Legislative Update – October 13, 2020

2020 10/13 | Connects Page, Early Years, Education Finance, Education Policy, Ontario Newsroom, Provincial Updates

Queen’s Park is now adjourned as MPPs return to their local ridings for a constituency week and will return on October 19.

Bill 204, Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act, 2020

This legislation was introduced on September 17 by Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. As mentioned in previous updates, proposed amendments will transfer the responsibility of the municipal voters list from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation to Elections Ontario. OPSBA did send a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Minister of Education.

COVID-19 Update

On October 9, the government introduced additional public health measures in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions. These modified Stage 2 restrictions will be for a minimum of 28 days and reviewed on an ongoing basis. “Schools, child care centres, and places of worship will remain open in these communities and must continue to follow the public health measures in place. Before-school and after-school programs will also be exempt from these new restrictions.” 

On October 5, the government announced an additional investment of $35 million for Peel, Ottawa, Toronto and York Region to enhance public health measures and protection strategies as they confront higher rates of transmission in their communities. The school boards receiving funds have been directed to use this funding for:

  • Providing increased distancing between students through the hiring of additional teachers, early childhood educators, and educational assistants; and
  • Providing increased remote learning supports, including the hiring of additional teachers, early childhood educators and educational assistants, as well as devices for students who have chosen to learn remotely.

The $35 million is part of the $50 million set aside by the provincial government, out of the federal government’s $380 million transfer payment in the summer, to respond to emerging challenges during the return to school. Ontario is expected to receive the additional $380 million in early 2021 if not sooner.

On October 7, the Deputy Minister issued a memo to remind education partners about the daily screening protocol requirements for staff, students and essential visitors. While many school boards are using screening processes designed in collaboration with their local public health units, the government also recently launched a new voluntary interactive screening tool for students, staff, and visitors to advise individuals on whether they should attend school or child care.

As of October 9, 876 total COVID-19 cases had been reported in publicly funded schools, in 425 individual schools, with 628 of those occurring in the last 14 days. Of those cases, 482 are students, 149 are staff, and 245 are not identified. Four schools, or 0.08% of the 4,828 publicly funded schools in the province, were closed. Nearly all businesses and public spaces in Ontario remain open in Stage 3, with public health and workplace safety restrictions in place, while some high-risk venues and activities such as theme parks and buffet restaurants will remain closed until they can safely resume operations.

** Virtual Committee and Board Meetings ** – On October 8, OPSBA sent a letter to the Minister of Education requesting the regulation to allow virtual meetings to continue for the duration of the pandemic.

Child Care and Early Years

At the last joint OPSBA work team meeting, ADM Shannon Fuller participated via Zoom and provided trustees with an update on child care and the early years, as well as next steps. After that meeting, the Ministry of Education issued a news release and a separate memo about child care that both addressed the Child Care and Early Years Act Review, the Child Care Annual Report and the proposed regulatory amendments. This regulatory posting includes a consultation document that is over 30 pages long and has a response deadline of November 20, 2020. OPSBA’s work teams will meet and coordinate a submission from the Association.

Local Government Week – October 19-23, 2020 / #LocalGovWeek

OPSBA will once again be promoting Local Government Week (LGW), but due to the current pandemic situation, we are encouraging trustees to not physically visit schools. Trustees should follow their board protocols for setting up any possible virtual visits with Grade 5 and Grade 10 Civics and Careers classes. LGW aims to increase youth and public awareness about the important role local government plays in our communities. OPSBA will be organizing a social media campaign that week to promote LGW that highlights the different types of trustees, the long advocacy history of trustees and the importance of their work. Resources are being updated and will be shared with trustees and member boards this week.

Ministry of Education – Financial Memos

Other News Releases and Information