Dear Neighbour,

As I had shared previously, a $4/hour top-up payment for frontline workers doing essential work to keep us all safe over the next four months was announced by the government. My colleagues and I had been urging for this. Our frontline workers, whether in long-term care facilities or hospital kitchens, have done extraordinary work since the beginning of this state of emergency. This small wage top up recognizes their sacrifice and hard work to keep us all safe. However the announcement had left behind many workers and I had shared with you that we were working to include everyone. The pandemic pay now has been expanded to support paramedics, public health nurses, mental health and addictions workers in hospitals and congregate care settings, and respiratory therapists. There are a few more groups we need to ensure are included and I will continue to push for it.

I’ve heard from constituents whose cancer treatments in hospitals are on hold during the pandemic. They have been prescribed take-home cancer drugs, a modern option that may replace chemotherapy for some patients and can keep them stabilized until hospitals are open. Unfortunately, it can cost more than $2000 a month and many don’t qualify for provincial drug plan help. Getting a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment is hard enough as it is — no one should need to worry about affording their treatment as a result of COVID-19. I am urging the province to immediately commit to covering the full cost of all take-home cancer drugs.

A report by Toronto’s University Health Network finds that an estimated 35 people may have died during the pandemic because their cardiac surgeries were postponed. Tough decisions were made to prepare for a worst-case scenario, but we must also begin to prepare for the wave of illness that will spawn from the lack of preventative care including mental health needs.

While the pandemic has impacted us all, there are many in our community for whom the pandemic has complicated already difficult situations. Let’s continue to look out and support our neighbours so that everyone has what they need to live a safe and healthy life.

As always, wash your hands. Stay home (unless you must work). Be kind. We are all in this together!


Bhutila Karpoche,
MPP for Parkdale—High Park
COVID-19 Issue Highlight - Disabilities

Disabled people have faced a series of new challenges over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures enacted in the face of the pandemic and exacerbated existing disparities pose barriers for those who were already disadvantaged.

Disabled people are disproportionately predisposed, both medically and systemically, to contract COVID-19
according to David Lepofsky, Chair of the AODA Alliance. This crisis has exaggerated the fears which disabled folks already have when approaching interactions with the medical system, it is creating new barriers, and could threaten lives through medical rationing protocols. A comprehensive plan for health-care accessibility is absolutely necessary to ensure that disabled people aren’t left behind during this crisis. My colleagues and I have proposed some measures that begin to address these concerns, you can read them here

Expanded Emergency Childcare Eligibility

An amended Emergency Order will make childcare available to more frontline workers. Under this expansion, previously eligible workers and those working in the following new roles will be eligible to access emergency childcare:

  • Workers in grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Truck drivers (driver’s license Class A and Class D)
  • Workers in the food supply chain, including food processing
  • Workers in retirement homes
  • Auxiliary workers in healthcare settings, including cooks and cleaning staff in hospitals and long-term care homes
  • Interpreters and intervenors who support people who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and deadblind
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) emergency personnel
  • Provincial officers and onsite staff in Ontario courts
  • Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence staff working in Ontario
  • Additional workers support public safety and correctional services, 

A full eligibility list can be found here and information on how to access services can be found here.

Regulatory Flexibility for Businesses

The government of Ontario has announced a new website which will allow businesses to ask for regulatory exemptions and adaptations in order to aid with supply chain demands which support the frontlines. If your business is having challenges in efforts to support the healthcare system, assist other businesses in retooling to provide essential supplies or operating remotely or in a non-traditional manner and a provincial regulation is the barrier, you can request exemptions online now.

Closure of High Park

Starting on April 30, High Park will be closed to the public. In an effort to reduce crowding as the Cherry Blossom trees reach peak bloom, the City of Toronto has decided that closure of the full park will be necessary. The good news is, there is a new way to experience our beloved Cherry Blossoms this year. You can view the 24-hour BloomCam online now to see a live view of High Park. The City of Toronto will also be live-streaming two virtual walk-throughs of the Blossoms, with a Land Acknowledgement from Indigenous Knowledge Keeper André Morrisseau and experts from the High Park Nature Centre. You can find out and see the latest Cherry Blossom updates here.

Thank you for sending me your Cherry Blossom photos. I look forward to sharing them with everyone on my social media soon.

Beware of Electricity Scams
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is aware of increasing efforts by scam artists attempting to take advantage of consumer uncertainty during this COVID-19 emergency. The OEB has taken steps to ensure that the power to your home or low-volume small business cannot be disconnected for non-payment by your utility until July 31, 2020.  If you receive a message, text or phone call from someone posing as a utility representative and threatening to disconnect your power, do not respond to it - contact your utility provider directly using the telephone number displayed on your bill.
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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