There are 5 new cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex today. Three of the cases are attributed to close contacts of previously reported cases and two remain under investigation. This brings the total to 2,477 confirmed cases and 72 deaths.
During the pandemic, Official Opposition MPPs, including myself, have had a steady stream of calls from people worried about painfully long lines at Service Ontario centres, posing challenges to people who can’t stand in line for hours, and causing pandemic worries about large numbers of people queueing up. Our caucus has called on the Government to end the long lines at Service Ontario outlets by reversing their $4.9-million cut, and mandating that centres offer more hours, including evening and weekend hours, and designated seniors-only service hours.
The Ontario Government has released guidelines for parents and educators on how to manage potential COVID-19 outbreaks within schools, which can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/operational-guidance-covid-19-management-schools. We believe that it’s not enough for the Government to have a protocol for when staff and students get sick. They need to do much more to prevent them from getting sick. The best way to do that is with physical distancing, which can only happen if class sizes are capped. Parents have a right to be concerned the protocols released by the government do little to increase testing in the school community, or to actually ensure any staff member can stay home if they may be sick by mandating paid sick days any time they’re needed.
We continue to hear about the rising energy costs due to the fixed COVID-19 hydro rate. Our caucus has been raising these issues to the Government, and if you would like to share your story, please email [email protected].
Applications for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) will be available beginning August 31, 2020. Small businesses and registered charities should contact their utility providers if they are seeking financial assistance for their utility bills. Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received. Full program details including eligibility criteria, on-bill credit amounts and application processes are available at oeb.ca/CEAP.
The moratorium on commercial evictions is set to end on August 31, 2020. Our caucus is calling on the Government to remove the looming threat of commercial evictions facing small businesses across Ontario. Small business owners have managed to keep their heads above water and shown extraordinary resiliency to survive, but many are still struggling to make ends meet with mounting debts, reduced revenue and more costs to keep their workers and customers safe. The driving force of Ontario’s economic recovery will be small businesses. We need to protect them from shutting down and give them the breathing room they need to start re-hiring workers and start growing again.
For a limited time, the “Safe Openings” Program, operated by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries and the Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation, will provide funding for Southwestern Ontario tourism operators to be reimbursed for up to $1000 towards a portion of their reopening costs. The reimbursement is retroactive to April 1, 2020 and can be applied to items used for physical distancing (signs, plexiglass, etc.); technology upgrades supporting touch-less service; and increased cleaning and sanitation. The funding is provided on a first come, first serve basis, but if you miss out this time around, there will be another intake in December 2020. Applications will be accepted starting Tuesday, September 15 at 10:00am. For the application form and more information, please follow this link: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5abbaa98f93fd495aa77b220/t/5f440caea46c57567cf957ae/1598295218874/Safe+Opening+Program.pdf
Please continue to stay safe by washing your hands frequently, wearing your mask in public, and maintaining physical distancing of 2 metres.