From the Provincial Office of OSSTF
BILL 37, PROTECTING STUDENTS ACT MOVES TO COMMITTEE HEARINGS
Within two weeks of re-introducing the Protecting Students Act, the Liberals sought to fast-track the bill through the Legislature by passing a time allocation motion at 2nd Reading and moving the bill to committee hearings on October 27. (OSSTF/FEESO has made a formal request to the Standing Committee Finance and Economic Affairs to make a presentation). The Liberals’ further plan to move the bill for 3rd Reading on Monday November 14. They hope to have Royal Assent to make the bill law soon afterwards. The original Protecting Students Act was first introduced in spring 2014 but died on the order paper because of the 2014 election. The bill was reprised in spring 2016, but again died on the order paper when the Liberals prorogued the Legislature in early September.
According to Education Minister Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough—Guildwood), the proposed Protecting Students Act would strengthen the disciplinary processes for educators and increase transparency at the Ontario College of Teachers and the College of Early Childhood Educators. She claims that the changes will help protect children and students and maintain public confidence. She also says that the act would require the mandatory revocation of a teacher’s certificate if they are found guilty of sexual abuse or prescribed acts of child pornography.
The main elements of change, identified by Minister Hunter include:
• Ensuring a teacher’s certificate is automatically revoked if he or she has been found guilty of sexual abuse or acts relating to child pornography.
• Requiring employers, including school boards, to inform the college when they have restricted a teacher’s duties or dismissed him or her for misconduct.
• Allowing the college to share information with the school board or employer if the subject of a complaint poses an immediate risk to a student or child.
• Requiring the college to publish all decisions from its discipline committee.
• Improving timelines for the investigation and consideration of complaints.
NEW BILLS INTRODUCED
BILL 42, HIGHWAY TRAFFIC AMENDMENT ACT (WASTE COLLECTION VEHICLES AND SNOW PLOWS)
PC MPP Michael Harris (Kitchener—Conestoga) introduced Bill 42, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Waste Collection Vehicles and Snow Plows). Harris’ bill seeks to expand the restrictions on approaching emergency vehicles to include garbage and snow plow vehicles.
BILL 43, PANDAS/PANS AWARENESS DAY ACT
PC MPP Bob Bailey (Sarnia) introduced Bill 43, PANDAS/PANS Awareness Day Act. Bailey’s bill would proclaim October 9 as PANDA/PANS Awareness Day. According to Bailey, his bill would recognize children that suffer obsessive compulsive disorder or tics after experiencing an infection.
BILL 44, BANGLADESHI HERITAGE MONTH ACT
Liberal MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti (Scarborough Southwest) introduced Bill 44, Bangladeshi Heritage Month Act. Berardinetti’s bill would proclaim March as Bangladeshi Heritage Month.
BILL 45, ELECTION STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT
Liberal House Leader and Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi (Ottawa Centre), introduced Bill 45, Election Statute Law Amendment Act. The government bill would make certain amendments to Ontario’s election law including moving the fixed general election day from the first Thursday in October to the first Thursday in June. This change now confirms the 2018 election date as Thursday, June 7, 2018. As well, the Liberals will establish a Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission with a mandate to review the electoral boundaries of two exceptionally large northern ridings – Kenora—Rainy River and Timmins—James Bay. The Commission will make recommendations about the creation of one or two more ridings in that geographic area. This could mean that the next general election could see an election of 124 ridings up from the current 107. Other changes proposed will allow 16 and 17 year-olds to pre-register for a future election, make canvassing in buildings easier, make school facilities more available as polling locations and allow candidates to use surnames that they ordinarily use rather than their legal surnames.
BILL 46, MUNICIPAL STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT (COUNCILLOR PREGNANCY AND PARENTAL LEAVE)
Liberal MPP Daine Vernile introduced Bill 46, Municipal Statute Law Amendment Act (Councillor Pregnancy and Parental Leave). Vernile’s bill would provide that town or city council seats would not be vacated due to absences related to pregnancy or the birth or adoption of the member’s child. Municipalities would now be required to adopt and maintain policies with respect to pregnancy and parental leaves of council members.
BILL 47, PROTECTING REWARDS POINTS ACT (CONSUMER PROTECTION AMENDMENT)
Liberal MPP Arthur Potts introduced Bill 47, Protecting Rewards Points Act (Consumer Protection Amendment). Potts’ bill would protect consumers by prohibiting the expiration of rewards points.
BILL 48, PETER KORMOS ACT (REPEALING THE SAFE STREETS ACT)
NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale—High Park) introduced Bill 48, Peter Kormos Act (Repealing the Safe Streets Act). DiNovo says that her bill would repeal the Mike Harris-era law that persecuted the poor by making it illegal to solicit money on streets, in parking lots, at transit stops or near bank machines. DiNovo’s bill is named in honour of the late NDP MPP Peter Kormos.
BILLS REFERRED TO COMMITTEE
BILL 26, DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE WORKPLACE LEAVE, ACCOMMODATION AND TRAINING ACT
NDP MPP Peggy Sattler (London West) introduced Bill 26, Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act. The bill would give employees who have experienced domestic or sexual violence up to ten days of paid leave of absence. The bill was referred to Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly.
