Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this morning that the government is expanding the CERB. Now, Canadians earning less than $1,000 a month and those whose EI benefits have recently run out will be eligible. In addition, out-of-work seasonal workers and frontline workers who work a small number of hours are also eligible. Artists who receive copyright revenue can also now exclude it from their income to help them qualify. The Prime Minister will also be working with the Premiers to top up the pay of essential workers who make less than $2,500 per month to get them to that threshold.
The federal government is launching Wellness Together Canada, an online portal to provide free mental health services to Canadians who are struggling to deal with the pandemic and its impacts on everyday life. The new platform includes online resources as well as text and phone-in hotlines. You can access it here.
The provincial government signed off on an emergency order yesterday banning long-term care staff from working in multiple facilities at a time, a move that has already been made in other parts of the country. Under the new order, long-term care workers who must temporarily give up a job in another care setting are protected from losing their job and will be entitled to an unpaid leave of absence. Additionally, all symptomatic staff and patients as well as asymptomatic contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients will now be required to get tested. Our caucus has pointed out that these new rules don’t come into effect for a full week (not until April 22), and contain a dangerous loophole, allowing temp agency LTC workers to continue working at multiple locations.
We have also discovered troubling guidelines put out by the Ontario government’s Ministry of Health for health care workers returning to work after testing positive for COVID-19, which allow staff who have the virus but are asymptomatic to return to work. We are calling on the Government to immediately fix these guidelines in order to ensure the protection of patients and front line health care workers.
The Ontario Energy Board recently extended the winter disconnection ban for non-payment of accounts until July 31, 2020.
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) has created a resource to find legal information through their Steps To Justice website. The site is updated on a daily basis and gives answers to more than 80 legal questions including questions about emergency benefits assistance, Employment Insurance, and being evicted for non-payment of rent. You can find the website here.
The Windsor Essex COVID Care Coalition is launching the Windsor-Essex Counselling Support Line (WECSL) to help people in the community access professional counselling support services. The Support Line is available to the community starting Wednesday, April 15. The Windsor Essex Counselling Support Line offers professional counsellors who are members of the Ontario College of Social Workers and who are experienced in providing personal counselling services. The WECSL will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To access the helpline, people can call 519-946-3277 or 1-877-451-1055.
The number of people who have tested positive for the virus has jumped to 408, with 59 additional cases announced Wednesday — the highest number of new local cases announced in one day to date. In total, 16 people in Windsor and Essex County have died because of complications from COVID-19.
As we continue to see significant increases in the number of cases locally, I again am asking for everyone to please follow the recommended health guidelines: only go out for essentials like groceries or medication, practice social distancing, and wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.