- by Jim McDonell
Friday, July 3rd - This past Canada Day, we celebrated our 153rd birthday as a country. Unfortunately, we could not mark it in our usual festive way with big parades and large gatherings, but as Canadians, we did it our way. I am sure from the sacrifices we’ve made the last few months, our collective gets-together, whether in small groups or online, meant more to us than most years.
I took the opportunity to drive around our area to witness Canada Day in Stormont, Dundas, and South Glengarry. For the most part, people seemed to spend the day off at home, enjoying the great weather. Everywhere you went, you could find restaurant patios, with small groups of people appreciating all this country has to offer. In South Glengarry, music filled the Glens, as “The County Lads” group toured the township playing popular tunes on a flatbed. I took in opening day at Upper Canada Village. While many of the attractions are closed to the public, our guide did a fantastic job bring you back to life in the 1860’s rural Ontario. It is one of Canada’s greatest tourist attractions, and I encourage everyone to experience it this summer. Remember that you must buy your tickets online to schedule your tour.
No group has been impacted more during this pandemic than our senior citizens. Many of them have had to weather COVID-19 in a long-term care facility, or by socially isolating at home without access to loved ones. The Government is working to help them through these trying times with several programs. The provincial Seniors Community Grant Program has been significantly increased this year to $4 million. This program will help seniors get more support from their community, protect them from neglect, abuse and fraud, and better connect and engage them to reduce social isolation. It will also allow older adults more employment and volunteering opportunities, with the hopes of increasing financial security and community engagement. I encourage not-for-profit organizations, local service boards and Indigenous groups to apply for these grants of between $1,000 and $100,000. Please submit your applications by August 7, 2020, to Transfer Payment Ontario at Ontario.ca/GetFunding.
One ideal and safe way for families to reconnect with our senior-aged parents and grandparents is to enjoy a day of fishing. We are making this easier this year by extending the annual Free Family Week to two weeks. Starting from Saturday, July 4 to Sunday, July 19, Canadians of all ages do not need to purchase a license or carry an Outdoors Card. I encourage everyone to make good use of this opportunity and visit one or more of the many popular fishing holes available in our riding.
Small businesses deserve the opportunity to help communities recover from COVID-19. In recognition of International Small Business Week, the Government has launched the “Shop Local! Shop Safe! Shop Confident!” campaign. We are asking local councils, community leaders and groups to get behind this campaign through their social media outlets. The Government is helping small businesses ensure the safety of employees and customers through the People Outside Safely Together (POST) Promise. The POST initiative will help ensure health guidelines are followed by highlighting best practices and can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/page/resources-prevent-covid-19-workplace. The success of this program and Stage 2 reopenings will eventually allow us to have more business and activities returning as part of Stage 3.
The Government continues to be vigilant against the threat of a second wave of COVID-19. We are ensuring the latest update COVID-19 preventative regulations are available at www.Ontario.ca/covidsafety. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit is also here to provide guidance. For the latest in Stage 2 restrictions, including social groups and activities, please go to www.Ontario.ca/reopen.
I want to remind everyone that an up-to-date list of all federal and provincial programs for individuals and businesses is available at http://covidsupports.ca/jimmcdonell. For those who need assistance, my office continues to be available at email@example.com or 613-933-6513 (toll-free 1-800-514-9660).
Wednesday, June 24th - As the province begins its economic recovery, the government is launching the 2020-21 edition of the Francophone Community Grants Program to support Ontario's francophone businesses and community organizations, as well as those that serve French-speaking Ontarians.
"Our government is committed to supporting Ontario's Francophone community through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Francophone Affairs. "This year's investment in the Francophone Community Grants Program will help Francophone organizations and businesses implement new projects and initiatives and contribute to our recovery."
The Francophone Community Grants Program is a two-stream, application-based funding program. Funding provided under the Economic Development stream helps francophone entrepreneurs and businesses improve front-line services and better serve their French-speaking clients and partners. Under the Cultural and Community stream, the Program invests in local cultural and community initiatives, demonstrating the government's ongoing commitment to protecting and promoting the French language and culture.
