Ontario to overhaul home warranties . . .

Thursday, Dec. 5th - Ontario's government has a continued plan to strengthen protections and promote trust and confidence for the people of Ontario when they are investing in one of the biggest purchases of their lifetime — a new home.

        Today, Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, introduced proposed legislation through the Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act that would overhaul the Ontario new home warranty and protection program, reforming Tarion Warranty Corporation, while reducing the role of builders to make it more focused on consumers. This comes only a week after the second reading of the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, which will also strengthen consumer protections for home buyers.

        “When consumers get the keys to their new home they should feel confident their home has been built properly, and that any defects will be taken care of in a timely manner,” said Thompson. “Home warranties and protections need to keep home owners safe, and ensure homes are built well.”

        “Too often, though, that dream can crumble when new homeowners find serious defects such as foundation cracks, mold, or incorrect finishes caused by poor construction,” Jim McDonell, Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry. “A new home should be a safe, secure and comfortable place to live and raise your family.”

        The province is also proposing changes to improve on the single administrator model for warranties and protections delivery, provide a better dispute resolution process and deliver new measures to promote better built new homes, such as providing the warranty administrator with greater ability to scrutinize builder applications and conduct inspections before a homeowner moves in.

        In response to the Auditor General's 2019 Special Audit of the Tarion Warranty Corporation the government is making significant improvements to make the program more responsive to the needs of homebuyers. The government requested an implementation plan for Tarion, acting on 29 of 32 recommendations, just over a month after the report was released.

        “Our government recognizes that Tarion has not done nearly enough to fulfill its responsibilities to protect buyers of new homes,” said Thompson. “It is why we are rebuilding the program from the ground up, focusing on consumer protections, transparency and access to information, and governance.”

        Administrative authorities like Tarion Warranty Corporation are responsible for delivering critical programs and services. By strengthening key oversight, governance and transparency requirements for administrative authorities, Ontarians can trust they are delivering critical programs and services.


Proposed bill to protect Ontario farmers . . .

Addressing unique risks with trespass . . .

Monday, Dec. 2nd - A proposed Bill introduced in the Ontario Legislature will, if passed, better protect farmers, their animals, livestock transporters and the province’s food supply from on-farm trespassers. The proposed legislation would also require explicit prior consent to access an animal protection zone on a farm or food processing facility.

        “We have heard concerns from farmers, farm organizations, processors, livestock transporters and municipalities in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry about trespassing and their worry about the safety of farm families, employees and farm animals,” said MPP Jim McDonell.

        “Our government is taking action to help protect them and protect our agriculture sector.”

        Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, introduced the proposed Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019 in the Ontario Legislature following consultations held throughout the fall with key stakeholders and people impacted by interference in their livestock operations. The health and safety of individuals and farm animals is at the heart of the proposed legislation.

        “Interfering with the operations of farms, food processing businesses and livestock transporters not only puts the health and safety of our agri-food workers and farm animals at risk, but also jeopardizes our food safety,” said Hardeman. “Our proposed legislation takes important steps to protect the integrity of the province’s food system.”

 

The proposed Bill would, if passed, act as a deterrent to trespassers by:

    •  Increasing fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to a maximum of $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act;

    •  Allowing the court to consider aggravating factors when determining the appropriate fine;

    •  Allowing the court to issue a Restitution Order requiring the trespasser to pay restitution for damages caused during the trespass;

    •  Increasing protection for farmers, owners, occupiers or drivers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided there was no intent to do harm to or reckless disregard for the trespasser.

The proposed Bill provides exemptions to allow access for municipal by-law officers, police and persons appointed under provincial animal protection and other legislation to access the property. This will be updated to reference the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS) if both bills are passed by the legislature.

Under the proposed Bill, consent would be invalid if it was obtained using duress or under false pretenses.

 

The proposed Bill would also address the safety risks of people interfering with livestock in transport by:

    •  Prohibiting stopping, hindering, obstructing or interfering with a motor vehicle that is transporting farm animals; and

    •  Prohibiting interacting with farm animals being transported by a motor vehicle without explicit prior consent.


