Dear Neighbour,

For all those marking Passover beginning tonight, Easter this weekend, and later in April, Ramadan, I know it will feel especially difficult to stay at home and keep your distance. Thank you for all you are doing to help us all move safely through this crisis to a time when we can celebrate together again.

Today the big focus provincially has been on testing for COVID-19. As I shared yesterday, there were reports emerging that the number of tests were on the decline and Ontario had the lowest testing rate per capita in the country.

We now finally have a clearer picture of this:
  • Ontario is conducting fewer than 3,000 tests a day
  • We have a daily capacity of 13,000 (so we are operating at ~20% capacity).
  • This is well short of the 19,000 daily tests goal that the province is supposed to be completing by mid-April.
Frontline workers and experts had been warning for quite some time now that this is a problem. There were concerns that despite Premier Ford and the Minister of Health repeatedly saying they’re ramping up, expanding and surging testing, it didn’t happen. This has led to questions about whether we have captured the full spread of the virus.

Premier Ford
said today that the province will ramp up testing to capacity going forward. My colleagues and I will be monitoring to ensure that this time, it does happen. We have called for the rapid expansion of testing including regular testing for health care workers and senior care residents as we now have 58 outbreaks in LTC facilities. Please see the full statement below. 

Seniors have been particularly impacted by the virus. There is more we can do to ensure seniors are protected through COVID-19 and so we have released our proposal to Premier Ford. This proposal will complement the long term care plan I shared yesterday. You will find the details below.

Finally, this didn’t get much media coverage but a new emergency measure was announced to allow virtual witnessing of wills and powers of attorney.

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

Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
Statement on Expanded Testing

Ontario’s NDP is calling for the Ontario government to immediately use its COVID-19 testing capacity, including regular tests for frontline health care workers and seniors living in long-term care. Ontario has the lowest testing rate per capita in the country, and public health experts have expressed concern about the lag in testing.

CBC reported that Ontario’s testing has dropped steadily over the last week even though capacity has increased, a worrying trend while the virus still spread.

“More information will show us if we need to tighten public health measures to stop the spread of COVID, particularly among healthcare workers and long-term care residents,” said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. “We need to expand testing so we have a clear picture of how widespread COVID-19 is in the province.

“And Ontario needs to do literally everything possible to protect our health care heroes, first responders and vulnerable seniors.”

Health care workers alone make up at least one in 10 cases of COVID-19, demonstrating the urgency to increase testing, even of non-symptomatic health care staff.

Plan to Protect Seniors

The NDP’s recommendations to protect and support seniors during COVID-19 include:

  • Suspend medication dispensing fees and co-pays for Ontarians 65 and older
  • Ban fee hikes or new fees in long-term care, retirement homes and other settings supporting senior care
  • Crackdown on scams looking to defraud seniors
  • Provide $5 million in matching funding to support screening, testing and resources for all senior care settings
  • Provide $20 million to community organizations addressing senior isolation
  • Developing a clear province-wide plan for family visitation at long-term care homes, retirement homes and hospitals that includes best practices in preventing COVID-19 transmission
  • Actively screen and regularly test all seniors in long-term care, retirement homes, supportive housing and assisted living
  • Create a $5 million fund for more staff, supplies, equipment and infection control for seniors living in supportive and assisted living facilities in 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.
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 © 2020 MPP for Parkdale—High Park, All rights reserved.

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