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Ontario Delays March Break in an Effort to Reduce Community Transmission of COVID-19

Decision was made on the advice of public health officials

Today, Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education, issued the following statement regarding March break:

“In support of our collective efforts to keep schools safe, we are postponing March break until April 12-16, 2021. This decision was made with the best advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, including consultations with many local Medical Officers of Health.

Many students have been learning remotely since the start of 2021. It is critical we follow public health advice to protect schools and avoid a repeat of the concerning spike in youth-related cases over the winter break, when students and staff were out of schools for a prolonged period of time. We are taking this precaution based on advice from health experts, including the province’s Science Table and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to help protect against the emerging COVID-19 variants of concern.

We appreciate the hard work of students and staff in the education sector and I want to be clear: March break is being postponed, not cancelled. To keep schools open, we must keep them free of COVID-19. The actions announced today serve to limit opportunities for congregation – while reaffirming the evidence that schools are safe for students. By continuing to follow public health advice, and by introducing additional safety measures and more testing, we are supporting our collective efforts to keep COVID-19 from entering our schools.

With respect to travel, our government’s position on this is unchanged. Ontarians should refrain from travelling, particularly given the increase in new variants that pose a direct risk to our country. Please stay at home as much as possible and continue following the direction of public health officials so that we can keep schools open and protect our seniors, frontline health workers and all families.

These decisions – based on the advice of medical experts – are never easy, but they are necessary to keep Ontario families safe.”

BACKGROUND

On February 2, 2021, the Ministry consulted with trustees’ associations, teacher federations, education worker unions, and principal and vice-principal associations to get their valuable perspectives. Additional feedback was provided from stakeholders via written submissions.

On February 3, 2021, Ontario announced the return dates for in-person learning for all remaining Public Health Units (PHUs). As of February 16, 2021, all students across Ontario will be able to learn in-person.

To support the safe return of in-person learning, Ontario has enhanced new measures to continue to protect students and staff against COVID-19 in the classroom. These measures include:

Increased provincewide access to targeted asymptomatic testing for students and staff;

Mandatory masking requirement for students in Grades 1-3, and masking requirement for Grades 1-12 outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained;

Providing 3.5 million high quality masks to schools as back-up supply for Grade 1-12 students;

Guidance discouraging students and staff from congregating before and after school; and

Temporary certification of eligible teacher candidates who are set to graduate in 2021 to stabilize staffing levels.

These new measures build on the more than $1.6 billion that Ontario has provided in additional resources to protect schools against the spread of COVID-19.

 

Ontario Celebrates the Contributions of Dedicated Volunteers

TORONTO – The Ontario government is recognizing the outstanding contributions and efforts of 6,658 volunteers through 27 virtual Volunteer Service Award ceremonies across the province. The individuals recognized by these awards have demonstrated how critical volunteers are and how they strengthen Ontario’s social fabric in our communities, especially with the devastating impacts of COVID-19.

The Ontario Volunteer Service Awards recognizes individuals for continuous years of volunteer service at a single organization, such as a hospital, seniors centre or community association. Volunteers contribute to a wide range of services in Ontario, including supporting seniors and adults through Meals on Wheels, improving communities through local Lions Clubs, and much more.

The government encourages all Ontarians to consider nominating outstanding volunteers for this award. Organizations may submit any volunteer that they wish to recognize. If nominated volunteers meet the eligibility requirements, they will be selected to receive the award. The deadline for 2021 Volunteer Service Award nominations is April 1, 2021. Please visit Ontario’s website for more information on how to recognize an exceptional volunteer with the Ontario Volunteer Service Award.

Quick Facts

Since 1986, more than 250,000 volunteers have been recognized through the Ontario Volunteer Service Award.

Adult volunteers are recognized for five to 65+ years of continuous service in five-year increments.

Youth volunteers are recognized for two or more years of continuous service.

Find out how to nominate a volunteer for the Ontario Volunteer Service Award.

Applications Open for Ontario’s New Skills Development Fund

Investment will lead to innovative solutions to get job seekers back to work

Applications are now open for the Ontario government’s new two-year $115 million Skills Development Fund. The fund, which will support workers and apprentices, is specifically designed to address the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and help reduce obstacles to hiring, training and retaining while preparing workers for the province’s economic recovery.

“When faced with unprecedented challenges we need innovative solutions, that’s why we developed this new Skills Development Fund. It will lead to fresh and creative ideas to help get people back on the job and kick-start our communities,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “My message to workers is clear – there is hope and opportunity around the corner. I’m calling on everyone – businesses, union leaders and training providers – to submit your ideas and participate in our economic recovery.”