Improving our health care system . . .

Queen’s Park Report – Friday, Nov. 29, 2019

                  -Jim McDonell 

        This week, the Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, provided a clear vision of what a regional Health Team will do to help modernize and improve our health care system. The new Mississauga Health Team will serve as a health care delivery model as the first round of 23 health teams are being announced over the next few weeks. Each team will be responsible for local health care services, including acute care, home care, long-term care, and mental health. They will move to one record and one care plan for each patient, eliminating the health care siloes of today’s complex system.

        While swifter care for an ageing population is a priority, each health team will track the care required for every Ontarian – from prenatal to birth to end-of-life. We want life-long care to be community-based, and that includes physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

        Our local health care practitioners are currently working hard to put together a submission to look after the unique challenges of our region. The proposal will undergo a readiness assessment before our new health team begins the phase-in of our integrated medical and health services.

        Over the past number of years, I have heard from seniors who are just getting by on fixed incomes. Their pensions remain essentially unchanged and unable to cover increases in property taxes and the cost of living. Too many of our seniors forgo the essential basics, such as a proper diet and dental care, forcing them to endure long hours in our emergency rooms as their health deteriorates. I was proud to see the government announce its plan to provide basic dental services for low-income seniors. This move is another step the government is taking to make life more affordable.

        The issue is widespread enough that our government is setting aside $90 million for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program, which will be eligible for Ontarians 65 and over with an income of $19,300 or less, or for a couple with a combined income of $32,300 or less. This assistance helps seniors take care of small dental issues that, otherwise, could quickly turn into major medical problems. It just makes sense as we try to reduce the expenses caused by emergency department admissions.    

        Preventable dental issues like gum disease, account for more than 60,000 ER visits per year. Eligible seniors can now apply to the program online (www.Ontario.ca/page/dental-care-low-income-seniors). They can also contact their Eastern Ontario Health Unit for an application and further information.

        Strategies to make life more affordable comes in many forms, including lower shelter costs. Because of this, our government is committed to providing more affordable housing. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, is implementing Ontario’s Housing Supply Action Plan. We are cutting red tape to help contractors build more homes more quickly. We also recognize the importance that community housing has in providing a home for many of our residents. The new Community Housing Renewal Strategy is designed to help sustain, repair and grow community-housing units.

        Some of the measures the strategy will undertake to include are the simplifying rent fees, removing rules to help people earn more money or go back to school, protect tenants who receive child support by excluding their payments from rent calculations. We are working together to provide housing that is sustainable today and into the future.

 

Regards,

Jim McDonell

Member of Provincial Parliament

Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry


Province releases report on flooding . . .

Steps to strengthen flood resiliency . . .

Friday, Nov. 29th  - The Ontario government is taking action to strengthen the province’s resiliency to flooding.

       “The safety of the public and the protection of our communities is our number one priority,” said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

        “After last spring’s flooding, we recognized that we needed an external perspective on the current roles and responsibilities of the governments, agencies and organizations involved in flood management – someone who could provide independent advice on improvements we can make.”

        In July, Minister Yakabuski named Doug McNeil as Special Advisor on Flooding, and charged him with conducting an independent review of flood management and 2019 flooding events in Ontario. The Special Advisor delivered his report to the Ontario government on October 31. 

        In his review, Mr. McNeil confirmed that this year’s record-setting flooding in many parts of the province was caused by a combination of weather conditions: colder-than-average winter and spring, higher-than-average snowpack, lack of significant winter thaw, rapid snow melt and significant rain events in the spring. Mr. McNeil found that nothing pointed to human error or the negligent operation of water control structures as the cause of the flooding, and that the government and its partners were effective at reducing and mitigating flood risks.

        “Mr. McNeil looked carefully at the core components of the Province’s approach to emergency management relative to last spring’s flood season and found that steps taken by individuals, municipalities, dam owners, and other agencies were effective in reducing further potential damage to communities,” said Minister Yakabuski, adding,  “We are pleased by this conclusion, and we appreciate Mr. McNeil’s practical advice for the Province and other parties to help us to become more flood resilient.”