Last year, three local groups received a combined $61,877, to assist three projects: a French-language comedy festival, helping seniors stay connected socially, and provide professional development for general health and mental health workers.
“I am pleased that this funding is available to help local organizations provide services for Franco-Ontarians,” said Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry. “It is one of the many ways in which our government is supporting the growth and vitality of local communities and businesses.”
The Program supports projects which strengthen the capacity of organizations to provide products and services in French, promote the recruitment and training of bilingual staff, or provide opportunities to celebrate and foster understanding of Ontario's Francophonie. This year, the Economic Development stream has been extended to include not-for-profit organizations, in addition to for-profit organizations.
"This is an important step in building the capacity of Francophone organizations across Ontario to support our communities and bring Ontario on the path to recovery," added Minister Mulroney. "By investing in new projects, our government will leverage the economic strengths of Ontario's Francophonie and help francophone organizations and businesses across the province face these unprecedented times."MPP Jim McDonell
Sunday, June 21st - The Ontario government has announced members of the new Indigenous Women's Advisory Council. The Council includes First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and LGBTQ2S leaders on violence prevention who will provide input on issues impacting their communities such as human trafficking and child, youth and family well-being. The announcement was being made on National Indigenous Peoples Day, Sunday, June 21st.
“For culturally relevant and effective changes to occur in Ontario, Indigenous women must lead the development of our policies so we can truly support their communities,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues. “The Council will be key to ensuring Indigenous women's voices guide Ontario's priorities on a range of critical issues.”
The Council will be co-chaired by Cora-lee McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director of the Ontario Native Women's Association. The other co-chair will be selected at the Council's first meeting in early July 2020.
Other members of the Advisory Council include:
Sylvia Maracle, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres
Sandra Montour, Six Nations of the Grand River
Lyndia Jones, Independent First Nations
Jennifer St. Germain, Métis Nation of Ontario
Teresa Sutherland, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Amanda Kilabuk, Tungasuvvingat Inuit
Marina Plain, Union of Ontario Indians/Anishinabek Nation
Tracy Antone, Chiefs of Ontario
“I'm honoured to accept this position and work with our Indigenous partners and the Ontario government. It will take everyone working together to address issues of gender-based violence and systemic racism,” said Cora-lee McGuire-Cyrette, Council Co- Chair and Executive Director of the Ontario Native Women's Association. “I want to thank Associate Minister Jill Dunlop for this opportunity and her leadership in making this space possible. The Indigenous Women's Advisory Council is building on the foundational work the province has been leading and the work of the Council is critical to ensuring the issues Indigenous Women face daily will be a priority.”
“I'm pleased Cora-lee McGuire-Cyrette has agreed to provide her leadership and expertise and I look forward to hearing the voices of these incredible individuals on how we can work together to prevent violence in all its forms,” said Minister Dunlop.
“Indigenous women, communities and organizations have been working tirelessly to address violence against Indigenous women, and the knowledge and expertise of the Council will be instrumental in ensuring our province's continued response is effective and collaborative,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
Tuesday, June 16th - The Ontario Government is investing up to $46 million over the next five years to increase community-based and Indigenous-specific supports for child and youth victims of sex trafficking. The Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports Fund and the Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund will prioritize early intervention and increased protection for victims of sexual exploitation and dedicated survivor supports.
“Over the last year, we heard from our frontline agencies, survivors and Indigenous communities and organizations that there is a critical need to increase available supports for children and youth affected by sex trafficking,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.
“Our goal is to build a more comprehensive network of anti-human trafficking services across Ontario, so more victims have access to the supports they need.”
Funding will be available to partners and agencies and focus on areas such as:
• Trauma-informed programming developed and delivered by survivor-led organizations,
• Dedicated services for victims under age 18, including residential placements and treatment, peer mentoring,
as well as education and employment training programs;
• Culturally-appropriate, Indigenous-designed supports for First Nations, Inuit and Métis victims, families and
• Targeted supports for sexually exploited boys, individuals with developmental disabilities, LGBTQ2S individuals,
and racialized and newcomer populations;
• Specialized programs for children and youth involved in or transitioning out of child welfare or the
youth justice system.
