MPP Smith visits Cherry Valley to announce natural gas expansion project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONDAY, OCT.18, 2021

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte and Ontario’s Energy Minister, joined local officials and Enbridge Gas today to announce that approximately 152 homes, businesses and farms in Prince Edward County will be able to connect to natural gas for the first time thanks to the province’s Natural Gas Expansion Program.

Under Phase 2 of the program, Ontario will allocate up to $5,206,389 to support new connections to the natural gas distribution system and help make life more affordable in Bay of Quinte.

“We’re making good on our promise to deliver affordable energy and expand natural gas pipelines to even more communities across Ontario, including our own right here in Prince Edward County,” said Smith. “Under Phase 2 of the expansion program, access to natural gas will help even more families and businesses find energy savings, while promoting economic development and job creation across Bay of Quinte.”

The Ontario government is expanding access to natural gas across the province to help keep the cost of energy low for families, businesses and farmers. Phase 2 of the Natural Gas Expansion Program will allocate more than $234 million to support approximately 8750 connections in 43 rural, northern and Indigenous communities.

“As part of our government’s plan to make life more affordable, we are lowering energy costs for homes, businesses and farms across rural, remote and underserved communities,” said Smith. “With Phase 2, we’re putting people first, bringing prosperity to their communities, and ensuring Ontario remains open for business. This will be a game-changer for these 43 communities.”

The average household could save between $250 to $1,500 per year in energy costs by switching to natural gas from costlier fuel sources. Businesses are expected to save up to 30 per cent per year on energy costs.

“Residents and businesses have expressed their desire to see natural gas expansion occur in Prince Edward County, and we’re pleased to see this move forward," said Steve Ferguson, Mayor of Prince Edward County. “Natural gas is the most common, affordable heating fuel in Ontario. The municipality fully supports the efforts of the Government of Ontario and Enbridge Gas. We look forward to working together to expand natural gas access in our community to attract new opportunities, help create jobs, and lower monthly costs for residents."

“We’re thrilled that through Ontario’s Natural Gas Expansion Program, Enbridge Gas will bring much needed and wanted natural gas in the most affordable way to more communities across Ontario, including this one,” said Cynthia Hansen, Executive Vice President & President, Gas Distribution & Storage, Enbridge Inc. “Natural gas is the most economic way to heat buildings and water, and we are excited to work with local officials and the community to move this project forward, so residents can benefit from the cost savings, and local businesses can be more competitive.”

Construction for projects under Phase 2 will begin as soon as this year, with all 28 expansion projects expected to be underway by the end of 2025.

 

QUICK FACTS

  • Phase 2 of the Natural Gas Expansion Program will allocate more than $234 million to support 28 new natural gas expansion projects from 2021 to 2026.
  • Since its launch in 2019, Phase 1 of the Natural Gas Expansion Program has supported projects that are forecasted to connect over 9,000 customers, in 16 communities, to natural gas.
  • Phase 1 and 2 projects are funded through a $1-per-month charge to existing natural gas customers.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Backgrounder: www.ontario.ca/page/natural-gas-expansion-program

 


Ontario taking action to immediately increase staffing at Bay of Quinte long-term care homes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WEDNESDAY, OCT.6, 2021

BAY OF QUINTE –  Ontario’s investment of up to $270 million this year to increase staffing levels in long-term care homes across the province will provide more than $3,209,499 in additional funding for the nine homes within Bay of Quinte, local MPP Todd Smith announced today.

Smith was at Hastings Manor in Belleville to share the good news, following an announcement from Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips earlier today that detailed the additional investment required to reach a standard of three hours of daily direct care by March 2022 and four hours by 2025.  The Province’s annual investment in base funding will rise in each of the next four years – by $270 million in 2021-2022, $673 million in 2022-2023, $1.25 billion in 2023-2024 and $1.82 billion in 2024-2025.

“These investments will ensure that residents receive additional time and attention to their individual care needs,” said Smith. “They also provide stable funding for long-term care operators to hire trained staff to provide high-quality care and provide additional good-paying jobs within our community.”

For a typical 160-bed home, Smith said there would be an increase of approximately $1.2 million this year, escalating to $3.2 million in 2024-2025.  At that time, it would represent the equivalent of six additional registered nurses, 12 registered practical nurses, and 25 personal support workers.

Minister Phillips indicated that as part of the government’s plan to hire 27,000 new staff members over the next four years and enhance daily care standards, the Province will bring forward legislation to enshrine the commitment to four hours in law and introduce auditing to ensure funds are used for frontline care, such as feeding, bathing and dressing, movement, therapeutic treatment and medication.  At present, residents receive an average of two hours and 45 minutes.

“We know that more qualified staff means more daily care for residents,” he said. “Hiring more staff is part of our government’s plan to fix long-term care and to improve the quality of care residents receive and the quality of life they experience.”

This year’s increased investment also includes $42.8 million to homes to increase care by allied health professionals (such as physiotherapists, social workers, and dietitians), an increase of 10 per cent. In addition, the Province has announced a $10-million annual fund to support ongoing professional development opportunities in long-term care.

The government is also working with Ontario colleges and universities to meet the staffing needs.

“Ontario’s world-class health care system is built on the exceptional quality of care that our health care professionals provide to our loved ones, which is why our government is supporting increased enrollment in nursing and personal support worker programs,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “By working with our postsecondary education partners, we are training and educating more talent to support the long-term care sector in communities across the province.”

 Representatives of local municipalities operating long-term care homes welcomed the news.