Since the spring, the government has taken steps to help increase the province’s resiliency to flooding:

    •  Initiated procurement for its first-ever broad, multi-sector provincial climate change impact assessment that will help the province, municipalities, Indigenous communities and other local partners make more informed decisions to keep communities and people healthy and safe.

    •  Opened the Green Stream infrastructure fund of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), enabling smaller municipalities to access approximately $200 million in federal and provincial funding to invest in critical water, waste water and storm water projects. 

    •  Launched a $1 million pilot project under the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance program to help municipalities rebuild damaged infrastructure to make it more resilient to extreme weather.

    •  Made it faster for property owners to get the approvals they need to repair flood-related damage to shorelines.

         “I believe these measures will have an impact on stemming the effects of floods in the future. Increasing resiliency is a shared responsibility - all levels of government, agencies, developers and property owners have an important role to play,” said Jim McDonell, Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

Ontario has committed to taking the following actions to address recommendations:

    •  Modernize regulations under the Conservation Authorities Act to have conservation authorities focus on their core mandate of protecting people and property from flooding and other natural hazards.

    •  Launch a comprehensive review of Ontario’s natural hazard technical guidelines related to flood forecasting and warning.

    •  Ensure the continued investment of over $4.7 million in the hydrometric (stream gauge) network to enable flood forecasting and flood warnings that help municipalities better prepare for flood events.  

        The Province is reviewing the remaining recommendations along with its partners and will work together to increase the awareness of flood risks and help build Ontario’s resiliency to flooding.


$20 million annually to victim supports and enforcement . . .

Strategy to fight human trafficking . . .

Thursday, Nov. 28th - The Ontario government is developing a new strategy to combat human trafficking that will be co-led by Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. The strategy is part of Ontario's commitment to protecting women and children and combatting gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse.

        “Every day across Ontario, young women and children are being lured into human trafficking by criminals who rob them of their safety and dignity,” said Premier Doug Ford, adding, “I want to thank Solicitor General Jones and Associate Minister Dunlop for leading the development and implementation of our new, stronger, cross-government strategy to raise awareness of these disgusting crimes, ensure survivors get the supports they need, and bring their traffickers to justice.”

        As a first priority, Ontario is committing $20 million in annual funding for victim supports and anti-human trafficking enforcement initiatives.

        “Human trafficking is a crisis that is happening across the province in all communities, and of particular concern in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, which straddles the U.S. border, and at all levels of society,” said MPP Jim McDonell.

        “During discussions across the province, frontline workers and survivors of human trafficking  told us there is a need for consistent and reliable funding,” added Associate Minister Dunlop, “We are taking action to respond to what we heard. This annual investment for dedicated anti-human trafficking initiatives will ensure victim supports are available on an ongoing basis, and that critical prevention and enforcement actions continue.”

        “Ontario has more police-reported incidents of human trafficking than any other province in Canada,” pointed out Solicitor General Jones.

        “Ensuring the safety and security of Ontarians is the government's most fundamental responsibility, which is why we are committed to providing ongoing funding to stop the criminals who are profiting from this crime, so we can protect our children and keep our communities safe.”

        Over the summer, the province hosted a series of 13 roundtable meetings on human trafficking with survivors, Indigenous partners, law enforcement and frontline service providers. As the government works toward a new anti-human trafficking strategy, Solicitor General Jones and Associate Minister Dunlop will continue to look for ways to collaborate across government, across sectors and across jurisdictions to raise awareness, help survivors, keep children and youth safe, and hold offenders accountable.


Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative to make sector competitive . . .

$1.85M boosts innovation in Agri-Food . . .

Tuesday, Nov. 26th - The governments of Canada and Ontario are supporting agri-food innovation through an investment of up to $1.85 million in research to help Ontario develop new cutting edge technologies, practices and solutions to tackle modern-day industry problems.

The new Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative is now accepting proposals for advancing research in food safety, trade, market and growth opportunities, automation, and bio-based production systems, with a maximum of $150,000 funding allocation per project.

