Legislative Update – January 31, 2020

2020 2/6 | Connects Page, Provincial Updates

A photo of Queen's Park in Toronto from the front on a sunny day.

There are two more weeks before the Legislative Assembly of Ontario returns from winter break and resumes on February 18, after Family Day. 

2020 Pre-Budget Consultations and Ministry of Education 2020-21 Education Funding Consultation

From January 20 to 24, the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs held Pre-Budget Consultation public hearings in Toronto, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay, Kitchener-Waterloo, Belleville, and Niagara. Four member boards were chosen to speak at the hearings to advocate for stable, responsive and equitable funding to support student achievement and well-being. In addition, OPSBA provided a brief submission to the Committee. Currently OPSBA is reviewing the data from a survey sent to all boards and preparing a more comprehensive submission to the Ministry of Education’s 2020-21 Education Funding Feedback consultation. In addition to the survey, OPSBA has gathered input from regional meetings, discussions with the Policy Development and Education Program work teams, our Indigenous Trustees’ Council, and a survey sent to Senior Business Officials at member boards. 

On January 30, the Minister of Finance released its 2019-20 Third Quarter Finances. The next fiscal update will be the 2020 Ontario Budget on or before March 31, 2020. 

Provincial By-elections

Two provincial by-elections have been called for the ridings of Ottawa-Vanier and Orléans due to the vacancies created by the retirement of Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers (Ottawa—Vanier) and the resignation of Liberal MPP Marie-France Lalonde (Orléans). Voting day will be February 27, 2020. The deadline to become a candidate February 13 at 2 p.m. By-election information, including candidates, can be found at the Elections Ontario website

Coronavirus Information

The Minister of Health and the Minister of Education issued a joint statement with information about the Coronavirus. For the time being, the government is planning to provide regular updates on the province’s ongoing response to the 2019 novel coronavirus. Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, will hold regular media briefings every Monday and Thursday. Many boards are working with their local public health units and issuing news releases to their board communities with factual information and recommendations for reducing the risk of transmission of the flu and respiratory illness. 

Letter from Ministry of Health to school community members 

For more information, the government has a dedicated webpage

Student Transportation

On January 27, Sam Oosterhoff, the parliamentary assistant to the education minister, announced the province is moving ahead with a review of its school bus funding model. The province has established a Student Transportation Advisory Group to guide the review that will include representatives from school board associations and school bus stakeholder groups. Details of the scope of the review were included in memo 2020-B02 Student Transportation Review  (attached). The review will include:

  • Funding formula for student transportation
  • Consortia model and operations
  • Student transportation procurement

OPSBA attended the Advisory group’s first meeting, which was held January 28. Our Association last commented on this issue in 2018 in our response to the previous government’s New Vision for Student Transportation in Ontario discussion paper. An OPSBA internal survey at that time found that the top four service issues were: ride times, driver retention, funding, and school bus safety. 

Ministry news release 

Review of Peel District School Board

In early November, at the request of the Chair and Director of Education, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced a review of the Peel District School Board. Ontario Regulation 43/10: Provincial Interest in Education was amended on November 8, 2019, to include a section referencing the review of the Peel DSB, which includes a revocation date of December 31, 2020. Education Minister Stephen Lecce released the interim report from the team conducting the provincial government’s review. At least 350 members of the public who want to be interviewed about alleged racism at the province’s second-largest school board have contacted the three-person review panel. 

Other Information

Please note: Many statements issued by the Minister of Education regarding labour issues continue to be made. These statements are available on the Ministry of Education’s website.