The Legislative Assembly of Ontario rose On June 3 for summer recess. The fall session willbegin on September 13, 2021.

OPSBA’s Executive Council has met to discuss a number of public education issues and noted many members boards are now making final budget recommendations and decisions for the upcoming school year.  A common issue that is being discussed around board tables across the province is the half-year funding provision that was noted in Memo B07, Planning for the 2021-22 School Year.  OPSBA has written a letter to the Minister of Education asking for this to be considered as it greatly affects board planning.

REMINDER: OPSBA Annual General Meeting

OPSBA’s 2021 AGM and Keynote will be held via Zoom on Saturday, June 12, 2021, with live streaming provided on OPSBA’s YouTube page.  Our keynote speaker is Kike Ojo-Thompson, founder and principal consultant of KOJO Institute, and her session is entitled, Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Education: A Conversation for System Leaders.  Elections will be held for members of the Education Program and the Policy Development Work Teams, and Regional Chairs and Vice-Chairs (if necessary) at the regional meetings at 1 p.m.  Please visit the AGM webpage for more information.

COVID-19 Update

On June 2, Premier Doug Ford and Ministers Stephen Lecce and Christine Elliott announced that students across the province would not be returning to in-person learning this school year.  OPSBA released  a statement from President Cathy Abraham, saying “We are very disappointed with the government’s decision today to go against the advice of Public Health Officials and the recommendation of school boards about the importance of reopening our schools.  The Premier publicly asked for consensus from public health and education stakeholders, received consensus he asked for, and then apparently chose further opening of the economy over students.”

Included in the announcement was a surprise request from Premier Ford that school boards invite graduating students in elementary schools (by class) and secondary schools (by homeroom/quadmestered class) to return to school in June for a short, outdoor celebration, where physical distancing is possible.  President Abraham’s statement spoke to this as well, saying “school boards are concerned about the apparent contradiction between the decision to close schools and the directive from the Premier to hold in-person graduations.  Our members have already been doing all they can to ensure that we are able to recognize the many students who will be graduating this year and will continue to do their best to support our students and staff through these challenging times.”

A day earlier, on June 1, it was announced that all public health and workplace measures would remain in place provincewide until Ontario enters Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen, at which point some restrictions will ease.  Ontario’s Stay-at-Home order expired on June 2. For more information on current restrictions, a summary is available on the Reopening Ontario webpage.

See the June 3 Ministry memo to school boards, including information about students supports, testing, vaccinations, end of year celebrations and more.

Recent Legislation

Bill 288, Building Opportunities in the Skilled Trades Act, 2021 – This legislation was introduced by Labour Minister Monte McNaughton on May 6, 2021.  Proposed amendments include establishing Skilled Trades Ontario, a new Crown agency to replace the Ontario College of Trades and to “streamline” apprenticeship training.  OPSBA’s work teams provided a submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs that outlined our support for continuation and expansion of experiential learning opportunities for students in our schools.
Royal Assent Received: June 3, 2021

Bill 276, Supporting Recovery and Competitiveness Act, 2021 – This legislation was introduced by Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, the Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction on April 15, 2021.  The bill contains changes to 28 Acts, including the Education Act which includes a proposed amendment regarding demonstration schools.  OPSBA’s Policy Development Work Team has sent a brief submission.
Royal Assent Received: June 3, 2021

Bill 251, Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021 – This legislation was introduced on February 22 by 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 sent a submission about how schools play a role in protecting students against trafficking and how to support survivors.
Royal Assent Received: June 3, 2021.

Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Day for Truth and Reconciliation) – This federal legislation was introduced on September 29, 2020, and would add a new holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which is observed on September 30.  It passed Third Reading in the House of Commons on May 28, 2021 and received Royal Assent from the Senate on June 3, 2021.

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