        “By investing in leading-edge agriculture and agri-food technologies, the Government is investing in one of the most innovative, dynamic and competitive sectors of the Canadian economy,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Our producers need science and innovation to stand out and seize the exciting business opportunities that present themselves. This is essential to the growth of their businesses.”

        “Our government is committed to supporting the development of food safety and farming knowledge and technologies that create good jobs and help advance our agriculture sector,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “We want to provide the sector with the latest tools and techniques to position it for further growth and to continue being world leaders in agri-food innovation now and for years to come.”

        “Our riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry continues to exhibit advances in agri-food research, such as the new facility that has opened at the Winchester Agricultural Research Station, which gives crop farmers the latest research findings and crop technologies,” said MPP Jim McDonell.

To be eligible, applicants must have demonstrated capacity to perform quality research and be:

A university or college; a research organization, institute, or foundation; an industry organization or business; or a non-government organization; a government or government agency. Federal and provincial government researchers are eligible to collaborate on projects.

        Agri-food research is important to help bring new technologies and processes to market and develop new practices for on-farm solutions. This investment in agri-food research will benefit all Ontarians by helping to provide more safe and healthy food while increasing trade opportunities for Ontario grown and made food items. This investment boosts rural economic opportunity by making agri-food businesses more profitable and competitive. 

        "The Agri-Food Research Initiative is critical to the success of Ontario's agri-food sector and will support the competitiveness, prosperity and sustainability of the sector and rural communities," said Dr. Lorne Hepworth, Chair of the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario.

Quick Facts:

        The deadline to submit proposals is January 23, 2020. More information is available on the Ministry’s website.

        The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada's agri-food and agri-products sectors.

        The Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario provides strategic advice, advocacy and leadership in Ontario’s agri-food research and research infrastructure such as this initiative.


Ontario expands 'off-road' connections . . .

Friday, Nov. 22nd - The Ontario government is putting people first by reducing regulatory burdens and removing barriers that will make life easier for off-road vehicle riders. 

        Today, Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, announced plans to allow off-road vehicle riders easier access to roadways, connecting them to more trail networks in more communities across the province.

        “We know that municipalities are in the best position to decide how these types of off-road vehicles can be safely integrated into their communities,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “This is another example of how our government wants to get out of the way and support local decision making to further encourage tourism and economic prosperity.”

        These proposed measures are part of the government’s plan to reduce red tape and support Ontario businesses, as announced on October 28, when the Ontario government introduced the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act.

        “Tourism and local businesses in many municipalities – especially rural and northern – are anticipated to benefit when more off-road enthusiasts are able to connect to more trail networks and surrounding community attractions,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “This change is one of over 80 proposed actions to streamline regulations and make life easier for people and businesses.”

        “Our riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry offers many trails ( https://atv-vtteo.org/trail-map/https://www.glendaleratv.com/Maphttp://nvatvc.org/trail-map/ ) for local and visiting riders. This would take advantage of a harmonized Ontario’s approach with other provinces, and is supported by sector stakeholders, manufacturers and the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders,” said MPP Jim McDonell.

        “The Ontario Federation of Trail Riders is pleased with the Ford Government’s decision to classify off-road motorcycles as an Off Highway Vehicle within regulation 316/03. This will allow for great strides in tourism, economic development and recreational trail use in Ontario,” said Arthur Ash, President of the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders. “The OFTR believes that safe responsible use of the roads in Ontario will make the trail networks in Ontario an incredible experience for all riders.”

         The proposed measure harmonizes Ontario’s approach with other provinces including Manitoba and Alberta.

 

Quick facts:

   •  The Better for People, Smarter for Business Act passed second reading on November 7, 2019 and has been referred to Standing Committee on General Government.

   •  Off-road motorcycling (dirt biking) is a popular recreational activity that supports tourism and contributes to local economies.

 


Ford leads Provincial-Federal Relations . . .

New ministers’ council to work with feds . . .

