Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP John Vanthof couldn’t be prouder of the people of northern Ontario.
“They followed the advice of local Chief Medical Officers, the Chief Medical Officer in Toronto, and they did a fantastic job. With the low amount of cases in Northern Ontario… they should be commended for that.”
But despite his eagerness to thank the people of Ontario, thanking the government in charge is a whole other story.
“Business owners have been preparing for this and they are ready,” he said. “Quite frankly, with all of these low COVID-19 numbers, it’s a great day and we are doing everything we can to help them. However… there are some issues. Quite a few of those business owners call me and say ‘I love that we can be open, but we need people who can work.’”
Vanthof says that employees across Northern Ontario have access to little or no child care options and have even ‘less of a clue’ what’s going to happen when school re-starts in September.
“[The Conservatives] have focused on business, which is great, but they haven’t really come up with a plan to make sure that the people going back to the workforce have the ability to. And to me, that’s a big concern.”
Vanthof says that the NDP has pushed forward for months, and will continue to push for a plan that offers both affordable and accessible daycare.
“We’ve also been pushing for a credible plan on how to reopen our schools safely. For example, my wife is a server at a restaurant. And she’s been working since the patios have re-opened. But some of the girls she works with are single moms. There needs to be a plan in place for people to ensure their kids are well taken care of. If not, they can’t come into work,” he said “I’m not sure they really put enough time and effort or maybe they don’t think they’ll have the funds to do it. Because it’s not going to be cheap.”
Vanthof knows that smaller daycares have been allowed to operate, and now bigger centres have reopened as well. But with restrictions in place to allow these organizations and businesses to operate, they fill up quickly.
“This government, either rightly or wrongly, has been very business-oriented. But what they haven’t figured out, in our opinion, is that for these businesses to be successful and restart the individuals working there have to be confident. It’s not just the business’s patrons… It’s people who work for the businesses. If they want the economy to truly come back… it’s the people. That’s the part they’re missing. People have to fully function again. Accommodations are going to have to be made.” he said.
Vanthof also touched on plans for schools to re-open across the province.
“The school boards will need to plan too. Is it a full-blown stay-at-home situation? Is it a part-time plan? Or are we going back to full-time? If we do go back full-time, it’s gonna cost a lot of money. We’re going to need smaller classes to make sure we’re physically distancing. Which means we’ll need more teachers and more space. School busses will also be an issue. With students needing to physically distance in those busses… will we need more of them? Different routes and times? If these boards will go through all of this work they need to know they’re going to receive funding. That work needs to start now. What if come August 15 they’re told ‘you know what, we think it’s gonna cost too much money’? Don’t put these people through all of this. What is the plan? Tell us what you’re going to do. Put it on the table.” He finished.