Under the weight of this COVID-19 pandemic, our long-term care system continues to reveal its significant shortcomings. Earlier this week, the Premier ordered the creation of an independent commission to hold public hearings and to develop recommendations. The system has been running overcapacity, with no additional facilities built for decades. The pre-existing personal support worker shortage was further aggravated by the pandemic, pushing some homes over the brink. Our Government has already approved over half of its commitment to add 15,000 LTC beds over five years. Additional out-of-date facilities have also been approved for replacement. We must do better, and developing a plan forward is the first step.
As governments, businesses and individuals adapt to the ‘new normal,’ it raises many questions about how we, as a community and province, move forward. Stage 1 of our reopening of the economy is entering its third week, and Ontario’s Command Table is reviewing the data and weighing it against the latest research that is pouring in from around the world. It is of paramount importance that we find the best possible ways for businesses to restart and
continue their operations while ensuring we minimize future waves of COVID-19.
The provincial Government has established the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, which is planning the next phase of our response to the COVID-19 crisis. It is our business owners from across Ontario who will provide the most important advice and feedback as we navigate the three stages of our Framework for Reopening. Our Government knows that most businesses have made considerable sacrifices to ensure that we were able to flatten the curve. Some of them were able to operate remotely, some were able to remain open with strict procedures in
place to protect the public and their staff, and others were forced to close. The lessons learned from this sector, along with our increased knowledge of the virus, are of great value. We need to hear their thoughts on the supports and regulations required to reopen our economy. This past week, my office started to contact businesses directly for feedback, and we want to hear from as many of you as possible. For those we are unable to speak to, I encourage you to complete our survey form at Q&A to ensure your voice is heard.
There is no better example of the Ontario Spirit than the results of our partnership with SPARK Ontario. With just a $100,000 investment from the Government, we have created a bilingual volunteer hub that has connected more than 3,500 volunteers to support vulnerable Ontarians. These volunteers, as part of 141 community organizations, have supported seniors, people with disabilities and other residents who are unable to leave their homes, with the
necessities of life, including food, supplies, running errands, and providing mental health and crisis support. The province will continue to support the new Ontario Community Support Program to help volunteers provide necessary services, such as Meals on Wheels. Ontarians’ selfless acts are very inspiring and heart-warming, and we thank you for your kindness.
I want to remind everyone that an up-to-date list of all federal and provincial programs for individuals and businesses is available at http://covidsupports.ca/jimmcdonell. For those who need assistance, my office continues to be available at email@example.com or 613-933- 6513 (toll-free 1-800-514-9660).
And finally, remember, as much as you can, stay home and protect yourself and your loved ones.