MPP Jim McDonell
MPP Jim McDonell

Thursday, Nov. 21st - The Ontario government is taking positive steps to ensure that the interests of the province remain a priority in Ottawa with the creation of a new Council on Provincial-Federal Relations. Chaired by Premier Doug Ford, this council will collaborate with Ontario's federal counterparts to deliver on priorities including infrastructure, health care and economic growth.

        “Our government has a Plan to Build Ontario Together, and that plan includes working with the federal government,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are ready to work with the new federal Cabinet to get shovels in the ground quickly on important projects, increase health-care funding and create an environment where businesses and job creators can thrive.”

        “I am pleased that Premier Ford is taking positive steps to ensure that the interests of the province remain a priority in Ottawa with the creation of a new Council on Provincial-Federal Relations,” said Jim McDonell, Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

        The Council on Provincial-Federal Relations will be responsible for coordinating the engagement strategy with the federal government on important projects and shared priorities. The top priorities will include building critical infrastructure, from transit to broadband, faster by accelerating approvals for projects submitted through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program and by ensuring the federal government funds their fair share of Ontario's historic transit plan.

        The Council will also work towards ensuring the federal government is providing increased funding through the Canada Health Transfer to end hallway health care and deliver the kind of care and treatment the people of Ontario deserve.

        Additional priorities will include removing red tape and interprovincial trade barriers, attracting international investment to all parts of Ontario, including under-capitalized regions and creating the environment for workers, businesses and entrepreneurs to succeed.

        “What’s good for Ontario is good for Canada, and what’s good for Canada is good for Ontario,” said Ford. “Through the Council on Provincial-Federal Relations, my ministers and I are ready to roll up our sleeves and deliver results for the people of Ontario and the people of Canada.”

The membership of the Council will include:

The Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Chair

The Hon. Christine Elliott, Minister of Health

The Hon. Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs

The Hon. Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance

The Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board

The Hon. Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure

The Hon. Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade


Helping to keep Seniors healthy . . .

Ontario launches Free Routine Dental Care for low-income seniors . . .

Thursday, Nov. 21st — As part of its comprehensive plan to end hallway health care, Ontario is investing in programs that keep seniors healthy in their communities longer.

        Each year in Ontario, preventable dental issues like gum disease, infections and chronic pain lead to more than 60,000 emergency department visits by patients, of which a significant portion are seniors. Many low-income seniors face challenges accessing regular dental care because they cannot afford it, impacting their overall well-being.

        This is why the government is investing approximately $90 million annually for the new Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP), which will provide free routine dental care for eligible low-income seniors across the province. In doing so, the government expects to reduce the number of dental-related emergency department visits, helping to end hallway health care.

        Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, visited Rexdale Community Health Centre to launch the new user-friendly web portal (ontario.ca/SeniorsDental) seniors can use to apply to the program.

        “Our government promised to make life affordable for Ontarians, and the seniors’ dental benefit is just another step in meeting this commitment. Eligible seniors in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry can apply to the program online as of today, or by picking up an application form at the Eastern Ontario Health Unit. This new program will improve our seniors’ quality of life and keep them out of the hospital emergency rooms.” said MPP Jim McDonell.

        "With this program, we are making sure Ontario's low-income seniors can age with dignity and enjoy the quality of life they deserve," said Premier Ford, adding, "This is another concrete way our government is delivering on our commitment to end hallway health care and cut hospital wait times."

        "By providing seniors with access to quality dental care and keeping them out of hospitals, this new program is a key part of our plan to end hallway health care," said Minister Elliott. "Ontario is building a connected system of care that supports all Ontarians throughout their health care journey."

        "The well-being of all Ontario's seniors is a top priority for this government," said Minister Cho. "This new dental care program will help eligible seniors receive the quality dental care they deserve. By keeping seniors healthy, we can also help seniors avoid emergency visits to the hospital, prevent chronic diseases, and increase quality of life for seniors across the province."

        Ontarians aged 65 and over with an income of $19,300 or less, or couples with a combined annual income of $32,300 or less, who do not have dental benefits, will qualify for the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program. Ontario remains committed to building healthier communities and making life more affordable for everyone, including seniors and their families.

 

Quick Facts . . .

        It is estimated that 100,000 low-income seniors will benefit annually from this program once fully implemented.

