- by Jim McDonell
September 18, 2020
This week, we returned to Queen's Park for the fall session of the Ontario Legislature, which had adjourned after an extended Spring session on July 22. I heard from many of our local residents, and it is an opportunity to bring these issues concerning the pandemic and other matters back to the Legislature for more discussion. Premier Doug Ford promises a robust few months as we prepare for a possible second COVID-19 wave and continue rebuilding the economy. Judging by the way all parties have cooperated since the Declaration of Emergency six months ago, I look forward to a productive session.
The government has outlined seven key priorities:
1. Make new healthcare and public health investments to reduce the impact
of a second wave,
2. increase the production of personal protective equipment, ventilators and
medical equipment, ensuring our province is here on self-sufficient,
3. focus on protecting families and the most vulnerable and then helping them
to return to work as the province reopens,
4. provide more skills training for youth to join the workforce and to create new opportunities for existing workers,
5. speed up the renewal of critical infrastructure, including broadband, to spur employment and boost local economies,
6. support Mainstreet Ontario and small businesses to recover from COVID-10 faster and rebuilding their businesses, and
7. create better conditions that attract investments in manufacturing, which will produce world-class, made-in-Ontario products.
Two weeks ago, I joined the Premier, and Ministers Sylvia Jones and Steve Clark, as we announced the construction of a new jail in Kemptville, rebuilding the Brockville jail, and improving the St. Lawrence Valley Correctional and Treatment Centre. This week in Question Period, I asked Minister Jones about the government's latest efforts to improve the correctional system in Eastern Ontario. She stated that consultations would be held with community partners and stakeholders, including those in our riding, to get their input on design and construction phases. The Solicitor General also noted that OPSEU union staff support these efforts to ensure the best possible services for our region. She restated the government's commitment to ensure these facilities are appropriately staffed and that they have already started to hire up to 500 new workers.
Our government maintains scrutiny of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since we are experiencing increased cases in some communities. Last week, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, we paused any further relaxing of public health measures for at least four weeks, until we see evidence that the spread is under control. This week, in discussion with local mayors, the Premier announced additional restrictions on private gatherings in the Peel region, Toronto, and Ottawa. Restaurants will not be impacted at this time. Fines are also being raised for offenders as we try to slow the spread of this virus. The measures are being put in place now to help avoid a tougher lockdown that would severely impact our residents, businesses, and our economy.
The government continues to monitor closely the return of students to schools and post-secondary institutions. Public health experts and school boards are using the latest information and trends on COVID-19 to ensure we have the best safety measures and responses for students and staff. We have put together the most expensive plan in Canada that allows for online and in-class learning to minimize the spread of this virus. For more information, please visit Ontario.ca/ReopeningSchools.
In many Service Ontario locations, residents are experiencing long lineups and delays. Early on in the pandemic, we took steps to limit the need for in-person visits by extending the expiry dates of most documents, such as licenses and plate stickers, and enhancing online facilities. Save yourself from the aggregation by taking advantage of these measures and allowing staff to complete essential services in a timely manner.
Please visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/serviceontario to determine what services can be accessed online or left until the end of the pandemic restrictions.