E-newsletter- September 11, 2020
As we are all dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that today marks nineteen years since four hijacked planes, filled with innocent people, flew into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. We remember the horror and panic that filled the streets of New York and Washington and put the rest of the world on high alert. Right here in Etobicoke we have two “911-widows” whose lives will be forever altered by those heinous and cowardice attacks. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by that terrible tragedy.
This week, we were shocked to hear that there were over 80 gun shots fired early in the morning of September 8 in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. The shooting produced so many bullet shells that the police ran out of evidence tags. The gang-related shooting took place near Lakeshore and Eighth Street. One man was seriously injured by gunfire but has since been released from hospital. It is senseless violence like this that has compelled our government, with help from the federal government, to commit almost $100 million over four years for a three-phase approach to fight gun and gang violence. Also, we recently invested over $3 million over three years to increase CCTV capacity in Toronto. My role at Queen’s Park is Parliamentary Assistant to the Solicitor General and as such I take community safety very seriously.
Under normal circumstances, we would be celebrating the annual Taste of the Kingsway this weekend. I am sure you share my hope that next year we will be able to celebrate in person as we have in the past. Until then, I encourage everyone to continue to shop locally, while following proper safety protocols.
If you are able, I encourage you to participate in one of our local community clean-up initiatives. The Lakeshore Village BIA has organized a community clean-up from 11th September – 13th September. The City will not be holding localized community environment days this year, instead, there will be seven days when you can drop off your electronic waste, household hazardous waste and pick up some bagged leaf compost (limit two per vehicle). The Etobicoke Community Environment Day will take place on September 13 from 9am to 1pm at the Disco Drop-off Depot located at 120 Disco Road.
Here are a few highlights from the past two weeks:
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
This school year will be unlike any we have ever seen, but by working together we can all play a part to keep our children, teachers and education workers safe and ensure our students continue to thrive and be inspired to learn during these extraordinary times.
As students, teachers and staff return to school, the Ontario government is providing almost $1.3 billion in critical supports and has delivered more than 31 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely reopen classrooms across the province. These investments are part of Ontario’s comprehensive back to school plan which was developed in consultation with medical officials, school boards, and educators.
Our government has taken the following steps to make schools as safe as possible:
- Providing more funding than any jurisdiction in the country to implement physical distancing measures, funding to support the hiring of about 1300 custodians and adopt enhanced cleaning protocols in schools and on school buses, and hire more teachers to reduce class sizes.
- Hiring 625 public health nurses to provide rapid-response support to schools and boards, and facilitate public health and preventative measures, including screening, surveillance testing, tracing and mitigation strategies.
- Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to ensure that sufficient PPE has been delivered to all 72 school boards, including more than 17.5 million masks, 13 million gloves, 300,000 face shields, 380,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and 186,000 containers of disinfectant, among other critical supplies; and
- Providing students and families with clear and transparent standards for families that choose fully remote virtual learning which is teacher-led, timetabled, live and on a regular daily schedule.
As our schools reopen their doors, parents should seek comfort in knowing that their child is returning to a school environment that is as safe as possible.
Our health and safety protocols, developed by the leading medical minds in the country, coupled with our landmark investment in public education, will assist with our students returning to class safely.
PASSING THE PAWS ACT
As a Province we have a duty to protect animals. Whether they are dogs, cats, fish, cows or horses how we treat them speaks to our values. It is hard to imagine that there are people out there who mistreat and neglect animals, but unfortunately we know that these people exist. Here in Etobicoke, we are fortunate enough to have the Etobicoke Humane Society along with many community activists who are care about animals and their safety.
As the Parliamentary Assistant to the Solicitor General, I was fortunate enough to have been involved in the creation and passing of a new law called the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act. The PAWS Act sets up a provincial wide enforcement team, introduces clear responsibility for investigating animal cruelty cases and gives powers to inspectors to do things like enter overheated cars if they see an animal in distress. As a result, Ontario now has the toughest laws in Canada for animal cruelty.
If you see or hear about an animal being abused, in distress or neglected please call the Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre at 1-833-9-ANIMAL (1-833-926-4625).
HUMAN TRAFFICKING AWARNESS TOOLS
As students prepare to head back to school, our government continues to raise awareness about sexual exploitation and human trafficking among children and youth. Last week our government announced the launch of two new educational resources to help prevent human trafficking by teaching kids how to recognize if they are being targeted by a trafficker and making sure they know where to get help.
The educational tools released offer new, innovative ways to engage with young people and help them understand how human trafficking happens, so we can stop it before it starts. These resources are part of the province’s $307 million comprehensive anti-human trafficking plan. Remember, we all have a role to play in ending human trafficking.
DENTAL CARE FOR LOW-INCOME SENIORS
Our government has taken another step forward in providing dental care for Ontario low-income seniors. Our government is investing $25 million through the Seniors Dental Capital Program to expand access to the Ontario Seniors Dental Program in underserviced areas of the province. This funding will be used to build new dental clinics and make upgrades and expansions to existing clinics at public health units, participating community health centres and Aboriginal Health Access Centres. These projects are expected to be completed by March 31, 2021.
