​MPPs begin a Constituency Week from March 11 to 15, the week that aligns with March Break. The Legislative Assembly of Ontario will resume on March 18.

Ministry of Education Memo: Update – Trustee Training Program on Human Rights, Ethical Leadership and Good Governance

The Ministry of Education recently shared a memo with school board/trustee associations to provide an update on trustee training. Future dates in March and May have been deferred at this time.

2019 Ontario Budget

On March 7, Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli announced that the 2019 Ontario Budget would be delivered on April 11. As of the Ontario 2018-19 Third Quarter Finances, the government is projecting a deficit of $13.5 billion in 2018–19. In January, OPSBA provided a submission to the 2019 Pre-Budget Consultation.

Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act

On December 6, Economic Development Minister Todd Smith introduced Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. The omnibus bill includes changes to 12 different ministries and proposes to change business regulations relating to toxic chemicals, employment standards, child care caps, safety in assembly plants, pawnbrokers, food safety testing, wireless cellphone contracts, agriculture, water extraction permits, wastewater treatment, private career colleges and more. Included in Bill 66 is Schedule 3 which includes amendments to the Education Act and the Child Care and Early Years Act.

This past week, the legislation was time allocated and referred to the Standing Committee on General Government. Public hearings will occur on March 18, which is also the deadline for written submissions. OPSBA is preparing a submission and its content will be based on the feedback received from a survey sent to members of the Policy Development Work Team and Early Learning Leads at our member boards.

Summary of Key Points:

  • Changes to the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) mainly focus on increasing the number of children in home care providers. We want to ensure that quality of care remains a priority for all child care settings.
  • Changes to the Education Act will allow boards to partner with licensed child care providers and now authorized recreation programs for all students as young as four years old.
  • OPSBA supports member boards making local decisions about third party programming for their school communities.
  • OPSBA supports providing families with more affordable child care choices that maintain quality of care standards.

Bill 48, Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act

Earlier in the week, this legislation had clause-by-clause review to consider any amendments and returned to the House on March 6 for Third Reading. On February 25, OPSBA President Cathy Abraham and Executive Director Rusty Hick presented to the Standing Committee on Social Policy regarding Bill 48, Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act. Both the speaking remarks and our submission can be found on our website under Advocacy and Action.

Ontario Autism Program (OAP)

Last week, OPSBA sent a letter to Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services regarding the recently announced changes to the OAP. Our letter addresses the concerns and outstanding questions expressed by member boards. More stakeholders have sent letters as well, including the Toronto DSB, York Region DSB, OSTA-AECO and the Ontario Principals Council (and their co-terminus counterparts).

On March 11, Minister Thompson announced additional supports for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These include the full subsidization of an ASD-specific Additional Qualification course for teachers, the continuation of current special education funding and funding to school boards of an average of $12,300 for each new student with ASD entering the system in the remaining months of the current school year. Full details can be found in the related news release. OPSBA’s statement can be found here.

Accessibility: Report of the Third Review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

On March 7, the government released the Hon. David C. Onley’s review of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.  Every three years, a reviewer is appointed by the government to assess the effectiveness of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 and its standards. This review is required by Ontario’s accessibility laws. The reviewer is also required to consult with the public and specifically people with disabilities. The government is then required to table the resulting report in the Legislative Assembly, with the report becoming public once tabled. OPSBA staff are reviewing the report and its recommendations to determine potential impacts on school boards.

In addition, on March 7 the government asked the Health Care, K-12 Education and Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committees to resume their work.