What's ON: The week ahead in Ontario politics (January 10-14)

Frustrations with school closures continue
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Jan 10, 2022
Education Minister Stephen Lecce is facing calls from parents and pediatricians to reopen schools. (Chris Young/CP)



On Mondays, TVO.org provides a primer on what to look for in the coming week in Ontario politics, and features some stories making news now.

Here’s what we’ve got our eye on:

Queen’s Park Keywords

School closures: Three groups representing the province’s pediatricians sent an open letter to Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce late last week, calling for schools to reopen no later than Jan. 17. The letter from the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Pediatrics Section of the Ontario Medical Association and the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario says that while they understand that the province needs to avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, "certain decisions and measures pose a far greater risk to children and youth than the virus itself." A government insider who recently spoke to the Toronto Star indicated that while high schools may reopen Jan. 17, it is likely the province will keep elementary schools closed beyond that date since far fewer elementary-age children have been vaccinated.

Online boycott: Some parents are already so fed-up with remote learning they say they’re taking their kids out of school until in-person learning returns. About 3,100 people have joined a Facebook group whose members are boycotting online classes. “My kids have been reported absent for the next two weeks and I am not logging them in,” said Stephanie Dinsmore of Hamilton, whose children are 10 and 6, told Postmedia. “I don’t have any great solutions other than I’m just trying to figure out what works for my family, and I know that online learning is not where it is.”

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Beyond the Pink Palace

COVID-19 case numbers: The province reported 11,959 new COVID-19 cases Sunday – though the actual number is likely higher since the testing system has been overwhelmed. There were also least 412 people in intensive care because of COVID-19, with 226 of them breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

Bearskin Lake: Members of the Canadian military have arrived in Bearskin Lake First Nation to help the community while it deals with a major COVID-19 outbreak. More than half the population there has been infected, leaving few people able to keep the northwestern Ontario community running. As of Saturday, there were four Canadian Rangers on site making deliveries of food, medicine and wood to people stuck in quarantine. More Rangers could arrive in the coming days.  

GO Transit: There will be 15 per cent fewer buses and trains running on GO Transit starting today. Metrolinx, the agency that runs GO, the GTA’s regional transit system, says it has been forced to cut service because a large number of its employees are unable to work after being infected with COVID-19.

Women’s health: A study conducted in Ontario has found that women patients are 30 per cent more likely to die after a surgery done by a male doctor. “Interestingly, we found that for male patients, it didn't matter whether their surgeon was male or female, they had equivalent outcomes,” said Christopher Wallis, one of the researchers involved in the study. “I think this [study] is really designed to improve outcomes for all patients, and not target any individuals. That said, I think this also highlights the real value and strength that women bring to surgery.”

Linamar founder dead: Frank Hasenfratz, who founded Guelph-based auto-parts manufacturer Linamar, has died at the age of 86. Today, the company has 26,000 employees in 60 manufacturing locations, 12 research-and-development centres and 25 sales offices in 17 countries in North and South America, Europe and Asia.

Upcoming Ontario politics coverage on TVO

The #onpoli podcast with Steve Paikin and John Michael McGrath returns on Tuesday for its first episode of 2022. And, as always, visit TVO.org to read about Ontario politics and how provincial policies are affecting Ontarians.

This article was updated at 6:30 a.m.

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