Ensuring Health Care resources remain  available to contain COVID-19 . . .

Monday, Mar. 23th - The Ontario government has announced a new order under the March 17, 2020 declaration of emergency to ensure health care resources are available to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep individuals and families safe. This temporary order would give hospitals the ability to cancel and postpone services to free-up space and valuable staff, identify staffing priorities, and develop, modify and implement redeployment plans.

     "On the best advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, and in response to clear and urgent requests from our frontline health service providers, the province is taking decisive action to ensure we can continue to be responsive and nimble as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grows," said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. "While normal protocols are important in routine times, these extraordinary steps will ensure our health sector workers are there, where and when they are needed, to care for Ontarians and support our extensive efforts to contain this virus."

     Under this temporary order hospitals will be able to respond to, prevent and alleviate an outbreak of COVID-19 by carrying out measures such as:

     •  Redeploying staff within different locations in (or between) facilities of the hospital;

     •  Redeploying staff to work in COVID-19 assessment centres;

     •  Changing the assignment of work, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to perform bargaining unit work;

     •  Changing the scheduling of work or shift assignments;

     •  Deferring or cancelling vacations, absences or other leaves, regardless of whether such vacations, absences or leaves are established by statute, regulation, agreement or otherwise;

     •  Employing extra part-time or temporary staff or contractors, including for the purpose of performing bargaining unit work;

     •  Using volunteers to perform work, including to perform bargaining work; and

     •  Providing appropriate training or education as needed to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of a redeployment plan.

     When utilized by hospitals, these redeployment plans temporarily supersede the provisions of a collective agreement, including lay-off, seniority/service or bumping provisions. For example, currently a hospital would be required to post a lay-off notice and wait a period of time before being able to move a nurse or other unionized employee from an emergency department to a COVID-19 assessment centre. These measures would allow for the redeployment of staff to address the containment of COVID-19 without restriction or delay.

     "I want to once again thank our nurses, doctors and frontline care workers for their extraordinary dedication and commitment as we continue to work together to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "These temporary measures are necessary to ensure hospitals are able to effectively deploy personnel to where help and support is needed most in their facilities."

     This time-limited order is valid for 14 days unless revoked or renewed in accordance with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Funding for food banks and homeless . . .

Monday, Mar. 23rd - The Ontario government is providing $200 million in social services relief funding to help protect the health and safety of the province's most vulnerable people in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

     The province will be providing municipalities and organizations that administer social services with funding to support them in their response to COVID-19. The funding will help municipalities and social service providers such as shelters, food banks, emergency services, charities and non-profits continue to deliver their critical services, hire additional staff, and find ways to promote social distancing and self-isolation to keep clients safe and healthy. Ontario's municipal service managers will determine local needs and distribute the funding, ensuring clients are receiving the support they need.

     "Our government will spare no expense to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians," said Premier Doug Ford. "We are doing our part to show the Ontario spirit and we will make sure no one gets left behind. Organizations across the province are doing critical work right now to help vulnerable Ontarians and these funds will allow them to directly help those who need it most."

     “As the COVID-19 threat continues to escalate, our frontline service providers are called upon to do everything they can to ensure the health and safety of Ontarians,” said MPP Jim

McDonell. “These supports are just some of the critical steps required to protect them and their families as they perform these essential services.

     The funding will also help individuals who do not qualify for emergency financial supports under federal programs. The government is putting in place an expanded Emergency Assistance program administered through Ontario Works (OW) to cover these individuals' needs such as

food, rent, informal childcare, and services. There will also be discretionary benefits available to those who already receive social assistance.

     This new funding will help individuals and families in financial crisis who are not able to access federal assistance to cover needs such as food, rent, medicine, transportation and other services during this public health crisis. Funding will also be made available to organizations delivering social services to vulnerable First Nations individuals and families. Individuals can apply online at Ontario.ca/community.

     "Protecting our most vulnerable is an absolute priority, as the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop," said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. "We're expanding access to temporary emergency assistance so that individuals who have no other means of financial support can stay safe and healthy."

     This fund will also help local communities support their shelter systems during this health crisis. The province's 47 municipal service managers will deliver this funding, ensuring clients are receiving the support they need, and will make local decisions on community funding.

     "We are acting quickly to support those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless during this unprecedented time," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "This funding will go straight to communities, who know best what the immediate needs are on the ground in their local shelters."

     "This new funding will provide much needed support to our province's most vulnerable as we continue to take decisive action to contain the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

     "If Ontario is going to successfully flatten the curve, it's vital that we ensure that all Ontarians have the resources they need to protect their health and well-being."