Two-thirds of low-income seniors do not have access to dental insurance.

        The new dental care program will be available through public health units, including some mobile dental clinics, as well as participating Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHACs).


Investing in Seniors health . . .

Staying active and socially connected . . .

 

Friday, Nov. 15th – Ontario is committed to helping seniors keep active, healthy, safe, independent, and socially connected in their own communities. Yet, many seniors face financial and other obstacles in accessing programs and services that will help support their overall health and well-being.

        That is why Ontario is investing $14.1 million to support more than 300 Seniors Active Living Centre programs in communities across the province, benefiting seniors in Cornwall.

        “Supporting our seniors today is about investing in all of our futures. This funding will have a direct and positive impact on seniors in communities across the province by giving them an opportunity to take part in programs and services that will help keep them active, socially connected, and healthy,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “These programs and services support healthy aging and help seniors to live the quality lives they deserve.”

        Seniors Active Living Centre programs support over 100,000 seniors across the province, and this funding will provide a variety of programming and activities to help seniors stay active, socially engaged, safe, and healthy. This is especially important given that about 30 per cent of Canadian seniors are at risk of becoming socially isolated.

       Seniors Active Living is providing Centre Charles-Émile-Claude, with $52,727, and Seaway Senior Citizens Club $52,691,

        “This funding will go a long way in helping seniors in Cornwall stay active and socially connected, while also preventing social isolation, said Jim McDonell, Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry. “Seniors Active Living Centres provide a hub for seniors and their families to build positive connections, encourage physical activity, and in doing so, benefits everyone’s well-being.”

        “Thanks to the support we receive from our province, we are not only able to add to our existing programs but are able to offer our seniors more variety.  Our members look forward to participating in all the activities that we have to offer,” said Irene Harps, Presidentof Seaway Senior Citizens Club.

 

Quick Facts:

 

   •  Seniors Active Living Centre programs are community-based and promote wellness and social interaction.

   •  The senior population in Ontario is the fastest growing age group. By 2023, there will be 3 million Ontarians over the age of 65.

   •  Active aging brings positive health benefits, including helping to keep seniors out of the hospital.


Province expanding digital and virtual health care

Giving patients health care options . . .

Friday, Nov. 14 - Ontario's new Digital First for Health strategy will bring the patient experience into the 21st century and help end hallway health care by offering more choices and making health care simpler, easier and more convenient for patients. At the same time, this new strategy will harness the imagination and capabilities of Ontario's digital health innovators to improve care for all Ontarians.

        Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, was at Trillium Health Partners' Credit Valley Hospital to announce the five pillars of the government’s Digital First for Health strategy.

Once this new strategy is fully implemented, patients can expect:

   •   More virtual care options: Expanding availability of video visits and enabling other virtual care tools such as secure messaging. Additionally, providers will be able to leverage a variety of virtual care technologies that best meet the needs of their patients.

   •   Expanded access to online appointment booking: Patients will be able to book appointments that best meet their needs.

Greater data access for patients: More patients will be able to review their secure health record online and make informed choices about their care.

   •   Better, more connected tools for frontline providers: More providers will be able to access patient records stored across multiple health service providers to provide better, faster care.

   •   Data integration and predictive analytics: Providers will face fewer barriers to integrating and using secure health information to manage health resources and improve patient care. This could lead to improvements such as earlier intervention and better management of chronic disease.

        “Ontario is adopting new digital practices and technologies that will improve the patient experience and help end hallway health care by expanding access to digital and virtual care options,” said Elliott. “Our Digital First for Health strategy will support how we will achieve a modern and fully connected health care system. For Ontarians, this will mean being able to choose how they receive care and services, control over how to access personal health information, and not needing to retell their stories. For health care providers, this will mean having the necessary information and supports at their fingertips, enabling them to focus on care rather than technology.”

        “Expanding digital opportunities is very important to patients in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, allowing better access of their records by health professionals. This will ensure convenient, faster and more reliable healthcare services,” said Jim McDonell, MPP, SD&SG.