BILL 44, BANGLADESHI HERITAGE MONTH ACT
Two days after it was introduced, Liberal MPP Lorenzo Berardinetti’s (Scarborough Southwest) Bill 44, Bangladeshi Heritage Month Act passed 2nd Reading and was referred to the Standing Committee on General Government. Berardinetti’s bill would proclaim March as Bangladeshi Heritage Month.
BILL 13, ONTARIO REBATE FOR ELECTRICITY CONSUMERS ACT, 2016
Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault’s (Sudbury) bill will rebate hydro users the provincial portion of the HST.
In response to the story of the Trent Hills Mayor Hector MacMillan, PC MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean—Carleton) put forward a motion calling on the government to create an advisory committee on ensuring OHIP funding is available for Ontarians suffering from rare diseases. McLeod’s motion passed with all-party support.
IN OTHER NEWS
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE RELEASES AUDIT OF HEALTHY SCHOOLS STRATEGY
The Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts released its most recent recommendations on the 2012 launch of the Healthy Schools Strategy. As a follow-up to the 2013 audit, the committee’s most recent recommendations include:
1. The Ministry of Education and school boards should improve communication with parents to encourage healthier eating and increased physical activity, and assess the effectiveness of this communication.
2. The Ministry of Education should work with school boards to
a) ensure that school administrators and teachers receive sufficient training to implement the School Food and Beverage Policy and promote healthy eating;
b) develop consistent and effective strategies for monitoring compliance with the School Food and Beverage Policy; and
c) develop measurable objectives for healthy eating and measure progress in achieving these objectives.
3. The Ministry of Education should work with school boards to
a) ensure that elementary school administrators and teachers receive sufficient training on how to incorporate daily physical activity into the school day; and
b) establish a way to measure and monitor whether students are provided with the required daily physical activity.
4. The Ministry of Education should
a) assess options (including best practices in other jurisdictions) for increasing physical activity levels for both elementary and secondary school students; and
b) set goals and targets for boards to increase physical activity in schools, and periodically monitor, measure, and publicly report on the progress made.
BY-ELECTIONS CALLED FOR OTTAWA-VANIER AND NIAGARA WEST—GLANBROOK
Premier Kathleen Wynne called for by-elections in two ridings to fill vacancies created by the resignations of former Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak in Niagara West—Glanbrook and former Liberal MPP Madeleine Meilleur in Ottawa—Vanier. The by-elections will be held on Thursday November 17.
Niagara West—Glanbrook is considered to be a safe seat for the PCs but the stunning nomination victory by 19 year-old Brock student Sam Oosterhoff has shaken the PCs. Oosterhoff, a former legislative assistant to a Calgary-area MP and a protégé of another former Calgary MP, Jason Kenney, defeated two high profile candidates to claim the party’s nomination. Ontario PC President and former MP Rick Dykstra, also a close confidant of PC Leader Patrick Brown, was expected to be the party’s candidate. Dykstra’s main challenger was expected to be local city councilor Tony Quirk, who had been endorsed by Hudak. But, Oosterhoff rallied social conservatives to his cause to claim the nomination. With Brown’s highly publicized on and off again flirtations with the social conservative movement both during his leadership campaign and the recent Scarborough—Rouge River by-election, Oosterhoff’s victory can only be seen as slap by his erstwhile friends in the social conservative movement. As well, if Oosterhoff decides to prominently display his social conservative values in the campaign, it would seriously undermine Brown’s outreach to diverse communities. And, if Oosterhoff wins the safe Tory seat, he will be a constant reminder in the Legislature of the divisions in the party. Were Oosterhoff to lose the by-election, it would also undermine Brown’s appeal to party members that he can unite the party in anticipation of the next general election. Oosterhoff will be challenged by Liberal candidate Vicky Ringuette, NDP candidate Mike Thomas and Green Party candidate Donna Cridland.
While Patrick Brown may have a mess on his hands in Niagara West—Glanbrook, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s situation in the Ottawa—Vanier by-election is not particularly rosy either. The riding of Ottawa—Vanier has been held by both the provincial and federal Liberals since 1971. But, with the nomination of high profile former Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin as the PC candidate, the Tories believe they have a chance for a major upset. Coupled with the recent loss in another safe Liberal riding, Scarborough—Rouge River, many believe a Liberal loss in Ottawa—Vanier may seriously undermine Wynne’s authority in her party. The other party candidates in Ottawa—Vanier include Liberal Nathalie DesRosiers, Dean of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, and Claude Bisson, a former RCMP officer and brother of Ontario NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson. The Green Party candidate will be nominated soon.
LIBERALS ANNOUNCE TWO-YEAR MORATORIUM ON WATER TAKING PERMITS
Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray (Toronto Centre) announced a two-year moratorium on new and expanded water taking permits. The Liberals have come under severe criticism for their handling of corporate giant Nestle’s permit extension for water taking in the community of Aberfolyle. As part of the moratorium, a public consultation will be held until the end of the calendar year.