“Hastings County is absolutely dedicated to providing the highest quality of care for our residents and it is clear that Minister Phillips has the same commitment to long-term care residents across Ontario through the support of this funding,” said Warden Rick Phillips, of Hastings County, which operates Hastings Manor and the Hastings Centennial Manor in Bancroft.  “I would like to congratulate and recognize this government for addressing the long-standing underfunding of long-term care in this province. Proper funding is critical to ensure the continued care of our most vulnerable population.”

Added Paul Jenkins, the Mayor of Bancroft and Hastings County’s long-term care chair: “The team members in our long-term care homes work tirelessly and have persevered through the added challenges that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will assist in recruiting and maintaining staff within our homes and in turn improve care for our residents.”

Steve Ferguson, the Mayor of Prince Edward County, which operates H.J. McFarland Memorial Home said “To Prince Edward County with its high number of senior population, the news that more staff will be available at long term care homes - if they need it - is very welcome news. I want to commend the ministry and the province for understanding the needs of LTC facilities and taking the steps necessary to meet those needs to ensure that residents are cared for in the best possible way, and provided with all the services and amenities they require.”

 BAY OF QUINTE ALLOCATIONS

  •  Hastings Manor, in Bellville, will receive up to $901,227 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $5,519,868 annually more than their current funding.
  • H.J. McFarland Home for the Aged, in Picton, will receive up to $299,219 for additional staff this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025,the home will receive $1,832,688 annually more than their current funding
  • Westgate Lodge Nursing Home, in Belleville, will receive up to $263,599 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive$1,614,516 annually more than their current funding.
  • Trent Valley Lodge Nursing Home, in Trenton, will receive up to $363,338 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $2,225,400annually more than their current funding.
  • Versa Care Hallowell House, in Picton, will receive up to $252,912 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $1,549,056 annually more than their current funding.
  • Kentwood Park, in Picton, will receive up to $121,113 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025 the home will receive $741,804 annually more than their current funding.
  • West Lake Terrace, in Picton, will receive up to $117,552 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive$719,976annually more than their current funding.
  • Crown Ridge Place, in Trenton, will receive up to $434,584 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive$2,661,756annually more than their current funding.
  • Belmont Nursing Home, in Belleville, will receive up to $455,957 for additional staffing this year to increase the hours of direct care for residents. By the year 2024-2025, the home will receive $2,792,664 annually more than their current funding.

 QUICK FACTS

  • Learn more about Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan at www.ontario.ca/page/better-place-live-better-place-work-ontarios-long-term-care-staffing-plan.
  • Through initiatives like the Supporting Professional Growth Fund, the government is working with partners to improve staff retention by highlighting long-term care as a career destination with rewarding opportunities for continuous learning and development.
  • The Ontario government has established the Staffing Supply Accelerator Group (news.ontario.ca/en/release/60733/new-action-group-to-help-implement-one-of-the-largest-health-care-recruiting-and-training-programs-in-ontario-history to support the objectives of the Long-Term Care Staffing Plan. The group includes participation from major stakeholders and champions the innovation, expansion and acceleration of education and training opportunities to help meet the demand for long-term care staff.

 


Province provides QHC an additional $8.8 million to offset historic working funds deficit

For immediate release  

Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021

BELLEVILLE - The Ontario government will be providing Quinte Health Care (QHC) an additional $8,816,000 to help cover historic working funds deficits, Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, and Daryl Kramp, MPP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington, announced today.

“We recognized that small- and medium-sized hospitals, including multi-site hospitals like Quinte Health Care had been underfunded for years, yet they continued to do everything possible to provide the highest quality of care,” said Smith. “This investment will wipe out QHC’s debt and set them on a solid financial footing moving forward.”

Kramp added “Our government is committed to working with health-care partners, like QHC, to ensure they have the stability and resources they need to maintain and enhance patient care as we emerge from this pandemic. I know that QHC will put this funding to good use to benefit those who need care at each of its four hospitals.”

The new funding is in addition to the more than $5.8-million increase to QHC’s base and one-time operational funding that Smith announced in Bancroft in July.  It is part of up a commitment of up to $696.6 million across the province to address historic working funds deficits in a $1.2-billion strategy to help Ontario hospitals recover from financial pressures created and worsened by COVID-19.

“Ontario’s hospitals have been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and our government is using every tool at our disposal to support them,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This funding will ensure Ontario’s hospitals can continue to provide high-quality care to all Ontarians and that our hospital system is ready to respond to any scenario this fall.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, Ontario has been working with hospital partners like QHC to create unprecedented capacity and to prepare to respond to any scenario. The government remains committed to supporting hospitals so they can continue to care for Ontarians now and in the future.

Stacey Daub, QHC’s President and Chief Executive Officer, was pleased to learn about the funding.

“This funding injection to shore up the working capital deficit significantly improves QHC’s cash position,” said Daub. “Working capital deficits has been a systemic issue for hospitals like QHC for several years. It’s reassuring that the government has listened and is making this important investment in the stability of QHC and community-based hospitals across the province.”

QUICK FACTS

  • A working funds deficit occurs when an organization’s current liabilities exceed their current assets. All hospitals that had a working funds deficit in 2019-20 qualified for this funding.
  • As part of a wider, comprehensive surgical recovery plan to provide patients with the care they need, the Ontario government is investing up to $324 million in new funding to enable Ontario’s hospitals and community health sector to perform more surgeries, MRI and CT scans and procedures, including on evenings and weekends.
  • Under the 2021 Budget, Ontario is investing an additional $1.8 billion in the hospital sector in 2021-2022, bringing the total additional investment in hospitals since the start of the pandemic to over $5.1 billion. This includes creating more than 3,100 additional hospital beds to increase capacity and reduce occupancy pressures caused by COVID-19.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES