By Goldie Ghamari, MPP for Carleton
On behalf of my entire team, I would like to wish everyone in the Carleton riding a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
For three weekends, we were able to participate in several of the local Christmas parades throughout the riding. The first parade was the Toy Mountain Parade in Riverside South, while the last was the Metcalfe Santa Claus Parade which took place Sunday afternoon. There were daytime parades, parades of lights, and even a stationary parade in Richmond. But the one thing that all of the parades had in common was that they brought the people in the community together to celebrate in person.
The one thing that all of the parades reminded me of is that Carleton has the most Christmas and holiday spirit of any riding in the province!
Transit system improvements
The many commuters and park and ride users in Carleton were among those across the province who got some good news last week.
The Ontario government is providing municipalities with up to $505 million to help ensure municipal transit systems can continue to deliver safe and reliable transit services. The funding is being delivered through Phase 4 of the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.
Phase 4 of the Safe Restart Agreement will help municipal transit systems address costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic between February 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022. Municipalities will be able to use their funding allocations to cover revenue losses, operating expenses, and provincial transit priority projects, including fare and service integration and On-Demand transit.
This funding builds on the more than $2 billion in dedicated funding for municipal transit systems that the Ontario government, in conjunction with the federal government, has provided since 2020 to help transit systems across the province respond to the impact of COVID-19.
- 107 municipalities across Ontario have been allocated funding through Phase 4 of the Safe Restart Agreement.
- Allocations for Phase 4 of SRA funding include a base amount of $5,000 plus a remaining allocation amount based on actual impacts reported through the first three phases of SRA funding.
- The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, has made up to $4 billion in one-time emergency assistance available to Ontario municipalities as part of the Safe Restart Agreement (SRA) since 2020. This funding includes over $2 billion already provided to municipalities to support public transit across the province.
Ontario Upskilling More Nurses to Work in Critical Care
The Ontario government is investing over $4.6 million in the Michener Institute to remove financial barriers for nurses wanting to upskill to work in critical care areas of hospitals.
The funding provides free tuition for students and all college and hospital costs, including backfilling their current roles to ensure continuity of care, and allows nurses to train to work in critical care areas of hospitals. By spring 2023, close to 600 registered nurses will have completed their upskilling education and will be ready to support critical care in hospitals across Ontario.
In addition to the Michener Institute, the government is also investing more than $9.4 million to support accelerated critical care nursing at Centennial College, Conestoga College, George Brown College, Laurentian University, Mohawk College and St. Lawrence College.
Between 2018 and 2021, Ontario added over 14,500 net new nurses. For 2022, a record number of nurses have registered in Ontario. So far, nearly 14,000 new nurses have registered in the province, of which 6,300 are internationally educated.
Ontario Unveils Plan to Strengthen Food Supply Chain from Farm to Fork
The Ontario government is building a strong, secure food supply chain and securing the province’s position as a food leader in Canada with the release of the Grow Ontario Strategy. The strategy outlines the province’s plan to strengthen the agri-food sector, ensure an efficient, reliable, and responsive food supply and address ongoing vulnerabilities through new innovations. The sector’s vulnerabilities include labour shortages, outdated supply chain infrastructure and declining processing capacity.
The plan focuses on three key priorities:
- Strengthen Agri-food Supply Chain Stability: Increase both the consumption and production of food grown and prepared in Ontario by 30 per cent, increase Ontario’s food and beverage manufacturing GDP by 10 per cent and boost Ontario’s agri-food exports eight per cent annually by 2032. This includes opening applications for the $10 million Food Security and Supply Chain Fund which will provide funding for projects such as updated inventory software, expanded warehousing to allow increased inventory levels or automation equipment to address labour gaps. The province is also strengthening its food processing capacity and food security to position the sector for growth through the $25 million Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund.
- Increase Agri-food Technology and Adoption: Boost research infrastructure, advance the uptake of new technologies, grow the market for Ontario innovative technologies domestically and globally, and grow the use of data to support efficiencies in the agri-food sector and value chain. The province will also begin consultations on modernizing the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario Act to fuel innovation and support efforts to provide modern, relevant research information to farmers and agri-food businesses.
- Attract and Grow Ontario’s Agri-food Talent: The province aims to increase total agri-food sector employment by 10 per cent by 2032, as well as increase awareness of modern, high-tech agri-food careers, opportunities for mentorship and hands-on job training, and support efforts to increase veterinary capacity in underserviced areas of the province. This includes launching public consultations to explore opportunities to modernize the Veterinarians Act as part of the plan to increase access to veterinary care in Ontario.
The Grow Ontario Strategy was informed by the insights of farmers, Indigenous community representatives, food sector leaders and businesses. The government is also working to reduce duplication and unnecessary burden and is encouraging the agri-food sector to submit their best ideas to reduce legislative and regulatory barriers to help enable a stronger supply chain.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is expanding international trade markets for agri-food businesses by embarking on a trade mission with businesses to Japan and Vietnam in February 2023.
Ontario’s agri-food sector contributes $47 billion in GDP to the provincial economy, representing 6.4 per cent of total Ontario GDP.
Food and beverage processing is the province’s largest manufacturing sector in terms of GDP and one of the largest in North America. The Grow Ontario Strategy goal is to increase food and beverage GDP by 10 per cent by 2032.
Ontario’s agri-food sector employs more than 750,000 people, accounting for one-in-ten jobs in the province.
Ontario’s 48,346 farms produce over 200 different commodities.
Ontario Celebrating Outstanding Contributions of Volunteers
The Ontario government is recognizing 4,555 Ontarians with a Volunteer Service Award, an annual award honouring the exceptional contributions of individuals providing dedicated service to a single organization. Recipients of the award were celebrated at a virtual ceremony yesterday and will receive a personalized certificate and lapel pin to acknowledge their years of service.
Recipients of the 2022 Ontario Volunteer Service Award support a wide range of organizations and causes, including those serving families, children and youth, vulnerable people, hospitals, senior centres and food security programs. These volunteers also help as board members, in fundraising, in promoting the arts and promoting the different cultures that make Ontario unique.
For more information about the program or to submit a nomination, please visit the Ontario Volunteer Service Award webpage.
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.
My office is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you require assistance on any matter, please contact me at any time. My staff and I will be happy to assist. Even if it’s not a provincial issue, I’ll make sure to connect you with the proper office.
Your voice at Queen’s Park