        The first phase of the digital strategy will increase the availability of virtual care with approximately 55,000 more video visits provided by physicians directly to patients in their location of choice over the next year. To do so, the government will invest $3 million in new funding to compensate physicians for video visits they are now able to provide. In doing so, patients will enjoy more flexibility to access care through video visits. More patients will be able to have secure video visits with their health care providers from their location of choice, such as the comfort of their own home. Patients will still be able to see their providers in person, but this will allow providers to use video visits to provide their patients with more options to access their services.

       In addition, this first phase will enable Ontario Health Teams to collect, use and share information to allow for better patient care and outcomes. This will improve convenience for patients and promote more connected care by ensuring patients won't need to retell their health information over and over. This will be achieved through the proposed changes Ontario is making to modernize the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) that will also introduce stricter provisions for any individual or organization that misuses personal health information.

        As the development and implementation of digital first approach to health continues, the government will make continued investments to expand digital health solutions in support of the full implementation of the strategy.

        “Ontario is already a world leader in providing specialized care video visits to patients at health care facilities across the province, improving access to care in our most northern and rural communities,” said Dr. Ed Brown, CEO of Ontario Telemedicine Network. “Recently, we’ve focused on more innovative virtual care options that connect patients directly with health care providers easily and conveniently through their own personal computer or smartphone. The ability to connect virtually enables patients to receive care when and where they need it.”

        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 Ontarians' access to new digital and virtual care options through Ontario's Digital First for Health strategy.

        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.

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


Ontario government beating fiscal targets while investing in priority programs . . .

MPP Jim McDonell
MPP Jim McDonell

 

Government’s plan creates conditions for more competitive economy . . .

 

Thursday, Nov. 7th - Finance Minister Rod Phillips has released the 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review: A Plan to Build Ontario Together — which maintains the government's commitment to balance the budget by 2023-24 through prudent fiscal management while making strategic investments in critical public services, and strengthening the conditions for job creation.

        The government is making steady progress on its plan. Minister Phillips announced that the government is projected to beat its deficit target for 2019-20 by $1.3 billion — reducing the projected deficit to $9 billion from the $10.3 billion outlook presented in the 2019 Budget.

        “Our plan is working, and we will continue to make progress through prudent financial management while making strategic investments in priority areas, such as healthcare and education, and strengthening the conditions for job creation, which are already at a 29-year low,” said Jim McDonell, Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

        The previous administration not only left the province with the largest subnational debt in the world, but also some daunting challenges including hallway health care, transit and roads that are heavily congested and government services that are inefficient and outdated.

        "Since taking office 16 months ago, our government has taken steps to strengthen our finances, our economy and critical public services," said Minister Phillips. "Solving these challenges has not been about grand gestures, but rather the practical and meaningful actions that help make life easier and more affordable for people, like reducing taxes, investing in health care and education, and building modern transit and roads."

        The government's plan is balanced and prudent. While making steady progress to reduce the deficit, it is investing an additional $1.3 billion in critical services. This includes more funding for small- and medium-sized hospitals, public health units, child care and programs to help our most vulnerable. 

        At the same time, the government is creating a climate to support and attract business investment and job creation across the province. In the 2019 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review the government is proposing to reduce the small business Corporate Income Tax rate to 3.2 per cent from 3.5 per cent beginning on January 1, 2020. This would provide tax relief of up to $1,500 annually to over 275,000 businesses — from family-owned shops to innovative start-ups.

        As a result of government actions to date, Ontario's small businesses would save $2.3 billion in 2020.

        "We believe the role of government is to enable the opportunity for a better quality of life and a higher standard of living for all of our citizens," said Minister Phillips. "By implementing our plan we are stimulating job creation, putting more money in people's pockets, making our streets safer, our commutes shorter and our government smarter."

Quick Facts:

  •  The government is forecasting a $1.3 billion improvement to its 2019 Budget deficit projection for 2019-20, to $9 billion from $10.3 billion.

  •  Ontario is proposing to reduce the small business Corporate Income Tax rate to 3.2 per cent from 3.5 per cent starting January 1, 2020.

