The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has announced two new cases of COVID-19. One case is attributed to close contact and the other is still under investigation. Our region now has 2,615 confirmed cases, 2,450 resolved cases, and 76 deaths. The province has announced the highest single-day case numbers since June, with 401 new cases reported today. In light of the uptick in cases, the Windsor Regional Hospital is encouraging people to get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms or may have been exposed.
With spiking case counts, and huge lines at over-capacity testing centres, Ontarians can’t wait any longer for the provincial government to put forward a COVID-19 management plan for the second wave. The lack of a plan is not for lack of available funding, since the provincial government is sitting on $6.7 billion earmarked for coping with the pandemic, most of it transferred from the federal government. We should be shoring up hospitals now to ensure they have the resources and capacity to handle a second wave. We need to start staffing up long-term care with thousands of PSWs and making their jobs full-time and better paid. Finally, we should have a plan in place to support renters, workers and small businesses.
Yesterday I made 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 wanted to see her parents before she dies, and her parents, who live in Michigan, were stuck in quarantine for two weeks. We received good news today that her request was granted and she has been reunited with her parents. Thank you to everyone that helped reunite this family, particularly to my federal colleague MP Brian Masse for all his help.
Another positive case of COVID-19 has been identified at a local school. The virus was identified at L’Essor high school in Tecumseh. Our Caucus continues to call on the government to provide safer, smaller classrooms for all kids, more buses to allow for adequate physical distancing, and upgrades to schools for infection control. Yesterday, our Caucus introduce a motion to cap class sizes at 15 students per class but was unanimously voted against by the provincial government members.
The University of Windsor announced that they will continue to offer a majority of their classes through online delivery for the winter semester and face-to-face classes will be offered where in-person interaction is important for meeting program learning requirements. A detailed list of which face-to-face classes will be offered in the winter semester will be released once finalized.
Our Caucus has issued a response to the provincial government’s decision to re-introduce a temporary ban on commercial evictions which failed to protect most small businesses the first time it was introduced. While we support a ban on evictions for commercial tenants, the ban only offers protection for small businesses that are eligible for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) and only applies to businesses with a 70 per cent drop in revenue. Small businesses are still on a knife-edge with many on the brink of shutting their doors forever and this will do nothing to help most struggling businesses who’ve been cut adrift by their landlords and don’t qualify for this protection. Small businesses need direct supports and our Caucus proposed our Save Main Street plan with a series of measures to support small businesses, charities and community-based non-profits, including:
- A 75 per cent commercial rent subsidy up to $10,000 a month for three months
- A utility payment freeze
- A safe restart and remote-work set up fund, which could help businesses install plexiglass barriers or buy PPE
- An auto insurance grace period for taxis and car-sharing drivers, established in partnership with the insurance industry and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority
- A designated emergency fund for small businesses and entrepreneurs who have faced historic barriers to accessing traditional capital, as proposed by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce
It was announced today that the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel until October 21.
Please continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask when out in public, and wash your hands often.