What’s Up: The Week That Was In Ontario Politics (Oct 18-22)
Every Friday, TVO.org provides a recap of the most notable developments in Ontario politics over the past week.
The following caught our attention:
Queen’s Park Keywords
Reopening: The capacity restrictions for restaurants, bars, gyms, casinos, bingo halls and indoor function rooms will be lifted on Monday as part of a reopening plan released by the provincial government on Friday afternoon. Other measures will be phased out, with all measures being lifted by the end of March if all goes well. “This plan is long-term. It will safely guide us through the winter and out of this pandemic while avoiding lockdowns and making sure we don’t lose hard-earned profits, “said Premier Doug Ford.
No early choice: When asked by TVO’s Harrison Lowman on Friday, Ford said it would not call early elections and committed to the scheduled vote on June 2, 2022.
“Modern slavery”: The province announced on Monday that it plans to tackle abuses by companies that hire temporary workers. Labor Secretary Monte McNaughton said a law will be put in place making licensing mandatory for temp agencies and building a dedicated team of inspectors to keep an eye on the industry. McNaughton said he specifically wants to stop agencies that exploit foreign contract workers by withholding their passports or paying them less than the minimum wage. “This is modern slavery, it’s unacceptable,” he said in an interview with CBC News.
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Toilet breaks: Monte McNaughton also announced this week that the province intends to put in place laws that will ensure couriers, truck drivers, and grocery deliveries have access to restrooms at businesses where they pick up items or make deliveries. “This is a given for most people in Ontario, but access to washrooms is a matter of decency that is currently denied to hundreds of thousands of workers in that province,” he said in a statement.
Qualified immigrants: It turned out to be quite a busy week for McNaughton. On Thursday, he announced a new law that will force some professional organizations to take Canadian work experience as part of their eligibility criteria and ensure admissions applications are processed faster. This should make it easier for qualified immigrants to find work in their chosen field. “It is important that we make sure that everyone’s talent is being used and that we are realizing their talent to the full,” McNaughton told the Toronto Star. The measures apply to 37 professions and trades, including architecture, teaching and plumbing. However, regulators for medical professions would not be affected.
Will not back down: Premier Doug Ford continues to decline calls to apologize for comments flatly criticized by the opposition for being insensitive to immigrants. On Monday, Ford said the province is “in desperate need of people from all over the world,” then added, “They come here like any other new Canadian. You’re working your tail off. If you think you’re coming to pick up the money and sit around, it won’t happen. Go elsewhere. “On Wednesday asked by NDP MPP for Brampton East Gurratan Singh if he would apologize for the comments, which” take into account racial stereotypes about new Canadians, “Ford declined, saying he was” with news from yours Community has been flooded, the “Sikh community that said, ‘You were awesome'”
Property taxes: Behind closed doors, an argument seems to be raging over when homeowners will receive their new property valuations. Sources tell Globe and Mail that the province intends to send them out after the provincial elections in June – which would avoid the government grappling with voters’ unease over possible property tax hikes during the campaign. But local politicians fear that sending the appraisals will get them in a tight spot at this point, as they are running for re-election next fall. “Look, there’s no question that at a time when so much has changed in our entire lives in the last 18 months, it would likely increase some level of fear for people,” said the Mayor of Kitchener , Berry Vrbanovic, in an interview.
Highway 413: Prime Minister Doug Ford is already running for re-election, but all opposition parties express grave concern about Highway 413, a proposed 60 km road linking Milton and Vaughan northwest of Toronto. Thousands of acres of farmland, waterways and protected land would have to be paved to build the highway. Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said this week the freeway will be a “climate catastrophe,” citing a study that would result in 17.4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Both the NDP and the Liberals say that in addition to environmental damage, the highway would be a waste of taxpayers’ money that doesn’t do much to reduce commute times. But progressive conservative strategists have told CBC News that they think the highway is a winning topic for them.
Tampon inequality: NDP MPP for Kiiwetinoong Sol Mamakwa says a recently announced government free menstrual product for schools in Ontario is falling short because some First Nations schools are not included. The problem is that the schools run by the First Nations are federally funded and not part of the provincial program. Mamakwa told the legislature on Wednesday that it was unfortunate that – not for the first time – jurisdiction issues were at the expense of indigenous communities. He also noted that these schools are often located in the places where such a program is most needed: northern communities where female products can cost significantly more than southern Ontario.
Mini budget: Finance Minister Peter Bethlenvalvy has announced that he will present a mini-budget on November 4th. “
Paramedic: Long-Term Care Secretary Rod Phillips announced Friday that the province is spending $ 80 million to expand paramedical services to all eligible seniors. Paramedic enables paramedics to look after seniors in their homes while they wait for a place to open in a long-term care facility. The program is already available in 33 municipalities but is now being implemented in 22 more, giving the service provincial coverage.
Cool: Randy Hillier, independent MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, has been charged with misrepresenting the death of a young woman on social media posts that question the effectiveness of vaccines. Farisa Navab, 20, died on September 11 of a rare autoimmune disease. However, Hillier suggests that she and others mentioned in the posts died or suffered from a “permanent side effect shortly after receiving their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.” Navab’s sister Ammarah told CBC News it was “all fake news” to imply that her sister had died of a vaccine. “It’s someone in power who posts to thousands of followers, lies about my sister’s death, and uses it as ‘evidence’ … It’s disgusting,” she added. In an email statement, Hillier said, “The obligation and responsibility of each elected member is not simply to accept or promote public order, but rather to examine and question public order and provide supportive or critical comments based on observation and evidence . “
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COVID-19 modeling: Data released by the provincial scientific advisory table on Friday morning suggested new coronavirus cases should remain stable for the next month, even with a modest increase in social contacts. However, the modeling of the counseling table says that public health measures – such as masking, vaccination certificates, symptom screening, and ventilation – must remain in place in order to avoid a renewed increase in infections.
U-Bahn, U-Bahn, U-Bahn: The idea that the pandemic should make the province rethink its plan to build more subways in Toronto is flawed. Subway trains were a good idea before COVID-19 – and they will continue to be a good idea afterwards, writes Shoshanna Saxe.
Gig Economy: While the government announced this week that it will ensure that people who make deliveries have access to toilets, those who drive and deliver using apps like Uber and Skip the Dishes are calling for a little more. They want the province to class them as employees. Currently, they are classified as self-employed contractors, which means they have no legal right to any action that other workers take for granted, including minimum wage, vacation days or statutory vacation pay. When asked by CBC News, Secretary of Labor Monte McNaughton did not promise to reclassify workers in the gig economy as workers, but said new safeguards were on the way.
Goodbye CRB, hello CWLB: The federal government has announced that the Canada Recovery Benefit will expire tomorrow and will be replaced with a more targeted program to help workers with potential lockdowns. The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit would provide $ 300 per week to workers who are subject to lockdown. It comes into force on Sunday. Some economists and business groups say the end of government wage and rent subsidy programs is coming too soon.