Chris Glover MPP, Spadina–Fort York

Government of Ontario

Newsletter

Dear Neighbours,

At sunrise this morning, I attended the Indigenous Legacy Gathering at Nathan Phillips Square. It was a beautiful ceremony conducted by Joanne Powless, John Keeshig and Chastity Jenner and an opportunity to pause and reflect on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation which is Friday, September 30th, also known as Orange Shirt Day. This day honours the children who didn’t come home, the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, and their families.

At the sunrise ceremony at the Indigenous Legacy Gathering in Nathan Phillips Square

 

I would like to reiterate the words of my colleague, MPP Sol Mamakwa: “We need to understand the past in order to build a better present, and stronger future, together. I encourage people to participate in public events of mourning, reflection and education.”

Below are just a few ways you can recognize this day: 

If you’re looking for a place to purchase an orange shirt, check out Aanii, in the Stackt Market – an Indigenous-owned local business that will have a fashion show and other events on Friday evening starting at 5:00 pm. You can also find a listing of events taking place in Toronto on my website at: https://www.chrisglovermpp.ca/events

During Climate Action Week, I toured the offices of Peak Power, a tech company in our riding that is looking at ways to use battery power, including electric vehicles, to offset peak energy demand and reduce the need to fire up gas power plants. Their most recent project includes installing and operating 117 electric vehicle chargers in our area.

It was very concerning to hear the province’s announcement today that they will be looking at extending the life of the old Pickering nuclear station. The government has been criticized for failing to plan for rising electricity demand, cancelling green energy projects, and now relying on stop-gap measures including gas-fired power plants that increase our greenhouse gas emissions. See more on this below.

Visiting Peak Power’s head office that will install 117 EV chargers in Ontario

 

There are plenty of other activities happening this weekend. Check out our Fun Things to Do.

A belated “Shanah Tovah” to all those who celebrated Rosh Hashanah this week!

Stay well,


Latest News

FAO Report Projects Huge Health Care Hiring Needs

The Financial Accountability Office (FAO) recently released a report showing alarming job vacancies among hospital and child care workers — since 2019, the hospital job vacancy rate nearly doubled, from 3.4% to 5.8% — and average salary growth for public sector workers is expected to lag significantly behind inflation. Read the report here.

The Ontario NDP is again calling for Bill 124 to be scrapped as this legislation is holding back wages of workers like nurses and fueling the crisis in Ontario’s hospitals. Instead of backing off of Bill 124, this government is fighting public sector workers in court — a choice that could cost the public $8.4 billion.

The FAO report shows Ontario will need tens of thousands more of vital public sector workers like nurses in the coming years. But this policy will continue to drive public sector workers away.

We will continue to push for healthcare workers to get the pay and respect they deserve, and to urge the government to launch a massive strategy to attract, hire, train and retain healthcare workers with competitive wages and incentives, as well as reinstating the Practice-Ready Assessment program, to ensure the most qualified internationally educated physicians and nurses are working in our hospitals in just 12 weeks.

Canada Removes COVID-19 Border and Travel Measures 

The Government of Canada announced that, starting October 1, 2022, all COVID-19 entry restrictions, as well as testing, quarantine, and isolation requirements for anyone entering Canada will be removed. Transport Canada is also removing existing travel requirements. Details here.

All travellers, regardless of citizenship, will no longer have to:

  • Submit public health information through the ArriveCAN app or website
  • Provide proof of vaccination
  • Undergo pre- or on-arrival testing
  • Carry out COVID-19-related quarantine or isolation
  • Monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 upon arriving to Canada
  • Undergo health checks for travel on air and rail
  • Wear masks on planes and trains

It is still strongly recommended that all travellers continue to wear high quality and well-fitted masks. People should not travel if they have symptoms of COVID-19. You can review the travel advice at https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories for more information on safe travel.

