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Dear Neighbour,

The big news today is concerning education and long-term care.

The government announced that all schools will not re-open for the remainder of the school year. At-home learning will continue into the summer. All high-school students who were on track to graduate before the school closed in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards.

Schools should remain closed until it’s absolutely safe for kids to return and so I support this move to protect the health of our students. However, I also recognize that the prolonged closure will only further extend the challenges which many students and families are facing. As well, with parents now being called back to work while schools and child care centres remain closed, there is a major gap that will leave households all over the province with no options for child care. The government needs to step up with a plan and tangible support for parents.

Also
announced, the government will set up a commission on long-term care. As I’ve shared, we have tabled a motion in the Legislature calling for a public inquiry. A public inquiry is an official and independent process set out by law in The Public Inquiries Act. A commission is a government-controlled internal review. Only a public inquiry can give the process the transparency needed for long-term care residents and their families, seniors entering care, and loved ones of COVID-19 victims to get the voice they deserve, the respect they deserve, and the major overhaul to long-term care that all long-term care residents need and deserve. This afternoon PC MPPs voted unanimously against our motion to launch a find-and-fix public inquiry.

You will find more updates on education and long-term care below.

Finally, many of you have written to me asking about masks. Ontario's CMOH, Dr. Williams has said that the use of facial coverings will be strongly recommended but not mandatory, although municipalities will have the option of making these mandatory for public transit or other public settings. I’ve compiled an FAQ on it from official government websites below.

As always, wash your hands, stay home if you can, wear a mask when needed, be kind. We are all in this together. 

Warmly, 

Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
Face Masks/Coverings FAQs

Several public health agencies, including Toronto Public Health, the Ministry of Health, and the Public Health Agency of Ontario have published guidelines and best practices on face masks and coverings. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from constituents:

When should I wear a non-medical mask?
Consider wearing a non-medical face mask or face covering when physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as in the grocery store or when on the TTC. Wearing a non-medical mask is not a replacement for physical distancing and hand washing. It has not been proven to protect the person wearing it, however, it can be a measure to protect others around you, even if you have no symptoms (
Public Health Agency of Canada).

What are the limitations of non-medical masks?
Homemade masks are not medical devices and have not been regulated in the same way. They have not been tested to recognized standards, the fabrics are not the same as are used in medical devices, and the edges are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth. These types of masks may not be effective in blocking virus particles that may be transmitted by coughing, sneezing or certain medical procedures. They do not provide complete protection from virus particles because of a potential loose fit and the materials used (
Public Health Agency of Canada).

Should I wear medical-grade PPE instead?
Medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks), must be kept for health care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients (
Province of Ontario).

How do I get a non-medical mask?

  • Reusable non-medical face masks can be found at some local stores.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada has published instructions on a variety of methods to make non-medical masks at home, with materials you might already have, you can learn more here
Read more guidance on face masks and coverings:
More Education Updates
  • Childcare centres and daycares remain closed for the time being. They will be included in the Stage Two reopening, subject to key public health indicators.
  • There is a protocol in development to facilitate the retrieval of personal belongings from lockers, subject to approval by public health authorities. More details will be communicated on a school-by-school basis in the weeks to come.
  • The Ministry of Education is working on a Summer Learning Program which will focus on credit recovery, credit attainment, and bridging support for special education students. This will include both in-person and online opportunities, depending on key public health indicators. It will include programs such as:
    • New upgrading courses, which will allow Grade 9-12 students to upgrade a full credit course they passed during the school year in 55 hours, rather than the normal 110 hours.
    • Supports for special education students and those with mental health needs, including access to EAs, a two-week program in skills and routine development, and a summer extension of after-school programming for autistic students.
    • Virtual opportunities for high-school students to volunteer during the summer, which can be counted toward the community service graduation requirement.
  • All overnight summer camps will be cancelled this year.
  • Summer day camps may be able to open in July & August, subject to key public health indicators.
  • A plan for reopening schools in September will be announced by the end of June.
More Long-Term Care Updates
  • The Ontario Health Coalition has called for the inquiry to be independent, impartial and public. 
  • The Ontario Long-Term Care Association which represents a majority of our province’s long-term care homes has called on the Government of Ontario to provide immediate solutions for the problems faced by homes across the province.
  • SEIU, which represents over 60,000 front line health care workers, has called for a public inquiry.
Other Provincial Updates
  • Despite calls from groups like Toronto Association for Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), Ontario Chamber of Commerce and CFIB Ontario, the government has said they will not be preventing commercial evictions or freezing commercial rent at this time.
  • Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has published the latest job numbers for the province. Ontario lost 689,200 jobs in April, bringing the province’s employment down to its lowest level since late 2009. As a result, Ontario’s unemployment rate climbed to 11.3 per cent in April, its highest level since June 1993.
  • The government is collaborating with Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX), our country’s first industry-led hub for medical technology start-ups, to provide free support to non-medical manufacturing companies as they retool to produce essential supplies and equipment to health care facilities during COVID-19.
Amended Emergency Orders
  • The government is permitting the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenitiesincluding outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks and recreational areas, effective as of today.
  • The government is now allowing individuals to attend drive-in religious ceremonies, granted they follow the safeguards as outlined in the emergency order.
Support Local Business

BIAs in Parkdale—High Park are working hard to put together a list of local shops who are open for business and need your support to weather the storm. Many businesses have seen a drop in sales in the past months. If you are purchasing products or services in the coming days, consider shopping local. You can find directories of local businesses who are open here:

Personal Support Worker Day

I would like to recognize the hard and essential work being performed by Personal Support Workers (PSWs) across Ontario today and every day. Let’s celebrate these health care heroes and recognize their work with appropriate PPE and better wages. I would encourage you to read this letter from The Alliance for Healthier Communities and the Ontario Community Support Association to the Health Minister expressing concerns about inadequate protection for PSWs across Ontario.

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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