Gilles Bisson MPP Timmins

Government of Ontario

COVID-19 Bulletin: Week of July 27-31

Published on July 31, 2020

Here are the some key developments from the week: 

  • Ontario municipalities will be given up to $4 billion to share from the $19-billion fund the federal government and provinces pledged to help cash-strapped municipalities recover from the pandemic - the Official Opposition says the money isn't enough to protect jobs and crucial public services like child care and transit. Toronto alone faces a shortfall of $1.35 billion. Municipalities are still reeling from Ford's deep cuts two years ago, to essentials like public health, ambulance services and child care, and need long-term, stable funding. 
  • The terms of the Ford government's long-term care commission were released, including the news that it will be led by associate chief justice of the Superior Court Frank Marrocco, the judge who defended Mike Harris during the Walkerton scandal. The commission will not be binding, and Doug Ford wouldn’t commit to implement its recommendation, if it makes any. The Official Opposition emphasized other concerns with the commission, including that its scope is too narrow, and that much of it will be held behind closed doors, without the input of families whose loved ones have died in long-term care during the pandemic. Documents will also be allowed to be kept secret. 
  •  The results of a study on the staffing crisis in long-term care confirms what the Official Opposition has been calling for for years: that the government must immediately hire more staff in nursing homes, and make those jobs full-time and better paid. Even after the sector saw 1,840 tragic deaths, Ford has committed no funding to improve long-term care staffing to better protect residents. 
  • The Ford government finally released its back-to-school plan for September, which includes elementary students heading back five days a week and, for high school students in a number of jurisdictions, a mix of in-classroom and remote learning. The plan drew swift criticism from the parents, teachers, education workers, unions, and students, which says it puts students and staff at risk by putting them into overcrowded, packed classrooms. The Official Opposition called out the Ford government for putting students' health and academic success in jeopardy, as its low-budget plan fails to invest in hiring the thousands of teachers, educators and custodial staff that are needed to ensure students return to smaller, safer classrooms.   
  • Here are some concerns the Official Opposition is working on, and solutions we’re pushing for: 
  • The Official Opposition Poverty and Homelessness critic Rima Berns-McGown called on Ford to create a strong anti-poverty strategy, pointing to a Daily Bread Food Bank report that shows a massive spike in usage in the month of June. "Poverty and food insecurity have always been here, and the pandemic has shone a light on the gaps in the system," Berns-McGown said.