The Skills Development Fund will accept applications from a wide range of employment and training organizations in Ontario, and the focus will be on:

giving laid-off workers immediate access to training supports or new jobs

improving the quality of training

reaching out to traditionally underrepresented groups

increasing apprentice registrations and completion

better serving local communities

supporting the talent needs of small businesses

Examples of projects from the fund could include: a digital career fair that allows employers to connect with job seekers impacted by COVID-19, mentorship programs and career counselling for apprentices while they are training on-the-job, the creation of training materials that teach employers how to accommodate employees who have disabilities, and making workspaces and equipment more accessible.

Applicants, including employers, apprenticeship training delivery agents, unions, post-secondary institutions, community organizations and others can now submit proposals beginning today, until February 28, 2021.

Quick Facts

The fund will help quickly address the needs of Ontario’s employers and workers by offering up to $100 million in the first application round in February 2021. A second round of projects is planned to provide an additional $15 million in spring.

In its 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, the government committed an additional $180.5 million over three years to help existing workers improve their skills. The budget also includes a skilled trades strategy, an additional $100 million of dedicated investments through Employment Ontario for skills training, a redesigned Second Career program, and $59.5 million over three years to help workers acquire in-demand skills.

Employment Ontario: Free Programs and Services for Job Seekers, Workers and Employers

Ontario Extends Off-Peak Electricity Rates to Provide Relief for Families, Small Businesses and Farms

Lower rates will help offset costs as Ontarians continue to stay at home

TORONTO – The Ontario government is once again extending electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms to support those spending more time at home while the province maintains the Stay-at-Home Order in the majority of public health regions. The government will continue to hold electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour until February 22, 2021. This lower rate is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for Time-Of-Use and tiered customers.

The off-peak rate came into effect January 1, 2021, providing families, farms and small businesses with immediate electricity rate relief. The off-peak rate will now be extended until the end of day February 22, 2021, for a total of 53 days of emergency rate relief. During this period, the off-peak price will continue to be automatically applied to electricity bills of all residential, small business, and farm customers who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get a bill from a utility.

Quick Facts

Families, small businesses and charitable organizations with overdue electricity and natural gas bills can apply for support through the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP). A residential customer can receive up to $750 to help cover their overdue electricity bill and natural gas bill, while small businesses and charities can receive up to $1500 for each bill. Customers can contact their utility to apply.

Businesses can apply for Energy and Property Tax Rebates through the COVID-19 Business Support Grants, if required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial health measures.

Applications are open for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which helps small businesses that are required to close or significantly restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown effective December 26, 2020.

Ontario Strengthens Consumer Protection for New Home Buyers and Owners

Province designates Home Construction Regulatory Authority as new regulator

The Ontario government is designating the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA) the regulator responsible for new home builders and vendors. The HCRA will help ensure that new home buyers and owners are well-informed and better protected by:

Licensing new home builders and vendors;

Expanding the existing Ontario Builder Directory to provide regulatory compliance and warranty information about thousands of builders and vendors across the province; and

Implementing a formal complaints process for the conduct of new home builders and vendors.

“When our government passed the Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, 2020 last July, we committed to establishing a regulator for new home builders that works for the people of Ontario. Today’s launch of the HCRA is another great example of our commitment to strengthening consumer protection for our province,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “The HCRA will ensure that new home builders and vendors are held to professional standards and that all buyers and owners of new homes are well-informed and feel confident that their homes have been built properly.”

The HCRA is designated under the New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017. The creation of the HCRA as a separate authority addresses consumer concerns about potential conflicts of interest within Tarion, Ontario’s new home warranty and protection program administrator.

Quick Facts

The establishment of a separate regulator for new home builders and vendors responds to the Honourable John Douglas Cunningham’s 2016 review of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and Tarion.

The Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, 2020, passed on July 14, 2020, promotes higher quality new home construction, which will reduce defects and new home warranty and protection claims, while better protecting consumers from bad actors in the marketplace.

The government improved consumer protection for homebuyers in Bill-145, the Trust in Real Estate Service Act, to modernize the rules for real estate brokerages, brokers and salespersons. It was approved by the legislature in February 2020.

Tarion will administer Ontario’s new home warranty and protection program. Together, the HCRA and Tarion will provide stronger consumer protection for Ontarians.

Ontario Enhances Security at Adult Correctional Facilities

New ion scanners will help reduce the risk of contraband from entering institutions and improve safety

The Ontario government is installing ion scanners at 10 adult correctional facilities across the province as part of an effort to combat contraband entering facilities, enhance security, and improve staff and inmate safety.