Report from Queen's Park . . .

                              - By Jim McDonell


    Friday, March 20, 2020

     Let me first state how much I appreciate the patience and cooperation shown by our community as we deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), an unprecedented health situation. These are extraordinary times, requiring extraordinary measures to lessen the impact on our province and our country.

     On Tuesday of this week, Premier Doug Ford issued a Declaration of Emergency for the province of Ontario.  It requires the closure of public libraries, private schools, licensed child care centres, bars and restaurants (except takeout food and delivery), theatres, cinemas, and all facilities providing indoor recreational programs.  As well, all organized public events of over fifty people are prohibited, including parades and communal services within places of worship.  These regulations will remain in place until March 31, 2020, when they will be reassessed. 

     Businesses and organizations that provide essential services, such as grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, manufacturing and hardware supply facilities, and public transit will remain open.  These establishments have been directed to implement public health directives that will protect staff and clients.  We are also asking everyone to do their part to practise social distancing by maintaining a separation of at least six feet, and if you are returning to Canada from abroad, please self-isolate for 14 days.

     This week, the Ontario government also convened an emergency sitting of the legislature on Thursday to pass two pieces of legislation to protect the jobs of employees, help keep store shelves stocked, and give municipal councils the flexibility to continue operations while maintaining social distance.

      The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies) provides job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or in quarantine due to COVID-19, and those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school, daycare closures or to care for other relatives.  These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.  The legislation will also make it clear employees cannot be required to show sick notes.

      The Municipal Emergency Act will ensure that the delivery of goods to Ontario’s businesses and consumers are not impacted by municipal noise by-laws that may unintentionally impede such deliveries when they are most urgently needed.  The legislation also gives municipalities the ability to conduct Council, local board, and committee meetings electronically when faced with local and province-wide emergencies, empowering the government’s municipal partners to respond quickly when in-person meetings cannot be held.

      This week, the government allocated $304 million to combat the COVID-19 crisis, including $100 million to boost COVID-19 testing and screening abilities, $50 million for ensuring patients and health care workers have additional personal protective equipment, $25 million to support assessment workers get respite and child care, and $50 million for long-term care facilities screening and infection control.  However, the government cannot fix this problem alone; we need your help. The provincial website, Ontario.ca/coronavirus, is available to provide the latest guidance. If you feel unwell (cough, fever, breathing difficulties), contact your health care provider, public health unit (613-933-1375 or info@eohu.ca), or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000). 

      My constituent office staff is available to help you through this health emergency.  You can reach us at 613-933-6513 or 800-514-9660 or email me at Jim.McDonellco@pc.ola.org.  In following with current guidelines, the constituency office will be closed to walk-in traffic until further notice.




Jim McDonell

MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry

Legislation to protect careers, provide services gets unanimous support . . .

Thursday, Mar. 19th - Today, the Ontario government took unprecedented action to respond to COVID-19 by convening an emergency sitting of the legislature and passing two pieces of legislation which will protect the jobs of employees who self-isolate or quarantine, help keep store shelves stocked and give municipal councils the flexibility to continue operations while maintaining social distance.

     The legislation passed with unanimous consent by only 26 MPPs. The number of members participating in this extraordinary session was intentionally kept small in order to practice social distancing and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  A first in Ontario history.

     "I want to thank all parties for coming together to pass this important legislation so we can deliver immediate relief to Ontario workers and families," said Premier Doug Ford. "The health and safety of the people of Ontario is our number one priority and that's why we are protecting the jobs of workers and making sure that essentials like groceries, household basics, and medicine can arrive on store shelves. We must work together as Team Ontario to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve."

     The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 provides job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives. These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario. The legislation will also make it clear employees cannot be required to show sick notes.

     "During this time of great uncertainty, the last thing employees should have to worry about is job security," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "People can't be punished for following the advice of our leading medical health professionals."

     The Municipal Emergency Act, 2020 will ensure that for the near future, the delivery of goods to Ontario's businesses and consumers isn't impacted by municipal noise by-laws that may unintentionally be impeding such deliveries when they are most urgently needed. The legislation also gives municipalities the ability to fully conduct Council, local board and committee meetings electronically when faced with local and province-wide emergencies, empowering the government's municipal partners to respond quickly when in-person meetings cannot be held.

