Queen’s Park Update, November 12, 2021

Jim McDonell, MPP
Queen’s Park Update, November 12, 2021
Jim McDonell.

Local COVID-19 cases in the region are dipping close to 50, which correspondingly is reducing the level of hospitalization as we achieve another milestone of fully vaccinating 85 percent of eligible Ontarians. The more of us who are vaccinated limits the ability of the virus to spread. Medical experts believe that vaccination levels over 90 percent will keep any outbreaks to small manageable numbers that can be easily contained, thus increasing the chances of taking advantage of new activities found in our reopening plan (https://www.ontario.ca/page/reopening-ontario). Visit www.EOHU.ca for the latest vaccine information. We can take full advantage of new opportunities by downloading proof of vaccination at https://covid19.ontariohealth.ca/, obtained at a Service Ontario centre, or by calling 1-833-943-3900.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy has laid out the province’s path to a safe and prosperous future with the mini-budget, 2021 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, https://budget.ontario.ca/2021/fallstatement/index.html. Here are some highlights that our region will share in as we implement this wide-ranging plan. From the start, the government has focused on shortening the waiting time for a long-term care bed. Regional construction of 5,205 new beds and 4,976 upgraded beds is underway, with more in the works over the next seven years. Economic development and jobs creation remain a priority, and we are fostering business starts and expansions through the Regional Development Programs for Eastern and Southeastern Ontario. Since the program began in 2019, the province has invested $68 million for 67 projects. This investment has generated $600 million of economic activity. The pandemic has taught us the importance of a well-oiled supply chain. As a result, we are proceeding with two projects, the 23-km rehabilitation of Highway 401 in South Dundas and a 13-km upgrade of Highway 417. The importance of the supply chain is especially crucial for food distribution. Agri-food businesses are getting more support to innovate, invest and modernize, ensuring Ontarians can get their food efficiently and safely. For example, the Agri-Food Processing Fund has received $25 million to enhance capacity and safety over three years. High-speed internet is also vital for the economic growth of rural Ontario. As a result, our government has committed $4 billion to connect every Ontarian with a minimum speed of 50/10 Mbps by 2025. Cellular service gaps in Eastern Ontario are also being addressed through our $71-million investment in the Eastern Ontario Regional Network, also scheduled for completion in 2025. Our region’s linguistic uniqueness is an advantage our government continues to promote, funding $1.5 million over three years through the Francophone Business Network.

This week I welcomed two Ontario Ministers to our riding. Energy Minister Todd Smith visited on Monday, November 8, to help launch a new $2,352,112 extension project that will allow about 77 residents in the Glendale Subdivision in South Glengarry to connect to Enbridge natural gas. Glendale is one of 43 communities selected as part of Phase 2 of the Natural Gas Expansion Program. On Friday, November 12, I accompanied Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod to discuss grant opportunities with tourism operators. Recently, the government created the new Ontario Tourism Recovery Program (OTRP) to support for-profit, tourism-related businesses. I encourage tourism operators to visit http://www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/awards_funding/OTRP.shtml or contact OTRP directly at otrp@ontario.ca for further information.

It is always a profound honour to represent the Ontario government at our Remembrance Day ceremonies during the week. Our veterans and current Canadian Armed Forces members have made countless sacrifices over the centuries to protect the many freedoms we may take for granted if we did not honour our pledge, ‘Lest We Forget.’

As always, stay safe and get vaccinated if you have not done so.


Jim McDonell
MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry

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