“Detecting and preventing the entry of contraband is critical to keeping Ontario’s correctional facilities safe,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “Our government is committed to equipping our corrections staff with the modern tools and technology they need to do their job safely and ensure continued security.”

Ion scanners are security tools used to detect and identify trace elements of drugs and are an added layer of security available to correctional staff to help prevent illegal substances from entering facilities. Adult correctional facilities in Ontario currently use various methods to prevent, detect, confiscate, and reduce contraband within institutions, including body scanners, hand-held and walk-through metal detectors, strip searches, and canine units.

Ion scanners will be operational in regions across Ontario at the following adult correctional facilities:

Two scanners in the Central Region at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex and Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre.

Two scanners in the Eastern Region at the Central East Correctional Centre and the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre.

Three scanners in the Northern Region at the Kenora Jail, Thunder Bay Jail and Sudbury Jail.

One scanner in the Toronto Region at the Toronto South Detention Centre.

Two scanners in Western Region at the Central North Correctional Centre and the South West Detention Centre.

“This announcement from the government is a testament to their dedication to frontline corrections staff,” said Co-Chair of the Corrections Ministry Employee Relations Committee Chris Jackel. “This technological investment will go a long way in providing correctional staff with the added tools to detect contraband before it enters our institutions, enhancing staff, inmate and public safety even further.”

Work is underway to train staff at those institutions to have all ion scanners fully operational by summer 2021. This initiative builds on the government’s commitment to invest more than $500 million over five years to transform adult correctional services in Ontario. It is also part of a broader strategy to combat contraband in adult correctional facilities.

Quick Facts

An ion scanner was first introduced at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in 2018 as a pilot and has been successfully used in identifying contraband drugs including fentanyl.

Correctional facility staff such as security teams, will complete training and ensure the scanners are being used effectively to detect and identify contraband.

Ontario Community Support Program Extended until 2022

This Will Ensure Seniors and People with Disabilities Have Access to Food and Medicine During COVID-19

The Ontario government is extending the Ontario Community Support Program (OCSP) until 2022 to ensure that low-income seniors and people with disabilities have access to food, medicine and other essentials during COVID-19. The program was established in April 2020, and involves an innovative partnership with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) and its large volunteer base in communities across the province. During that period nearly 800,000 deliveries have been made.

The OCSP operates in communities across the province by matching volunteer services with seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable Ontarians through an online registration system. Volunteers are stepping up in significant numbers to give their time and efforts to fellow Ontarians who need support to meet the challenges of COVID-19.

During the Fall Economic Update, the government announced plans to extend the program until March, 2022, in recognition of its positive impact on vulnerable Ontarians.

Quick Facts

To sign up for Meals on Wheels in your local community or get essentials such as medicine delivered, visit www.ontariocommunitysupport.ca.

Services can also be arranged by dialing 211 or 1-877-330-3212 (toll free). TTY service is also available by dialing 1-888-340-1001.

Seniors, people with disabilities, and others in need of assistance, including mental health supports can connect to essential services in their community by visiting www.211ontario.ca. Services are available 7 days a week in over 150 languages.

GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO WELCOMES NEW BOARD CHAIR AND EXECUTIVE

GUELPH, ON (February 11, 2021) – Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province‘s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario‘s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean, and wheat farmers, has elected its new Chair of the Board of Directors, Brendan Byrne.

Byrne is the District Director for District 1 (Essex) and has served on the Board since 2015. He farms with his father and family in Essex County.

“I’m honoured to be elected the next Chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario Board of Directors and commit to building upon this organization’s 10 years of being a dedicated, strong voice in agriculture. I look forward to advocating for the broad, varied spectrum of all of our farmer-members to ensure they have opportunities to build successful family businesses in Ontario that produce high-quality, locally grown grains that are nutritious and affordable across our province, nation and internationally,” said Brendan Byrne, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario. “The value of grain farming, and the health of our farmer-members, to our economy and our sustainability as an industry needs to be emphatically understood by our governments, customers, and the public.”

Grain Farmers of Ontario also welcomes its new Executive Committee of the Board. Along with Byrne, Jeff Harrison, director for District 12 (Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha, Peterborough, Hastings) and Scott Persall, director for District 5 (Elgin and Norfolk) will serve as Vice Chairs, and Josh Boersen, director for District 9 (Perth) is the Executive Member.

Outgoing Chair, Markus Haerle

“Over the past three years, Markus Haerle served as the Chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario and has led our Board of Directors through some incredibly difficult and volatile issues. Markus’ constant commitment and his passion for championing on behalf of our farmer-members was inspiring. We wish Markus well, and are grateful for his time as chair and continued dedication to Grain Farmers of Ontario,” said Crosby Devitt, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario

Grain Farmers of Ontario recently released a new 2021 Strategic Plan that will help the organization navigate the needs of its farmer-members over the coming years.

