Ontario Reopening at 50% Capacity on Jan 31
The Ontario government announced it will slowly be reopening over the next three months. Full details here.
Starting Monday, January 31 at 12:01 am, the following will be able to reopen at 50% capacity, including:
- Restaurants, bars and other food establishments without dancing
- Retailers, including shopping malls
- Gyms, recreational fitness facilities and non-spectator areas of sports
- Meeting and event spaces
- Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
- Recreational amenities, amusement parks and water parks
- Religious services, rites and ceremonies
- Sporting events, theatres, arenas, concert venues at 50% capacity or up to 500 people (whichever is less)
Enhanced proof of vaccination and masking requirements will remain in place.
Social gatherings are permitted with 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
On Monday, February 21, the following is expected:
- Social gathering limits increase to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
- Removing capacity on all indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is required
- Spectator capacity of up to 50% at sports, concert and other similar venues
- Indoor spaces where proof of vaccination is not required allowed capacity where people can maintain two metres physical distance
- Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25% for remaining high-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required (nightclubs, wedding receptions with dancing, bathhouses, sex clubs)
On Monday, March 14, all capacity limits on indoor spaces are expected to be lifted. Proof-of-vaccination requirements will remain in place where they already exist. All capacity limits will be lifted for religious services, rites and ceremonies, and social gatherings of up to 50 people indoors will be permitted, with no limit for outdoors.
While we all want the cycle of shutdowns and reopenings to stop, any reopening now must come with other protective measures. The NDP is calling for:
- A minimum 10 permanent paid sick days for all
- Access to COVID testing
- Vaccine passports to be required in non-essential retail, LCBOs and cannabis stores
For people whose surgery has been canceled more than once, and for parents, teachers and education workers it’s frustrating not knowing what data this decision is based on, and shocking that there is no plan to help them. This government should be transparent and release the data, and the advice, this decision was based on.
TDSB Adopts Grade Freeze Due to COVID Disruption
The Toronto District School Board announced that secondary school teachers will not be taking marks assigned after December 17, 2021 into consideration, unless they improve a student’s grade in the course.
The board made this decision based on the fact that students have already completed nearly 90% of the semester, and wanted to ensure students would not be affected by the possible negative final evaluations due to COVID-related absences and isolation periods. Other Ontario school boards have adopted the same or similar policies.
CaféTO Registration Open
The City of Toronto has opened up registration for the CaféTO program. Local restaurant and bar operators interested in expanding their outdoor dining space into the curb lane and onto sidewalks can register and apply for permits online at Toronto.ca/CafeTO.
This year, operators are eligible for a matching grant of up to $7,500 to cover 50% of the cost of eligible property or site improvements related to curb lane café installations, sidewalk cafés or patios on private property, through the CaféTO Property Improvement Program.
A new online permit application process will allow businesses to only apply once for the program. Registration closes Saturday, April 2 at 11:59 pm.
Ontario Place Redevelopment Update
On January 26, the City of Toronto will be bringing forward a report on priority areas for collaboration and the development approvals process for the province’s Ontario Place redevelopment plans. In 2019, City Council approved a set of Guiding Principles for the Revitalization of Ontario Place created through public consultation and the subcommittee on Ontario Place.
In July 2021, Ontario announced they had selected three private vendors for the redevelopment, without any prior public consultation. Chopping up and leasing out Ontario Place to corporations from outside the province means that we lose the opportunity to begin rebuilding a united Ontario Place focused on our local heritage. The after-the-fact consultations on the future of Ontario Place are just one more step in the privatization of public spaces that divides our communities. Read my op-ed here.
I have written to the Minister regarding the lack of public consultation and transparency that has been exhibited to date, including a call to protect the Japanese Temple Bell located in Ontario Place. I will continue to push this government to keep Ontario Place a public community space.
Ontario Reopening Schools Jan 17
The Ontario government has confirmed the return of in-person learning for all publicly funded and private schools starting Monday, January 17, 2022.
