Quotation of the day
“This date should be marked as a day of commemoration, learning and reflection in Ontario. Reflection upon the genocidal legacy that is an ugly and very real part of Ontario and Canada’s history.”
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner blasted the Ford government for not recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 as a statutory holiday for all Ontarians (the PC government’s decision is in line with that of other provinces).
Today at Queen’s Park
Written by Alan S. Hale
On the schedule
The legislature will reconvene on October 4.
In response to questions from Queen’s Park Today, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell’s office confirmed Wednesday evening she has signed the order-in-council making the prorogation of the legislature official.
The order has yet to be posted online, but pursuant to the proclamation signed Wednesday, prorogation will begin this Sunday night at 11:59 p.m., a few hours before the legislature was originally due to return from its summer recess.
While Premier Doug Ford admitted last week he did not want to implement vaccine passports, despite his government inevitably doing so, that did not stop him from boasting about the incoming certificate system to an audience of business people and international investors on Thursday.
Ford delivered a brief speech to open the Stronger Than Ever summit on Thursday morning. The conference, hosted by Toronto Global and the International Economic Forum of the Americas, aimed to sell Toronto as a place to do business and invest after the pandemic, and Ford pointed to the PC’s vaccine passport policy as one of the factors in the province’s favour.
“Having delivered a world-leading vaccine rollout, what businesses of all sizes need is stability and certainty … that is why Ontario will require proof of vaccination for certain settings, effective September 22,” Ford told attendees. “Along with the most cautious re-opening in Canada, Ontario’s vaccine certificate is another step to ensure we don’t need to return to lockdowns and will give our business community the comfort to continue operating.”
Ford also said he was “100 per cent confident that the economy of this province and this city will take off like never before,” guaranteeing “Ontario will once again be the best destination anywhere to do business,” once the pandemic is over.
Unlike Toronto Mayor John Tory, who spoke after the premier, Ford did not attend Billy Bishop Airport in person, where the conference was being broadcast to more than 1,500 delegates in 50 countries, nor did he take questions from media or delegates.
Docs call for ‘cocoon’ around unvaccinated children returning to school
As classrooms across many Ontario regions filled up for the first time since last April yesterday, Peel Region medical officer of health Dr. Lawrence Loh called on the province to build a “cocoon” of protective measures around unvaccinated students until shots for children under 12 are approved.
That starts with getting as many people in the general population immunized as possible, he said.
“Lowering levels of community transmission will help limit introductions [into schools] while also helping to limit the spread in the broader community. Essentially, we build a firewall around the schools in that sense,” said Loh. “[Within schools] it’s more of a matter of everything we have put in place; measures like screening, courting, masking, distancing, and vaccine mandates for staff.”
Loh made the comments at a press briefing hosted by the Ontario Medical Association, alongside OBGYN Dr. Constance Nasello.
Loh said he believes this school year will be much safer than the last thanks to widespread vaccination across the general population. As long as people remain focused on keeping schools free of the virus and limiting potential spread in the event of an outbreak, he believes kids will likely stay in classrooms all year.
He recommended initially limiting extracurriculars to “one or two” per student, with the possibility of adding more as the year progresses. Loh rejected a recommendation by Toronto Public Health on Wednesday to suspend extracurriculars entirely but said his health unit would continue to monitor the impact of sports and other activities on infections.
“If we're allowing some of these extracurriculars and sporting activities to occur outside in the broader community, then I think logic suggests that within the school setting, particularly with safeguards and safety procedures in place, it's something that could go ahead,” he said.
In an interview with the Star published yesterday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said his goal is to keep kids in school this year and get things back to normal as soon as possible.
“It’s a different reality this September than last,” Lecce said.
When asked about the possibility of suspending extracurricular activities, Lecce said any such move would be temporary.
National Truth and Reconciliation Day will not be a statutory holiday in Ontario
Ontario is following the lead of most other provinces by giving most civil servants the day off to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, but stopping short of recognizing it as a statutory holiday that would mandate a paid day off for private-sector employees as well.
The new holiday was created by the federal government through the enactment of Bill C-5 in June to fulfill the 80th call to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which urges the creation of a statutory holiday to “ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
The legislation left it up to provinces to decide whether to recognize it as a statutory holiday, but none have adopted it as one yet. Ontario, for instance, has opted to treat it similarly to Remembrance Day, which is commemorated but not treated as a statutory holiday like it is in most Canadian provinces.
