FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2020
Bay of Quinte – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte and Ontario’s Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, announced the provincial government is providing $200 million in social services relief funding to help protect the health and safety of Ontario’s most vulnerable people in response to COVID-19.
“Protecting our must vulnerable is an absolute priority as the COVID-19 crisis continues to develop,” said Smith. “We’re expanding access to temporary emergency assistance so that individuals who have no other means of financial support can stay safe and healthy.”
The funding will help individuals who do not qualify for emergency financial supports under federal programs. The government is putting in place an expanded Emergency Assistance program administered through Ontario Works (OW) to cover these individuals' needs such as food, rent, informal childcare, and services. There will also be discretionary benefits available to those who already receive social assistance.
This new funding will help individuals and families in financial crisis who are not able to access federal assistance to cover needs such as food, rent, medicine, transportation and other services during this public health crisis. Funding will be made available to organizations delivering social services to vulnerable First Nations individuals and families. Individuals can apply online at Ontario.ca/community.
The province will be also providing municipalities and organizations that administer social services with funding to support them in their response to COVID-19. The funding will help municipalities and social service providers such as shelters, food banks, emergency services, charities and non-profits continue to deliver their critical services, hire additional staff, and find ways to promote social distancing and self-isolation to keep clients safe and healthy. Ontario's municipal service managers will determine local needs and distribute the funding, ensuring clients are receiving the support they need.
"Our government will spare no expense to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians," said Premier Doug Ford. "We are doing our part to show the Ontario spirit and we will make sure no one gets left behind. Organizations across the province are doing critical work right now to help vulnerable Ontarians and these funds will allow them to directly help those who need it most."
This fund will also help local communities support their shelter systems during this health crisis. The province's 47 municipal service managers will deliver this funding, ensuring clients are receiving the support they need, and will make local decisions on community funding.
"We are acting quickly to support those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless during this unprecedented time," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "This funding will go straight to communities, who know best what the immediate needs are on the ground in their local shelters."
"This new funding will provide much-needed support to our province's most vulnerable as we continue to take decisive action to contain the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "If Ontario is going to successfully flatten the curve, it's vital that we ensure that all Ontarians have the resources they need to protect their health and well-being."
- Last week, Ontario announced a $304 million investment in COVID-19 response, including $20 million for residential facilities in developmental services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth.
- To bolster safety measures for social-assistance clients and caseworkers, the government has also temporarily removed the requirement for clients to provide written documentation at this time. Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) payments will be made as usual and will continue based on previous levels of income support. Individuals will not have to visit their local office to provide written documentation. If individuals need to connect with their caseworker, they are encouraged to connect over the phone.
Changes to Ontario’s Emergency Assistance Program: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/changes-to-ontarios-emergency-assistance-program-in-response-to-covid-19.html.
- Ontario’s response to COVID-19 and self-assessment tool: www.ontario.ca/coronavirus
- To apply for social assistance: In Belleville, call 613-966-8032; in Quinte West, call 613-392-1387; or in Prince Edward County, call 613-476-2842; or apply online at https://saapply.mcss.gov.on.ca/CitizenPortal/application.do
- To report changes or receive information about your Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program case: Visit mybenefits.mcss.gov.on.ca
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, MARCH 13, 2020
Picton - Ontario is helping community agencies repair and renovate their buildings so they can continue providing services to children and families.
Today, Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte and Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, joined by Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced Ontario is investing over $260,000 for repairs and upgrades at local agencies.
This includes an investment of over $227,000 in Alternatives for Women’s Vi’s House project, which will create Prince Edward County’s first women’s emergency shelter space, and house office and living spaces to better meet client needs. The investment will support the replacement of all doors and windows, plumbing and flooring upgrades and a new security system.
“For over 30 years, Alternatives for Women has been providing support for women and families in Prince Edward County who have experienced abuse,” said Minister Smith. “Today’s investment helps them deliver on a vision to enhance those services through the creation of the County’s first emergency shelter bed and much-needed expanded safe spaces for counselling and transitional supports.”
Alternatives for Women Executive Director Leah Morgan welcomed the announcement.
“The funding received by MCCSS is essential in the completion of Vi’s House. As we head into the final phase of construction, this funding will ensure that all areas of the building are functional, safe and secure,” said Morgan. “We are now able to customize the space to meet the needs of clients and staff, and ensure that all required safety measures are implemented. Improved functionality and security will allow us to expand our programming, share counselling space with our community partners, and provide peace of mind to the high-risk women we serve.”
Minister Dunlop added that capital funding provided through the $11.5-million Partner Facility Renewal Program allows ministry-funded agencies to concentrate on their services and less on raising funds.
