A total of 28 MPPs met (physically distanced) at the Legislature on April 14 to obtain legislative approval to extend the state of emergency in the province. The extension of the provincial declaration allows Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders, such as the closure of all non-essential workplaces, outdoor amenities such as parks and recreational areas, public places and bars and restaurants, as well as restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and prohibitions against price-gouging.
MPPs also unanimously passed Bill 189, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act, 2020 to amend the Education Act, Planning Act, Development Charges Act, Police Services Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act. The amendments to the Education Act will allow school boards to continue charging Education Development Charges (EDCs) on new construction in order to retain a source of revenue for new school projects. The bill also includes an amendment to provide a fair and consistent province-wide approach to addressing school suspensions and expulsions as part of the government’s commitment to the safety of students and staff upon the reopening of schools. The changes to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act will temporarily suspend student loan payments for OSAP borrowers and initiate a six-month interest-free moratorium on OSAP loans.
Deputy Minister Nancy Naylor also issued a memo and Q&A this week about the legislative changes. The legislative assembly is scheduled to return on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. MPPs must do this every 28 days to renew the emergency declaration as needed and will sit for a reduced Question Period. Although the Premier stated that schools would not re-open on May 4, there is no update on a revised return to school or class date.
On April 17, the Premier and the Minister of Education announced an expansion of the list of essential workers eligible to receive emergency child care. A partnership between the government, Apple and Rogers Communications that would provide iPads to those students and families that needed them, along with free wireless data for the remainder of the school year, was also announced. School boards will be determining the requirements for student eligibility to receive iPads.
Education-related Coronavirus – COVID-19 information is posted on the OPSBA website.
Upcoming Regulation Changes
Given the current circumstances, OPSBA is aware that the approval for modified school-year calendars has been delayed and there is discussion about the cancellation of upcoming Professional Activity Days. Changes will be made to Regulation 304: School Year Calendar, Professional Activity Days soon to address this, and information will be shared with the sector.
Also, governed by regulation are the Grants for Student Needs. It is expected that these will be released in early May.
Ontario Public Student Trustee Scholarship
As part of OPSBA’s ongoing partnership with our student trustees, the OPSBA-OSTA Liaison Committee recommended the support of a scholarship to recognize outstanding student leadership. This was approved by the OPSBA Board of Directors at their February meeting. More information about the scholarship can be found on our website.
- April 10, 2020 News Release – Province Prevents Operators from Charging Fees while Child Cares are Closed
- Financial Accountability Office Report – Ontario’s Job Market Results for March 2020 and the COVID-19 Pandemic
- March 2020 – Ontario Ombudsman’s Newsletter