The NDP has been calling for schools to open. We need a return to safe, in-person learning for the sake of our kids’ wellbeing.
Before-and-after-school childcare programs will reopen in alignment with the return to in-person learning on January 17, 2022 and the provision of emergency childcare for school-aged children will end on January 14, 2022.
The Opposition NDP has repeatedly put forward proposals to ensure that schools can reopen safely, and stay that way. Some of our proposals have been adopted or partially adopted, but Ontario could be doing so much more to make schools safe and keep them open. We are calling on the government to ensure families have the information they need and the certainty that their child’s school is safe, that education workers have the protections they need to stay safe on the job and that school boards are given the resources to keep schools safely open.
We continue to call for:
- A vaccine blitz for students with in-school clinics, requiring permission from parents, and an outreach campaign including culturally-relevant materials
- Mandatory vaccination for all teachers and education workers
- Reduced class sizes and school busloads
- Free rapid tests for all students, teachers and education staff
- Access to PCR tests again
- Reporting of COVID cases in schools
- Improved ventilation in all schools and regular on-site air quality testing
- Free N95 masks for all teachers and education workers
- Support for teachers and staff to help address critical learning gaps caused by previous shutdowns
We know the mixed messages and unanswered questions from the Ford government is frustrating for families, teachers, students and education workers. Please refer to your local school board for further guidance and information on their own reopening plans, which may include additional measures.
More information from the government announcement:
With vaccination of children 5-11 lagging behind at only 47% in this age group having received their first shot, the government has encouraged school boards to work with local public health units to expand in-school vaccination clinics, including during the school day.
Masks and Ventilation
After many months of requests from the Opposition NDP and education workers, the government also announced it was sending an additional supply of masks to school boards. Education workers will have the option of using a non-fit-tested N95 mask and new 3-ply cloth masks will be provided to boards for students. 3,000 additional HEPA filter units are in the process of being distributed to classrooms. Not all school boards have received these materials yet.
Testing and Reporting
As of January 17, school boards should have a sufficient supply of rapid tests to make two tests available for all in-person elementary students, and all school board staff who come into contact with students. School boards will also receive a supply of rapid antigen tests for distribution to secondary students, with additional rapid tests being delivered later.
These tests are to be used alongside a revised symptom screener: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/
Alarmingly, school boards will only be required to report COVID-19 outbreaks to public health units when at least 30% of students and staff are absent. The Ministry will no longer require class cohorts to be notified of an exposure in their class. The NDP has decried this move and has called for more transparency and reporting of cases so that parents are fully aware of risks in their child’s classroom.
Local Public Health Units and school boards may develop their own approaches to reporting that go above and beyond those required by the ministry.
Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program Opens Jan 18
On Tuesday, January 18, online applications will be open for the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program. Eligible businesses required to reduce capacity to 50%, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50% of their costs, while businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100% of their costs. Payments to eligible businesses will be retroactive to December 19, 2021. Businesses will be required to submit property tax and energy bills as part of the application process.
The full list of eligible business types will not be available until applications open on January 18, 2022.
If you have questions about the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program, call 1-866-668-8297 (1-866-ONT-TAXS).
Fourth Doses for Immunocompromised Ontarians
Starting January 14, moderately to severely immunocompromised people can book a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone who has received a transplant, or anyone taking immune-suppressant medication will be able to book their fourth dose 84 days after their third shot.
Here is the province’s list of immune-suppressant medications.
The province has already begun administering fourth doses in long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings.
Book via the COVID-19 vaccination portal, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, select pharmacies and primary care settings.
Bill 124 and the Nursing Shortage
I strongly believe that Bill 124 is a breach of the Charter rights of Ontario workers. It is almost identical to a bill passed by the previous government in 2012 that led to years of court appeals and eventually to a court decision that the then government had breached the rights of Ontario workers and $100 million in settlements. It makes no sense given this history that the current government would introduce almost identical legislation breaching the rights of Ontario workers and again being challenged in court, wasting more taxpayer dollars.