“These repairs and improvements are crucial to ensuring safe conditions for dedicated frontline staff and our friends and neighbors that they serve, said Minister Dunlop. “I am proud that we are investing in our local communities to help our partners – including women’s shelters – maintain and upgrade their buildings so they can continue to focus on helping children and families who rely on their services.”
Minister Smith added, “Repairs that make sure buildings are safe and sound for years to come means community agencies can focus on giving people the support they need. Our government continues to support important services people rely on.”
These investments help agencies maintain building capacity, while providing better services for people with developmental disabilities, women and children experiencing domestic violence, Indigenous people and children with mental health needs. Helping community partners maintain and upgrade their buildings is part of the government’s plan to build healthier and safer communities.
- Alternatives for Women in Price Edward County offers services and supports for women over age 16, who have experienced domestic violence.
- Over $260,000 investment will be distributed between three local agencies: Alternatives for Women, Community Living Belleville, and Kerry’s Place in Thomasburg.
- Ontario’s emergency women’s shelters serve more than 17,000 women and children yearly.
- There are more than 70,000 adults with a developmental disability in Ontario and about 18,000 receive residential supports in communities across the province.
- In 2017-18, almost 109,000 families across Ontario were served by 49 children’s aid societies, including 11 Indigenous societies and three faith-based societies.
Government Plan Freezes Classroom Sizes, Invests in Special Education, and Holds the Line on Wages and Benefits
TORONTO — Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, welcomes the government’s additional, reasonable proposals at the negotiating table to fight for the priorities of students and parents, with a single focus on ending this impasse.
During the negotiation process, the government tabled proposals with each of the education sector unions, which included substantive moves on lower than proposed but not lower than on the ground class sizes, support for students' unique learning needs, full-day Kindergarten, as well as reasonable proposals on merit-based hiring and compensation.
Despite these consistently reasonable moves, the teachers' unions continue to reject the government's student-centric proposals while simultaneously focusing on significant increases in compensation, particularly enriching generous benefits schemes.
On Tuesday, the government is announcing the most recent proposal put forward to all teacher unions, with a focus on getting a deal:
- A commitment to a funded maximum average class size of 23 in secondary schools - leaving them essentially the same as 2019-2020;
- Replace the previous Local Priorities Fund with a new, student-centric Supports for Students Fund, which allows boards more flexibility to address students' unique learning needs, including special education, mental health, and STEM education;
- The Supports for Students Fund would continue at the same funding amount of the Local Priorities Fund.
- A commitment to maintain full-day kindergarten; and
- Reasonable increases in wages and compensation.
The government is also announcing a policy to give parents the ability to opt their children out of the mandatory online courses required for graduation.
The government is calling on the unions to cancel future strikes during this period to allow for good faith bargaining. Moreover, the government continues to make the case for the advancement of merit-based hiring.
"The time to end this is now. Parents are frustrated, students are losing educational days, and teachers are uncertain about their future," said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. "I am asking the teachers' unions to return to the table, in light of this reasonable offer, to reach the agreement parents want, and students deserve."
These proposals demonstrate the government's commitment to getting students back in the classroom, investing in our students' potential while supporting the school boards' planning processes.
"This is a balanced plan that reflects the priorities of students and parents, maintaining class sizes, investing in students' unique learning needs, and holds the line on the reasonable increase in wages and compensation we are offering."
"If the unions reject this most recent, student-centric offer, parents should rightly be asking what exactly are the priorities of the unions," concluded Lecce.
“This is another reasonable step in the right direction, to ensure that students remain in class,” said Smith. “It is time for teacher union federations to work with all parties in good faith to reach a deal and put an end to continued strike action that disproportionately affects our children.”
- The Government’s plan includes no changes to class size for our youngest learners in Junior Kindergarten through grade 3. There are no changes to class size for students in grades 4 to 8. Provincial funding, and legislated class size restrictions, would change for grades 9-12 to reflect an average class size of 23. This is effectively the same as 2019-20.
- The Ministry of Education provides the framework, funding, and flexibility needed to support school boards in meeting class size requirements for all grades across the province. Local school boards are responsible for class organization.
- The Ministry of Education will continue to move forward on a made-in-Ontario online learning program that will ensure student flexibility, technological literacy and a wide selection of
- courses. By expanding and modernizing online learning, students will have greater flexibility, more choice, and will graduate with the skills needed to enter the workforce.
- The Ministry of Education understands that parents know best how their children can adapt and learn through online courses, by giving parents the option to opt out of the mandatory online courses required for graduation. As students prepare to enter Grade 11 and 12, parents will have the opportunity to engage with their child’s guidance counsellor to determine whether online learning is appropriate and beneficial for their child.
- The Supports for Students Fund will provide a total of $148 million, an amount equivalent to the remaining amount of the previously negotiated Local Priorities Fund, in the last round of bargaining.