Ontario Applies to Extend Life of Pickering Nuclear Plant

Energy Minister Todd Smith announced today that the government plans to extend the life of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station by one year and is looking to possibly refurbish the plant to run for another 30 years. The plan would require the approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

NDP Interim Leader and critic for Energy and the Climate Crisis Peter Tabuns responded:

“Premier Doug Ford failed to plan for Ontario’s energy needs and that put the province in a bind. The Conservatives cancelled and dismantled low-price renewable energy generation, then had to sign contracts last month to ratchet up very expensive gas-fired power. Now, Pickering’s extension is completely up to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. 

With this much uncertainty in our power generation mix, Ontarians could see higher utility bills and workers could pay an even bigger price. That’s why the NDP is calling for a transparent energy plan, and a transparent labour force plan so all power workers will have guaranteed supports and resources to ensure a stable future for themselves and their families in a rapidly changing industry.”

Ontario Place Presentation

The provincial government has parcelled out Ontario Place to three private vendors, none of them Ontario based: Écorécréo Group, Live Nation and Therme. Écorécréo Group recently announced that they will not be pursuing their development at Ontario Place. The contracting out has been criticized because it is not in keeping with the original vision of celebrating Ontario and because it privatizes large swaths of what was intended to be public parkland.

Ken Greenberg, the Toronto-based architect behind the reimagining of public spaces, including the Bentway and the High Line in New York, presented a history of Ontario Place and asked community members to fight for this valuable public space. You can watch the video of his presentation here. 

My office has organized a workgroup on this issue. If you’d like to join, please email my office and we will add you to the list.

Rapid Transit Hovercraft Coming to Toronto

Hoverlink recently announced it will be launching its first-of-a-kind hovercraft service next summer. The company states that it will be able to move passengers from Toronto to Niagara across Lake Ontario in only 30 minutes. They are said to be in the final approval stages with the province and federal government and approvals are already in place to land their hovercrafts at Ontario Place in Toronto and Port Weller in St. Catharines.

I will be making an inquiry to the province and meeting directly with the company to find out more about it and will continue to keep you updated.

Public Input on Federal Electoral Boundaries

The Ontario Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission has shared its proposal for the redistribution of Ontario’s federal electoral boundaries. Review the proposal here.

The best way to view the proposed electoral districts is via the online Map Viewer tool. Input your address in the top right-hand corner, and then click on “current” for the current electoral district, and then click on “proposed” and it will show both boundaries.

Public hearings will take place virtually and in-person across Ontario from September 26 to October 29, 2022. Click here for more information.

Written submissions can be submitted via email or mail by October 29, 2022:

Tarion Seeking Feedback on Regulatory Changes

Tarion is seeking public input on several potential regulatory changes to Regulation 892 under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. More details here.

Following previous consultations on proposed policies in the spring and fall of 2021, Tarion is now consulting on regulatory changes to support improvements to the Customer Service Standard, an increase to the warranty compensation limit, and the creation of a Temporary Relocation Warranty.

Those interested in providing comments are encouraged to submit them through Ontario’s Regulatory Registry or to [email protected]. Deadline is November 14, 2022.

Census Data on First Nations People, Métis and Inuit

Statistics Canada has released its fifth group of findings from the 2021 Census that is now available online at www.statcan.gc.ca/census and includes data insights on First Nations people, Métis and Inuit in Canada, as well as Canada’s housing portrait. Over multiple decades, census data has revealed that the Indigenous population has grown quickly—at a pace far surpassing that of the non-Indigenous population.

The housing landscape in Canada has changed over the past decade, against a backdrop of record low interest rates, increased construction of condominiums, and rising home prices. The data includes key housing indicators, such as the rate of homeownership, the share of households living in condominiums and the share of households living in shelter not considered affordable.

Fall Tenant School

Are you a tenant interested in learning about your rights under the law? The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations offers this Tenant School program that provides free legal information to tenants. For more information, please email: [email protected]

Free upcoming workshops:

Monday, October 3 , 7-8:30 pm: Community Organizing & Tenant Organizations

Tuesday, October 4,  7-8:30 pm: Tenant Organizing During the Municipal Election

Register here.

