Legislative Update – March 13, 2020

2020 3/13 | Connects Page, Education Finance, Education Partner News, Trustee PD

MPPs begin a Constituency Week from March 16 – 20 that aligns with March Break. The Legislative Assembly of Ontario will resume on March 23, 2020 but that could change amid COVID-19 concerns. MPPs passed a motion to allow the suspension of the house beyond the constituency break “should the need arise.”

Coronavirus – COVID-19

The situation in Ontario continues to change rapidly. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving event that requires an unprecedented response. On March 12, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced that all public schools in Ontario would be closed from March 14 through to April 5.

School boards continue to work with and take direction from their local public health units and are sharing information with their board communities with facts and recommendations for reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. In every school board, the health and safety of all students, staff and school communities is the top priority. School boards will be communicating further with their communities and OPSBA is encouraging parents and guardians to connect with their local school and board for further information.

Recommendations continue to include frequent hand washing/use of hand sanitizer, not touching your face, and avoiding crowded areas if feasible. Most boards have also cancelled planned student trips to international destinations currently affected by the virus. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a news release announcing “Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19, by establishing a more than $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund.”

A number of Ontario government news releases have been released in the past seven days, in addition to updates on new positive COVID-19 cases:

News Release: Province Implementing Enhanced Measures to Protect Ontarians from COVID-19 (March 12, 2020)

Statement: Ontario Enhancing COVID-19 Protections for Long-Term Care Residents, Families and Staff (March 11, 2020)

News Release: Ontario Making it Easier for Public to Stay Informed about COVID-19 (March 9, 2020)

Statement: Statement from Ministers Elliott and MacLeod on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) (March 6, 2020)

The government has a dedicated webpage with more information, which is updated with new case information every day, at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Ontario Education Services Corporation’s (OESC’s) Trustee Professional Development Program

OESC has recently re-launched its https://modules.ontarioschooltrustees.org/ with each of the 21 online modules updated with the latest legislation, education policy and research. The modules are primarily intended to support trustees, but are also useful for directors of education, board staff and other stakeholders. New this year is a Certificate of Completion feature. OESC invites trustees who have completed the entire program to apply for a Certificate of Completion. This will be sent to trustees in recognition of their commitment to leadership and the good governance of Ontario’s education system.

Trustee Memo re PD program, Good Governance for School Boards

Provincial Budget

On March 4, the government announced that the provincial budget will be released on March 25. OPSBA will be requesting a presence in the budget lock up and will prepare an overview for our members that can also be discussed at the regional meetings held on March 28. We are looking for confirmation of the timing for the Grants for Student Needs (GSN). In addition, Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau has announced that the 2020 federal budget — the first of the Liberal minority government — will be tabled on March 30, 2020.

Cannabis Consultation – Consumption Establishments and/or Cannabis Special Occasion Permits

On March 10, OPSBA provided a submission to the Ontario’s Regulatory Registry’s consultation regarding Cannabis Consumption Establishments and/or Cannabis Special Occasion Permits. Our submission was drafted with input from the Policy Development Work Team and includes past commentary regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis. Our comments focus on the implications of the sale and consumption of cannabis among children and youth. Our primary concern remains the impact of cannabis on youth brain development and the need for evidence-based research.

Other Information

Please note: There continue to be many statements issued by the Minister of Education regarding labour issues.