E-Newsletter March 2016
Ontario 2016 Budget – 5 Things you should know
Here are some of the major initiatives contained in the 2016 Budget presented by the Ontario Government:
1. Free Post-Secondary Tuition
The Province is proposing a single, major upfront grant – the Ontario Student Grant – starting in the 2017-2018 school year. Average tuition would be free for students from families with annual incomes of less than $50,000. More than 50% of students from families with incomes of $83,000 or less will receive grants in excess of average tuition. The new grant would be available for mature students of all ages, from single mothers to seniors.
2. Transforming Health Care
- Funding for hospitals would be increased by $345 million.
- An additional $130 million would be invested in cancer care services, over the next three years, allowing the delivery of more services and preventive programs.
- Community-based residential hospice and palliative care would receive an additional investment of $75 million.
- Seniors between the ages of 65-70, will be able to receive the shingles vaccine free of charge, saving them about $170, while reducing emergency room visits and hospitalization.
3. Making Every Day Life Easier
The Province is moving forward with a number of initiatives to make every day life easier for Ontarians such as:
- Lowering Hospital Parking Fees
- All hospital parking fees have been frozen for the next three years.
- As of October 1st, 2016, hospitals that charge more than $10 a day for parking will be required to provide transferable 5-, 10- and 30-day passes that are:
- Discounted by 50 per cent off their daily rate with in-and-out privileges
- Good for one year from the date of purchase
- Green Investment Fund to Help Homeowners Save Energy
- An investment of $100 Million would help 37,000 homeowners conduct audits and identify energy-saving opportunities and then complete retrofits, such as replacing furnaces, water heaters and upgrading insulation.
- Eliminating the $30 fee that drivers pay for their Drive Clean emissions tests in 2017-18.
- Lowering the fares of the UP Express starting today
- Union <--> Weston = $5.02 (with Presto) and $5.65 (without Presto)
- Weston <--> Pearson = $4.71 (with Presto) and $5.30 (without Presto)
- Increasing social assistance rates by 1.5% while providing a further top-up to those with the lowest social assistance rates.
3. Affordable Housing
Beginning in 2017-2018, in the area of affordable housing, the government will invest $178 million over three years, providing support to additional households and creating approximately 1,500 new supportive housing units.
5. Supporting Small Businesses
The Business Growth Initiative would see an investment of $400 million over the next 5 years to to modernize business regulations, lower business costs and make more Ontario firms into global industry leaders.
The Red Tape Challenge – an online consultation tool designed to identify and eliminate duplication, lessen compliance burdens etc.
Helping Business Scale Up by investing an initial $30 million in Ontario’s Going Global Export Strategy over three years to help Ontario firms expand their exports and become more productive.
2016 Ontario Budget Breakfast
On February 26th, I co-hosted a successful Breakfast Meeting with MPP Sergio and MPP Kwinter with Community Organizations from all over York South-Weston, which gave attendees a chance to ask questions and comment on the 2016 Ontario Budget.
Thank you to all those who attended for your valuable feedback.
SmartTrack – Metrolinx meeting in York South-Weston
On February 29th, I co-hosted a community meeting together with Councillor Nunziata and Councillor Di Giorgio about the integration of SmartTrack with the Metrolinx projects which are planned in our community. Both city and Metrolinx staff presented and took questions/concerns from attendees.
Councillor Nunziata and Councillor Di Giorgio are still looking for more feedback from residents on the 4 proposed SmartTrack options (Options A-D) found on slides 10-11 of the presentation found here.
Slide 13 shows City of Toronto planning recommendations.
Click here for the agenda. At the top of the screen, click "Submit Comments" and a box opens up.
Alternatively, submit your comments directly to the committee via e-mail and copy your Councillor by March 9th.
Councillor Nunziata - Ward 11
Councillor Di Giorgio - Ward 12
One of the topics that residents who attended the meeting had questions about was the Metrolinx and Crosslinx plan to build a natural gas-fired Back-up Power Facility on the former Kodak lands, where the maintenance and storage yard for the Crosstown trains is to be built.
The intent is to build a facility that would be able to be continue to run the Eglinton Crosstown trains in case of a power outage and to avoid peak times on the power grid.
I would like to inform residents that I have been in contact with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the Ministry of Transportation, Metrolinx, community groups and others regarding the proposed Backup Power Facility.
Most commuters would agree that power failure such as that which occurred at the TTC recently due to weather conditions is a concern, and that some type of Backup Power for the Eglinton Crosstown would be beneficial in case of power outages. I am advocating together with the community for an alternative energy option, if one is viable.
Humber River Hospital - Church Site
Humber River Hospital officials are advising that as of March 31st, some of the services currently available at their former Keele Street site, will be moving - temporarily - to the former Church Street site.
The services that will be temporarily moved to the Church St. Site are: dialysis, out-patient physiotherapy and the CCAC wound clinic.