The unfair nature of Bill 124 has been revealed during the most recent wave of the pandemic, with staffing shortages due to Omicron causing strain to the healthcare system. Our healthcare workers, including nurses, have been asked to work overtime and take care of more patients than usual, leading to mental and physical exhaustion and burnout. Healthcare workers feel undervalued and disrespected, and this feeling has been amplified by Bill 124, which limits pay increases below inflation at 1% per year.
This is manifesting in nurses leaving the profession or finding work in other jurisdictions. In October 2021, the Ontario Science Table reported that 43% of nurses were considering leaving the profession. This number has surely grown in the months since this report.
But we know that a well-staffed healthcare system is vital for saving lives during the pandemic, and for allowing us to recover from the pandemic after the worst danger has passed.
I spoke about the gendered impact of Bill 124, and the importance of creating stable, well-paid, permanent positions for nurses in the legislature in October:
The Ontario NDP has asked that the Legislature be recalled immediately so that we can advocate specifically for the repeal of Bill 124.
Actions speak louder than words. Rather than offering platitudes, this government must demonstrate respect for nurses and the critical work they do, which has been particularly highlighted during this pandemic. Bill 124 is unconstitutional and should be repealed.
Ontario 2022 Budget Consultations
The Ministry of Finance has launched its 2022 budget consultations. People and organizations are welcome to share their ideas via a series of virtual consultations that begin Monday, January 17.
Visit Ontario.ca/budgetconsultations to learn how to submit your ideas by email, mail, or by filling out a survey. The 2022 budget consultations will close on February 11, 2022. The 2022 Budget will be delivered by March 31, 2022.
City of Toronto Proposed Budget 2022
The City of Toronto has presented its proposed 2022 budget and will be deciding how and what city services will be funded for the next year. You can find the presentation and more information at: www.toronto.ca/budget.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto is facing a significant budget shortfall again this year. With the goal of continuing its vital programs and services, the budget includes a 2.9% residential tax increase, as well as a 1.5% increase to the city building levy that was approved in 2019. The budget, as proposed, is balanced on the basis of approximately $1.4 billion in funding from the federal and provincial governments to cover costs related to the pandemic, but this funding has not been secured.
For information on how to provide feedback on the budget, visit the City website here. Council will be voting on the budget in late February.
Co-op Housing Providers to Receive Federal Funding
The federal government announced that it will provide $118.2 million over seven years to co-operative housing providers. This is the second phase of funding for providers whose federal agreements expired before April 2016.
The funding is said to support low-income tenants in 18,000 units by reducing their monthly payments. The funding is also said to help secure new mortgages on properties at vastly lower rates than the ones the federal government once charged them.
Co-operatives set monthly rents at a level that lets them cover operating costs as well as current and future capital repairs, which still sets rates above what some member tenants can afford. It is an innovative model that delivers long-term affordable housing, the management of which is overseen by the tenants themselves.
Ontarians are already leading the way with this important housing model, with many communities already having established their own co-ops that create shared, affordable housing that respects and embraces their languages, cultures and identities. In 2019, the Ford government cancelled a seed fund that would have allowed the co-op model to grow. An NDP government will restore the co-op housing seed fund, immediately investing $10 million in homes you can afford.
Waterfront ReConnect Design Feedback
The Bentway, in partnership with the City of Toronto, Waterfront BIA, and Toronto Downtown West BIA, has revealed six proposals for the next phase of Waterfront ReConnect — a project aiming to improve the safety and quality of experiences, particularly for pedestrians, under the Gardiner Expressway.
Three shortlisted designs have been proposed for the intersection of Lake Shore Boulevard and York Street, and three for Lake Shore Boulevard and Simcoe Street. The designs are experimental in nature, created by interdisciplinary teams composed of some of Canada’s most innovative architects, designers, engineers, and artists.
