Where to get answers to frequently asked questions

By MPP Toby Barrett

We are at war right now against a disease that kills and is destroying our way of life.

One of the best weapons we have is the sharing of accurate, common sense measures to take on our common enemy.

In recent weeks, my staff and I have switched all resources to fielding ideas and information and requests for help seven days a week. We in turn do our best to work our contacts in government and elsewhere to generate answers and results.

Close to 100 per cent of our work now relates to COVID-19 and, as we have done since the first case of infection on January 25, we remind people of Ontario.ca/coronavirus.

This pandemic has generated a plethora of frequently asked questions and concerns. 

Many people who call us are anxious and under a lot of stress. We are living in disturbing times. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and consider calling 1-866-531-2600 or go to www.connexontario.ca. If under age 15, go to www.kidshelpphone.ca or 1-800-668-6868. If over 15, go to www.bouncebackontario.ca or 1-866-345-0224.

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, we have reduced the list of businesses classified as essential and ordered more workplaces to close. Business owners with questions or concerns can contact the ‘Stop the Spread’ hotline at 1-888-444-3659. An up-to-date list of those business sectors that have been classified as essential can be found at www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces.

A very heartening phenomenon for me over the past few weeks is to see local businesses and entrepreneurs step forward with assistance, particularly in supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) for our health care workers. Those in a position to help can visit www.ontario.ca/page/how-your-organization-can-help-fight-coronavirus or contact my office directly at toby.barrett@pc.ola.org.

Have you seen or experienced price gouging? You can report it online www.ontario.ca/form/report-price-gouging-related-covid-19, or call Consumer Protection Ontario at 1-800-889-9768.

Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario’s schools and childcare centres remain closed to protect the health and safety of students and staff. To ensure continuity of learning, the government launched ‘Learn at Home’ – a strategy, developed in conjunction with education partners, to establish clarity for parents, enhance education supports, and create opportunities for education workers to connect with students. Go to www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home.

We are certainly well aware of the difficulties farmers are facing with respect to seasonal agricultural workers being available to work on farms and in fields. As always, my office and myself continue to be available via phone and email to help farmers through this tough time in any way we can. 

We have government for a reason. And we have different levels of government for a reason. 

Much of our work has involved sorting through contradictory policies of the different levels of government  — over the past few weeks, local edicts on quarantine of travellers or permissible size of groups in public places have been at odds with those of senior levels of government. Mixed messages and policies remain with respect to our crucial reliance on seasonal agricultural workers. When various levels of government declare states of emergency it results in a lack of consensus on who does what and who’s in charge. 

Again, when in doubt give us a call at 519-428-0446, 905-765-8413, and 1-800-903-8629 or visit www.tobybarrett.com.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk