Service continues to be an honour, Rakocevic
By Sean Delaney
Tom Rakocevic, MPP for Humber River-Black Creek, said it has certainly been an unprecedented year, but that hasn’t stopped him from getting to work.
With the pandemic dominating headlines and needs, the virus has been his priority in 2020.
“Our community was hard hit and continues to be hard hit because of the socio-economic conditions some of our residents live under,” he said. “Many people in our community are essential workers, people taking busses, and many don’t have the opportunity or privilege to work from home. As well you have multi-generational homes, which increases the risk of contracting Covid.”
Throughout the year, he and his team have conducted more than 20,000 phone calls to residents to see if they need help. And that has resulted in a number of opportunities to help, including sharing information and acquiring resources for people.
“Information is key during a pandemic, so I worked with our local City Councillor to do two telephone town halls, including Dr. Eileen de Villa, the Medical Officer of Health for Toronto, and a radiologist from Humber River Hospital, to answer questions and provide information,” Rakocevic said. “I’ve also done a series of voice broadcast messages to provide information about new rules being instituted. And I continue to go into Queen’s Park to highlight issues affecting our community.”
During this remarkable year, he said he’s seen several remarkable efforts throughout Emery. The community has many different vulnerable communities, groups and individuals and he was able to work with donors to provide more than 100,000 masks to associations, organizations, and individuals in need.
Isolation during the pandemic Rakocevic said has impacted mental health and has been answered by incredible acts of generosity and kindness.
“We’ve seen businesses change and adapt their entire business models, even operating as volunteers to provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and other services, individuals checking up on others to ensure their safety, helping someone who might be a vulnerable senior, getting their groceries and more,” he said. “There are so many people within our community that are volunteering their time, donating and doing different things to help their neighbours. While this has been a very tough time with the pandemic, that has certainly been a light. The love and care people have for each other.”
In terms of issues, Rakocevic said there are still many things he receives calls about.
Insurance is a prevalent one, whether it is condominium insurance going through the roof, business insurance, homes or auto insurance. Since so many businesses have had to close their doors during the pandemic he assumed a lowered possibility of claims for the insurers would result in lower rates, but he hears from constituents all the time about them rising.
“I brought to the floor of the legislature during the pandemic, Ontario drivers have been gauged. We have some of the safest drivers in Ontario in our region, and some of the highest rates, not only in Ontario but all over the country.”
At the outset of the pandemic, he said, the opposition called for a reduction as they worked with Toronto Police and saw accidents in Toronto were down more than 70 per cent during the first lockdown. So, he felt a call for a 50 precent reduction was more than reasonable.
“All we have seen is a government that allows some companies to provide rebates,” he said. “We felt it should be something across the board. Now we’ve learned that insurers in Ontario have saved as much as $2.7 billion. We are seeing across the board increases in auto insurance rates. Something I’ve raised multiple times.”
Long Term Care (LTC) continues to be a focus of his advocacy as well. He said Ontario’s population is living in a system where these residents are being failed.
“At a time when they need us the most, our seniors are left without the one-on-one time they need,” Rakocevic said. “There are so many different failures throughout this. And now we’re seeing worse outcomes during the second wave than the first.”
The MPP said he and his colleagues have tabled a bill four times called the Time to Care Act, which would mandate every individual in long term care have four hours of direct care a day. It has received all party support but failed to pass a second reading each time it was tabled.
“I’m going to continue to fight with my colleagues to see our parents, grandparents and all living in long term care receive the respect love and dignity they deserve there.”
And looking ahead, he said another lens will be focused on vaccine rollout. He wants to see a proper plan in place, so that everyone has access, and frontline workers and the most vulnerable are vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“People can reach me anytime, and I and my staff will do anything we can to help,” Rakocevic said. “It’s an honour to help my neighbours.”
Rakocevic can be reached at: 416-743-7272, or firstname.lastname@example.org