Even a Member of Provincial Parliament has to occasionally go into work these days, and Mike Schreiner is one of the few that must sometimes show up at the Ontario Legislature to keep the province’s emergency response coming. Before going back to the Leg. again, Schreiner will appear on Open Sources Guelph remotely Thursday afternoon to talk about the provincial government’s action on COVID-19 so far.
“I’ll be going back into the Legislature again on April 14, so the Tuesday right after the holiday weekend,” Schreiner said by phone on Wednesday evening. “I’ve been trying to be very careful, though I do still have to go out and do the occasional food shopping trip.
“For the most part, I’ve been really just staying home and doing a lot of Zoom calls and telephone calls,” Schreiner added. “I still miss the personal interaction and it’s hard to replace that.”
In terms of the news, it was reported Wednesday that Ontario has been doing fewer tests than they are otherwise capable of doing on a daily basis. Schreiner said that he’s concerned about the fact that it looks like the Province is losing steam on testing for COVID-19, and he added that he’s not alone.
“The number of tests went down instead of up even though the Province has more testing capacity now,” Schreiner explained. “I was disappointed to see that trend line go down because we’ve seen in the jurisdictions that have slowed the spread of the virus, and started to flatten the curve, that testing is an important tool in doing that.”
“I know I’ve had a few healthcare leaders in Guelph reach out to me expressing some concerns around those numbers as well,” he added. “So hopefully, we can can reverse that trend.”
Another trend that Schreiner hopes to reverse is a lack of financial aid for renters, both for people who rent their homes, and small business owners who rent their office or commercial spaces.
“I just got off a Zoom call with most of the downtown businesses, and there’s a deep concern among small business owners around their ability to pay rent,” Schreiner explained.
“The lack of a rent relief package has significant implications for tenants whether that’s an individual, a family, or a small business, and also for landlords who have to maintain their cash flow, and pay their mortgages, utility bills and maintenance costs,” he added. “Other provinces have stepped up and provided some rent relief funds, and that’s an area that I think Ontario has really missed the mark on. I continue to advocate strongly for the government to implement rent relief.”
While Schreiner sounds critical, he also notes that there has been a continued co-operative relationship between himself and Guelph’s other political leaders, and at the same time there’s also been a new spirit of co-operation between parties at Queen’s Park too.
“We need to quarantine partisanship and really all work together, and we’re seeing that,” Schreiner said. “I think the Premier has been calm, he’s been steady, he’s been strong when he needs to be, he’s been empathetic when he needs to be, and in that regard, I think a lot of commentators are right when they’ve said he’s risen to the occasion.”
Yes, there is a but coming…
“But I also feel like as an opposition member, I have to push for some things and point out some areas where I think the government could be doing a better job,” Schreiner added.
You will be able to hear the full interview with Mike Schreiner on Open Sources Guelph this afternoon at 5 pm on CFRU 93.3 fm or cfru.ca.