     "These changes will assist in getting goods to market in a more expeditious manner. Our government wants to do everything we can to help connect distribution centres with grocery stores and pharmacies to replenish empty shelves more quickly," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "As well, we are helping communities respond to this crisis by allowing councils to conduct meetings remotely. These changes empower municipalities to respond quickly and continue to function when in-person meetings cannot be held, and council decisions need to be made."

     “We are taking all steps necessary to protect the residents of this great province,” said MPP Jim McDonell. “These are trying times, and everyone needs to do their part, knowing the government is standing with you.”

Ending 'hallway healthcare' in Ontario . . .

Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health . . .    (photo: thepointer.com)
Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health . . . (photo: thepointer.com)

Wednesday, Mar. 18th - Ontario is building healthier and safer communities by taking further steps to end hallway health care and build an integrated, connected health care system. Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, issued a transfer order under the Connecting Care Act, 2019 to transfer the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) to Ontario Health, the province's new health agency. The transfer will take effect on April 1, 2020.

"Our government is breaking down siloes within the health care sector as part of our plan to end hallway health care and build a modern, sustainable and connected health care system for current and future generations," said Elliott. "A new health agency with one strategy and one set of priorities, the province is able to leverage the best practices and combine expertise from all the health agencies and now Ontario Telemedicine Network. This will ultimately better support health care providers with the tools, resources and information to deliver high-quality care to Ontarians."

MPP Jim McDonell . . .
MPP Jim McDonell . . .

“The new integrated health teams will be able to make decisions based on the local needs of our region, for one size does not fit all,” stated MPP Jim McDonell. “We must have a cohesive health care organization that meets the requirements of a rapidly changing world.”

The transfer of OTN into Ontario Health will further pave the way for digital-first approaches to health care in Ontario and improve the integration and efficiency of virtual care across the health care system. Based on feedback and guidance from Ontario Health, the transfer of the health system funding, planning and coordination functions of the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) will be postponed as the province continues to actively respond to COVID-19. Plans will be made to transfer

these functions into Ontario Health at a later date.

"Now more than ever, everyone at Ontario Health is united behind a commitment to supporting front line providers as they continue delivering high-quality health care services to Ontarians, where and when they need them," said Matthew Anderson, President and CEO of Ontario Health. "To this end, we are applying the collective knowledge and critical skills of all the organizations and individuals who have transferred in, which will soon include our great colleagues at OTN, to all areas of health care."

      Ontario has a comprehensive plan to end hallway health care, which includes making investments and advancing new initiatives across four pillars:

     •  Prevention and health promotion: keeping patients as healthy as possible in their communities and out of hospitals.

     •  Providing the right care in the right place: when patients need care, ensure that they receive it in the most appropriate setting, not always the hospital. This includes expanding access to home and community care.

     •  Integration and improved patient flow: better integrate care providers to ensure patients spend less time waiting in hospitals when they are ready to be discharged. Ontario Health Teams will play a critical role in connecting care providers and, in doing so, helping to end hallway health care.

     •  Building capacity: build new hospital and long-term care beds while increasing community-based services across Ontario.


https://news.ontario.ca/mohltc/en/2019/11/ontario-taking-next-steps-to-integrate- health-care-system.html



Ontario  to combat human trafficking . . .

$307 million invested to protect children . . .

Friday, Mar. 6th - The Government of Ontario is taking strong action to protect children and youth, support survivors, raise awareness and hold offenders accountable by releasing Ontario's new anti-human trafficking strategy today.

Premier Doug Ford, Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones released today a new, comprehensive five-year strategy to combat human trafficking and end child sexual exploitation across the province. The new strategy is the largest total investment in dedicated anti-human trafficking supports and services in the country and is a major step forward in Ontario's fight against human trafficking. 

“Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable members of our society ― our children,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We must put an end to this disgusting industry and take immediate steps to keep our kids safe. Our new strategy takes strong and decisive action to support survivors, raise awareness, and give our police the tools and resources they need to put these criminals behind bars.”

Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy  will invest $307 million over the next five years on a proactive, comprehensive action plan focused on four key areas:

     •  Raising awareness of the issue by launching a new, province-wide marketing campaign to educate children, youth, parents, and the broader public about what human trafficking is, how to recognize the signs, and where to get help.

     •  Holding offenders accountable by giving law enforcement more specialized Crown prosecution support for human trafficking cases, strengthening intelligence gathering in the correctional system, and investing in police services to help coordinate anti-human trafficking investigations and expand the Ontario Provincial Police Child Sexual Exploitation Unit.

