As I'm sure you're all aware, there have a been a lot of changes over the past couple of days, and the situation with COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. I know you’re all taking steps to keep your family and your community safe, including staying home and limiting in-person interactions as much as possible. Thank you for all you’re doing. These are difficult times, but people in Ontario are rising to the challenge. Together, we’ll get through this. The more we do now to stop the spread, the sooner we can get back to business in Ontario.
Mandatory Closure of Non-Essential Businesses
The Government announced on Monday, March 23, 2020 that all non-essential businesses are to be closed as of 11:59PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. They released this list of essential businesses: https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces. Our caucus fully supports having a list of essential operations and services that can continue during the State of Emergency, so it’s clear what can stay open, and what must close. But we’ve heard a lot of concerns about how extensive the list of essential businesses is, and we’ve heard a lot of individual businesses and operations unsure if they qualify. Those concerns are legitimate and the government needs to explain some of the items on that list. The Province has established a phone line that businesses can call if they have any questions. The phone number is 1-888-444-3659. The phone line is open Monday-Sunday from 8:30AM-5:00PM.
Resources for E-Learning
At this time, it is uncertain when students will be back in the classroom. The Ontario government has also posted some e-learning resources for students. Though these are not meant to replace learning in classrooms during this time away from school, they are fun and educational: https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home and https://lah.elearningontario.ca/
Other Important Information
The Province announced that they will suspend time of use electricity pricing for 45 days and hold the rate at the off-peak rates of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour for 24 hours, seven days a week. For more information, here is the press release: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/ontario-providing-electricity-relief-to-families-small-businesses-and-farms-during-covid-19.html.
The Windsor Police has also addressed enforcement for the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces, asking those with complaints to call the non-emergency phone line at (519) 258-6111. Here is their press release if you require more information: https://www.police.windsor.on.ca/newsroom/news-update/march/Pages/March-24-2020-Update-2.aspx.
If you're looking for updates on COVID-19, here are some websites that are being updated regularly as new information becomes available.
Some Good News!
A lot of organizations and businesses in our community are stepping up to help stop the spread of COVID-19. St. Clair College has donated medical equipment including beds, masks, gloves and gowns to local area hospitals to help address a shortage in Personal Protective Equipment. The Greater Essex County District School Board has also donated gloves, disinfectant, and respirators. Many businesses are working to build required items for our healthcare workers. It's great to see the community come together and help out when we're in need.
I will continue to post updates as they become available. I hope that everyone is staying safe!