I have been thinking about how we move forward from COVID-19 and work together to build a fairer and more just Ontario. While this pandemic is far from over, I think it is important to review what we have learned thus far and start to imagine what recovery could look like. In a recent poll, 73% of Canadians agreed that we need “broad transformation” of our society to recover from COVID-19 together. We must take this opportunity to introduce bold change that lifts everyone up. For me, this means true reconciliation, a Green New Deal, affordable housing and robust public health services we can rely on.
Thinking about other lessons which should have been learned from our past experiences, it led me to think about the rise of anti-Asian racism as a result of COVID-19. It has been concerning to see the rise of hate in a time when we should be coming together to counter this virus. Early in the outbreak of COVID-19, the Ontario Human Rights Commission and several Asian-Canadian community groups warned of the rise of hate speech and racism towards Asian-Canadians. They called on governments to take decisive action to educate the public and respect human rights. The burden to fight this should not be put on Asian-Canadians alone. We must work together to tackle racism in all its forms.
Looking at the devastating situation in our province’s long-term care facilities and what went wrong will be an important element of moving forward. Yesterday in the House, the NDP introduced a motion to establish a public inquiry into long-term care facilities and their response to COVID-19. Current data shows that this pandemic has affected the long-term care system in a manner disproportionate to its population, with 71.8% of deaths attributed to long-term care homes as of May 12. Analysis by the Ontario Health Coalition has shown significantly higher death rates in privately-owned homes as compared to non-profit and governmentally owned facilities. All of these figures are deeply troubling and we owe it to our seniors to get to the bottom of it. A non-partisan, independent, public inquiry will help us understand how to rebuild our long-term care system to work better for all.
We have an opportunity to learn and grow to build a better Ontario for all. Let’s commit ourselves to pursue that opportunity.
As always, wash your hands, stay home if you can, wear a mask if you go out, be kind. We are all in this together.