Ontarians 18+ Eligible for Bivalent COVID-19 Booster Starting Sep 26

Starting Sep 26 at 8:00 am, bivalent COVID-19 booster appointments will be available to and can be booked for the most vulnerable populations, including:

  • Individuals aged 70 and over
  • Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges and individuals living in other congregate settings that provide assisted-living and health services
  • First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals aged 12 and over
  • Pregnant individuals aged 18 and over
  • Health care workers aged 18 and over

The bivalent booster is an adapted version of the original Moderna mRNA vaccine, and targets both the original strain of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant. Individuals can receive this booster at least 6 months after their most recent dose, regardless of how many prior boosters they have already received.

Appointments can be booked through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (PVCC) at 1-833-943-3900. Eligible individuals can also book an appointment directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating health care providers and participating pharmacies. Pregnant individuals and health care workers booking from September 12 to 25 must call the PVCC or book booster dose appointments through participating pharmacies.

Long-term care, retirement home and Elder Care Lodge residents may receive their bivalent booster dose directly through the congregate home where they live.

Long-Term Care Bill (G7) Powers Over Seniors

There are a couple of controversial bills in the Legislature during this summer session. The Ontario government passed Bill 7, More Beds, Better Care Act, on Wednesday, August 31st. The bill gives the government the power to begin the process of moving patients out of hospitals into Long-Term Care (LTC) homes without their consent. In fact, much of the three page bill is a list of actions the government can take without the patient’s consent. The term “without consent” is used six times in the bill.

The Premier has stated those who refuse to move can be charged for their hospital bed with fees often ranging over $1,000/day. The government decided not to send the bill to committee ensuring no public feedback was gathered before it was passed. The government stated bypassing the committee was justified due to the urgent need to free up acute care beds in hospitals. The Opposition says this bill will force seniors into possibly living in some of the for-profit LTC homes where horrific cases of abuse were reported by the Armed Forces during the pandemic. They explained that hospital patients did not create this crisis, decades of underfunding and the wage cap on nurses, which the Ontario government passed (Bill 124), did. The Opposition said Ford is ignoring solutions that could improve health care including:

  1. Repealing Bill 124, which caps wage increases for healthcare workers at 1%.
  2. Addressing workplace violence in health care settings.
  3. Providing mental health supports to health care workers.
  4. Hiring tens of thousands of the most qualified internationally educated doctors and nurses.

Strong Mayors Bill (G3)

Bill G3 has been called the Strong Mayors bill. The bill gives the Mayors of Toronto and Ottawa greater powers over the budget and committees and gives them veto powers over council motions that interfere with “provincial priorities”. It has been criticized for nullifying the power of local councillors and giving absolute power to the Mayor who can govern the city with the approval of only 1/3rd of the city council, instead of 50% of council as is currently the case. 

Democracy is a process of negotiation among stakeholders. Putting so much power in the hands of the Mayor can lead to abuse. CBC’s Joanne Chianello has written an excellent analysis available here.

Government Ends Five-Day Mandatory Isolation for COVID

The government has dropped the mandatory five-days of isolation for COVID in favour of other guidelines that address all respiratory and gastrointestinal issues. The new guidelines are described here and outlined below:

  • If you have symptoms of any respiratory illness, stay home until symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours.
  • If you have a fever, stay home until it's completely gone.
  • If you have gastrointestinal symptoms, stay home until symptoms have improved for at least 48 hours.
  • After isolating at home, wear a mask in public for 10 days since the onset of symptoms.
  • If sick, avoid non-essential visits to vulnerable or older people for a full 10 days starting the day after symptoms appear — including visits to high-risk settings such as long-term care homes and hospitals.
  • If you're in the same household as someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19, mask in public spaces, even if you feel better, and avoid vulnerable individuals and settings for 10 days after exposure. Isolate immediately if you develop symptoms.

Privatizing Education and Healthcare

As I mentioned in my letter, I got active in politics when Mike Harris was making drastic cuts to our schools. The government’s own commission at the time declared that Ontario’s public and Catholic schools were underfunded by $1.2 billion per year. At the same time, the government introduced a private school tax credit that would have cost taxpayers $700 million per year. In other words, the government was directly transferring money from publicly funded schools to private schools.

