What's ON: The week ahead in Ontario politics (November 1-5)

The fall economic statement, highway expansion plans, and a booster-shot strategy
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Nov 01, 2021
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy unveils the province's fall economic statement Thursday. (Christopher Katsarov/CP)



Every Monday, 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

Fall economic statement: What will likely be the biggest event on the Ontario political calendar this week comes on Thursday, when Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy releases the province’s fall economic statement. He has said that the statement will present “a plan that will protect the hard work and sacrifice of the people of Ontario in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.” He has also suggested there will be details about two highway expansion plans important to the Progressive Conservatives: Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass. Speaking of which…

Bradford Bypass: An investigation by the Toronto Star and the National Observer finds that a proposed change to the Bradford Bypass’ route made by the government in April happens to potentially benefit the father of Progressive Conservative MPP Stan Cho. Under an older plan, the bypass would cut through a golf course Cho’s father co-owns. The change would leave the golf course untouched and instead run the bypass through residential properties in a forested area. The Ministry of Transportation says the altered path would lessen the 16.2-kilometre road’s impact on the Holland River and avoid an archaeological site. According to his office, Cho, who became the associate minister of transportation in June, declared a conflict of interest upon his appointment, with a protocol in place blocking his access to information related to the bypass.

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COVID-19 booster shots: The province is expected to release a strategy sometime this week on when Ontarians should become eligible to receive a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. New research into the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine finds a booster shot reduced COVID-related hospitalization by 93 per cent, COVID-related death by 81 per cent, and severe COVID-19 illness by 92 per cent, compared with receiving just two doses.

Residential schools: The Globe and Mail reports Ontario will release about 1,800 death records of school-aged Indigenous children to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation sometime within the next few months. The move is an effort to comply with one of the calls to action issued in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission six years ago. Ontario would become the third province to fully comply with the call to action, after British Columbia and Alberta. 

Order of business

Here is some of what the legislature is scheduled to discuss this week:

  • Monday: This is the third opposition day of the fall session. NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is scheduled to introduce a resolution that “calls on the Ford government to develop an affordable home ownership plan that: implements speculation and vacancy taxes to help cool the market and fund affordable housing; updates land use planning rules to accelerate the construction of ‘missing middle’ housing and other affordable home ownership options, while protecting farmland and natural heritage from wasteful sprawl; and introduces new, environmentally progressive building standards to make homes greener and more energy-efficient.” There will also be debate on the government’s Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act, which promises a number of employment law changes, including requiring businesses of a certain size to establish “right-to-disconnect” policies, adding licensing requirements for temporary help agencies, and banning non-compete clauses in employment contracts.
  • Tuesday: Debate on both the Oct. 4 throne speech and Bill 27 will continue. Also, PC MPP for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound Bill Walker will introduce a private member’s bill.
  • Wednesday: There will be more debate on Bill 27. There will also be discussion of Andrea Horwath’s private member’s bill, the Stopping Anti-Public Health Harassment Act.
  • Thursday: The main event is Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s fall economic statement. Other government legislation will also be debated, as will Bill 18, Polish Heritage Month, sponsored by PC MPP for Etobicoke—Lakeshore Christine Hogarth and PC MPP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke John Yakabuski.

Beyond the Pink Palace

COVID-19 case numbers: As of Sunday, the province’s seven-day average for the number of new COVID-19 cases reported per day was 349, down from 379 the previous week.

Unvaccinated GO bus drivers: Metrolinx says a limited number of GO bus trips will be cancelled Monday morning as some drivers who have refused to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 are placed on unpaid leave

Home care 'crisis': Home Care Ontario, which represents home-care providers in the province, tells the Canadian Press that the sector has lost more than 3,000 nurses and skilled therapists and personal support workers to other parts of the health-care system. Organization CEO Sue VanderBent says before the pandemic, there was a 95-per-cent referral acceptance rate, meaning most requests for home care could be met. The rate is now 60 per cent. She says the reason for the exodus is better pay in hospitals and long-term-care homes. 

Remembering Bill Davis: Members of the public are invited to attend a memorial service for former premier Bill Davis, who died August 8 at the age of 92, at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto on Thursday at 11 a.m. Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, along with family members and friends, are expected to pay tribute to Davis during the ceremony. Seating is limited so if you are interested in attending be sure to try and book a space in advance

Upcoming Ontario politics coverage on TVO

On Tuesday, listen to the latest edition of the #onpoli podcast,  hosted by Steve Paikin and John Michael McGrath.

On Thursday, The Agenda will discuss the Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s fall economic statement. You can also expect analysis of what the statement has to say about the province’s finances on TVO.org.

And Steve Paikin tells me he has a couple of Queen’s Park-related pieces in mind for TVO.org. At least one of them should be published sometime this week.  

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