Effie Triantafilopoulos, MPP for Oakville North-Burlington and Pam Damoff, MP for Oakville North-Burlington are addressing constituents today in a joint update regarding COVID-19. Constituents have questions about how the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario are supporting Canadians during this Pandemic. MPP Triantafilopoulos and MP Damoff are working in collaboration and with their municipal partners to make sure that the residents of Oakville North-Burlington are informed about initiatives being implemented by all levels of government through one accessible update. MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos and MP Damoff are speaking regularly, coordinating our efforts to protect the health and well-being of the people of Oakville North-Burlington. MPP Triantafilopoulos and MP Damoff will be releasing a joint update every Friday for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

 
For information about COVID-19, please visit:

Canada:  www.canada.ca/coronavirus
Ontario: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus
Halton Region: www.halton.ca/COVID19

Our efforts are paying off. And if we follow the medical advice, if we take our time and get it right, then we’ll be able to open more businesses, get more people back to work. We have a long way to go. We have a long road to recovery. But let’s take some time today and be grateful for how far we all have come. – Premier Doug Ford

This week saw retailers, seasonal businesses and health and community services able to reopen across Ontario under strict social distancing rules. The workplaces allowed to reopen are ones in a good position to put safety measures in place, while not putting a burden on public transit. The Premier was also clear that if numbers of cases should rise, he is prepared to roll back some of the re-openings if necessary.
 
The government is also pushing for Public Health Units to increase testing of the general public, including people with no symptoms, because testing will help guide the government as it reopens Ontario’s economy.
 
Premier Ford also called on commercial landlords to take part in the Ontario Canada Commercial rent program that starts on May 25. Many small businesses are concerned that some landlords do not want to take part in the program. In fact, the Premier just a few days ago sent a “message to all these landlords: don’t force my hand.”
Face Masks or Coverings Now Recommended

As Ontario reopens, we need to keep practicing physical distancing by staying two meters or six feet away from others outside of your household.  Because it won’t always be practical or possible to do so, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is now recommending that you use a face covering, when keeping your distance won’t be possible.

Please do not use medical masks. These should be reserved for health care workers, those providing direct care and first responders. Instead, please wear a cloth mask.

Here are a few tips on how to wear your cloth mask or face covering:

  • Your face covering should fit securely with ties or ear loops.
  • It should be made of at least two layers of tightly woven material.
  • It should be large enough to completely and comfortably cover your nose and mouth.

If you’re unsure or have questions, we’ve made resources available at Ontario.ca/coronavirus
 

Ontario Public Schools to Remain Closed Until September 2020
Government will announce plans for September by the end of June.

The past months have been tough on our communities, on parents, on educators and most especially on Ontario students. The Ontario Government had to do whatever it took to keep students safe. This is why we were the first province in the country to close schools. It is also why, following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, public and private schools will remain closed until the end of June.

Private schools, licensed child care centres (except child care for essential workers) and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the time being.

As students remain at home, we’ve strengthened the existing Learn At Home program (Ontario.ca/LearnatHome) and laid out a summer learning plan for students.

Summer Learning Plan
The province unveiled an expanded seven-point summer learning plan for Ontario students to ensure students have every opportunity to continue their learning through the summer months. Summer learning programs are being expanded to reach the most students in Ontario history, to ensure they remain on track to start the 2020-21 school year with the confidence and knowledge required to succeed.

The summer learning seven-point plan will be focused around the following elements: 

  1. Expanded core programming represents ‘traditional’ summer school courses focused on grades 9 to 12, with additional opportunities for grade 8 students to better prepare.  
  1. Introduction of upgrading courses, which will allow students to upgrade their mark in a course in half the time it would have taken them previously. 
  1. Targeted supports for vulnerable students to support access to non-credit ministry educational programs and leadership supports.  
  1. Focused programming for students with special education or mental health needs, including dedicated learning supports such as access to educational assistants and existing after-school programs that could be delivered through summer school 
  1. Communicating volunteer opportunities for students so that students can leverage virtual volunteer opportunities where possible;
  1. Summer programming in Provincial and Demonstration Schools to focus on continued learning for our students with specialized learning needs; and
  1. Key concept mapping for next year’s learning to focus on compulsory, high-demand and pre-requisite secondary courses

Summer Day Camps
In addition, assuming public health trends continue to improve, summer day camps, both indoor and outdoor, may be permitted in July and August. Strict health and safety guidelines will be developed in partnership with local Public Health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities. Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.

Independent Commission into Long-Term Care
 
Our government has been clear that we will review the long-term care system to get a better understanding of the impacts and responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.
 
In September, we will launch an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system. In the next few months, we will finalize details of the commission including terms of reference, membership and reporting timelines.
 
