties of their position for certain reasons related to COVID-19, including personal illness, quarantine or isolation in specified circumstances, concern by the employer that the employee may expose other individuals in the workplace to COVID-19, to provide care or support to certain family members for a reason related to COVID-19, including school or daycare closures, or due to certain travel-related restrictions.  The leave is retroactive to January 25, 2020.  Employers cannot require employees to provide medical notes to prove they are eligible for the leave. You can find the legislation 
Please note that not all workers are covered under the Employment Standards Act. As well, the list of essential services and the threat of regulatory change makes it hard to definitively who can stay home. We have asked the government for greater clarity on this.  

Wash your hands. Stay home (unless you must work). Be kind. We are all in this together.

Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
Stop the Spread Business Information Line
For questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their employment can call this line.
Phone: 1-888-444-3659
Employment Standards Information Centre 
To find out if you are entitled to the protected unpaid leave in relation to COVID-19, you can call the Employment Standards Information Centre.
Phone: 416 326-7160 or 1 800 531-5551
Ministry of Labour General Inquiries
If you have health and safety questions about your workplace, talk to your union representative or call the Ministry's toll-free health and safety information line.
Phone: 1-877-202-0008

Workers Action Centre
WAC is a worker-based organization that is committed to improving the lives and working conditions of people in low-wage and unstable employment. Their knowledgeable team will provide you with information on your rights as a worker in Ontario.
Phone: (416) 531-0778 or 1-855-531-0778 (Monday to Thursday 12:00 pm – 5:00pm)

Parkdale Community Legal Services
PCLS is a community legal clinic that provides legal and other services, free of charge, to low-income individuals in our community. The Employment Standards Division provides free and confidential support on employment issues.
Phone: 416-531-2411

Pro-Bono Ontario
Pro-Bono Ontario provides free legal assistance to low-income Ontarians. Their Free Legal Advice Hotline, and have started developing specialized resources to help answer legal questions related to COVID-19 shut-downs. 
Phone: 1-855-255-7256 (Monday to Friday 9:30am – 11:30am and 1:00pm– 3:30pm)
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.
Community Office

While our office will be closing to the public as part of our efforts to manage the COVID-19 virus, we will continue to provide services for constituents via phone and email. Thank you for your patience and flexibility during this time. 

Phone: 416-763-5630

Copyright © 2019 MPP Bhutila Karpoche, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
2849 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6P 1Y6

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