Since the very beginning of COVID-19, our government has called on landlords and tenants to come together and be reasonable with each other – and landlords and tenants across the province have shown the Ontario spirit by doing just that.
In that spirit, our government is announcing our intention to stabilize rents for Ontario’s 1.6 million rental households.
Every year, the government sets out the maximum allowable rent increases for the year to come in rent-controlled units. Those increases are modest and tied to inflation – and for 2021 it would have been 1.5% This increase is automatically published in the Gazette. But this year is not like every year.
That’s why the Premier has directed the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to bring forward legislation this fall to support renters across Ontario.
The legislation would ensure that the vast majority of families do not see a rent increase next year.
We will engage tenant and landlord groups to ensure the proposed legislation is fair and balanced.
We know that families are continuing to be impacted by COVID. We know landlords have worked hard to be accommodating and have made sacrifices. And we know that by continuing to work together, we will move past this extraordinary time and increase housing – so that every Ontarian can find a home that suits their needs and their budget.
CLEANING UP OUR GREAT LAKES
As part of our government’s commitment in the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan, we are providing $5.8 million in funding for 65 Canada-Ontario Great Lakes Agreement projects, as well as up to $1.67 million for the new Great Lakes Local Action Fund. The new program that will provide up to $50,000 to local projects that have a positive environmental impact on the Great Lakes, as well as social or economic benefits for their communities.
UPDATED VISITOR POLICY FOR LONG-TERM CARE HOMES
We released an updated visitor policy for long-term care homes to help operators implement consistent visiting practices across the province. The policy clarifies guidance on accommodation for caregivers and includes easy-to-follow direction to help all homes welcome caregivers as of September 9, 2020. It outlines that:
- Each resident and/or their substitute decision maker may designate a maximum of two caregivers.
- Caregivers can visit at any time, without time limits.
- If a home is not in outbreak, caregivers can visit together; if a home is in outbreak, they must visit one at a time to limit risk of transmission.
DRIVE TEST CENTRES ENTER INTO PHASE 3
Ontarians will now be able to book class G road tests and access all classes of driver testing services at DriveTest centres across Ontario. As Ontario continues down the path to economic recovery, the province is taking steps to ensure that critical services are in place so people can return to work.
WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY
September 10 marked World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s was a day for everyone around the world to join the conversation about suicide and support those who have been impacted by a suicide attempt or loss.
If you or someone you know is struggling, here are some helpful numbers:
Good2Tallk (ages 17 to 25)
Kids Help Phone (ages 5 to 20)
FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDER SUPPORT
The Ontario government is providing an additional $3 million annually to better support people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). The funding will be used to raise awareness, better coordinate services and expand and enhance supports to children and families impacted by FASD. This includes funding that will support the hiring of an additional 26 FASD support workers, establish new family capacity-building workshops and a public awareness campaign to help educate people about FASD.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought new challenges to our lives and our workplaces, and it put many people out of jobs for months. That makes helping people access skills and training all the more important. Our Government is helping students, job-seekers and workers gain skills and train for good, well-paid, and fulfilling jobs. These jobs will change lives for workers and their families, and give them the opportunity to be part of Ontario’s economic recovery. This is why we announced $37 million to help over 15,000 people access training and upgrade their skills.
EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS INCREASE
Employment in Ontario increased by 141,800 in August. This marks the third straight month of employment increases, a notable milestone as the province implements a made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery.
JOBS FOR STUDENTS IN THE AUTOMOTIVE SECTOR
We are investing $9.3 million in 11 training projects to help approximately 2,000 students and job seekers prepare for auto and advanced manufacturing careers. These sectors are important pillars of Ontario’s economy. Manufacturing employers have been critical to Ontario’s response to COVID-19 as they adapted their production to help produce much-needed PPE.
Our message to these employers is clear: We have your back. We’re investing in college and university students, recent graduates and apprentices to ensure these businesses have the talent they need to recover and grow.
EXTENSION OF THE CANADA-ONTARIO EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE AGREEMENT
I was pleased to join Minister Lecce, MP Maloney and Minister Hussen at the Learning Garden Childcare Centre last week as we announced a one-year extension of the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care Agreement that allocates nearly $147 million to Ontario for 2020-21. This funding will help licensed child care providers and EarlyON child and family centres, supporting measures to minimize the impacts of COVID-19. It will also continue to support initiatives outlined in the initial three-year agreement, including increased access for families and professional learning for staff. Thank you to the amazing team at Garden Childcare and all the children for hosting us!
In the community and around the province:
I had the honour to present the OPP Hero of the Year Award to Kingston Constable Fil Wisniak.
I had the opportunity to visit Jim and Maria’s No Frills on Islington to see the measures they have taken to keep customers and employees safe.
I was pleased to host a round table with Ontario’s first Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and community partners to discuss the importance of mental health. Mental health is health!
I was at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 101 to pick up a mask at the pop-up shop. Support your local Legions.
to announce a one year extension of the Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care agreement.
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Have a wonderful weekend. Remember slow down on our local roads as our little ones return to school. Have a safe school year!
Christine Hogarth, MPP