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Dear Neighbour,

Toronto will be entering Stage Two of re-opening tomorrow at 12:01 am (Wednesday, June 24). Please find below a summary of what that means for us. I’d also like to draw your attention to important bills and votes coming up at Queen’s Park this week.

Stage Two re-opening for Toronto
People across the city have worked hard to get here and I extend my thanks to the public health officials, frontline workers, and everyone else who has helped us get to this point. While we have made great strides in reducing the spread of COVID-19, we are not completely out of the woods yet. We must remain alert and continue to follow public health guidance in order to see a continued decline of community spread. We can do it!

Stage Two includes many different services and institutions which can re-open.
Places that can open in Stage Two include personal care services, restaurants & bar patios, shopping malls, tour services, water and outdoor recreational facilities, beaches, parks, drive-in/drive-thru venues, weddings, funerals, libraries, community centres, heritage institutions, and small outdoor events. 

The Stage Two regulations do not compel private operators and providers to re-open. They are permitted discretion to re-open within the limits of the current regulations, as they feel is safe to do so. Call ahead before accessing private services as they may be operating differently than usual for health and safety reasons.

  • Details on access to provincially-operated services listed above can be found here.
  • Details on access to city-operated services listed above can be found here.
Queen’s Park updates
First, I want to thank all of you who took the time to write to the Premier and the Minister of Environment regarding the suspension of key provisions of the Environmental Bill of Rights. As I shared with you previously, the Ford government had it quietly revoked in April, allowing the government to make environmental decisions without informing the public. The suspension of vital provisions of Ontario's EBR was troubling, particularly in light of this government's ongoing attempts to claw back the environmental standards and procedures that keep our water, land and wildlife safe. It is a relief that these key provisions have been reinstated. Your voice made it happen! My colleagues and I will continue to watch closely to make sure the Ford government does not attempt further attacks on environmental protections. 

Please consider taking action for two bills that will soon have Third Reading and final votes:

1. Bill 161 - This legislation, which among other things, removes access to justice from Legal Aid Ontario’s mandate. This, along with the cuts to legal aid made last year, hurts low-income folks and communities pushed to the margins. Access to justice is a right. The Law Commission of Ontario said in a
letter to the Attorney General that “Bill 161 creates an improbable and unwelcome situation in which Ontarians potentially have fewer legal rights and less access to justice than other Canadians.

Bill 161 also includes protections for long-term care corporations that failed to protect residents during COVID-19. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons said that “should the Ontario government choose to move forward with these changes, it would send a clear signal to seniors, family members, and caregivers that the government is willing to sacrifice access to justice in favour of corporate interests.” My colleagues and I have called on the Ford government to immediately scrap plans for legislation. Instead of holding for-profit companies accountable and protecting their bottom lines, Ford should be committing to helping families by doing anything he can do to deliver justice, and change the system forever – including calling a full, independent, public judicial inquiry.

ACTION: You can write to Premier Ford at
premier@ontario.ca and to the Attorney General at attorneygeneral@ontario.ca asking them to halt Bill 161.

2. Bill 175 - With the Canadian Armed Forces’ report on the state of long-term care homes in Ontario and the calls for a public inquiry, Ontarians expect the Ford government to do better when it comes to taking care of seniors. However, the government is continuing ahead with this legislation, which further privatizes home and community care and removes existing provisions of public control and accountability. The bill has no provisions to improve access to care, address staffing shortages, equity, or home care assessments and instead introduces measures that expand privatization, not only of homecare but also potentially of hospitals and long-term care. You can read Ontario Health Coalition’s analysis on this bill
here. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that we need to build a strong public care system, not treat health care as a for-profit business. 

ACTION: Tomorrow, the
Ontario Health Coalition is holding province-wide demonstrations with 12 locations confirmed, including at Queen’s Park, at noon to send a message to the government to withdraw Bill 175. You can also write to the Minister of Long-Term Care at merrilee.fullerton@pc.ola.org.

Thank you for taking action.

As always, wash your hands, practise physical distancing, wear a mask when needed, be kind. 

Warmly,
Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
Swansea Walk Against Racism
Join me for a physically-distanced Walk Against Racism hosted by Windermere United Church. This will be a family-friendly event, so dress for the weather and bring the kids! The group will meet at Neil McLennan Park at 11:30 am and start walking at 12:00 pm. If you are presenting any symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home and show your support online. Please bring your own masks.
Inspection of Farms with Migrant Workers

The provincial and federal governments have announced they will begin joint site-inspections of farms which employ migrant workers. It is unfortunate that it took the death of a third worker from Mexico and intervention from the Mexican government to make the provincial and federal governments agree to take this basic step. Yesterday, 31 of 32 new COVID-19 positive cases in Windsor-Essex were on a farm, the only public health unit to remain in Stage One after today.

Education Updates

New Math Curriculum for Elementary
Today, the government
announced a new math curriculum for Grades 1-8. It has also decided there will be no EQAO testing in the 2020-21 school year to allow for students to adjust to the new curriculum and recover from the fallout of the pandemic closures. The government shared that part of this change will include mandatory professional development for Grades 1-8 teachers before September 2020. I think this is a highly irresponsible change to make in the middle of a pandemic when our teachers have already been going above and beyond to meet the needs of their students. This change should only be considered when there is enough time to properly consult educators, students, parents and when it will not create an additional burden on teachers.

Action against Anti-Black Racism in Peel District School Board
Stephen Rodrigues has been
appointed Supervisor of the Peel District School Board after a report concluded it was ‘dysfunctional’ as a result of anti-Black racism and inaction from the Trustees. PDSB Director of Education, Peter Joshua, has been removed from his position.

Support Needed for First Nations

First Nations across Ontario are facing an ever-increasing COVID-19 crisis while the rest of the province sees a decline in the spread. They need additional support and action from the government to contain the virus. Ongoing neglect of water, housing, and public health in First Nations by the provincial government created crises long before COVID-19, and the pandemic situation has only made things worse. These communities need support now, there is no time to waste. My colleague Sol Mamakwa, MPP for Kiiwetinoong, has called on the Ford government to provide local FN Health Authorities with the resources they need to do their urgent work.

Reminder: For the most up-to-date information please visit Toronto Public Health, Ontario Ministry of Health, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. Contact information is available on my website here.
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Community Office
While our office is closed 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
Email: BKarpoche-CO@ndp.on.ca 
BhutilaKarpoche.ca
Copyright © 2020 MPP for Parkdale—High Park, All rights reserved.


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