The Legislative Assembly of Ontario was back in session beginning March 22, 2021, and will sit again on March 29 for four days. MPPs are then on a constituency week that coincides with the Easter holiday. Following that is the revised spring break, which is to occur April 12 to 16, 2021.
On March 24, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy released Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. Supporting legislation was also introduced via Bill 269, Protecting the People of Ontario Act, which lists 10 Schedules or changes to various Acts, including Schedule 10 Taxation Act, 2007. The amendment provides an enhancement for the Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) child care tax credit. The release of the Grants for Student Needs and Priorities and Partnership Funding is expected in mid to late April.
OPSBA sent a summary of budget highlights which is available on our website.
Ministry Initiatives Committee – Online and Remote Learning Proposal
OPSBA staff attended a meeting of the Ministry of Education’s Initiatives Committee and plans were shared in confidence about proposed changes regarding Expanding Student Access to Online and Remote Learning. OPSBA’s Board of Directors will be meeting to discuss the details and contents of this plan. A preliminary statement was issued when information became public. The following is some past commentary on this issue.
December 10, 2020 – OPSBA Submission to the Ministry of Education and TVO
October 27, 2020 – OPSBA Submission regarding PPM 164: Requirements for Remote Learning
The Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA) continues to support the Manitoba School Boards Association (MSBA) and its advocacy in opposition to Bill 64, The Education Modernization Act. Manitoba’s NDP Party issued a news release on March 25 indicating they would, “use their legislative power to delay Bill 64, The Education Modernization Act, a bill which would cause chaos and cuts in schools as students struggle to recover from the pandemic.” This delay would move Second Reading and the Committee Stage to November 2021.
More information, including their Local Voices, Local Choices campaign, is available on the MSBA website.
CSBA is coordinating a joint-Presidents’ letter from all member associations, as well as op-ed pieces that have been sent to media across Canada. In addition, OPSBA has sent a letter of support to five newspaper outlets in Manitoba. It has already been published in the Brandon Sun.
As of the morning of March 26, 2,031 cases of COVID-19 had been reported in publicly funded schools in the past 14 days. Of those cases, 1,661 are students, 361 are staff, and nine are not identified. Forty-four of the 4,828 schools in the province are currently closed.
OPSBA sent a letter to the Minister of Education supporting member boards seeking vaccinations for education workers as soon as possible.