Fishing licence (Canadian residents)

How to get an Ontario fishing licence if you live in Canada.

An Ontario resident is a person whose primary residence is in Ontario and who has lived in the province for at least six consecutive months during the 12 months immediately before applying for a licence.

Ontario resident fishing licence fees.

A Canadian resident is a person whose primary residence is in any part of Canada other than Ontario and has lived in Canada for at least six consecutive months during the 12 months immediately before applying for a licence.

Canadian resident fishing licence fees.

If you are 18 and over or under 65 years old

Before you can start fishing, you will need a valid:

Outdoors Card (a plastic identification card, valid for three calendar years), and

a fishing licence (valid for either one or three calendar years)

A fishing licence can be for either:

conservation (reduced catch limits)

sport (normal catch limits)

If you are under 18 years old or 65 and older

You do not need to purchase an Outdoors Card or licence to fish. You will need to carry your government-issued identification with you, that includes your name and date of birth, at all times while fishing. Your identification acts as your licence to fish, if you belong to one of these age ranges.

If you are a veteran or active Canadian Armed Forces member

Starting January 1, 2019, veterans and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces who reside in Ontario are able to enjoy free fishing across the province as a token of recognition for their service. In place of an Outdoors Card and recreational fishing licence, veterans and active members will be required to possess and carry one of the following pieces of identification to legally fish in Ontario:

Canadian Forces Identification Card (NDI 20);

Record of Service Card (NDI 75); or

Canadian Armed Forces Veteran’s Service Card (NDI 75).

In accordance with other deemed licences, veterans and active members of the Canadian Armed Forces will need to follow the seasons, quotas and limits associated with a sport fishing licence.

For more information on this initiative, please contact the Natural Resources Information and Support Centre at 1-800-387-7011.

Fishing for one day only

If you plan to fish for a single day only, you do not need an Outdoors Card—but you will need a one-day sport fishing licence.

Fishing rules and limits

You must follow certain rules while fishing, including catch and possession limits. These rules determine:

when and where you can fish

the species, size and number of fish you can keep

what you can use for bait and tackle

what you can and cannot do in specific locations (Ontario is divided into 20 Fisheries Management Zones)

While fishing, you must carry your valid Outdoors Card and Licence Summary listing your valid fishing licence, unless your licence is printed on the back of your Outdoors Card.

Only one type of Outdoors Card is now issued for fishing and hunting.

Where to buy

You must buy an Outdoors Card before you can buy a fishing licence. However, you can buy a one-day sport fishing licence without an Outdoors Card.

When you buy or renew your Outdoors Card, you will get a plastic card mailed to you. This will have your fishing licence printed on the back.

Until you receive your plastic card in the mail, you can use the Licence Summary given to you at the time of purchase to immediately go fishing.

What you’ll need

first and last name

date of birth

mailing and residential address (including postal code)

height and eye colour

To buy online, you will need to:

pay with Visa or Mastercard

save your Licence Summary in a digital format (for example, on your smartphone) or print it at home

To buy in person:

visit a participating ServiceOntario location

visit a licence issuer

To pay by phone:

call 1-800-288-1155 to renew an Outdoors Card and three year licence

Indigenous communities

Generally, if you belong to an Indigenous community with established Aboriginal or treaty fishing rights in Ontario, you can fish without a licence when:

fishing within your traditional or treaty area

taking fish for food, social or ceremonial purposes

If you are exercising fishing rights, you should be prepared to provide community identification.

If you fish outside your traditional or treaty area, you will need to have an Outdoors Card and fishing licence or permission from a First Nation to fish in their traditional territory.

Get a fishing licence.

If you have a disability

A person who has been issued an accessible parking permit under the Highway Traffic Act or a national identity card by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind may fish without an Outdoors Card or recreational fishing licence if they carry the permit or national identity card with them while they are fishing. If a black and white photocopy or printed version of the accessible parking permit is carried while fishing, the person is also required to carry a Government-issued licence, permit, certificate or identification card that indicates their name and date of birth.

A person who requires the direct assistance of another person to fish and to follow applicable laws due to a disability defined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act may fish without an Outdoors Card or recreational fishing licence if they carry a Government-issued licence, permit, certificate or identification card that indicates their name and date of birth. The accompanying person does not require a fishing licence if they are only assisting but must have a licence if they wish to engage in fishing.

The seasons and catch and possession limits for a Sport Fishing Licence apply to all situations above.

Updated: June 14, 2020