The public is encouraged to review the proposals online and register feedback by January 19, 2022. A jury composed of local and international design and arts professionals will consider this feedback and select one design for each intersection, and the winners will be announced mid-February. The designs will be installed in 2022 and will remain in place until the Gardiner deck rehabilitation project moves to this area of the Expressway (estimated in 2025).
Ontario Temporarily Moving to Modified Step Two of COVID-19 Measures
See below for full list of measures*
Evolving data from Public Health Ontario is showing that while the Omicron variant is less severe, its high transmissibility has resulted in a larger number of hospital admissions relative to ICU admissions. Staff absenteeism is also expected to rise and affect operations in workplaces across Ontario due to Omicron infection and exposure, including in hospitals and schools.
Real-world experience and evidence in Ontario reveal that approximately one per cent of Omicron cases require hospital care. The rapid rise of Omicron cases, which may soon number in the hundreds of thousands, could result in the province’s hospital capacity becoming overwhelmed if further action isn’t taken to curb transmission.
When one in 100 cases goes to hospital, it means that with this rapid increase in transmission the number of new cases requiring hospitalization will also rapidly increase daily. For example, 50,000 cases per day would mean 500 hospital admissions per day, which is greater than the peak daily hospitalizations of 265 per day from last spring, when hospitals were under significant strain during the third wave of the pandemic.
In response, on January 5, 2022 the Chief Medical Officer of Health will reinstate Directive 2 for hospitals and regulated health professionals, instructing hospitals to pause all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.
The province will also return to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators. Changes include:
- Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
- Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.
- Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.
- Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.
- Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close.
- Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed.
- Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.
- Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
- Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
- Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.
- Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity.
- Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.
Please view the regulations for the full list of mandatory public health and workplace safety measures:
For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only).
Learn about the government services available to you and how government works by clicking here.
Get help navigating Ontario’s health care system and connecting with the programs or services you’re looking for by clicking here.
Ontario Raises Maximum Allowable Rent Increase to 1.2% as Rent Freeze Ends
Ontario renters may soon be paying more for their accommodations after the province hiked its rent increase guidelines today, setting it's rent increase 2022 guideline at 1.2 per cent.
This guideline is the maximum a landlord can increase a tenants' rent during a year without the approval of the Landlord and Tenant Board. In most cases, the rent for a residential unit can be increased 12 months after either the last rent increase or the date the tenancy begins.
The landlord must give a tenant written notice of a rent increase at least 90 days before it takes effect. The proper forms for this notice are available from the Landlord and Tenant Board. If your landlord has not provided the proper notice, or you believe that your rent has been raised by an improper amount, you can dispute it at the Landlord and Tenant Board within 12 months after the amount was first charged.
The guidelines apply to most rented apartments, condos, houses and care and mobile homes, but there are some exceptions for vacant residential units, community housing properties and commercial units. Read more here.
Out of 35 cities included in the Rentals.ca and Bullpen Research & Consulting monthly report in December 2021, Toronto had the second most expensive rents, with average monthly rents hitting $2,040 for a one-bedroom and $2,764 for a two-bedroom last month.
According to the report, average monthly rents in Toronto are expected to rise 11% for all property types next year. This compares to 7% in Mississauga, 6% in Vancouver, 5% in Montreal and 4% in Calgary. The 11% increase in Toronto means that the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment will hit $2,495 in December 2022.
Ontario is facing a housing affordability and homelessness crisis. Under this current government, investors and speculators have driven up housing prices to record heights, rent control on new buildings has been eliminated, funding to housing programs has been cut, and the Landlord and Tenant Board is so backlogged it is being investigated by the Ombudsman.
The NDP and I are pushing for a housing plan that includes the end of raising rents between tenants, which will stop unfair evictions and skyrocketing rents, as well as other concrete tenant protections to make renting more affordable.
