The Legislature resumed today for its fourth emergency session, allowing MPPs to debate Bill 190, a new COVID-19 emergency bill designed to extend the emergency order until June 2.
During question period, our party asked the government a number of questions on how they are handling the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked the government if they will commit to a full public inquiry into longterm care with a mandate to review not only the tragedies that have happened over the last couple weeks, but decades as well. We asked why the government waited so long to address frontline care workers in longterm care homes who were working in multiple locations, and we asked about testing… why the government was behind in it’s targets, why they were struggling to keep up when other provinces like Alberta are out performing us, and how many tests should we be conducting on a daily basis before we safely reopen the province.
The Prime Minister announced that his government is investing $2.5 billion in a one-time, tax-free, top-up payment for eligible seniors to help them overcome the costs of COVID-19. Under this new measure, any senior who is eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive a one-time tax-free payment of $300, and those who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will receive an additional $200. This measure makes a total of $500 available to eligible seniors to cover increased economic and health costs caused by COVID-19.
The Prime Minister also noted that his government is temporarily extending GIS and OAS payments for seniors who have been unable to file their taxes on time in order to avoid interruption in benefits. All seniors are encouraged to submit their 2019 income information no later than by October 1, 2020. The government is also making additional investment of $20 million to support organizations that offer community-based projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors and help them maintain a social support network.
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, and Lakeside Produce Chief Operating Officer, Sudeshna Nambiar, are issuing a joint statement regarding the management of COVID-19 at Lakeside Produce. Lakeside Produce and the WECHU have worked closely together since April 1st when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed among an employee. In total, there have been 13 cases of COVID-19 among workers at Lakeside Produce. Ten of the thirteen cases have recovered, and all were close contacts of each other. The cases were sporadic in nature and are not linked to any travel rather community-acquired. This investigation demonstrates the importance of health and safety processes and procedures in all workplaces and adhering to public health guidance.
The Windsor-Essex CMHA has launched a website with local mental health information and resources for front line workers. You can find that here.
The confirmed number of cases in Windsor-Essex is now at 732 and 61 deaths.
Please continue to social distance and only go out in public for necessities. If you do go out, make sure to wear a mask if possible, avoid touching things unnecessarily, and wash your hands thoroughly when possible.