Smith celebrates Ontario's $71-million investment in improved cellular coverage across Eastern Ontario
Bay of Quinte – Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith is applauding the Ontario government’s support for a project that aims to provide reliable cellular coverage across all of Eastern Ontario.
The Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Government House Leader was pleased with Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton’s announcement this morning in Roseneath as the Province committed $71 million to the proposed Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) $213-million public-private partnership to address cellular gaps.
“This project will give businesses, residents and visitors reliable access to the data applications they depend on no matter where they are in the region. It will also provide a lifeline by providing improved stability for local emergency service communications,” Smith said, noting 10 per cent of Eastern Ontario is currently without reliable service and many areas don’t have the capacity for data-rich applications.
The partnership requires contributions from the municipal and federal levels of government as well as investments from the private sector. Projections from EORN indicate it will create 3,000 jobs over a 10-year period and generate $420 million in revenues. It will also support further economic development, enhancing visitor experiences and ensuring business people can stay connected in remote areas.
“More and more we’re seeing Ontario job creators working in a global market where they connect virtually with their clients,” Smith said. “This technology is vitally important to ensure Eastern Ontario doesn’t fall behind. EORN is ensuring that whether you’re on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in Prince Edward County or heading north, you’ll have access to the signal you expect.”
Smith said the Province has a proven record of collaborating with EORN - a network led by the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus member municipalities and 10 separate municipalities. A previous partnership saw a 5,500-km fibre optics network installed between 2010 and 2016 through a similar public-private arrangement. The project brought broadband speeds exceeding 10 Mbps to nearly 90 per cent of the region, while offering connection points for further private investment. That $175-million project delivered a return on investment of $15 for every public dollar spent.
McNaughton called the project “a matter of public safety and opportunity.”
"Our government has committed to help people get the broadband and cellular connections they need," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure. "This means there are homes, businesses and major roadways where it is difficult to access the internet from a smart phone. We all know examples where people are put in dangerous positions because of dropped calls or lost connections during emergencies."
EORN board chair J. Murray Jones was thankful for the commitment.
“Too often, Eastern Ontario residents find themselves with no signal or dropped cell services,” he said. “EORN is building on the investment we’ve already made in broadband infrastructure across the region to close the gap in mobile services and improve economic growth, quality of life, and public safety.”
The Province is hopeful the federal government will commit to funding its share of the project cost.
"Last week, the federal Liberals said the people of Ontario's priorities were their priorities," McNaughton said. "Well, this is a huge priority in Eastern Ontario. It's about public safety, economic growth and development and convenience. We are investing in people and building our province's future.”
· The goal of the project is to bring cell coverage to 99 per cent of the region where people live, work and travel. Unpopulated areas, including forests, swamps and protected lands are not included in that goal.
· In the 2019 Ontario Budget, the provincial government committed $315 million over the next five years to regional and shovel-ready projects.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MAY 13, 2019
Bay of Quinte – Local MPP, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and, Trade and Government House Leader Todd Smith joined with local service providers in applauding Ontario’s $1,273,045 investment in new funding for mental health and addictions services in Hastings and Prince Edward counties.
“The impacts of mental illness and addictions have been a huge concern in this riding for a long time. It’s great to see the government stepping up to meet this obvious need,” Smith said.
Stemming from the Province’s announcement to spend $174 million this year as part of a 10-year commitment to invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to develop a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy, three local agencies will receive funding for eight programs.
Addictions and Mental Health Services – Hastings-Prince Edward will receive $1,084,555 for programming, as follows…
- $359,300 for opioids addictions treatment and services
- $275,000 for youth residential treatment and withdrawal management
- $200,000 for mental health court support workers
- $140,000 for community addictions services
- $77,366 for programs for priority populations
- $32,889 for a funding increase for a rent supplement supportive housing program
Chief executive officer Garry Laws was thrilled to receive news of the funding.
“On behalf of the clients, families and caregivers who AMHS-HPE serves and is soon to serve, we are pleased to be notified of this $1-million investment. This funding is completely dedicated to front-line addictions and mental health clinical support for people who are seeking clinical recovery from the challenges associated with opioid use and to enhance clinical case management and counselling for both addictions and mental health,” Laws said. “Many thanks to the Province for recognizing how imperative these supports are here to the citizens of Hastings and Prince Edward because this will create more opportunity to serve more clients.”
Peer Support Services of Eastern Ontario will receive $160,700 for peer support services.
Chief executive officer Terry Swift said, conservatively, he expects the funding will support an increase of 2,500 annual visits within the South East Local Health Integration Network (SE LHIN) footprint. Locally, in Hastings and Prince Edward, the funding will support the hiring of an additional community peer support worker (one of eight to be hired across the SE LHIN footprint) to absorb some of the clients currently on a waiting list to be matched with supports.
