The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting five additional cases of COVID-19 in the region. Of the new cases, three are considered community spread, one is a close contact and one is under investigation. There are now 2,613 confirmed cases in our region, 2,442 cases considered resolved, and 76 deaths.
Today I gave a statement in the Legislature calling on the federal government to make exceptions for self quarantine requirements on compassionate grounds from time to time. My office was contacted by a constituent in hospice care in Windsor who wants to see her parents before she dies, and her parents, who live in Michigan, are stuck in quarantine for two weeks, and time is running out. MP Brian Masse has echoed this call for family unification to be streamlined and improved, saying that the current approach to dealing with border crossings is lazy. He elaborated that people can drive through Canada to Alaska with very little accountability. Meanwhile, cancer patients are having difficulty seeing their loved ones.
With COVID-19 infections increasing in Ontario, just as kids are heading back to school, our Caucus forced a vote Thursday afternoon in the legislature on a motion to cap all class sizes at no more than 15. The motion is in response to a SickKids report that finds that there isn’t enough space for more than 12 to 15 students to maintain physical distance of two metres in a typical classroom. Unfortunately, the government voted unanimously against the motion despite the continued calls from experts and parents alike. Our caucus will continue to push back and fight for the safety of our kids.
The federal government has contributed $503,781 in funding for the Windsor-Essex Food Bank Association. Food banks have seen an uptick in usage during COVID-19. The funding comes as the Unemployment Help Centre of Windsor opens a new food drive-thru service at Adie Knox Herman Recreation Complex.
A local artist is painting a special COVID-19 mural on the side of the Penalty Box restaurant which will feature a local nurse and doctor on the front lines. David “Derkz” Derkatz will also be selling prints of his mural when it’s complete with the majority of the proceeds going to COVID relief.
The provincial government announced they are increasing fines for those not following the rules when it comes to social gatherings. Organizers of events across the province that violate the new rules will be fined a minimum of $10,000, while those attending will face $750 fines. Police will also be given the authority to temporarily close a premise where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any gathering exceeding the number of people allowed is taking place and require individuals to leave the premises. In Toronto, Peel and Ottawa only, the social gathering limit has been reduced to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. These new caps do not extend to restaurants, movie theatres, banquet halls, gyms and convention centres.
Despite being given $7 billion by the federal government through the safe restart fund, the provincial government has filed a plan with the federal government that doesn’t lower class sizes or make schools safer, doesn’t give workers paid sick days, and doesn’t hire long-term care staff like PSWs, or raise their wages – despite the fact that COVID-19 has found its way back into a growing number of vulnerable, understaffed nursing homes. The provincial government’s letter indicates that they will not guarantee paid sick days to workers in Ontario. In 2018, the provincial government cut the inadequate two paid sick days Ontario workers fought to get under the previous government, and now their letter seems to say it’s up to the federal government to help workers stay home when sick, because the province won’t.
Please continue to practice social distancing, wear a face mask when out in public, and wash your hands often.