It is an anxious time for our community and people across Ontario as we respond to the unfolding COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
My team and I are working to put together the latest public health advisories from reliable sources as well as information on local programs and supports available in our community. Let's look out for our neighbours - we are all in this together.
This page will be updated regularly. Please share any local resources that you come across by emailing [email protected] so that we can include them.
Local updates from Thunder Bay District Health Unit
Provincial updates from the Government of Ontario
The latest updates from the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Find out how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick and how to recognize possible symptoms at ontario.ca/coronavirus
- On March 19, MPPs passed emergency legislation in response to COVID-19. While there is still much more to do, this first step will guarantee job-protected leave for COVID-19 related absenses and ensure that pharmacies and grocery stores can remain well supplied. See the Ontario government announcement here
Federal updates from the Government of Canada
What to do if you 're experiencing symptoms
If you are experiencing a fever, persistent cough or difficulty breathing, immediately contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, Thunder Bay Health Unit at (807) 625-5900 or your primary care physician. Availability: during regular business hours, and extended hours on evenings and weekends (subject to change based on call volumes). You can also use this online self-assessment tool.
Please do not visit an assessment centre unless you have have been referred by a healthcare professional. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.
Keeping yourself and the community healthy
We encourage constituents to stay home (get fresh air, but keep physical distance), avoid crowds, and practice social distancing where possible. Here are are some best practices from the World Health Organization:
- Stay home as much as reasonably possible;
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water;
- Maintain social distance by staying at least six feet away from those you are speaking with;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
- Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing, either with a bent elbow or a tissue;
- Seek medical attention if you have a fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing;
- If you have travelled recently, remain self-isolated for 14 days upon returning to Canada.
If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, please use this online self-assessment tool or call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.
What is social distancing?
Important travel advisories and restrictions related to COVID-19, from the Government of Canada travel.gc.ca
Canadians outside the country who are directly impacted by COVID-19 will be able to apply for an emergency repayable loan to facilitate their return to Canada and to cover basic essential needs while they work towards their return. Each application will be assessed according to their specific situation and needs. Find out more here: Financial help for Canadians outside Canada
Is COVID-19 information available in other languages?
It’s essential that we all continue to get our information from reliable and informed sources as we respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Below are links to COVID-19 fact sheets in some of the most commonly spoken languages in our local community. Please share these with people in your networks who may need them:
Français (French): https://files.ontario.ca/moh-coronavirus-info-sheet-french-2020-02-18.pdf
Is the local constituency office still open?
My office will continue to offer services and information to residents during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak via telephone 807 622 1920 and by email at [email protected] You can contact us Monday to Friday from 9am to 4:30pm. Please leave us a voicemail so that we can get back to you as soon as possible. On the guidance of the Ontario Public Service we will not be accepting drop-ins to the office.
Support for workers
Ontario's State of Emergency has declared no gatherings of over 50 people and the closure of certain public spaces. For example:
- Bars and restaurants (takeout and delivery may be still available)
- Licensed child-care centres
- Schools and Private schools
- Recreation Centres (including visitor services at parks) and gyms
- Visitor and Cultural attractions
What can I do to protect myself if I am unable to work from home?
The public health guidance is to work from home wherever possible. However working remotely is not feasible in many workplaces. If you are in this situation, it is important that you follow all health and safety protocols related to your workplace. Under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, most of Ontario’s workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. If you are in a unionized workplace, consult your staff rep before refusing any work. It is also recommended that you practice social distancing and proper hygiene as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection.
Is there any financial help available?
On March 18th the Federal Government announced new economic measures to help workers, families and businesses cope with financial hardship. For more information, visit here.
Who is Eligible for EI?
Workers who pay EI premiums are eligible for EI if:
- you cannot work because of a medical condition, such as COVID-19;
- you have lost at least 40 per cent of your usual weekly pay; and
- you have worked a minimum of 600 hours in the year before your claim, or since your last EI claim.