  •  The government is taking steps to end hallway health care with a $68 million investment in small- and medium-sized and multi-site hospitals to maintain critical capacity and respond to increased demand in communities in the province.   This is in addition to the $384 million that was announced in the2019 Budget.

  •  272,400 net new jobs have been created since June 2018 and the unemployment rate is near historic lows.

  •  The Province is also proposing to reduce the aviation fuel tax rate in the North to 2.7 cents per litre from 6.7 cents per litre.


Ontario launches job creation program . . .

First step announced in transformation of business supports

 Tuesday, Nov. 5th - The Ontario government is launching the first part of its commitment to transform business supports to deliver value for money for taxpayers and create sustainable opportunities for businesses and communities in eastern and southwestern Ontario.

        Today, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, introduced the Regional Development Program, which will invest more than $100 million over four years while taking a new approach to supporting business growth in eastern and southwestern Ontario communities.

        Under the program, businesses can get financial support through the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) and the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) and access to a range of complementary services and supports. As well, there is a clear 60-business day service commitment for when an applicant is notified of a funding decision, and on eligibility to receive additional complementary supports and services, so that applicants can plan their investments and know when to expect a decision. 

        "Our government made a clear commitment to review business supports with a view towards balancing economic growth and jobs with delivering value for money for taxpayers," said Minister Fedeli, adding "The government listened to stakeholders and regional leaders about what is important to them to support regional priorities and challenges. As a result, we are introducing the Regional Development Program for eastern and southwestern Ontario to help companies and regions invest, grow and attract talent. This is a balanced, sustainable and reasonable approach to supporting businesses and job creators."

        “The complementary services and supports will provide businesses in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry with coordinated access to a range of government programs and tools that can best meet their needs to succeed,” said Jim McDonell, Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry. “These include advisory services, assistance with compliance and approvals, accessing skills and training supports, and information on tax credits.”

        "This investment is another example of our government's continued commitment to supporting regional and rural communities in Ontario," said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, "I know businesses here in Woodstock and in other parts of southwestern and eastern Ontario are going to benefit from this important program which will see growth, job creation and economic opportunity for years to come."

        The Regional Development Program is part of the government's business supports transformation initiative, one of five key recently announced priority Smart Initiatives. These are large-scale, multi-phased projects to build smarter government and transform how the public sector delivers services and achieve better outcomes for businesses and citizens.

        The new program retains many of the successful elements of the existing EODF and SWODF and includes some critical changes to support job creators. They include:

   •  Introducing a coordinated government-wide approach offering complementary services to support business growth.

   •  Making it easier for small sized businesses to qualify by reducing the job creation threshold from 10 to five. 

   •  Shifting to performance-based loans as a smarter way to support businesses and ensure fiscal sustainability, while continuing grants for small businesses in rural communities to help them grow and expand.

   •  Expanding financial support to eligible municipalities, industry groups and not-for-profits for projects that could lead to long-term regional sustainability and advance local priorities.

   •  Introducing a new project assessment process that takes into account regional impact and directs funding to communities that will benefit the most. 

   •  Simplifying applications through system improvements which will save time and resources. 

        The complementary services and supports will provide businesses with coordinated access to a range of government programs and tools that can best meet their needs to succeed. These include advisory services, assistance with compliance and approvals, accessing skills and training supports, and information on tax credits.

        The Regional Development Program is part of Ontario's plan to build smarter government and protect our core programs and services. Our goal is to ensure sustainability, now and for future generations.

Quick Facts -

   •  In the 2019 Budget, the government introduced the Open for Jobs Blueprint to help transform Ontario’s business support programs.

   •  Business supports transformation put into action recommendations of the EY Canada Line-by-Line Review and the Planning for Prosperity consultations.

   •  There are over 470,000 small businesses (with 1-99 employees) in Ontario, accounting for almost 98 per cent of all businesses in the province.

   •  According to Stokes Economics, eastern and southwestern Ontario accounted for over $184 billion or more than 23 per cent of Ontario’s economy in 2018.

   •  Since June 2018, employment in Ontario has risen by 272,400.