“Human trafficking isn’t just an enforcement issue — it’s a vicious and violent crime that preys on our most vulnerable, robbing them of their health, safety and dignity,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. “By investing in intervention and specialized services for young people, we can reduce the threat of exploitation and protect those most at risk. These programs are vital components of Ontario’s comprehensive plan to combat human trafficking, bring traffickers to justice and end this heinous crime.”
Announced in March 2020, Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy will invest $307 million over the next five years on a comprehensive plan to raise awareness of the issue, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors and hold offenders accountable. The strategy reflects valuable input from survivors of human trafficking, Indigenous communities and organizations, law enforcement and frontline service providers.
Applications to the Community Supports Fund and Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund will be accepted until 5 p.m. on July 30, 2020.
Quick facts . . .
Approximately two-thirds of police-reported human trafficking violations in Canada occur in Ontario. Over 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25 and 26 per cent are under 18.
The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is 13 years old.
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 LGBTQ2S are also targeted.
Thursday, June 4th - Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues, issued the following statement on this important date:
“As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Ontario continues to address the root causes of violence against First Nation, Métis, and Inuit women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people.
"To help with Ontario’s response to the Final Report, our government established an Indigenous Women's Advisory Council. Its members will provide much-needed advice to address human trafficking as well as child, youth and family well-being for Indigenous people.
"In partnership with the Ontario Native Women's Association, Ontario also held engagement sessions on the National Inquiry's Calls for Justice with Indigenous communities, organizations, leaders, and experts in violence prevention. This will ensure our approach is informed by a wide variety of Indigenous voices.
"As part of our government's overall response to the report's Calls for Justice, in March we launched a new, comprehensive strategy to combat the problem of human trafficking. Indigenous-specific initiatives are integrated throughout the strategy to help protect vulnerable women, children and youth and address the needs of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, organizations, and frontline workers.
"We know the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of violence for some Indigenous women and children and made access to support more challenging. That's why our government is investing $10 million in emergency funding to support organizations delivering social services to vulnerable First Nations individuals and families. Further funding to support victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking during the pandemic will ensure a range of critical supports remain available to those who need them most.
"The National Inquiry and its final report have brought the issues of violence against First Nation, Métis, and Inuit women, girls, and LGBTQ2S people to the forefront, and together we must continue the momentum for change. Our government will continue to respond to the report's Calls for Justice by working in partnership with Indigenous leaders, justice partners, community groups, service providers and others to enhance violence prevention and access to services. By working together, we can support Indigenous women and girls' empowerment and help secure a future free from violence.”
Friday, June 5th - MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, Jim McDonell, is pleased to share the good news that short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes, condominiums and B&Bs will be allowed to resume operations in Ontario starting Friday, June 5 at 12:01 am.
“This is good news for our local economy as our riding has a wealth of vacation sites available for rent. It’s also a testament to our local efforts to reduce the cases of COVID-19 in our riding,” said MPP Jim McDonell.
“Expanding the availability of short-term accommodations is an important part of Ontario’s reopening,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Many people rely on the rental of these properties to supplement their income, and we know owners of these properties want to ensure a safe experience for their guests.”
The government's responsible and measured approach to reopening allows business owners and service providers time to ensure workplaces are safe for staff, consumers and the general public. Operators must continue to follow occupational health and safety guidelines and follow the advice of public health officials.
“Ontario’s tourism industry contributes $36 billion to the economy and supports thousands of small businesses across the province,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “Reopening short term accommodations will provide guests the opportunity to safely experience all that our province has to offer.”
Owners should consult health and safety guidelines related to the tourism and hospitality sector when considering how they can reopen their doors to guests. Operators and guests should continue to practice physical distancing, wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge, and wash hands frequently.
Friday, June 5th - “Over the past several months, Ontario has partnered with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network to leverage $213 million to improve access in Eastern Ontario. We have heard from residents and stakeholders that we must continue to build on these successes,” said MPP Jim McDonell.
