Today, it has been announced that Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario government have officially extended the state of emergency till May 12th.The bill to extend the declaration by 28 days was supported by all MPs. This was in response to the rapid and aggressive spread of COVID-19 within the province during an emergency session held on Tuesday afternoon at Queen’s Park.
According to a press release from the office of the government of Ontario, this will allow the government to continue to use every tool at its disposal to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During these unprecedented times, we cannot let our guard down. The actions being taken by everyone to stay home and practice physical distancing are making a difference, but we are not out of the woods yet” said Premier Ford.
A declaration of emergency was initially put in place on March 17. However, that was not the only piece of business. As the legislature also passed the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act to amend the Education Act, Planning Act, Development Charges Act, Police Services Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act.
This new act includes amendments to the Education Act that will allow school boards to continue charging fees on new construction in order to retain a vital source of revenue for new school projects.
The bill also includes an amendment to provide a fair and consistent provincewide approach to addressing school suspensions and expulsions as part of the government’s commitment to the safety of students and staff upon the reopening of schools.
The changes to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act will temporarily suspend student loan payments for OSAP borrowers and initiate a six-month interest-free moratorium on OSAP loans.
“In these unprecedented times, our government is doing everything in its power to support our municipal, policing and community partners,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General.
This bill also makes it possible for municipal entities to suspend certain municipal planning decision timelines during the state of emergency, and change the Development Charges Act to ensure municipalities can continue to count on a vital source of revenue that helps pay for local growth-related infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewers as well as fire and police services.