Gilles Bisson MPP Timmins

Government of Ontario

COVID-19 Bulletin: April 8

Published on April 8, 2020

Here are today’s new developments:

  • Canada’s emergency wage subsidy — criticized by small business owners for not giving help to a wide enough range of employers — will expand its eligibility criteria.
  • Reports that Ontario is severely lagging in the number of COVID-19 tests it does daily have raised alarm bells amongst health experts— while the province's labs can accommodate 13,000 tests per day, Ontario has only been doing about 3,500. Andrea Horwath and the Official Opposition want testing dramatically increased, including regular testing for all health care workers, first responders and seniors in long-term care.
  • In his press conference today, Doug Ford wouldn’t say why Ontario has fallen so behind on testing, but stressed that 13,000 tests per day is the goal, and said Ontario has the capacity.

 Here are some concerns the Official Opposition is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for:

  •  Amid reports that Ontario is woefully behind on COVID-19 testing, the Official Opposition is calling on the Ford government to immediately increase testing to include regular tests for frontline health workers and seniors in long-term care.

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

  • The Official Opposition believes the government should require auto insurance prices give everyone a 50% discount for three months, and that insurance companies must offer a deferral for those experiencing income loss due to COVID-19. With fewer cars on the road, and fewer accidents, drivers should get the benefit of that – not insurance companies.
  • Andrea Horwath released a list of recommendations for Ontario to better protect and support seniors during COVID-19. They are:
    • 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
    • Crack down 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 assistive living facilities in Ontario

Here are some things we’re hearing from our community members: 

  • With Ontario limiting prescription refills to 30-day supplies during the pandemic, some Ontarians--seniors especially--are worried about being able to afford more frequent dispensing fees. The Official Opposition is calling on the Ford government to cancel and cover the prescription drug co-payments required of seniors during the pandemic. 

  • Email me to let me know how you’re doing, what you’re concerned about: gbisson@ndp.on.ca