Bay of Quinte municipalities receive $967,516 in additional Safe Restart Agreement transit funding



BAY OF QUINTE – Ontario is providing an additional $968,509 in funding to help local municipalities address the financial impacts on its transit system from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced the City of Belleville will receive $871,198, the City of Quinte West, $87,503, and Prince Edward County, $8,815, through their Phase 3 allocations under the Safe Restart Agreement.

“This is great news for our local municipalities,” said Smith. “COVID-19 continues to impact our transit system and this additional funding will ensure local transit can continue to operate and provide a vital service for those who need it.”

This funding is part of an additional $150 million allocated by the Province on top of the $2 billion previously committed by Ontario and the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement to help municipalities continue to deliver critical transit services. Including all three phase, the total Safe Restart Agreement transit investments in Bay of Quinte to date are: Belleville - $2,915,714; Quinte West - $328,788; and Prince Edward County - $69,045.

Funding amounts have been allocated based on a formula driven by ridership. During the peak of the pandemic, ridership dropped up to 90 per cent of normal levels for some of Ontario’s transit systems, which resulted in significant financial impacts for municipalities.

Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk was pleased to receive the funding.

“The City of Belleville has been committed to providing residents with safe, reliable and uninterrupted transit service since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Panciuk. “Altering our transit system to ensure this service was maintained has come at a high cost but was necessary to allow residents to continue to get to work, appointments and essential services. This funding is greatly appreciated and will go a long way in making sure our residents continue to have access to these necessities.”

The additional $150 million in provincial funding means that there is a total of $650 million in funding still available to municipalities up to Dec. 31, 2021, with extensions to December 2022 granted on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Ontario is calling on the federal government to match the additional funding announced today to help ensure municipal financial needs continue to be met.

“We heard from municipalities and we are responding to their need for more support as COVID-19 continues to result in lost revenue and additional costs for transit systems,” said Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation. “Transit operators have done an incredible job keeping transit operating during this challenging time, and this support will help ensure there is reliable transportation for people can get to work or pick up essential items.”

As part of the Safe Restart Agreement funding, municipalities need to work with the province to explore options to ensure local transit is safe, sustainable, affordable and integrated, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

To support this work, Ontario is allowing municipalities to use Safe Restart Agreement funding towards new initiatives to make it easier and more affordable to travel between different transit systems, like adding capacity for on-demand micro-transit and increasing fare and service integration across the region.

“We are committed to supporting our municipal partners in their mission to build back transit ridership when we come out of this pandemic,” said Kinga Surma, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Transportation. “We recognize there’s an opportunity now to work with our partners to ensure transit is safe, sustainable and affordable, both during COVID-19 and as we begin to recover.”

Ontario increases mental health funding to support students at Loyalist College



BELLEVILLE – The Ontario government is providing $316,146 to help increase access to mental health and addiction services for students at Loyalist College. The funding will strengthen community partnerships, increase the number of mental health workers and programs, and immediately expand access for students to the provincial mental health and addictions system during COVID-19.

The announcement was made today by Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte and Ontario’s Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

“Students at Loyalist College are working hard to get the practical skills and training they need to be positive contributors and leaders within our local economy,” said Smith. “This funding ensures they have the support they need to focus on their studies in an environment changed by this pandemic.”

This funding is part of the province’s total investment of $26.25 million for mental health supports for postsecondary students in 2020-2021. It will support more services for students on campus and virtually and it can also be used to address the needs of vulnerable and diverse groups, such as Indigenous students, LGBTQ students and students with disabilities.

“We know that college and university can be a stressful time for our students and that the COVID-19 outbreak has only increased the impact on their mental health,” said Ross Romano, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities. “That is why we are investing more in mental health services to better meet student needs—creating the best conditions possible for students to achieve their goals.”

Providing mental health supports for postsecondary students is part of Ontario’s Roadmap to Wellness, the government’s plan to build a connected and comprehensive mental health and addiction system that ensures children, youth, and adults receive appropriate services where and when they need them.

Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan, President of Loyalist College, appreciated the investment.

“At Loyalist College, we care deeply about our students’ success and now more than ever, supporting their physical and mental well-being is crucial to empowering their overall growth and development. Coping with the uncertainties of an ongoing global health crisis creates additional challenges for students, so we are very grateful to the Ontario government for prioritizing mental health care,” said Vaughan. “I would like to thank Minister Romano and the Government of Ontario for this generous funding, which will allow us to expand student counselling services and add a dedicated outreach worker to enhance our mental health programming, conduct wellness checks and support mental wellness education.”


  • Over the last several years the mental health needs of postsecondary students have increased dramatically in Ontario. According to the last National College Health Assessment survey of the Canadian student population (2019):
    • 52 per cent of students reported feeling depressed, compared to 46 per cent in 2016.
    • 69 per cent experienced anxiety.
    • 12 per cent of Canada’s students had considered suicide, compared to 14 per cent in 2016.
    • 8 per cent of students reported having attempted suicide.
  • In October 2020, the Ontario government announced $19.25 million in mental health supports for postsecondary students. In February 2021, the Ontario government announced an additional $7 million in funding to help increase access to mental health and addiction services for postsecondary students during COVID-19.
  • The government’s total investment of $26.25 million for mental health supports for postsecondary students in 2020-21 represents an increase of $10.25 million over last year.
  • The funding supports a variety of initiatives, including Good2Talk/Allo j’écoute, Ontario's bilingual mental health helpline which provides professional counselling and information and referrals to all students via telephone, text and live chat (new this year). It is available to all postsecondary students 24/7, 365 days a year.



Ontario's RED funding supports economic growth in Quinte region

For immediate release

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021

BAY OF QUINTE - The Ontario government is providing $47,600 to the Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC) to increase awareness of the region's manufacturing sector among prospective employees, announced Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte.

QEDC will use the funding for promotional activities such as creating company profiles, using print, digital and in-store advertising, and creating a landing page to monitor job referrals.

"There are many good-paying manufacturing jobs with benefits available with employers across the Quinte region," said Smith. "As our economy recovers post-COVID-19, this program will be a valuable tool in connecting potential employees to available jobs."

The project is one of 16 supported through the province as part of an $800,000 investment in targeted funding through the Rural Economic Development (RED) program. 

“This new targeted funding is just one of the many ways our government is supporting job creation and economic development across the province,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “We’re encouraging local economic growth by supporting projects that help expand businesses and provide skills development and training for employees. These kinds of investments are particularly important as we lay the foundation for our recovery from COVID-19.”

This intake was directed at upper-tier municipalities and not-for-profit regional organizations with a mandate focused on regional economic development. Qualifying projects would be eligible for up to 70 per cent of total costs to a maximum of $75,000 in provincial funding.

Supporting renewal, growth and economic recovery in rural and Indigenous communities is part of the government’s plan to get every region of Ontario back on track so they can create jobs, opportunity and prosperity for everyone.


  •  The intake was focused on projects that remove barriers to business and job growth, attract investment, attract or retain a skilled workforce, strengthen sector and regional partnerships and diversify regional economies.
  • The RED program supports projects with tangible benefits to rural and Indigenous communities that help to attract business, investment, and create jobs, while also providing greater value for taxpayers.
  • The RED program is helping rural communities and partners create more competitive economic environments so they can diversify and grow their local economies - making economic growth more inclusive.