Minimum Wage, Staycation Tax Credit & Other Changes Coming to Ontario in 2022
Minimum Wage now $15:
Some Ontario workers will see their paycheques rise this week as an official increase to the province's minimum wage takes effect today.
Minimum wage workers will now earn $15 per hour, up from the previous hourly rate of $14.35. Liquor servers will see their hourly wages increase from $12.55 to $15.
Students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session or work during a break from classes will now make at least $14.10 per hour, up from $13.50.
The province says between January and November 2021, there were about 767,000 workers in Ontario making at or below minimum wage. By freezing minimum wage at $14 in 2019, workers would have $5,300 more today.
The affordability crisis is already a nightmare for most Ontarians. This is why the NDP and I announced a plan to move Ontario to a $20 minimum wage through stable $1 increases each year starting in 2022.
Staycation Tax Credit:
Ontario's staycation tax credit comes into effect on Jan. 1 and will last for the duration of 2022. The program was announced as part of the Doug Ford government's Fall Economic Statement, which was tabled in November.
Ontarians will get a 20 per cent personal income tax credit on eligible accommodation, between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, up to a maximum of $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a family, for a maximum credit of $200 or $400 respectively.
Other Changes Include:
- Rowan’s Law, which covers concussions and player safety in youth sports. Clubs must now have policies regarding removal from sport and return to play when it comes to head injuries.
- Starting in January, the province is also hiking fines for offences such as careless and stunt driving, with $250 for a first offence, $350 for a second and $450 for a third within five years when motorists lose their licences.
- Building Code amendments that will define and “facilitate the construction of tiny homes and clarify that remote inspections may be used, to increase flexibility and help increase Ontario’s housing supply,” the province says.
- As of Jan. 3, all 130,000 teachers in Ontario and those wanting to teach in the province must take a three-hour online sexual abuse prevention program, free of charge, that was developed with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Current teachers have until the end of August to complete the program, and must earn a grade of at least 80 per cent.
- Adding wild pigs to the list of regulated invasive species because of their danger to the environment, other animals and farming crops.
New Tow Truck Rules on Ontario Highways
The Ministry of Transportation is implementing new towing rules on Greater Toronto Area highways. The four-year pilot project will restrict certains sections of highways 401, 427, 409, 400 and the Queen Elizabeth Way to specific towing companies. This move is to address some of the issues facing the towing industry, including arson, gun violence and unfair practices.
The government says these new rules will prevent some towing companies from swooping in on drivers who need help and overcharging them for towing and storage fees. Authorized towing companies must also provide a fee schedule, an itemized invoice showing all costs and be willing to accept debit and credit cards.
The Provincial Towing Association of Ontario says that the towing industry is in need of an overhaul. They would like to see provincial licensing of tow truck operators to ensure tow truck operators have the proper training and equipment.
If your car breaks down or if you are in an accident in these four zones, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario advises to call 911 if it’s an emergency. However, if you’re safely pulled over on the side of the road, you can call 511 and select the “Tow Zone Pilot” to reach an authorized tow company.
Ontario Government, City of Toronto Postpone Return to Work
Ontario civil servants have been directed to work from home beginning Friday, December 17. Members of the Ontario Public Service, who were gradually returning to their provincial offices since November, were told the plan is being paused until February 7, 2022 “at the earliest.”
The City of Toronto also announced it will postpone its return-to-work plan for its employees who work from home. The City has advised employees who are able to work remotely to continue to do so until the public health advice changes.
Condo Transparency Motion
Thank you to everyone who attended my Condo Town Hall on November 17th. If you missed it, watch the recording here.
Condo experts including representatives from the Condominium Authority of Ontario, the Canadian Condominium Institute, and current and former condo directors in the GTA answered the most common questions collected from the online survey and the audience. The information addressed a variety of areas of concern, including short-term rentals, condo fees, and condo boards.