The one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period is being waived if you are in COVID-19 quarantine. Call the new dedicated toll-free phone number so you can be paid for the first week of your claim:
Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
Do I need to provide a doctor’s note to my employer to get my sick-leave benefits?
While a medical certificate signed by your doctor is usually required to get sick-leave benefits, this will not be the case during the COVID-19 crisis. During this time, the government is waiving the need for a sick note for patients who are required to miss work due to self-isolation or quarantine.
Will my time off during self-isolation or quarantine be paid by my employer?
If your work can be done remotely for the period of self-isolation or quarantine where you are not sick, your employer should allow remote work paid at your usual rate of compensation. If you become sick, your sick day entitlements will vary depending on the language in your contract or collective agreement. If you have zero sick leave benefits—the Employment Standards Act applies, which is currently three unpaid days.
The fact that the federal government has indicated it will provide financial support to businesses to continue to pay employees during self-isolation and quarantine.
The provincial government has passed emergency legislation to provide infectious disease emergency leave for anyone unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes provides unpaid leave and job protection for individuals under quarantine or in isolation, or providing care to a child as a result of school and day care closures. More details here.
Support for small and medium sized businesses
- The federal government has announced some new funding for small and medium sized businesses impacted by COVID-19, and we continue to advocate for parallel provincial protections. For a list of the federal and provincial funding available to your business, fill out the online tool at innovation.canada.ca
- Also announced by the federal government is a 10% wage subsidy for small businesses for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee, and $25,000 per employer. More details of this are expected to be made available soon.
Suspension on evictions
The Ontario Government has suspended the issuing of eviction notices until further notice. Sheriffs have been asked to suspend the enforcement of eviction orders, including scheduled eviction orders. Evictions are paused until further notice. We have heard reports that despite this, tenants are continuing to be threatened with eviction at this time. We are calling on the government to support legislation that guarantees in law that no one can be evicted for any reason during the pandemic, nor punished in any way for missing a rent payment.
Please note — this is for general information purposes only and not intended to be legal advice.
- Tenants are still expected to pay their rent on time.
- Tenants should keep copies of messages to their landlord to show that they tried to pay their rent on time. Tenants should document how they informed their landlord that they could not pay their rent on time. Tenants who pay their rent late or fail to pay their rent will enter arrears (they will owe their landlord for their late rent).
- Tenants who have reduced hours or are laid off as a result of COVID-19 or are in quarantine and unable to work and cannot pay their rent on time should inform their landlord as early as possible.
- Tenants who lose income because of COVID-19 should document changes to their finances. This includes saving letters, emails or text messages showing that you were laid off or had your hours reduced because of COVID-19.
- If your landlord files to evict you at the Landlord and Tenant Board, tenants can request that their landlord meet with them so they can negotiate a plan to pay back their arrears.
- Generally speaking if a tenant has never had problems paying their rent before and is able to show a realistic plan to both pay their rent on time and pay their landlord arrears, the Landlord and Tenant Board Members will give tenants a chance to repay any late rent before terminating a tenancy.
- Landlords can still serve notices to tenants and fax applications to the Landlord and Tenant Board. As a tenant, your landlord can still serve you notices such as an N4 if you miss your usual timeline to pay your rent.
- At present, neither the federal nor the provincial government have suspended rent payments.
- If you have more questions and live in Scarborough Southwest, please email [email protected]
Support for students
The federal government has announced a 6-month, interest-free moratorium on Canada student loan payments.
The province of Ontario has extended the validity of expiring health cards during the State of Emergency. Expiring and expired health cards will continue to provide access to health services during this period. If you need help getting an OHIP card renewed or replaced, please contact my office at [email protected]
- The province of Ontario is extending the validity period of driver licences, licence plate validation, Ontario Photo Cards, and Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration certificates during the State of Emergency.
- The Ministry of Transportation is also automatically extending the due dates for medical or vision reports, which both reduces the need for in-person visits, but also ensures that patients do not need to visit their doctors, helping the health system to focus on containing COVID-19.