Our current provincial government seems to be following a similar path with both healthcare and education. When asked if his government intended to privatize public healthcare, Premier Ford has said, “everything is on the table.” The Ontario government has also conducted a survey asking about the privatization of healthcare and education, a possible indication of the government’s intentions.

Public Healthcare
This is a great concern. Canada’s public healthcare system provides coverage for every Canadian and costs far less than the private-for-profit system in the United States (US). Everyone is covered with public health insurance and Canada spends far less on health care (10.4% of GDP vs. 16% in the US). At the same time, we live longer lives and our babies are born healthier. 

Our public health care system is also a competitive advantage as it saves employers from having to pay the substantially higher health insurance that employers are faced with in the US. Much of the inefficiency in the US system comes from administration costs, which cost $2,500 per person vs. $550 per person in Canada.

Over the past two years, the Opposition has been pushing the government to address the growing backlog for surgeries and procedures. We need a massive recruitment drive for healthcare workers, to accelerate the vetting for foreign trained professionals, and to treat our healthcare workers with respect to stop them from leaving the system. The Opposition believes the first steps should be investments in critical services and the repeal of Bill 124, which caps healthcare workers pay increases at 1% per year.  

Nurses, doctors and other health professionals are chronically short-staffed causing burn out. They emphasized the Ontario government refused to spend the money needed to shore up hospitals and health care during the pandemic. The government’s refusal to shore up our public health care system is already driving some healthcare staff out of public hospitals and into the private-for-profit sector. Privatization will make the system more expensive and patients are already being asked to cover some of these additional costs out of pocket. Even for OHIP-covered surgeries, patients pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for everything from a consultation with a physiotherapist to non-OHIP covered brands.

There are many issues in our healthcare system - wait times are too long, nurses and other healthcare workers are leaving the system because they are underpaid and overworked. The solution is to invest more in public healthcare, not to open it up to a private-for-profit system where profit rather than healthcare becomes the priority.

Public Education
Our publicly funded schools have been underfunded for decades. I was a TDSB Trustee from 2010-2018. Every year the board was faced with another funding shortfall and Trustees had to make cuts to staff, programs and maintenance. The annual shortfalls date back to the Harris era.

The cuts have continued over the past four years. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Ontario school boards received an average of $800 less per student from 2017-18 to 2021-22. The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario reported the Ontario government spent $212 million less on education than was budgeted over the first three quarters of 2021-22.


The Opposition has pointed out the Ontario government seems to be diverting funds desperately needed in our public education system into private services instead. The government pledged $225 million in direct payments to parents that they can then spend in the private sector. Obviously parents need financial support, but the money should not be taken out of already underfunded schools. 

The Opposition is asking the Ontario government to reverse the cuts and to make investments into our schools to help students recover from the pandemic shutdowns. We need to invest in real solutions for students like smaller class sizes, more educational assistants, and more supports for students.


Chris in the House

The legislature resumed on February 22 and I have been busy working on many issues. Below are some of my recent statements at Queen’s Park:

Double ODSP Rates & Improve the Homelessness Crisis

  • CTV recently reported that at least two Ontarians with disabilities are choosing to die through Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) because they could not pay for housing that would reduce their suffering from their disability. Current monthly ODSP payments are 47.5 per cent short of the municipal poverty line in Toronto and 30 per cent below the province's poverty line. It is not possible to survive on these amounts in Ontario and many on ODSP are ending up homeless. I asked the Ford government to double ODSP rates. Watch my statement here.

Affordable Housing

  • Rents in Toronto rose 14.5% in 2021. Those in non-rent-controlled buildings are facing rent increases of $500/month. To say that housing under the Ford government is unaffordable is a huge understatement. Watch my statement here.

Environment

  • In January, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! Becoming a grandparent has further put into perspective how urgently we need to act on the climate crisis so future generations can have a sustainable world to live in. Watch my statement here.

Ukraine

  • We need to do everything we can to support the people of Ukraine in these incredibly difficult times. Watch my statement here.