Province’s Natural Gas Expansion Program to bring services to homes, businesses in Cherry Valley area



Province’s Natural Gas Expansion Program to bring services to homes, businesses in Cherry Valley area

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – Today, Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced that approximately 152 homes and businesses 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 $5,206,389 to support new connections to the natural gas distribution system and help make life more affordable in Bay of Quinte.

“Our government is making good on its promise to deliver affordable energy and expand natural gas pipelines to more communities,” said MPP Todd Smith. “Access to natural gas will help more families and businesses near Cherry Valley find energy savings, while promoting economic development and job creation across Bay of Quinte.”

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson welcomed the announcement.

“Residents and businesses have expressed their desire to see natural gas expansion occur in Prince Edward County, and we are pleased to see this move forward," said Ferguson. “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."

The Ontario government is committed to 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 8,750 connections in 43 rural, northern and Indigenous communities.

“As part of our government’s plan to make life more affordable, we prioritized broad distribution across Ontario to help as many homes and businesses keep the cost of energy low, support jobs and attract new investment,” said Bill Walker, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Energy. “With Phase 2 of the Natural Gas Expansion program, we’re putting people first and ensuring Ontario remains open for business. This will be a game-changer for these 43 communities.”

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

“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.


  • 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.


Ontario invests in virtual learning at Loyalist College


SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2021

Province provides increased access to online courses and retraining opportunities

BELLEVILLE – The Ontario government is investing $401,280 to support four innovative virtual learning projects at Loyalist College to help provide students with more choice and access to high-quality postsecondary education and retraining opportunities.

“These projects will help ensure our postsecondary institutions have the tools they need to create great curriculum online,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte. “By increasing virtual course offerings, we’re helping the next generation of workers, innovators, researchers, and leaders develop the skills and training they need to succeed in their careers, when and where they need it most.”

The projects are part of the province’s Virtual Learning Strategy announced last December and  support key priority areas that include creating or adapting digital content, equipping faculty and students with skills and resources to teach and learn online and identifying educational technologies to enhance online courses and programs. Projects include:

  • A collaboration with Fleming College on the creation of an Ontario-specific, open resource on Early Childhood Education and Child Development Practitioner Apprenticeship. This project will make available Ontario practices and regulations for Ontario learners who will become registered early childhood educators and will create ancillary resources to support slide decks, learning activities, assessments and test banks to be used virtually, in-person, or hybrid.
  • The adaptation and creation of an Ontario-specific open resource on Human Resource Management. This project will update the current PressBooks versions to include Canadian contexts, including practices, rules and regulations for Ontario learners. Additionally, this project will create ancillary resources to support slide decks, learning activities, assessments, and test banks.
  • The adaptation of an open resource for use in existing asynchronous online courses focusing on Microsoft Access software, offered by Loyalist through OntarioLearn. The adaptations will coincide with wholesale course revisions to update content to the most current software version.  The adaptation will allow Loyalist to improve accessibility, content relevancy and overall experience while offering significant cost savings to students.
  • The creation of three net new positions within Loyalist’s Centre for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning (CATL) to increase its capacity to develop new digital by design learning opportunities. The positions include an instructional designer, a multimedia developer, and an open education strategist – all dedicated resources that do not currently exist at the CATL.  The positions will help Loyalist realize immediate goals to advance online course and program development and assist in building policy and processes for future enhancements.  This direction will help Loyalist advance an OER (Open Education Resources) strategy, rather than relying on paid textbooks and resources, ultimately benefiting students at Loyalist and across Ontario’s post-secondary education system.

“The Ontario government’s investment in virtual learning will empower Loyalist College to build capacity by supporting faculty who’ve made a dramatic change in program delivery this year,” said Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan, Loyalist College President and CEO. “Through these four projects, this generous funding will enable us to enhance our distance studies programs and hybrid offerings, which are in demand as more people migrate to the beautiful Bay of Quinte region from urban city centres. As a destination college, we’re bringing our vibrant in-class experiences online by incorporating industry cluster-based engagement, simulated applied learning, and meaningful one-to-one interactions.”

The province is investing more than $70 million to implement Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy, including $21.4 million announced in the 2021 Ontario Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. 

“Ensuring that Ontario’s postsecondary institutions offer responsive and flexible digital courses and programs will help students build the skills and competencies they need to be competitive in today’s economy,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Our Virtual Learning Strategy is aimed at creating a platform that will allow all post-secondary institutions to compete in the new and necessary environment of learning from home.” 

The Ontario government is transforming virtual learning across the province by supporting nearly 400 innovative projects at colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes.



Ontario provides $581,400 to Centre for Workforce Development for online job fair platform


SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2021

BAY OF QUINTE – The Ontario government is supporting new research that will help employers locally and across Eastern Ontario access the skilled labour they require to contribute to the long-term success of the local economy and aid Ontario’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced that the Centre for Workforce Development (CFWD) will receive $581,400 from the Ontario Labour Market Partnerships (OLMP) program for its Virtual Research Platform Project.

“Matching skilled labour to meet the needs of local employers is critical to the growth and sustainability of our region’s economy as we emerge from COVID-19,” said Smith. “This research will help to develop digital resources that make that process easier for all involved, resulting in greater productivity.”

Brad Labadie, the Executive Director for the Belleville-based CFWD, explained many employers across the region are increasingly turning to digital recruitment, particularly in light of the pandemic, however there are numerous online platforms with different methods of interaction. The CFWD plans to develop a standardized job fair platform to be implemented and utilized by the Employment Ontario Service Provider Network that could attract domestic and international candidates.

“COVID-19 forced Employment Ontario Employment Service (EOES) providers to shift how they shared job opportunities with job seekers. Traditional job fairs were no longer an option, so they moved to hosting virtual ones. The pandemic saw the quick expansion of platforms which, in many cases, were found to be difficult to navigate, expensive to host, and provided a less-than-desirable user experience,” Labadie said. “This project will assist EOES providers in Eastern Ontario by providing a consistent, easy-to-use virtual platform for job fairs.”

The project is drawing support from employment service providers.

“In a time where technology is required more than ever to keep people connected, virtual job fair platforms can be an extremely valuable tool,” said Warren Gee, Loyalist College’s Bancroft Campus and Employment Ontario Programs Director. “This project can research the many options and identify effective, affordable, and user-friendly options for our communities.”

Katie Sexton, the Senior Director of Employment Services for the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region added “Virtual programs are numerous, expensive, and do not always provide a quality user experience. This project will help us provide a consistent, easy-to-use platform for both employers and job seekers, reducing frustration and providing better job fair co-ordination in our communities.”

The OLMP program funds ongoing research into regional economic needs and employment pressures, so municipalities and employment services and training providers have more information to conduct long-term planning.

“It’s essential that we help local workforces plan for the future,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “By supporting innovative research projects like this one in Eastern Ontario, we can create the right training programs so that workers have the skills they need to get in-demand jobs, now and in the future.”


  • In 2020-21, Ontario is investing $25.9 million into Labour Market Partnerships. There are currently 69 projects active across the province.
  • The Employment Ontario network includes more than 300 partner organizations across Ontario that offer a range of free services and supports that help businesses find workers and connect jobseekers to training and job opportunities. 
  • Recently, the Province also announced a $577,500 investment through the OLMP program for the Quinte Economic Development Commission to identify specific needs in the region’s manufacturing sector and assist with sector-based recruitment and retention activities.