We have been clear the long-term care system in Ontario must be fixed. There have been numerous studies by previous governments, but little if anything was ever done to make improvements. As we all take steps to contain this pandemic, the Commission will provide guidance on how to improve the long-term care system and better protect residents and staff from any future outbreaks. 
 
Since day one of COVID-19, our top priority has been to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. That includes the most vulnerable members of our society such as residents in long-term care.
 
My heart goes out to those who lost a loved one to COVID-19 while residing or working in a long term care home, and I offer my deepest condolences to their families.
 
Drive-in Religious Gatherings to be Permitted
 
The Ontario Government has approved an Emergency Order exemption to allow people to attend religious gatherings while respecting prescribed safety measures and precautions.

Moving forward individuals can gather to attend drive-in religious gatherings if they comply with the precautions, including vehicles being at least two metres apart, only those from the same household being in the vehicle and buildings at the place of the gathering remaining closed. Find out more here.

People and Businesses Giving Back
 
Lochside Bar & Lounge in Burlington have worked hard to contribute to the community & to date have given away 700 meals as part of their seniors & healthcare workers program.
 
Join with Oakville’s Muslim community to help support the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital COVID-19 Response Fund. You can donate at www.otmhramadan.com
 
The Ontario Realtors Care Foundation and the Oakville, Milton & District Real Estate Board Associations donated $3,000 to Food for Life Halton’s #GrowTheGood Community Matching Program.
 
Check out how our community foundations are supporting people and charities during the pandemic. @BurlingtonFDN and @OakvilleCF on twitter. Lots of information on how you can help.
 
And a shout out to our local Chambers of Commerce. I’ve been proud to work with them as they’ve promoted their member businesses and their needs. As we work to reopen Ontario and our communities, their support and advice is crucial.  Thank you for your leadership @OakvilleChamber and @burlingtoncofc.
This week our federal government announced several new critical supports for Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis.   Over the past few months, we have set up a number of programs to help everyone from students to parents to seniors to business get through the pandemic.  If you need support, but are not quite sure where to start, our government has created a new online tool to help you.  Visit www.canada.ca/coronavirusbenefits, answer a few simple questions, and the tool will generate a list of programs for which you may be eligible.
Over the past few months, Canadians have been doing a great job of staying at home, maintaining physical distancing, and listening to public health advice, which means we can restart some activities.  But we’re not out of the woods yet. COVID-19 remains a serious health threat – we must proceed with caution and keep listening to science, or we risk losing the progress we’ve made.  This morning, Prime Minister Trudeau stressed the critical importance of increased testing, contact tracing and data sharing for COVID-19 across the country and outlined what must happen to successfully reopen the economy and adjust to our new normal. 

First, we need to continue scaling up our testing capacity, so we can quickly identify new cases, and isolate them. While testing falls within provincial/territorial jurisdiction, our government is working with provinces and territories to expand testing by procuring things like reagents and swabs. While some provinces have the capacity to meet their existing needs, we’re collaborating to ramp up testing, so we can protect Canadians and effectively manage future outbreaks.

Second, we need to accelerate our ability to do contact tracing. After we have confirmed and isolated new cases, we have to get in touch with everyone who may have been exposed to the virus and make sure they take measures to quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms or get tested. While provinces and territories are managing testing and contact tracing differently, our government has trained federal employees who can make 3,600 contact tracing calls a day, 7 days a week. Statistics Canada also has an additional 1,700 interviewers who can make up to 20,000 calls a day. These federal resources are available to assist provinces and territories with any surges or backlogs or challenges in contact tracing. We’re already helping making calls in Ontario and stand ready to help anywhere else.

Finally, we have to ensure that data collected across jurisdictions is shared between provinces and territories. This will help us track the spread of the virus, adapt our response accordingly, and save lives.

Canadians and businesses need to have confidence that we are on the right foot before we begin to loosen restrictions.   have a coordinated approach to gradually reopen that is rooted in science, evidence, and the ability to rapidly detect and control any future outbreaks.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam announced Canadians should wear a mask as an “added layer of protection” whenever physical distancing is not possible.  Public health advice has been evolving based on science and Dr. Tam’s new advice is in response to the fact that, with more provinces taking cautious steps toward reopening their economies, more Canadians are coming into closer proximity to one another in public.  Dr. Tam stressed that wearing a mask won’t protect you from contracting COVID-19 on its own, and the best measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 are to stay two metres apart, to stay at home whenever possible and to wash hands regularly and frequently. Make sure you are wearing your mask properly and safely. 

Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health, gives great advice on how to wear, remove and clean a facemask here.

