What’s ON: The week ahead in Ontario politics (October 12-15)

Another break, health-care-worker shortages, and an auto-manufacturing slump
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Oct 12, 2021
It will be a quiet week in the Ontario legislature. (Michael Lehan/TVO)

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At the start of every week, 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

They’re gone: After kicking off a brand-new session last week, the legislature is in recess this week. Why come back from a three-month break for a week just to go back in recess the following week? It has to do with the government’s decision to delay the legislature’s fall session because of the federal election, and the fact the legislature always goes on recess for the shortened post-Thanksgiving work week. It should be noted that just because MPPs aren’t at Queen’s Park, it doesn’t mean they aren’t busy: Many of them are doing constituency work, or, if they’re in cabinet, running ministries. But does appear a bit odd to come back to the legislature amid the fanfare of a throne speech on Monday and then take off again on Friday. The legislature resumes business on Oct. 18.

Beyond the Pink Palace

Health staff shortages: An already-existing shortage of health care workers could get even worse in the coming weeks as vaccine mandates come into effect in places such as hospitals and long-term care homes. Workers who refuse to get vaccinated could soon be off the job, adding to the challenges of a sector struggling to hire enough people thanks to often low wages and poor working conditions. "It'll have an impact on staffing levels that are already at a critical point," Sharleen Stewart of SEIU Healthcare, a union that represents health care workers, told Canadian Press. "It's kind of stirred up the perfect storm now."

A man filming in The Agenda studio

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Manufacturing slump: A lack of supply by microchip makers is hitting Ontario’s auto sector hard. Chips, also known as semiconductors, are essential to the electronics found in modern cars. With supply unable to meet current global demand, some auto assembly lines in southern Ontario have been idled for long stretches this year because of a lack of chips. According to Scotiabank Economics, Canada is on track to produce 1.2 million vehicles this year – a low not seen since 1982.

LTC reform: A national survey that will help shape new federal standards for long-term-care facilities finds huge dissatisfaction with the status quo. The survey was conducted by the National Institute on Aging and interviewed 16,093 people. More than two thirds of them did not feel that long-term care homes in Canada provide safe, reliable and high-quality care. That number was even higher – 75.7 per cent -- for people who self-identified as family members, friends or unpaid caregivers to a resident in long-term care.

Mental health and addictions: NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is scheduled to be in North Bay this morning to call upon the provincial government to boost funding for mental health and addictions treatments and supports.  

Upcoming coverage on TVO and TVO.org

The province is expecting major growth around the GTA, and the provincial government has tasked municipalities with re-writing their plans on how to accommodate an influx of new residents. Wednesday’s edition of The Agenda will look at how cities should handle that growth, with a special focus on the situation in Hamilton. Then, on Thursday, the program will debate whether Ontario should reconsider private health care to help deal with a backlog of elective surgeries postponed due to COVID-19. The Agenda airs on TVO weeknights at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

On TVO.org this week, you can expect a piece by Steve Paikin looking at the Ontario NDP’s advertising strategy going into the next election; an opinion piece on Ontario’s autism program by Mike Moffatt, economist and parent to two kids with autism; and a regular column from TVO.org’s Queen’s Park reporter, John Michael McGrath.

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