On December 1st, I introduced a Condo Transparency Motion in the legislature to increase transparency in the condo industry and create mechanisms to protect people purchasing, owning, and living in condos from exploitation. Watch advocates speak about the motion here.
You can watch the debate here:
- MPP Glover Condo Transparency Speech
- Minister of Government & Consumer Services Ross Romano Response
- MPP Glover Closing Remarks
Not only did the Conservatives vote down my Condo Transparency Motion, they claimed the protections are already in place, even though just two weeks ago, Pace Developments cancelled years-long pre-construction contracts unless purchasers pay $100,000 more, on top of the original agreement.
Once again, the Conservatives proved that they are not willing to regulate the housing development industry or protect homeowners and home buyers who are being taken advantage of. The housing crisis has ballooned under decades of Liberal and Conservative governments. Our current government favours developers at the expense of everyday people, allowing unchecked power in the development of pre-construction condo units, and providing little enforcement of compliance for condo boards and property managers.
There are well over a million condo dwellers in Ontario who deserve rights and protections so they can live in decent, well-maintained homes. The only way condo buyers will be protected is if the government brings in legislation to create a fair condo market for buyers.
FAO Reports Ontario Spent $4.3 Billion Less than Planned
The Financial Accountability Office released an update on Ontario’s spending over the first six months of the 2021-22 fiscal year. Read the full report here.
Key programs with below-plan spending, as of September 30, 2021, include:
- In the ‘other programs’ sector, the province did not spend any of the $1.1 billion budget for municipal transit projects under the Ministry of Transportation
- In the health sector, the province spent or reallocated $441 million (16.6%) of the $2.7 billion budget for the COVID-19 Response program
- In the children’s and social services sector, major programs with the lowest relative spending include Autism, Supportive Services and Ontario Works – Financial Assistance
- In the education sector, the province spent $20 million (1.2%) of the $1.7 billion budget for the School Board Capital Grants program
Again we’re seeing this government withholding money at the expense of Ontario families trying to weather and recover from the pandemic. It’s especially disheartening to learn that, at a time when we needed to make sure as many people got vaccinated and quickly as possible, this government underspent in public health by $600 million. They also underspent in education by nearly $700 million as families across Ontario were demanding a safe return to school.
Auditor General Reports Increase in Surgery Wait Times, Understaffed Police, Frequent Use of MZOs
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released a report on the Ontario government on Wednesday. Read the summary here.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Wait times for outpatient procedures such as gallbladder surgery have increased from 100 days pre-pandemic to 157 days, and from 259 days for forefoot surgery to 356, despite empty operating rooms.
- Some patients who received outpatient surgery were charged for things covered by OHIP such as cataract surgery.
- Ontario Provincial Police detachments are “increasingly understaffed,” providing fewer patrol hours.
- The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp. “does not have sufficient age verification controls in place to prevent minors from purchasing cannabis through its online store or obtaining it inadvertently from third-party delivery operators.”
- Homelessness is a “serious” issue in Ontario, but the province has no strategy to prevent or reduce it and those who need housing the most aren’t first in line to get it.
- The province has little oversight of 500 private career colleges, and the education they provide to students may be outdated and inadequate — in particular in paramedicine and information technology.
- Ontario’s 24 public colleges continue to receive the least amount of government funding compared to those in other provinces.
- The Ontario government issued 44 Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) between March 2019 and March 2021, when in the past, about one was issued per year.
- 17 of the 44 MZOs were issued to the same seven development groups or companies.
- The Ontario government gave $210 million to businesses that were ineligible to receive anything, $8 million to businesses that had no revenue loss whatsoever, and gave some businesses $714 million more in support than they lost in revenue.
This report shows us how this government has cut funding to those who need it most, has not provided any funding to housing or education, turned away many of our small businesses, yet fast-tracked developments that provide wealthy developers the opportunity to build on farmlands and wetlands.
