Morning Agenda: What you need to know on Monday, May 16

By John Michael McGrath - Published on May 16, 2016
Smokestacks with orange sky in background.
The province promises to spend billions to help slow climate change.

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Welcome to your morning edition of curated news from around the province, about the province.

Climate plan approved: The Globe and Mail reports this morning the Liberal government plans to spend $7 billion over four years adapting Ontario's economy to emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions. The plan covers everything from changes to Ontario's building code to make homes and offices more energy efficient to increased incentives for people to buy electric cars. The plan has already caused some friction in the province's automotive sector.

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Trading paper for plastic: The Ontario government is phasing out cheques for people on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and implementing debit cards issued by Royal Bank. The move is intended to shelter people on government assistance from the “alternative finance” sector, or payday lenders. A pilot program was initiated in Toronto three years ago.

In the race: Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong is expected to announce his bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada later today. Chong would be the second Ontario MP to enter the race, after Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch. Chong was notable in the previous government both for introducing legislation to change how parties in Parliament were governed, and resigning on principle from cabinet in 2006, at the very beginning of Stephen Harper's near-decade in power. From Quebec, Beauce MP Maxime Bernier also announced his leadership bid this weekend.

Elsewhere: the federal NDP has set its own leadership race for fall 2017.

Testing impatience: The union for the province's elementary school teachers is urging its members to pull their own children out of the province's mandatory standardized testing for grades 3 and 6. The move, while mostly symbolic, is part of the union's longstanding belief that province-wide standardized testing is harmful for students and a waste of school resources.

Private school rules: A Shanghai-based school touted by the Liberals as an example of Ontario-China cooperation is breaking the province's rules while it grants provincially-approved high school credits, according to the Ottawa Citizen. Staff have raised concerns to the province that Canadian International Academy is running far fewer class hours and allowing students to pay to have their marks inflated.

Over-reliant on meds? A study of Canadian nursing homes, including Ontario, has found that better training can reduce the need for antipsychotic medication. The study found it was possible to eliminate the use of antipsychotics in 36 per cent of cases and reduce them in another 18, leading to a reduction in falls, verbal abuse, and physical abuse—the very things medication is often prescribed to control.

Kenora fire under control: Cool, wet weather over the weekend allowed fire crews to get the Kenora 18 fire 70 per cent contained, with residents of the area being provisionally allowed to return to their homes. The fire has burned nearly 6,000 hectares of forest on the Ontario-Manitoba border.

Standalone nursing programs: Ontario's colleges can currently only offer nursing programs in partnership with universities, something the colleges want to change. At least six Ontario colleges say they're ready or near-ready to offer a full nursing program on their own, without university oversight.

Naqvi lays down the law: Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi is telling Peterborough's police services board to get its house in order, in a letter to Ontario's Civilian Police Commission. The city's police board has been embroiled in a fight with its chief and deputy chief over the payment of $460,000 in compensation when the former police board was dissolved and immediately replaced with a successor body.

Also good to know:

Big homes, high costs: What poverty looks like in rural Ontario.

More than one way: Norfolk County is told that if it's serious about controlling its feral cat population, it needs to get lethal.

Growing council: Toronto City Council could see changes to its ward structure for the first time since 2000, adding three new seats.

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