As Ontario safely and gradually begins to reopen, the provincial government is investing $150 million in reliable broadband and cellular service. This funding will help create even more economic and educational opportunities in rural, remote and underserved areas of the province. This is part of the province's $315 million initiative called Up to Speed: Ontario's Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.
“As we carefully restart the economic engine of Canada, every region and every community will play a role in bringing jobs and prosperity back to our province,” said Premier Ford. “By investing in reliable broadband and cellular service, we are helping to create greater opportunity for our families, farmers and small business owners in rural and remote areas of this great province.”
The new Improving Connectivity in Ontario, or ICON, program, when leveraged, has the potential to result in an investment of up to $500 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in underserved and unserved areas. Applicants, including telecom companies, municipal governments, First Nation communities, and non-profits, will be invited to submit innovative proposals and lend their investment, expertise and experience to improve connectivity in communities across Ontario. The province will fund a portion of each approved project.
Access to broadband is a core component of the province's Learn at Home plan. Reliable Internet, particularly in rural and regional areas, is essential to supporting students’ success in school. The provincial government recently called on the federal government to take immediate action to improve Internet connectivity for Ontario students.
As many as 12 per cent of households in Ontario ― mostly in rural, remote or Northern areas ― are underserved or unserved, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
“Access to high-speed Internet is foundational to our young people’s success in learning, working, and innovating, today and into the future,” said Minister Lecce. “Our government is taking action by connecting all schools to broadband, starting with high schools this September 2020 and elementary schools by September 2021. It is also why we are calling on the federal government to step up their investment to connect the next generation of thinkers and workers to the modern and digital economy.”
The ICON program is one of several important initiatives underway to expand access to mobile broadband and high-speed Internet services. Over the past several months, Ontario has partnered with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) to leverage $213 million to improve access in Eastern Ontario.
As part of a $190 million project to bring high-speed Internet to thousands of homes and businesses throughout Southwestern Ontario, the Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) has awarded contracts in Lambton, Wellington and Norfolk counties.
Ontario has also invested in initiatives to improve connectivity in Northern Ontario, such as a project that will connect five remote Matawa-member First Nation communities, and investments in broadband projects through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation and the Next Generation Network Program.
Friday, June 5th - Today, the Ontario government announced the Premier's Council on Equality of Opportunity, a new advisory group that will provide advice on how young people can overcome social and economic barriers and achieve success. The council will also advise government on long-term actions that can be taken to support youth during the COVID-19 outbreak. Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities.
"At a time when the world is facing some of its most difficult challenges, we have to do everything we can to help our next generation of leaders overcome the social and economic barriers before them," said Premier Ford. "Our young people are the future of this province and I truly believe this council will be a strong advocate that will set them down the path to even greater success."
The council will have up to 20 members, including a chair and a vice-chair. Membership will be intergenerational and cross-sector, and will include youth between the ages of 18 to 29 and adults with expertise from community organizations, not-for-profit businesses, education, and government services.
The council will focus on the challenges facing young people today, such as completing an education, skills training, and employment. As an immediate priority, the council will identify strategies to support vulnerable and marginalized youth to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities, will serve as chair of the council for the first year. He will work to engage directly with young people and communities across the province.
"For decades, youth from disadvantaged communities have faced barriers to succeeding in our economy. COVID-19 has made these issues worse. As the first chair of the Premier's Council on Equality of Opportunity, I will work with a diverse group of leaders to help the government give young workers, especially disadvantaged youth, a fair chance to succeed in Ontario's workforce," said Jamil Jivani.
The Ontario government is further supporting Black communities to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 by allocating $1.5 million in funding to organizations that support Black families and youth. This funding will be used to provide urgent COVID-19 supports and address the immediate needs of children, youth and families.
"The Premier's Council on Equality of Opportunity will allow our government to hear directly from those who have faced economic challenges in our province," said Minister Smith. "The council's knowledge, combined with the insight gained from engaging with communities and youth across Ontario, will help our government as we work to remove the key barriers that prevent young people from achieving their economic goals."
Those interested in joining the council are invited to apply to the Public Appointments Secretariat by Thursday, June 18, 2020. Eligible candidates should have expertise in areas such as community service, business, education, and government services such as youth justice and child welfare.