What's ON: The week ahead in Ontario politics (November 29-December 3)

The new variant, key legislation, and the craziest leadership convention Steve Paikin ever saw
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Nov 29, 2021
Health Minister Christine Elliott wants the federal government to impose stricter COVID-19 testing on travellers arriving in Canada. (Nathan Denette/CP)

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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

Omicron: The new variant of COVID-19 that has the whole world in a panic has been found in Ontario. On Sunday, the provincial government announced that two cases of the Omicron variant had been detected in Ottawa. Both individuals had recently travelled abroad. "The best defence against the omicron variant is stopping it at our border,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Kieran Moore said in a statement. “In addition to the measures recently announced, we continue to urge the federal government to take the necessary steps to mandate point-of-arrival testing for all travellers irrespective of where they're coming from to further protect against the spread of this new variant.”

Deep breaths: Despite the widespread concern caused by the Omicron variant, experts are offering reassurance. “While there are still many unanswered questions, we know that public health measures (eg masking) help, regardless of the variant,” University of Toronto infectious disease specialist Isaac Bogoch wrote yesterday on Twitter. “And vaccination is *likely* to still provide some meaningful benefit.”

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Housing: It's no secret homes are becoming increasingly expensive in Ontario, and Premier Doug Ford thinks he knows the culprit: Municipal red tape. "Believe it or not, folks, sometimes when [developers] apply for a permit, it can take four to six years," Ford said recently. "Where in North America does it take four to six years?" Ford can point to a study recently released by the Building Industry and Land Development Association, which found each month of delay in permit approvals adds $1.46 per square foot to the price of a low-rise project and $2.21 per square foot to the cost of a high-rise development. But NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says that instead of blaming municipalities, the province needs to target real estate speculators that are buying multiple properties and pushing up prices in the process. "Start implementing some taxes on those wealthy investors and on those corporations that are scooping up the housing stock and pushing families out," she said Friday, according to CBC News. 

Order of business

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

Beyond the Pink Palace

COVID-19 case numbers: The province reported 964 new COVID-19 cases yesterday – the highest daily total since 1,033 were reported on May 30. The seven-day average for new cases was about 760, up from 645 a week earlier.

More Omicron news: Federal health minister Jean-Yves Duclos is scheduled to meet with his G7 counterparts today to discuss the Omicron variant. Duclos has also said Canada supports the idea of a global treaty on pandemic preparedness and response. Developing such a treaty will be discussed today at an emergency meeting of the World Health Assembly. 

Upcoming Ontario politics coverage on TVO

On Tuesday, listen to the latest edition of the #onpoli podcast. On TVO.org this week, you can expect the latest from our regular political columnists, John Michael McGrath and Matt Gurney. Also on TVO.org, Steve Paikin plans to write something on what he calls the “craziest leadership convention I ever saw.”

This article was updated at 6:20 a.m. 

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