Our region received welcome news about its efforts to provide more training and postsecondary educational opportunities. The Government gave the go-ahead for Ontario’s 24 publicly assisted colleges, including St. Lawrence College, to develop additional three- and four-year degree programs. These new programs will help build the pipeline of job-ready graduates needed to support the growth of the province’s auto sector, bolstered by recent investments in electric vehicles and batteries. These additional graduates are also required to construct critical infrastructures, such as highways, hospitals, and long-term care homes. Smaller colleges will also attract students from rural communities, such as in Eastern Ontario, to acquire the tools they need to enter the workforce sooner. This positive step mirrors our commitment through the new Working for Workers Act legislation to improve working conditions for millions of workers and their families.
Our Government continues to expand housing options with an additional $127 million in round
five of the Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF), with Cornwall and SD&G receiving an additional $1,746,600. This fifth round of SSRF brings the funding for our area and the province to $16.2 million and $1.2 billion, respectively. The SSRF will allow our local Service Manager to supplement rent banks, keep vulnerable Ontarians housed, and create long-term housing solutions, such as the recent McConnell Avenue and Pitt Street North projects. The province continues to advocate for municipalities to receive their fair share of funding from the Federal Government, which is underfunding Ontario by approximately $490 million under the National Housing Strategy and Reaching Home program. These additional revenues would flow to municipal service providers to ensure vulnerable Ontarians can access the housing they need.
Our Government is assisting our dedicated local police in their efforts to protect residents. This past week, the Victim Support Grant allocated $170,500 to the City of Cornwall, $169,298 to the United Counties of SDG, and $90,825 to Akwesasne. Police serving those communities collaborate with several groups to help survivors of human trafficking and partner violence, offer counselling resources to victims of crime, and provide human trafficking training for officers. The Cornwall police are also receiving $491,829 over three years in Community Safety and Policing Grants to help them tackle gun and gang violence, sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, mental health and addictions, and hate-motivated crime.
In another effort to make life more affordable for vulnerable Ontarians, the Government has eliminated the $35 fee for birth certificates for individuals who may be experiencing homelessness or other severe financial hardships. All government services start with the issue of your birth certificate. This free service will benefit about 40,000 people, making it easier for vulnerable residents to access essential public services, such as housing, health care, food, and social assistance.
As part of the Government’s plan to keep Ontario open, we continue to provide the treatments to keep Ontarians safe from COVID-19. Lately, the Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that a second booster shot is now available for anyone over 60 years old and Indigenous residents and their non-Indigenous household members over 18. Eligibility is also increasing for higher-risk groups for the antiviral treatments and PCR testing. You can find more details at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-antiviral-treatment.