MPPs met on March 19 for a one-day emergency session to pass two bills aimed at supporting citizens during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Only 26 members, including the Speaker, were in the chamber. Both pieces of legislation received Royal Assent late in the day.
- Bill 186, Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), enshrines job protections for workers who have to take unpaid time off to self-isolate or take care of loved ones, including children whose schools or daycares have closed, during the pandemic.
- Bill 187, Municipal Emergency Act, amends the Municipal Act and the City of Toronto Act to allow local councils to meet electronically during the state of emergency.
In addition to the legislation, supporting regulations were also filed. This includes changes to Ontario Regulation 463/97: Electronic Meetings to allow for school boards to be able to continue to meet during mandated school closures.
Memo from Deputy Minister Nancy Naylor
The House is now adjourned until March 25 at 4 p.m., when Finance Minister Rod Phillips will deliver a fiscal outlook, instead of a provincial budget — which could potentially come with corresponding legislation. The federal budget (which was to be tabled on March 30) is now delayed as the House of Commons has shut down for five weeks and is scheduled to meet next on April 20, 2020.
Coronavirus – COVID-19 – Continuity of Learning Update
On March 20, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce launched the first phase of “Learn at Home” and “Apprendre à la maison”, a new online portal that will provide resources for families so students can continue their education while schools are closed for the next two weeks. When asked about extending school closures, the Minister said this would be based on the advice of the province’s Chief Medical Officer but that the ministry is preparing to scale up resources if need be.
Minister Lecce announced that EQAO tests have been cancelled for the rest of the academic year. That includes the Grade 10 standardized literacy test scheduled for the end of the month that students typically must complete successfully to get their diploma. The Minister also said graduation will not be impeded by the cancellation. The Ministry has also said it would be conducting regular teleconferences with school boards via the Directors of Education, and OPSBA representatives will also be on these calls. OPSBA will continue to post information on our webpage.
The Ontario 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.
And, while you are staying home and practicing social distancing, consider some personal Professional Development. As mentioned in the last update, OESC has recently re-launched their 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. Please see the attached document for more information.