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Dear Neighbour,

I’m writing to you today from my desk at Queen’s Park to provide some updates on the current sitting of the House. It has been a busy time at the Legislature, with multiple pieces of legislation having wrapped up and lots more in front of us for consideration. Before the COVID-19 crisis, the Ford government introduced several bills that were problematic. Given the crisis, it is especially troublesome that they are moving ahead with these bills largely unchanged and not reflecting the needs and priorities of the people of Ontario.

The legislature has worked on extraordinary timelines over the past few months under a State of Emergency and through Emergency Orders due to the pandemic. However, we must remember that this is not the ordinary way in which the government works. Our democracy remains strong because of public participation, discourse, and meaningful debate on issues that affect all Ontarians. It is worrying to see the Ford government treating much of their pre-pandemic legislation with an unfounded urgency, giving very few opportunities for public comment, ignoring key stakeholder advice, and speeding them through the legislature.

Rather than helping Ontarians recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19, it has used the emergency situation to ram through legislation with little public scrutiny. I think that the government should be taking this time to review the lessons learned and inequities exposed during the course of the pandemic to inform new policy which not only supports us all through the rest of this far-from-over public health crisis, but also aids a just recovery for all.

Below, you can find a summary of some recently passed bills, upcoming legislation and some of my activities in the House. I encourage you to take the time to take action on the issues below. The strength of our community’s voice as one, advocating for the best interests of us all, is extremely powerful.

You can find other provincial updates below.

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

Warmly,

Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
Legislative Update

Recent government legislation
(the Official Opposition voted against these bills)

  • Bill 156: This was also referred to as the ‘Ag-gag’ bill. While the bill purported to create a more biosecure food system, it included many other provisions that had nothing to do with biosecurity, including threatening workers' rights. Several legal experts testified that the bill, as written, would threaten the constitutional rights of workers, Indigenous people, journalists and the general public.
  • Bill 161: Affecting the Ontario justice system, this legislation will, among other things, remove access to justice from the mandate of Legal Aid Ontario and makes it harder to access class-action lawsuits for those who have lost loved ones due to negligence by private long term care operators during COVID-19. 
  • Bill 171: Affecting the building of transit, this legislation will cut public participation out of the planning process for major transportation projects and allow work to go forwards before a full environmental assessment is completed.
  • Bill 175: Affecting home and community care, this legislation further privatizes services and removes existing provisions of public control and accountability. Despite the tragedy which has unfolded in long-term care, the government went ahead with handing off more control in home and community care to large for-profit companies. I joined a rally in support of the Ontario Health Coalition’s fight against this bill back on June 24.

Upcoming government legislation

  • Bill 184: Also known as the “Eviction Bill”, this legislation will soon be in third reading. It makes it easier for landlords to evict tenants, makes illegal rents legal and several other changes that hurt tenants. You can learn more about how to take action here and read an open letter signed by various groups here.
  • Bill 195: This legislation will continue the government’s emergency powers until at least next year, giving the government wide-ranging powers without the built-in accountability mechanisms found in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  There have been serious concerns that the government is making a grab for permanent emergency powers by groups like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  • Bill 197: This omnibus legislation was introduced by the Ford government on Wednesday under the guise of recovery from COVID-19, but on initial reading doesn’t include help for families, devastated long-term care homes, small businesses, schools, day cares, First Nations, or municipalities. It seems that the government is using COVID-19 recovery as cover to move forward with changes that have nothing to do with recovering from the pandemic. I will keep you updated on this Bill as we learn more and do a deeper analysis of this bill.

My recent work at the Legislature

  • Last week, I introduced the Climate Crisis Health Action Plan Act alongside my colleague Peter Tabuns, MPP Toronto—Danforth. This Bill would prepare our public health system for the health risks caused by the climate crisis, establish a Climate Crisis and Health Secretariat, and establish a science advisory board to advise the Minister on climate change science. 
  • Actions speak louder than words, and the government continues to make life harder for people across Ontario. I had a chance to give a statement in the House last week on the disparities between the government’s words and the legislation they introduce, you can watch it here.
  • Many of you have contacted me with concerns about testing times at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. Timely COVID-19 test results are essential to help public health with contact tracing and prevent further spread. I raised this issue in a question to the Premier last week.
Toronto Stays in Stage 2
The government announced that portions of Ontario will be moving to Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan effective this Friday, July 17. Most of the Greater Golden Horseshoe region will remain in Stage 2 for the time being, including Toronto, Peel, Hamilton, Niagara and others. Stage 3 reopening includes the indoor gathering limit rising to 50 people, the outdoor gathering limit rising to 100 people, and the reopening of several different indoor spaces with physical distancing in effect. I will provide an in-depth look at the measures in a future message when Toronto is going to move into Stage 3.
Declaration of Emergency
The government has announced they will seek a final one-week extension to the Declaration of Emergency, which if approved, will see it now terminate on July 24, 2020. Emergency Orders made by the government have been extended to July 22, 2020.
August 1 Evictions
As a result of the government’s Eviction Bill, and the government’s changes to emergency powers and the Declaration of Emergency, we could see the start of evictions as early as August 1 for tenants. An amended court order from the Superior Court of Justice states that evictions “are suspended until the end of the calendar month in which the state of emergency declared pursuant to section 7.0.1(1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.9, is terminated.” With the Declaration of Emergency set to end on July 24, this could open the door to August 1 evictions unless the government moves to further extend the eviction moratorium.
Reopening Schools in September
This is an issue that is extremely important to many of us and I will do a separate more in depth newsletter focused on this issue soon, as opposed to a short paragraph here. Stay tuned.
Other Provincial Updates
  • The last municipalities in Stage 1, Kingsville and Leamington in Windsor-Essex, have moved to Stage 2 of re-opening.
  • The Ontario government is piloting a program with DriverCheck, a company which provides drug and alcohol testing to the trucking industry, to create easier access to COVID-19 testing for truck drivers. 

  • Health Minister Christine Elliott has committed to taking action to stop the disproportionate amount of cases affecting Toronto’s northwest corner. They will be deploying mobile testing units to the area.

  • The government announced that high school courses will begin to be de-streamed in 2021, removing a practice which has long been criticized as discriminatory.

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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