The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced today that face masks will become mandatory for employees and visitors at local commercial establishments in an attempt to help better contain the spread of COVID-19 in our region. There will be some exceptions permitted, such as people who have chronic health conditions, but full details of the new directive won’t be released until Monday June 22.
There were 19 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total to 1,263. There haven’t been any additional deaths, with that number still 67. We will be anxiously listening on Monday for the provincial government’s announcement to see if we get the green light to move into Stage 2.
Many of you have expressed concerns about the new restrictions on visitations for long-term care homes, retirement homes and congregate living settings. Many have felt that they are too restrictive. We have brought these concerns to the attention of our caucus colleagues and home to have more information for you soon.
The Minister of Education announced today that all, none or some schools will be re-opening in September. The provincial government failed to provide any clarity at all, and what few details they did provide are impossible in practice. The Minister of Education said that students will enter into an adaptive delivery model, in-class instructions and at-home learning. Many parents can’t choose to stay home and teach their kids if they don’t like the re-opening plan, and it’s totally unrealistic to add zero new teachers and expect teachers to juggle students who are rotating between classrooms and emergency distance learning. They left the heavy lifting to school boards, with no commitment to the deep collaboration that frontline workers and parents have been asking for. Our party has also released a statement on student funding for the coming year, saying that it falls short of what is needed. You can read that here.
The provincial government has withdrawn their plan to introduce legislation that would scrap statutory holidays for retail workers after coming under heavy criticism from our party. The original plan would have reduced the number of holidays from nine to three. Our Ethics and Accountability critic made the following statement in connection with this sudden change about face, “Doug Ford never does the right thing until he gets caught. He seems to always hope you won’t find out about his backroom deals until it’s too late.”
The federal government has delayed the further expansion of the Canada Emergency Business Account that was intended to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic. It was announced a few weeks ago that the government would expand the program to include companies with payrolls of less than $20,000 and with non-deferrable expenses, like rent and utilities.
As part of the federal government’s program to help students find jobs, the Prime Minister announced 500 “green jobs” for students in the energy, forestry, mining, earth sciences and clean technology sectors. The jobs are internships — lasting six months to a year in duration.
Finally, I would like to wish all the fathers a very happy Father’s Day on Sunday. I hope you are able to enjoy your day while also being safe. It is important we continue to follow the advice of our medical professionals and wear masks in public, practice social distancing as much as possible, and always wash our hands.