“Ontario is working in collaboration with Indigenous partners, survivors and affected families to ensure the respectful commemoration of this day within the province,” said Curtis Lindsay, a spokesperson for Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford.
Much like Remembrance Day, Rickford’s office said it will be up to employers to decide whether to give employees the day off. Federally regulated employees, such as those at banks, will also get the day off.
What Rickford’s office didn’t mention is that some members of the Ontario Public Service are receiving a paid holiday as well.
In a September 3 memo obtained by Queen’s Park Today, the treasury board’s deputy minister, Deborah Richardson, told civil servants “this year” September 30 would be a “day of commemoration” to “reinforce the province’s steadfast dedication to truth and reconciliation,” but also because the province is obligated to provide the holiday under some collective agreements.
While some civil servants will get the day off, Richardson warned that others will not.
“As is the case when days of significance are observed under OPS collective agreements and policy, there may still be a need to have employees working on September 30, 2021 to ensure continuity of operations,” she said.
In response to the memo, OPSEU president Smokey Thomas sent an open letter to Treasury Board President Prabmeet Sarkaria praising him for the decision.
Queen’s Park Today reached out to Sarkaria’s office as well as Labour Minister Monte McNaughton requesting further details and an explanation as to why private-sector workers would not also get a day off, but did not receive a response.
Richardson’s memo repeatedly signalled that the OPS holiday is only on the books for this year. OPSEU will begin renegotiating its collective agreement this fall.
Manitoba has said September 30 will be a “day of observance,” meaning flags will be lowered and non-essential government services, including schools, will be closed. Prince Edward Island announced Thursday it will take the same approach.
Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Alberta and Quebec have opted not to implement the holiday (Quebec Premier François Legault was blunt, saying the province has enough statutory holidays). In response, some municipalities in these provinces have said they will recognize September 30 a holiday for their communities.
In Ontario, the Opposition slammed the government for not fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendation. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Indigenous and Treaty Relations critic Sol Mamakwa promised that an NDP government would make it a statutory holiday.
“It’s shameful that the Doug Ford government is refusing the solemn duty to remember, to learn, and to work for change,” they said in a statement.
September 10 at 9:30 a.m. — Hamilton
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath will push for the implementation of her forthcoming safety zone legislation against anti-public health protests, especially those around hospitals.
September 10 at 10:30 a.m. — Hamilton
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make an announcement.
September 10 at 12:30 p.m. — Mississauga
Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole will make an announcement.
September 10 at 1 p.m. — Kitchener
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner will join the federal Green candidate for Kitchener Centre Mike Morrice to make an announcement.
September 10 at 7 p.m. — Whitby
Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole will take part in a rally with supporters.
Topics of conversation
- Daily Covid cases jumped 44 per cent to 798 on Thursday. The number of Covid patients in hospital stands at 365 (down 10), while 185 Ontarians are in ICU with a Covid-related illness (down nine).
- There were 38,391 doses of vaccine administered on Wednesday.
- The Residential Construction Council of Ontario is coming to the defence of Ministerial Zoning Orders after a court found the PCs violated the law by “enhancing” MZO powers without conducting public consultation first. The council called the ruling “disappointing,” and argued MZOs are necessary to solve Ontario’s housing crisis by allowing developers to build more housing quicker.
- “MZOs are a very necessary tool because the development approvals process in some municipalities is much too slow,” said RESCON president Richard Lyall. “Projects can get stalled due to duplicative red tape or a bureaucratic logjam. Oftentimes, MZOs are simply the only way for a project to be moved forward.”
- The need for MZOs reflects a systemic problem with the current municipal approval process, per Lyall, which he called “inefficient” and in need of digitization and modernization.
- The PCs have long touted MZOs as a path to more housing, but have also used them to clear the way for manufacturing sites. Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark recently backpedalled on an MZO he issued at the bequest of the City of Toronto for supportive housing in Willowdale, saying more consultation with the community was required.
- Meanwhile, BMO’s chief economist Douglas Porter told delegates at yesterday’s Stronger Than Ever summit that he does not think any plans currently proposed by the federal parties to reduce housing prices in places such as Toronto will work.
- “Realistically, we think it will actually take an increase in interest rates to ultimately bring this market to heel,” he said — something he doesn’t believe is likely in the near future. “Interest rates are going nowhere any time soon.”
