This Week At Queen’s Park
by Jim McDonell
This week I announced my retirement as Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry effective June 1, 2022. I have truly enjoyed serving as our community’s MPP for the past decade. I have been blessed with a wonderful family, especially my wife Margie and a group of colleagues and volunteers who have supported me in my work. I am proud of what our team has been able to accomplish locally and across Ontario under the leadership of Doug Ford. However, the time has come to pass the role on to a new voice. I look forward to the next chapter of my life closer to home. I am grateful to the residents of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, who have shown their confidence in me for over a decade. It has been a challenging job, but certainly a rewarding one too. Rest assured, I will remain determined to make our region of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry the best place to live, work, and raise a family.
Our success in managing the current fourth wave is a testament to the vaccines’ effectiveness. We are enhancing our vaccine response with a new vaccine available for those born in 2016 and earlier, following the approval of the Pfizer pediatric version. For months, the highest incidence of cases has been in our children, and this next step will drastically cut the impact of the virus on our children and the broader population. You can find vaccination times and locations at www.EOHU.ca or by calling 1-800-267-7120. In addition, I will be joining Dr. Paul Roumeliotis and MP Eric Duncan on Monday night to host a virtual information forum for parents and guardians on the vaccination of children between the ages of 5-11 years old. Please check www.EOHU.ca for call-in details.
I am pleased to report that the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) has agreed to participate in direct face-to-face negotiations. In addition, the OAO has informed us that its member optometrists will resume eye care services for Ontario residents under the age of 19 and those 65 and over. The groups have agreed to meet under a media blackout.
The government continues to fulfill its promise of creating a foundation to ensure our children can look forward to a rewarding career. As part of the government’s $14 billion commitment to build and modernize schools, Ministers Stephen Lecce and Kinga Surma announced a $600 million investment to get 78 school and childcare-related projects off the ground. When finished, $565 million will fund new learning spaces for 19,700 students and childcare availability for 1,525 children. In addition, the Early Years Capital Program will access an additional $42.6 million to renovate or expand 32 childcare centres within schools, making room for another 1,500 children.
This week, Ministers Monte McNaughton and Stephen Lecce announced that Ontario is investing an additional $90 million over three years to promote the skilled trades to young people. This funding will help attract more students to rewarding and lucrative careers in the trades and ensure employers have the workers they need to grow their businesses and drive our economy. The government is also investing an additional $2.9 million, for a total of $20 million annually, to expand the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and provide more opportunities for students. The OYAP now has 63 recruiters across more than 800 schools so that students can learn about the skilled trades at a younger age. These efforts will go a long way in reducing the anticipated shortfall of 100,000 construction workers over the next decade. As a result, skilled trades will make up one in five jobs in Ontario by 2025.
As always, stay safe and get vaccinated if you have not done so.