This is happening because because that the Central LHIN and Humber River Hospital Finch Site are conducting consultations around which services are most needed in North-West Toronto. While consultations are being held, the dialysis department does not need to be built at the Church site as it would need to be at the Finch site at a significant cost.
Only a small part of the former Church Street hospital will be used and so only one front parking lot will be reopened. A “Humber Clinics” sign will be posted.
This is not a permanent reopening of the Church Street site and the hospital’s plan to sell the site will continue as the revenue will fund a portion of the local share for Humber River Hospital.
Chaminade Students Robbery
On February 17th two students from Chaminade were robbed on Queen’s Drive.
The incident occurred on Queen’s Drive, close to where the street intersects with Gracefield Ave around 3:30pm. The students ran to St. Francis Xavier and police were called. The boys filed a report with the police providing a description of the three men in the car.
12 Division has confirmed that suspects have been arrested and charges have laid.
Applications for Parents Reaching Out Grants Now Open
Parents Reaching Out (PRO) Grant applications for the 2016-17 school year are now open and will be accepted until May 29, 2016.
PRO grants encourage parent engagement at the local, regional and provincial levels. They are designed to support parents in identifying barriers to parent engagement in their own community and to find local solutions to involve more parents in support of student achievement and well-being.
For more information regarding application process please visit: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/reaching.html
Modernizing Credit Unions
The Minister of Finance, Hon. Charles Sousa recently accepted a report I prepared in my role as his Parliamentary Assistant, on modernizing credit unions. The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act
, 1994 legislative review report contains fifteen recommendations
that will protect consumers.
The recommended changes include:
Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994: Legislative Review
Strengthening Credit Unions While Protecting Consumers
- Changing the deposit insurance coverage limit to $250,000 (currently $100,000 for basic deposits and unlimited for deposits in registered accounts such as registered retirement savings plans and tax-free savings accounts);
- Permitting credit unions to wholly own a wider spectrum of subsidiary businesses than currently permitted, such as insurance brokerages, so they can better compete with other financial institutions; and
- Working with credit unions to explore the role they can play in protecting and educating consumers of payday loans.
Ontario passes legislation making February Black History Month
On February 16th, the Legislature passed legislation that gives Black History Month official status in law, ensuring that the achievements of the Black community will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.
Each February, Ontarians celebrate the contributions of the Black community. Now, this celebration will be preserved in law, and I am proud this legislation received support from all parties. Thank you to all the residents who attended the Black History Month reception at Queen’s Park - it was a historical occasion and I was pleased to celebrate with you.
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Ontario appoints seventh Ombudsman; Paul Dubé begins April 1st
Mr. J. Paul Dubé of Ottawa has been appointed as Ontario’s seventh Ombudsman for a five-year term, to begin April 1, 2016. His appointment by an all-party committee of the Legislative Assembly was announced and approved by unanimous vote in the Legislature on February 16. Ms. Barbara Finlay remains the Acting Ombudsman until his term begins.
Province announces Anti-Racism Directorate
Ontario is establishing an Anti-Racism Directorate to address racism in all its forms — including individual, systemic and cultural. Minister Michael Coteau will oversee the Anti-Racism Directorate as Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism and continue as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
The Directorate will work with key partners such as business, community organizations, educational institutions and the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The Directorate will aim to:
• Increase public education and awareness of racism to create a more inclusive province, and;
• Apply an anti-racism lens in developing, implementing and evaluating government policies, programs and services.
Proposed Changes to Ontario Drug Benefit
As part of the 2016 Ontario Budget, the government has proposed changes to the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program.
The Budget proposes that starting August 1, 2016, the income thresholds to qualify for the low-income seniors’ benefit would be increased from $16,018 to $19,300 for single seniors and from $24,175 to $32,300 for senior couples. Low-income seniors who receive public drug benefits would continue to pay up to a $2 co-payment per prescription with no annual deductible. Seniors with incomes at or above the updated income thresholds would see the annual deductible under the ODB increased from $100 to $170 and the co-payment per prescription increased from $6.11 to $7.11 per prescription.
The objective of this proposed change is to ensure that fewer Ontario seniors will have to pay any annual deductible on their prescription drugs. The immediate result of this proposed change is that 170,000 more seniors will qualify for the low-income seniors drug benefit this year, and 30,000 more every year going forward. It’s important to understand that even with the proposed changes to the ODB, seniors in Ontario will continue to have among the lowest out-of-pocket expenses for prescription drugs in Canada.
The proposed changes to this regulation are now out for consultations, to make sure these proposed changes are right for all Ontario seniors.
Should you wish to comment on the proposed regulation changes you can write to:
Executive Officer of Ontario Public Drug Programs
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
80 Grosvenor Street, 9th Floor
Hepburn Block, Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1R3
Or comment online here.
The ministry will be accepting public comments for 30 days, ending March 30th, 2016.