- The Ontario Science Table published a new brief that found harm from opioid use, particularly fatal overdoses, has increased significantly during the pandemic. It called on the government to collaborate with substance users, service providers and researchers to implement new harm reduction strategies.
- Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, rates of emergency medical services for suspected opioid overdose increased by 57 per cent and rates of fatal opioid overdose increased by 60 per cent in Ontario.
- The Toronto District School Board has a $3.7-billion backlog of needed repairs and it only received $275 million in provincial funding this year to help reduce that figure. At least eight schools have Facility Condition Indexes of more than 100 per cent, which means it would be cheaper to build a new school than to repair them, according to an investigation by CBC News.
Progress on high-speed internet expansion
- The province is taking the “next step” to fulfill its commitment to bring high-speed internet to every community in Ontario by 2025. It is launching a Request for Qualifications, in which qualified internet services providers will be able to participate in a series of reverse auctions for contracts to connect geographic areas across the province.
In Thursday’s edition of Queen’s Park Today, it was erroneously reported that Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark had been ordered by a court to make a declaration of wrongdoing. The court has made that declaration on its own. We regret the error.
Consultants who registered, renewed or amended registrations from September 3 to September 9, 2021
Organizations that registered in-house lobbyists from September 3 to September 9, 2021
- Ryan Cole, Policy Concepts Inc.
- Clients: Ontario Home Care Association, ProResp Inc.
- Andrew Boddington, Policy Concepts Inc.
- Yara Salama, Policy Concepts Inc.
- Clients: Ontario Association of Social Workers
- Nathan Mison, Diplomat Consulting
- John Perenack, StrategyCorp Inc.
- Maryanne Sheehy, Public Affairs Advisors
- Amir Remtulla, Amir Remtulla Inc.
- Clients: The Aga Museum, Greenstone Gold Mines, News Media Canada
- Jenessa Crognali, Navigator Ltd.
- Clients: Atlantic Packaging Products Ltd., Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
- Stefano Hollands, Crestview Strategy
- Clients: Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium
- Patricia Sibal, Crestview Strategy
- Clients: Northeastern University
- Jared Kinsella, Crestview Strategy
- Clients: Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association
- Rod Elliot Global, Public Affairs Inc.
- Clients: Maplebear Canada Inc. d/b/a Instacart
- Peter Seemann, Grassroots Public Affairs
- Clients: Ontario Korean Businessmen's Association
- Kelly Mitchell, KW Mitchell Consulting Services Inc.
- Clients: Earth Rangers, Ducks Unlimited
- Martin Green, Foresight Strategic Advisors Inc.
- Clients: Expedia Group Inc.
- Samuel Duncan, Wellington Advocacy
- Clients: CWB Welding Foundation
- Gordon Quaiattini, Maple Leaf Strategies
- Erin Iverson, The Capital Hill Group Inc.
- Aaron Scheewe, Maddy Stieva and David Angus, The Capital Hill Group Inc.
- Jordan Angus, Capital Hill Group
- Clients: Information Technology Association of Canada
- Christina Marciano, Sussex Strategy Group
- Clients: NexCycle Canada Inc.
- Leith Coghlin, EnPointe Development Incorporated
- Clients: Ontario Farmers Network
- Adria Minsky, Cumberland Strategies
- Jason Lietaer, Enterprise Canada
- Clients: Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada
- Laura Greer, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
- Clients: Canadian Cancer Survivor Network
- Andrew House, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
- Clients: Switch Health Holdings Inc., Coventry First LLC
- Katie Robinette, Winette Strategies
- Karl Baldauf, McMillan Vantage
- Philip Dewan, Counsel Public Affairs Inc.
- Clients: Ontario Association of Prosthetics and Orthotics
- Jenni Byrne, Jenni Byrne + Associates Inc.
- Clients: Slate Asset Management
- Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers
- Electricity Distributors Association
- Ontario Charitable Gaming Association
- Right To Play International
- Music Canada
- Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals
- Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association
- The Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
- Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association
- Ontario Bar Association
- Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks & Treasurers of Ontario
- Vale Canada Limited
- Pfizer Canada Inc.
- Teva Canada Limited
- Canadian Life Settlements
- Kiewit Canada Group Inc.
- IBT College
- Mattamy Ventures
- Aviva Canada
- Edwards Lifesciences Inc.
- Hoffmann-La Roche Limited
- The Co-operators Group Ltd.
- Cochlear Americas
- Recovery Science Corporation
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