LTB Closing Tenant Application Files on Dec 7
Our office has learned that the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) will be administratively closing tenant application files if tenants do not respond to their email by December 7, 2021. If you are a tenant and have applied for a hearing at the LTB, please check your junk mail folder to be sure you did not miss an email. Read more on this here.
If you are waiting to hear from the LTB and haven’t as of yet, please reach out to a local legal clinic for immediate assistance:
West Toronto Community Legal Services 416-461-8102
Flemingdon Community Legal Services 416-441-1764
Kensington-Bellwoods Community Legal Services 416-924-4244
Neighbourhood Legal Services 416-861-0677
Government Votes Down $20 Minimum Wage Amendment
The Ford government voted down an NDP amendment that would have put Ontarians on the path to a $20 minimum wage by 2026. The NDP and I have committed to a schedule of stable, predictable $1-an-hour increases to the minimum wage over the next five years.
Unfortunately, the current government does not understand that minimum wage earners often have to cobble together two or three jobs to make ends meet. This government cancelled the minimum wage increase and froze wages for three years — putting the change to $15 years behind schedule. They cut and denied workers paid sick days, and they are capping wages of frontline heroes like nurses and teachers with a wage cap bill that pins their pay cheques behind inflation.
Cargo E-bike Pilot
In June 2021, Toronto City Council adopted by-laws to partially opt-in to the Province’s pilot project by allowing cargo e-bikes, weighing not more than 120 kilograms (unladen), on streets, bike lanes and cycle tracks. A report on a pilot project for larger cargo e-bikes weighing over 120 kilograms (unladen) was requested for the fourth quarter of 2021.
This report recommends amending by-laws to further opt-in to a provincial pilot that runs until March 1, 2026. The pilot will allow large cargo e-bikes over 120 kilograms (unladen) to operate on roads, bike lanes and cycle tracks, and to be able to park like other commercial vehicles, including in designated on-street commercial loading zones and delivery vehicle parking zones. It also recommends authorizing the General Manager, Transportation Services, to develop and implement agreements with large cargo e-bike participants to ensure safety and data collection. The proposed approach largely follows New York City’s cargo e-bike pilot which was a successful pilot that is now being made permanent. More information here.
Updated Mask Guidance for High-Risk Individuals
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has provided updated mask guidance and is advising that medical masks should be worn by the following individuals:
- Anyone who has tested positive for or has symptoms of COVID-19
- People caring for someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19
- People who live in an overcrowded setting with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19
- People who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19
- People who are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 because of their living situation
Ontario Government Pivots back to $15 Minimum Wage
The Premier announced that, starting January 1, 2022, the Ontario government will raise the province’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Premier cancelled the planned $15 minimum wage three years ago, freezing it at $14. The freeze was in place for 26 months, until October 2020, when it was increased to $14.25, and increased another 10 cents on October 1, 2021, bringing minimum wage in Ontario to the current $14.35.
By cancelling the planned $15 minimum wage three years ago, this government has taken more than $5,300 out of the pockets of Ontario workers to date. The cost of everything has skyrocketed since then — housing, auto insurance, food and gas — and $15 an hour simply isn’t enough anymore. Workers need a bare minimum of $17 an hour to cover the cost of living.
9-1-1 Call Diversion Pilot Project
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) and Gerstein Crisis Centre (GCC) announced the launch of the 9-1-1 Call Diversion Pilot Project. The project comes in response to calls from the mental health community to reform policing in Toronto.
The one-year pilot project will see both TPS and GCC responders working collaboratively, but distinctly, to assist in the diversion of non-emergency mental health related calls away from a police response. Toronto Police call-takers will evaluate incoming calls, and those deemed to be at no imminent risk, will be transferred to a GCC crisis worker who will now be available in the 9-1-1 communications centre every day 20 hours a day.
Watch this short video to see the pilot in action.
