Legislative Update – April 27, 2021

2021 4/27 | Connects Page, Education Finance, Education Policy, Elections, Ontario Newsroom, Provincial Updates

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario is in session although there have been some rumours and media coverage about a possible adjournment. The House does have one more constituency week that aligns with the Victoria Day holiday weekend (May 24-28) and is set to rise for summer recess on June 3. That leaves 20 sitting days.

COVID-19 Update

The provincial COVID-19 school-related case information webpage is not currently being updated due to the province-wide closure of schools to nearly all in-person learning.

On April 16, the province extended the stay-at-home order for an extra two weeks, from May 6 to May 20. That same day, the government imposed new travel and public health measures in an attempt to stop the rapid growth of COVID-19 case rates and relieve pressure on the healthcare system. Two of these restrictions – increased police enforcement authority and the closure of playgrounds – were reversed the next day through a statement from Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and a tweet from Premier Doug Ford. Other outdoor recreational amenities, such as tennis courts, golf courses, baseball diamonds and soccer fields, remain closed. More information on the current restrictions can be found in the news release.

The April 16 memo, “In-Person Learning for Students with Special Education Needs Who Cannot be Accommodated”, indicated that only students who couldn’t be accommodated online should return to the in-person classroom.

Recent and Current Legislation

Bill 276, Supporting Recovery and Competitiveness Act – This legislation was introduced by Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, the Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. The bill contains changes to 28 Acts, including the Education Act which includes a proposed amendment regarding demonstration schools. OPSBA did comment on demonstration schools in our response last summer to Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020.
Current Status: Second Reading.

See the news release

See the backgrounder

Bill 269, Protecting the People of Ontario Act (Budget Measures), 2021 – This legislation supports the provincial government’s budget that was released on March 24 by the Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy. That same day, OPSBA shared a preliminary overview of the 2021-22 budget that included education sector impacts with its members.
Current Status: Third Reading.

Bill 260, Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, 2021 – This legislation was introduced on February 8 by Liberal MPP Stephen Blais. The legislation proposes to amend the Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act to include code of conduct breaches that involve workplace violence and harassment policies. The introduction followed a previous government announcement on March 5, indicating that the government will be reviewing Municipal Codes of Conduct. This consultation is not applicable to school boards or trustees but OPSBA will monitor for any proposed changes. On April 14, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing issued a news release, Ontario Now Accepting Public Feedback to Strengthen Municipal Codes of Conduct
Current Status: First Reading.

Bill 254, Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021 – This legislation was introduced on February 25 by Attorney General Doug Downey. The bill proposes to amend the Election Act, Election Finances Act, the Members’ Integrity Act and the Municpal Elections Act. Specific changes would affect donation limits, MPP social media accounts during campaigns, advance polling dates, and allow independent MPPs to receive per vote subsidies. OPSBA will continue to monitor the legislation and its proposed elections changes. The next general election is scheduled to occur on or before June 2, 2022.
Current Status: Royal Assent received on April 19, 2021.

Bill 251, Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021 – This legislation was introduced on February 22 by the Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones. In addition to this legislation, the Ministry of Education connected with education stakeholders, “to inform the development of an anti-human trafficking policy framework for the provincially-funded education sector.” OPSBA’s Policy Development Work Team met to discuss the questionnaire and how schools play a role in protecting students against trafficking and how to support survivors. A submission was sent on March 19, 2021.
Current Status: Second Reading.

Ministry Initiatives Committee – Online and Remote Learning Proposal

The OPSBA Board of Directors had a special meeting at the end of March to discuss the proposed changes regarding Expanding Student Access to Online and Remote Learning. In addition, OPSBA’s Table Officers and senior staff also had a virtual follow-up meeting with Ministry of Education staff to discuss these plans and ask questions. A confidential response was provided to the Ministry of Education and a public letter was sent to Minister Lecce on April 8. OPSBA is waiting to learn of next steps with this proposal.

Federal Budget

On April 19, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, released Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience. A major part of the budget was about national child care plans. “Budget 2021 makes a generational investment to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system. This is a plan to drive economic growth, a plan to increase women’s participation in the workforce, and a plan to offer each child in Canada the best start in life. This plan will aim to reduce fees for parents with children in regulated child care by 50 per cent on average, by 2022, with a goal of reaching $10 per day on average by 2026, everywhere outside of Quebec. Budget 2021 will invest almost $30 billion over the next five years and provide permanent ongoing funding, working with provincial and territorial, and Indigenous partners to support quality, not-for-profit child care, and ensuring the needs of early childhood educators are at the heart of the system.”

OPSBA has made preliminary contact with the Ministry of Education about this plan and will keep members informed about any future stakeholder engagement. Decisions will need to be made between the federal government and the provinces and territories.

See the full budget

See the Statement from Ontario’s Finance Minister on Canada’s Budget 2021

Other News Releases and Information