     •  Protecting victims and intervening early by investing in specialized intervention teams involving police and child protection services, incorporating human trafficking awareness into the education curriculum, and establishing dedicated, licensed residences to support victims, including those under the age of 16.

     •  Supporting survivors by investing new funding in wrap-around, community-based supports and Indigenous-led initiatives to make more services available for survivors and by enhancing victim services to assist survivors throughout the court process.

     “Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry will benefit greatly from this strategy,” MPP Jim McDonell. “Our region will be working across many jurisdictions with community groups, educators, Indigenous leaders and justice partners to ensure a layered, multi-faceted approach that provides more education, more prevention, more protection and more support for survivors, especially children.”

     “Survivors of human trafficking require specific, ongoing supports to help them exit trafficking, heal from their trauma and rebuild their lives,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “Our new strategy doubles the investment in community-based services for survivors, while also providing a range of new supports focused on children and youth, which has been a critical gap until now. It provides increased supports for Indigenous communities and takes a cross-government approach to reinforce Ontario as a leader in combatting human trafficking.”

     To address the needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and organizations, and frontline workers, Indigenous-specific initiatives are integrated throughout Ontario’s new strategy. Examples of these initiatives include targeted public awareness activities, Indigenous-led community-based supports for survivors such as counselling, cultural teachings and healing ceremonies, victim services delivered by Indigenous communities and organizations, and culturally-appropriate supports for at-risk youth.

     “Human trafficking is a vastly under-reported crime often hidden in our communities,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General.      “A crucial component of our new strategy involves strengthening law enforcement and justice sector initiatives so we can better support victims, improve our ability to target and find perpetrators, intercept human trafficking networks and ultimately bring criminals to justice.”

     Co-led by Solicitor General Jones and Associate Minister Dunlop, Ontario’s new Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy demonstrates the government’s commitment to ensure the fight against human trafficking becomes a national priority. The strategy reflects valuable input from survivors of human trafficking, Indigenous communities and organizations, law enforcement and frontline service providers. The government will continue to work collaboratively with these and other partners to ensure the strategy is meaningful and effective.


Quick facts:

     •  Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes worldwide. Approximately two-thirds of police-reported human trafficking violations in Canada occur in Ontario.

     •  The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is 13 years old.

     •  Over 70 per cent of human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25.

     •  Young women and girls are particularly at risk, especially those from Indigenous communities and children and youth in care, though boys, men and people who are LGBTQ are also targeted.

Province to release new budget Mar. 25 . . .

Outline steps to build 'Ontario Together' . . .

Wednesday, Mar.  4th - Today, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, announced that the government will release its 2020 Ontario Budget on March 25. The Minister will share the next steps in the government's plan to ensure every person in Ontario has the opportunity to grow and prosper.

     This year’s Budget will demonstrate progress on the government’s plan to put the province back on sound financial footing, create the conditions for businesses to grow and create jobs, and make smart investments in key priorities.


     “In our 2020 Budget, we will continue on our path to balance the books by 2023-24,” said Minister Phillips. “It’s a practical plan to create the opportunity for every region in Ontario to grow and every family in our province to prosper.”

     The 2020 Budget will also demonstrate how the government’s balanced, prudent and deliberate approach to managing the Province’s finances has enabled additional investments in critical priorities for the people of Ontario, while saving taxpayers money by eliminating waste and making government smarter.

     “We’re restoring balance to the Province’s books within a reasonable timeframe, so we can continue making smart investments in frontline services like health care and education, while leaving more money in people's pockets,” said Minister Phillips. “Our Plan to Build Ontario Together will continue to deliver on our commitments to the people of our province.”

     “I am confident this year’s budget will help to address many of the issues that were brought forward by local residents to me during extensive pre-budget talks earlier this year,” said Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.


Quick Facts . . . 

     •  Due to construction at MacDonald Block, this year’s Budget media lockup will take place at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Accredited media can visit the Budget Lockup 2020 page for more information and to register.

     •  In January, Ontario’s 2019-20 Third Quarter Finances forecast a deficit of $9.0 billion for the year, consistent with the 2019 Fall Economic Statement and a $1.3 billion improvement from the 2019 Budget projection.

     •  During Ontario’s 2020 Budget consultations, Minister Phillips and Parliamentary Assistant Cho heard from more than 5,000 people and organizations, including at 28 in-person consultations in 26 communities across the province.

     •  The government’s Fiscal Sustainability, Transparency and Accountability Act, 2019, requires that the Ontario Budget be released on or before March 31st of each year.

     •  Since the Government took office in June 2018, employment in Ontario has risen by 307,800 net new jobs.