Members of Provincial Parliament were back at Queen’s Park from October 19 to 23.
Bill 218, Supporting Ontario’s Recovery and Municipal Elections Act, 2020
This legislation was introduced on October 20 by Attorney General Doug Downey. Should it pass, the bill would give liability protection to certain health-care workers and institutions; long-term care homes; businesses; non-profits; and front-line workers including grocery store clerks and restaurant servers. Bill 218 would also eliminate the option for ranked ballots in municipal elections. Note: the allowance for ranked ballots was part of Bill 181, Municipal Elections Modernization Act, 2016 and was only applicable to municipalities, not school boards. Only the City of London opted for this in the last election but other municipalities were considering this for future elections.
Current Status: Second Reading.
Bill 216, Food Literacy for Students Act, 2020
The private member’s bill was introduced on October 19 by MPP Daryl Kramp (Hastings—Lennox and Addington). The legislation, if passed, would amend the Education Act, “to provide that curriculum guidelines shall require that courses of study be developed in experiential food literacy education and healthy eating for every grade from grade 1 through grade 12.”
Current Status: Referred to the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.
Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020
This omnibus bill was introduced on July 8 and received Royal Assent on July 21, 2020. It included amendments to the Education Act, the Ontario Educational Communications Authority Act, and the Ontario French-Language Educational Communications Authority Act. OPSBA’s work teams met virtually to discuss the proposed changes and sent in a submission. At that time, it was noted that future stakeholders consultations would occur regarding the amendments to broaden the mandates of both TVO and TFO and position them to provide centralized support for online learning in the English-language and French-language publicly-funded education systems, respectively. Next week, OPSBA staff will be participating in an engagement with the Ministry of Education and TVO on the topic of online learning. Updates will be shared with member boards.
The Premier has announced his government’s “COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government” — an 18-page document that lays out 30-plus projects with an eye to digital accessibility and a centralized approach to procurement.
As of October 22, 795 cases of COVID-19 cases had been reported in publicly funded schools in the past 14 days. Of those cases, 444 are students, 101 are staff, and 250 are not identified. Five schools, or 0.10% of the 4,828 publicly funded schools in the province, are currently closed.
On October 20, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, extended most orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA). This extension will be in effect until November 21, 2020. Ontario also amended emergency orders for regions under modified Stage 2 regulations (Toronto, Ottawa, York and Peel Regions) to clarify that classes delivered for the purpose of teaching or training amateur or professional dancers in dance techniques are permitted to operate provided specified conditions are met. On October 19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canada-US border would continue to be closed to non-essential travel until at least November 21, 2020.
On October 16, Deputy Minister Nancy Naylor sent a memo re Public Health Unit access to the COVID-19 School Absence Online Reporting Tool.
Provincial Budget and 2021-2022 Grants for Student Needs (GSN)
As noted in various media reports, the Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips must deliver a budget before November 15, 2020, because he was unable to do so in the spring due to the early days of the pandemic. It is anticipated that this will be presented on November 5 before MPPs begin their next constituency week. We are aware the Ministry of Finance has reached out to a wide range of stakeholders for their input and OPSBA has shared last year’s GSN submission with additional requests for pandemic-related incurred costs. We are also aware that the Ministry of Education will conduct a consultation regarding next year’s GSNs and we will share information with our members as soon as possible. Education Funding will also be a discussion item at upcoming regional meetings.
Revised Policy/Program Memorandum No.151: Professional Activity Days Devoted to Provincial Education Priorities
On October 20, Deputy Minister Nancy Naylor sent a brief memo regarding the updated PPM that recognizes school boards used three mandatory PA days at the start of the school year to focus on the safe re-opening of schools. The memo confirms, “the topics of the three mandatory PA days as well as to provide additional considerations and resources pertaining to education priorities and the remaining PA days in the 2020-21 school year.”
Local Government Week – October 19-23, 2020 / #LocalGovWeek
OPSBA would like to thank all its members for their help in recognizing and promoting Local Government Week and we understand some school boards may use the resources at other opportunities throughout the school year. This past week OPSBA highlighted the various types of trustees – all videos can be found on our YouTube channel.
Other News Releases and Information
- October 21, 2020 News Release – Ontario Expanding Mental Health Services for Children and Youth
- October 20, 2020 News Release – Ontario Invests $550 Million to Build and Upgrade Schools
- October 19, 2020 Statement – Stay Safe and Follow Public Health Advice This Halloween
- Registration is now open for ROMA: Connecting Rural Ontario, January 25-26, 2021