Peer Support South East Ontario offers three streams of service: Support centres delivering services that promote wellness and recovery for those over age 16 with addictions and mental health concerns; A transitional discharge program that introduces peer supports to the hospital environment and offers continued support upon discharge to effect positive change and reduce instances of re-admittance; and community support programs that reach individuals who have transportation concerns, who live in rural or remote areas, or who will not benefit from the support centre model.
Youth Habilitation Quinte Inc. will receive $27,790 for child and youth mental health.
Executive director Cathie West says the funding will allow the agency to ensure its 24-hour transitional home for youth aged 16-18 will be double staffed at all times. The home, located in Belleville, provides a home-like atmosphere for nine individuals. It assists youth transitioning back home or to more independent living through individualized care planning, individual and group counselling and therapy, life skills assessment and training, recreation, and skills training.
“We are thrilled to hear about this additional funding,” West said. “Youthab’s Transition Home will now have double staffing on all shifts, making the home safer for clients and staff and allowing us to provide additional programming for the clients in the home. We will also be able to house more barriered clients.”
Smith is also encouraged these monumental investments will ease pressures on Quinte Healthcare Corporation (QHC) hospital emergency rooms, improving wait times and health outcomes for all patients in the Bay of Quinte region.
QHC’s mental health program director Kerry-Lynn Wilkinson shares that optimism.
“Making additional investments in mental health in the region will strengthen services available to help individuals receive the care they need in the community, helping to reduce the number of individuals seeking mental health services at the emergency departments of QHC hospitals,” she said.
Smith indicated the investments announced by Minister of Health and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott –shaped by consultations with service providers, hospitals, advocates, and people with lived experience – are part of a long-term strategy to ensure vulnerable citizens are not left behind.
“Together, we will create a connected system of care with comprehensive wrap-around services to ensure that every Ontarian is fully supported in their journey toward mental wellness.”
- Investments in mental health and addictions services is part of Ontario’s plan to modernize our public health care system, which relentlessly focuses on patient experience and better connected care, to reduce wait times and end hallway health care.
- The government has held 19 consultations across the province with mental health and addictions community organizations, frontline service providers, hospitals, advocates, experts, people with lived experience and people with experience in Indigenous mental health and addictions
- The government will invest $3.8 billion over 10 years to develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.
Ministry of Health news release - https://news.ontario.ca/mohltc/en/2019/05/ontario-successfully-concludes-mental-health-week-and-childrens-mental-health-week.html
Building a sustainable future, while protecting critical frontline services
Bay of Quinte – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, is giving two thumbs up to the new PC Governments first budget. The 383 page document, introduced by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, is aimed at protecting what matters most, and contains absolutely no new tax increases, while providing $26 billion over six years in relief for individuals, families, and businesses.
“Budget 2019 focuses on protecting what matters most. We need to make sure families are being heard and quality careers are being developed and protected for generations to come,” said MPP Smith. “This is a plan that puts people first, while making Ontario open for business.”
The 2019 Ontario Budget is a comprehensive and sustainable plan that balances the budget in five years, stimulates job creation, and protects critical public services that people in the Bay of Quinte rely on every day. With this plan, the Province is ensuring value for money and targeting spending to frontline services, while eliminating the deficit.
The signature initiative of the budget is the proposed Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit. The CARE tax credit would be one of the most flexible childcare initiatives ever introduced in Ontario, putting parents at the center of the decision-making process. CARE would help low- and middle-income families with up to 75% of their eligible childcare costs per year, including those for daycares, home-based care, and camps.
Dental care for low-income seniors is another key item in the budget. At least two-thirds of low-income seniors do not have access to dental care – and many end up in our emergency rooms as a result. The government is investing $90 million starting at the end of summer 2019 to establish the new program that will help Bay of Quinte’s low-income seniors.
MPP Smith is also pleased to see the development of a new hospital for Prince Edward County specifically mentioned in the budget as well as an expansion project for the high school in east end Belleville. There is also an Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive to help businesses grow and create jobs, and a “Digital First” strategy to modernize Service Ontario’s top 10 transactions and other government services.
“The 2019 Ontario Budget is showing the world that our government is serious about fiscal sustainability, protecting frontline services, and making Ontario the best place to invest and create jobs,” said Smith.
“The Budget marks a new beginning for the Province that respects tax dollars, makes life more affordable, and ensures the government works for the people, and not the other way around.”
Visit Ontario.ca/Budget to learn more about the 2019 Ontario Budget.