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Dear Neighbour, 

I returned to Queen’s Park on Monday for a new session of the House. I’m ready and more determined than ever to fight for Parkdale—High Park and for a just recovery for ALL. I will be sure to keep you updated on the upcoming legislative agenda.  

Today, I want to draw your attention to the high rate of increase of COVID-19 cases in Ontario, and I urge everyone to stay vigilant. Physical distancing, hand hygiene, mask-wearing, and limiting indoor social interactions are our best defense against a serious resurgence of COVID-19. 

In the past week, we’ve seen some of the highest single-day jumps since June, with 401 new cases reported today. You can see in the graph below that Ontario’s numbers are unfortunately trending upwards. 

(Source: John Michael McGrath/TVO)

It is our collective responsibility to follow the advice of public health officials and keep each other safe. The provincial government has announced new limits on private social gatherings. Please find details below. As well you will find more information on back to school, testing wait times and other top issues of the week.

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

Warmly,

Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park

Back to School and Vote on Smaller Class Sizes

After calls from my caucus colleagues and I, the provincial government is now providing publicly disclosed information on COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres

As of this morning, there are 72 cases of COVID-19 in 60 different schools across Ontario, with 11 of those cases having been identified in the past day. On top of this, 16 licensed child care centres have reported a total of 76 cases.

These are troubling figures, especially as the majority of students in Ontario’s largest board, the TDSB, haven’t yet returned to the classroom. While the Ford government did not adequately prepare for a #SafeSeptember, it is never too late to do the right thing to keep our kids safe.

As well, a recent study from researchers from the Hospital for Sick Children shows that maintaining physical distancing of 2m is not possible with more than 12-15 students in a classroom.

That is why my caucus colleagues and I forced a vote on a motion to cap all class sizes at 15 students before more schools have to close due to an outbreak. The Conservatives unanimously voted no and the motion was defeated. However this fight is far from over and we will continue to push for safer classrooms and schools so that our kids are able to remain in school. 

Testing Wait Times

With the return to school and more folks going back to in-person work, there is increased demand in testing.  A robust testing regime is needed to ensure that we can limit further community spread. We warned the Ford government that their testing plans were inadequate. Extremely long wait times have been reported across the province (8 hours in Ottawa!) and locally the wait times at St. Joe’s was up to 4 hours this week. With the second wave upon us, we need to increase testing capacity with mobile and pop up testing sites before it’s too late.

I raised this issue at Queen’s Park this week. You can watch here.

Lower Limits for Social Gatherings

In response to the recent increases in case numbers, the government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Area in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 to lower the size of permitted private or unmonitored social gatherings in select Public Health Units. 

Private or unmonitored social gatherings in Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa are now limited to the following:

  • 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
  • 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100).

The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres or banquet halls, gyms, and recreational sporting or performing art events. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures, for these businesses and facilities continue to be in effect.

These changes came into effect on September 18 at 12:01am and were announced alongside proposed amendments to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 that would bring harsher penalties into force for the attendees and organizers of illegal private or unmonitored social gatherings. If passed, it will create: 

  • A new offence regarding hosting or organizing a gathering in residential premises or other prescribed premises that exceeds limits under an order 

  • A minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers of these gatherings 

  • Authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe additional types of premises for the purpose of the new offence.

  • Authority for a police officer, special constable or First Nations constable to order the temporary closure of a premise where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any gathering exceeding the number of people allowed is taking place and require individuals to leave the premises. 

All orders under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 have been extended to stay in force until October 22, 2020.

Provincial Microtransit Proposal

The Ford government has told cities that as a condition of receiving the second round of COVID-19 recovery funding for their transit systems they should be looking at introducing “microtransit” options to replace their “lower performing” routes. This is yet another example of Ford's government infatuation with privatization and cuts to our public services. Instead of further investing in the high-capacity transit system that Toronto needs in order to keep up with our population growth, the Ford government is suggesting that taxpayers subsidize companies like Uber to provide transit in lower-ridership areas. 

Based on analysis by transit expert Sean Munro and TTCriders, this could mean the elimination of up to 61 TTC bus routes, including the 26 Dupont, 30 High Park, and 80 Queensway which all run in our community.  You can take action by visiting the TTCriders website.

Rosh Hashanah
L’shanah tovah! I’d like to wish our Jewish community here in Parkdale—High Park celebrating Rosh Hashanah peace, prosperity, and good health at this time of renewal. Have a very happy new year!
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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