Protection for Migratory Birds
This morning, I held a press conference at City Hall to speak on the motion I have submitted to the Ontario legislature calling on the government to integrate the Canadian Standards Association’s national standard for bird-friendly design into Ontario’s building code for all new construction. CP24 covered the event here: https://tinyurl.com/cp24birds
Migratory birds are vital to sustaining biodiversity in Ontario. Millions fly across the Great Lakes during the Fall and Spring migrations and while they are here, they spread seeds, pollinate plants, and keep insect populations under control. They help to maintain fertile soil, healthy wetlands and forests. However, windows that reflect the sky and the clouds can appear invisible to a moving bird, so they continue to fly at high speeds until they smack into the glass and fall to the ground.
(Left) Beautiful black and white warbler (Courtesy of Priya Ramsingh)
(Right) Warbler killed by hitting a window (Courtesy of Bird Safe Buildings)
Some survive the impact with a concussion. Some are rescued by compassionate people working with organizations like Never Collide and FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) Canada. Many do not survive the trauma. FLAP Canada states that over 25 million birds die through collisions with windows in Canada every year, including many bird species at risk. These deaths are largely preventable, but are costly for migratory birds already at risk of extinction from climate change.
Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act and Canada’s Species at Risk Act make it an offence to harm or kill birds due to window collisions, but governments have not enforced these laws. The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has created a bird-friendly building design where inexpensive materials can be used on windows in new builds to prevent collisions. But developers aren’t incentivized to implement these measures unless it is required by law. Ensuring that all new construction uses bird-friendly window materials is a simple, proactive and inexpensive way to reduce fatal collisions and protect this vital wildlife, as well as our biodiversity. Their fate is our fate.
Bird collisions can be easily avoided by applying inexpensive treatments on windows
That is why I introduced the following Motion to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario this week:
That in the opinion of the House, the Ontario Government should protect migratory birds and Ontario’s biosphere by mandating the 2019 Canadian Standards Association Bird-Friendly Design standard for all new construction in the province.
This solution has had widespread support. Among others, Margaret Atwood, internationally renowned author and environmental activist, supports the motion and said, “Between 1 and 10 million migratory birds collide with windows in Toronto each year. Bird populations have decreased across Canada, and the number of bird species at risk increased from 47 to 86 between 2001 and 2014. MPP Chris Glover’s motion to change the Ontario building code to mandate bird safe buildings is an essential green policy for Ontario. Birds need our help!”
You can join and support this motion by signing our petition and sharing our posts on social media:
Feel free to tag @chrisglovermpp on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and use the hashtag #birdfriendlyOntario.
We need to take concrete, meaningful action to conserve our bird species and protect our environment for the coming decades. The Ford government must act now and enshrine in law the use of bird-friendly materials in all new buildings in Ontario.
FoSTRA Seeking Members
Throughout Doug Ford's term as Premier, one constant has been that his actions have repeatedly favored developers rather than local communities. This has created a great deal of controversy, whether he was opening the Greenbelt for development, pushing through highway 413, or greatly increasing the number of Ministerial Zoning Orders to overrule local community voices, it was clear that residents needed to work together to oppose concerning action from the Ontario Government. This is why I helped bring together groups in the riding to lay the foundation for FOSTRA, to ensure Torontonians have a strong voice advocating for them in decisions that affect them.
- The Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations (FoSTRA) is a non-partisan federation of residents associations that collaborate to:
- help shape the creation of good public policies at all levels of government
- preserve and enhance the quality of life for Torontonians
- promote neighborhood identity and vitality
- ensure responsible and respectful development within its boundaries
FoSTRA’s boundaries are the same as the five downtown Wards – Wards 4, 9, 10, 13 – and the Ridings and Electoral Districts of Parkdale-High Park, Davenport, Spadina-Fort York, Toronto Centre plus Ward 11, and University-Rosedale south of Bloor Street.
FoSTRA has established itself as a federal non-profit, and is accepting membership requests for resident, community, neighbourhood, and tenants associations as well as housing co-ops to consider.
If you would like more information or an application form, please email: [email protected]