Legislative Update – March 22, 2021

2021 3/22 | Connects Page, Provincial Updates

Members of Provincial Parliament return to Queen’s Park on March 22, after having gone back to their respective ridings for a constituency week. A reminder that the provincial budget will be delivered on March 24, by Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board. OPSBA will review the budget for educational impacts but note the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) are to follow in early April.

Manitoba Legislation

On March 15, Manitoba’s Minister of Education Cliff Cullen released the province’s plans outlining significant changes to the Manitoba school system, including the elimination of all but one of the province’s school boards and elected trustees. The changes, which are expected to be in place by the summer of 2022, include merging school divisions and creating a provincewide education authority. The overall plan can be found in the document Better Education Starts Today and follows the recommendations from a 2019 Commission Report Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education.

The legislation to enable these changes is Bill 64, The Education Modernization Act which was introduced on November 2, 2020. The Manitoba School Boards Association (MSBA) has a dedicated webpage for more information and a campaign called Local Voices, Local Choices to encourage individuals to comment about the implications of Bill 42. OPSBA will continue to monitor the legislation and work with the MSBA and CSBA on joint advocacy efforts.

See OPSBA statement

See an overview of the legislation

Current Ontario Legislation

Bill 257, Supporting Broadband and Infrastructure Expansion Act, 2021

This legislation was introduced on March 4 by Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott. The bill “proposes to reduce costs to broadband providers associated with attaching broadband wirelines to hydro utility poles, and would provide timely access to poles and to municipal rights of way to install broadband on municipal land.”

Current Status: Second 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 ActElection Finances Act, the Members’ Integrity Act and the Municipal Elections Act. Specific changes would affect donation limits, MPP social media accounts during campaigns, create longer 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: Second Reading

Bill 251, Combating Human Trafficking Act, 2021

This legislation was introduced on February 22 by Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. OPSBA’s Policy Development Work Team did meet to discuss how schools play a role in protecting students against trafficking and how to support survivors.

See OPSBA submission to the Ministry of Education

Current Status: Second Reading

COVID-19 Update

As of the morning of March 19, 1,697 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in publicly funded schools in the past 14 days. Of those cases, 1,388 are students, 291 are staff, and 18 are not identified. Thirty-eight of the 4,828 schools in the province are currently closed.

March 25 – OPSBA Speaker and PD Series

OPSBA continues to offer online lunchtime speakers and professional development sessions for trustees. This week’s topic is Planning in a Time of Crisis with guest speaker Theresa Macbeth who will lead a session on strategic planning and engagement during COVID-19. Zoom details have already been sent. Registration is NOT required, but for our planning purposes, please send a quick email to kdevine@opsba.org indicating you plan to attend.

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