September 27th Weekly Update


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Dear Constituents, 

Earlier this week, Rosh Hashanah marked the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days and the Jewish New Year. I wish you all a happy, prosperous, and peaceful celebration. Shanah Tovah!

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Ontario Preparing to Expand Health and Benefits Coverage
 

The Ontario government is seeking public feedback as it moves forward with plans to expand benefits like health, dental, prescription drug and vision care to more workers who need coverage. Results from an online public survey will inform the design and implementation of a proposed benefits plan that would make Ontario the first province in Canada to cover millions of precarious workers in sectors such as retail, the gig economy and hospitality.

“How or where you work, should not determine whether you have access to benefits like health and dental plans,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. “Our government is giving workers the protection and confidence they need to provide for their families and build stronger communities for us all.”

Most workers in Ontario with full-time, permanent jobs have medical insurance and dental coverage. However, fewer than a quarter of people who work part-time or in precarious jobs have similar benefits, which means these workers and their families often have to make difficult choices between their health and other necessities like food and shelter. Independent contractors, gig workers, low-wage workers, newcomers, younger workers and racialized people are less likely to have workplace benefits.

Public feedback is open until December 16th and will help determine the Portable Benefits Advisory Panel‘s recommendations, expected in Summer 2023.

Expanding health and benefits coverage is part of Ontario’s ambitious plan to attract the best workers from across Canada – and around the world – by making the province the best place to live, work and raise a family.

 

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Creating More Economic Opportunities for Women in Ontario

The Ontario government is investing $6.9 million over the next three years to expand and enhance the Investing in Women’s Futures program. The program, which provides resources and training opportunities to help women develop in-demand skills for jobs, is being expanded to up to 10 new centres and further funding is being provided to the 23 centres currently offering the program.

“Many women face additional challenges participating in the workforce, such as child care and caregiving responsibilities,” said Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity. “We are expanding the Investing in Women’s Futures program to ensure that women have the supports and in-demand skills they need to pursue good-paying jobs or pursue further education that can help lead to financial independence.”

The Investing in Women’s Futures program provides employment training opportunities and supports for women facing social and economic barriers, including abuse and isolation, so they can overcome barriers, increase well-being, build skills and gain employment. The new service delivery sites will be selected through a call for applications, which is now open to eligible organizations until Tuesday, November 8, 2022.

“The Investing in Women’s Futures program helps women develop the skills they need to build economic independence and financial stability so they can invest in themselves and their families,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “By providing an additional $6.9 million over three years, our government is helping to deliver the critical wrap-around supports, skills training and services vulnerable women need to live free from violence and build a better life.”

 

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Ontario Releases 2021-2022 Public Accounts

Last Week, the Ontario government released the 2021-22 Public Accounts, outlining the final audited financial results of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.

“Our government made unprecedented investments in the people of Ontario to provide families, health care workers, educators and businesses a plan that will keep Ontario open, safe and prepared,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board. “Despite the financial planning challenges jurisdictions faced as a result of the pandemic, we have made the prudent investments necessary to respond quickly and effectively to this ever-changing virus and continue to build Ontario’s future.”

Building on Ontario’s historic spending in 2020-21 to support people, businesses and the province’s health system during the pandemic, the government invested $170.5 billion in 2021-22, including $9.6 billion more in base funding alone for health care, education, infrastructure and other initiatives to build a stronger Ontario.

The Public Accounts outline Ontario’s fiscal picture at the end of 2021-22, demonstrating that revenues exceeded the 2021 budget forecast, mainly due to Ontario’s resilient economy and higher-than-projected inflation. This left Ontario with a $2.1 billion surplus, temporarily eliminating the province’s deficit. Ontario’s situation is not unique. Other provinces that have released updates to their 2021-22 deficit figures, including Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, are also seeing revenues in excess of their initial forecasts.

This surplus position is not indicative of the 2022-23 fiscal outlook, as the Public Accounts do not consider any forward-looking factors, such as the impact of changes in the economy or future spending decisions.

Amid global economic uncertainty and with the cost-of-living increases reaching levels not seen in decades, this surplus puts Ontario in a stronger fiscal position in the short-term. This enables the province to support people and businesses during a potential economic slowdown. By maintaining a plan that is fiscally flexible, the government will continue to invest in building the critical infrastructure that Ontarians rely on like highways, public transit, schools, hospitals and long-term care homes, particularly as the cost of labour and supplies continues to increase.
The 2021-22 increase in health sector spending is supporting key investments including:

  • $1.8 billion for Ontario’s COVID-19 testing strategy and vaccine roll-out;
  • $1.6 billion in additional hospital funding;
  • $1.2 billion to support increased utilization of health care services, including more visits to physicians and practitioners, increased spending on drug programs to support Ontario’s aging population, as well as the addition of new therapies; and
  • $900 million to stabilize the health and long-term care workforce, including supports for the temporary retention incentive for Ontario’s nurses, the accelerated training program and wage enhancement for personal support workers and direct support workers, and the Long-Term Care Staffing Plan to increase daily direct care for residents.

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My constituency office is open Monday to Friday from 10AM to 4PM. If you have any questions or concerns we’re readily available to assist. You can also reach us by phone at (416) 781-2395 or by email at robin.martin@pc.ola.org.

 

Warmest Wishes, 
Robin Martin, MPP
Eglinton-Lawrence

For the most up-to-date COVID-19 information from the Government of Ontario visit ontario.ca/coronavirus

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