Since it was introduced four years ago, the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) has helped put more money in the pockets of 9 out of 10 Canadian families, and played a key role in reducing child poverty across the country. Now, more than ever, hard-working, middle-class families are counting on this benefit to help them keep up with the added expenses of raising children. This week Prime Minister Trudeau  announced that the CCB will be increased once again in July, to help families keep up with the costs of living and raising their children.  This increase is in addition to the one-time special CCB payment announced by the Prime Minister earlier this month, to help families deal with the added pressures of COVID-19. On May 20, 2020, this special measure will give families currently receiving the CCB an additional $300 per child with their May payment, and deliver almost $2 billion in extra support across the country to help families during this challenging period.
As we start to carefully and gradually re-open the economy, a lot of people are wondering what this means for them. If you’ve been laid off, you’re probably waiting to see whether your employer will start your workplace back up, and re-hire you. To help them do that, we have extended the wage subsidy through the summer. Getting Canadians back to work is the best way for our economy to recover. We are encouraging employers who are looking to restart businesses again to rehire their staff and use the wage subsidy to cover their salaries. 

And for businesses that still need help, we are taking another step forward. Our government announced that we are expanding the eligibility of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).  If you are the sole owner-operator of a business, if your business relies on contractors, or if you have a family-owned business and you pay employees though dividends, you will now qualify.  Details will be available very soon about when you’ll be able to apply. 

Canadians are focused on keeping their jobs and paying their bills as they continue to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. That’s why our government has put jobs and workers first in our approach to support businesses during this challenging time. This week, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that application documents and updated criteria for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses are now available, and that the program will be opened for applications starting on May 25. While commercial rent remains completely under provincial jurisdiction, our government is stepping up to assist provinces to provide rent relief to businesses, while helping property owners maintain rental income through this crisis. We reached an agreement in principle last month with all provinces and territories to implement CECRA. Last week I wrote a letter to my provincial counterpart, MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, calling on Premier Doug Ford to put a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic.  Applications will be accepted through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website beginning on May 25, and application documents can be accessed now.
Charities and non-profit organizations requiring financial assistance to address the COVID-19 pandemic were able to apply for federal government funding as of yesterday through the new $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF).  The ECSF is designed to support community organizations such as charities, non-profit organizations, and faith-based organizations that are providing essential services to vulnerable Canadians through the COVID-19 crisis. The ECSF will provide a much-needed boost to organizations on the frontlines, while we also continue our efforts to secure the funding and support required for the stabilization and recovery phases ahead.  I am happy to share the great news that over $1,157,000 in funding is available for qualified local charities in the Halton region through three local community foundations: The Oakville Community Foundation, the Burlington Foundation and the Community Foundation of Halton North.  Applicants may apply between now and July 27 through the national community foundation portal here: Click here to apply through the application portal. For information on how to apply, please see the applicant guide in document format or slide format.
Summer is the time for young Canadians to earn money and build the skills and experience they need for their futures. Service Canada is working with employers across the country during this unprecedented time to make sure that young Canadians stay connected to the job market with safe, secure and healthy summer employment opportunities.

The hiring period for Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) 2020 has begun and the first wave of CSJ job placements are now available on jobbank.gc.ca and the Job Bank app. The CSJ program provides funding to help employers create summer job opportunities for youth so they can develop skills, gain meaningful workplace experience and fill any labour gaps the employer may have. In the current COVID-19 economic climate, this year CSJ job placements will respond to both local and national priorities within the not-for-profit, small business and public sectors as well as jobs supporting the delivery of critical service in the community. This year, job opportunities will be available starting today with some placements ending February 28, 2021.  

As COVID-19 continues to affect Canadians across the country, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis are facing health, social, and economic challenges. Yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an additional $75 million to support Indigenous peoples living off-reserve and in urban centres.  Since being appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, one of my focuses has been on the urban indigenous population. 
 
The majority of Indigenous peoples in Canada live off-reserve, and we know that they are facing unique challenges as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Today’s announcement is a five-fold increase in the amount of funding for urban Indigenous organizations and is the direct result of the advocacy of groups serving urban Indigenous peoples across Canada. I am proud to be part of a government that listens and response to those who are most vulnerable.  For more information, you can read the full news release here.

Are you looking for information or assistance from your local, regional, provincial or federal governments? Here is a list of which level of government is responsible for the services you need during COVID-19 prepared by the Region of Halton.
Tomorrow evening, Muslims across Canada and around the world will begin the celebration of Eid al-Fitr and mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. While this year’s celebrations might look a little  different, Eid is still an opportunity to reflect on the principles of peace, forgiveness, and unity and recommit to the core values of charity and helping those in need.  Ramadan Mubarak to all who are celebrating this weekend.
Thank you for reading our joint-update. We are committed to working collaboratively with all levels of government to address the needs of Canadians through this difficult time. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our respective offices, and we will be sure to share the most accurate and up-to-date information. Don’t forget to do your part to #FlattenTheCurve, and stay inside! We will get through this as Canadians do, together. 

Sincerely, 

Effie and Pam