Taras Natyshak MPP, Essex

Government of Ontario

March 23 – Hydro, Education, and Legal Issues

Published on March 23, 2020

Dear friends,

Hard to believe we have been into this new world for a week, it seems so much longer and so much shorter at the same time.

A few things, first hydro companies have announced that their moratorium on disconnections which is usually in place for the winter has been extended for residential customers and will include small businesses.

Here is the official announcement with link:

Effective immediately, the OEB is extending the current ban on electricity disconnections for non-payment for all residential customers to July 31, 2020. Low-volume, small business customers will now also be protected by the ban. In addition, the OEB is calling on distributors to be more flexible on arrears payment arrangements.

Please visit http://www.oeb.ca/industry for more information.

People who are Hydro One customers will be given more latitude in paying bills late, the company will negotiate on a customer by customer basis.

Unfortunately, this protection against disconnection does not apply to customers of sub-metering companies – normally apartment building tenants and condo residents. To say the least this is a problem.

Community Legal Education Ontario – CLEO – has just put out a guide to legal issues that arise out of the COVID-19 crisis – you can check out their site here: https://stepstojustice.ca/covid-19

We get a lot of legal questions in my office, you may find it useful to check out this site first.

Lastly, you have probably heard the government is going to try to provide on-line learning for students while the schools are closed. Obviously, this is not going to help everyone but people may be interested. I have pasted in the original announcement below as well as the response from our education critic.

Just to let you know you can also follow me on Twitter at @TarasNatyshak or look for me on Facebook Peter Tabuns. Email address is tnatyshak-co@ndp.on.ca, phone at 519-776-6420.

Take care and wash your hands,

Taras Natyshak 

 

Government of Ontario Press Release

Students Learn from the Safety of Their Own Home

Office of the Premier

TORONTO — Today, Premier Doug Ford joined Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education to launch the first phase of Learn at Home and Apprendre à la maison, a new online portal that will provide resources for families so students can continue their education while schools are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

"As a father myself, I know parents always want the best for their children, and I also know from speaking to parents that many are concerned that their child is going to fall behind while schools are closed during this difficult period," said Premier Ford. "To support families and students, our government has developed a one-stop spot for at-home learning. It doesn't replace school, but offers a great alternative as we approach the end of March Break."

Learn at Home offers all students high-quality, made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators, in both English and French. Elementary resources are designed to help young students learn at home with interactive activities that encourage participation through entertaining and stimulating digital content. High school content was designed with a focus on STEM courses and ensure core competencies and skills are reinforced. The government is also providing access to course content for students who take the initiative to refresh and extend their learning. 

"The Learn at Home initiative will help mitigate 'learning loss' during this period of uncertainty," said Minister Lecce. "Our plan will provide interactive teacher-led math supports to keep students learning and empower all students to learn key skills with an emphasis on STEM education, while also arming parents with resources to support them as their kids learn at home."

"By offering new at-home educational resources, the province is further supporting Ontario's families as they help contain the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Minister of Health. "Each and every Ontarian has a role to play in flattening the curve. Our government is providing families with the support they need so that they can continue to contribute to our shared goal of protecting the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians, including our young students."

"TVO is proud to be part of this important initiative by the Ministry of Education." said Jennifer Hinshelwood, TVO's Acting Chief Operating Officer. "TVO's suite of digital learning products are designed to engage young minds in learning - a mission that seems doubly important at times like this when many of our traditional learning environments are not accessible."

The at-home activities offered by Learn at Home provide quick and easy access to some of Ontario's best online kindergarten to grade 12 learning resources produced by Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) Educators. As part of the government's commitment to planning for every scenario, the province is working closely with education stakeholders to develop a plan for scaling and building additional online learning programs.

"In these uncertain times, we are proud as a public agency to join the Ministry of Education's efforts in supporting families and students," said Eric Minoli, TFO's Chief Operating Officer. "Our online Apprendre à la maison program will help ensure continuity in education for Francophone and Francophile parents. TFO will be offering daily activities which will be accessible at all times on our IDELLO.ORG platform, BOUKILI.CA and our TV channel. TFO will remain a proud partner of all families through a tailored program of fun, high-quality educational activities and content, all of which will be aligned with the curriculum of Ontario."

Quick Facts

  • For students who do not have access to a computer, work is underway, in conjunction with school boards, to provide the necessary technology to everyone who needs it.

  • TVO Kidsoffers educational programing throughout the day for school-aged children. Check out their broadcast schedule here to know what is on and when.

  • Bilingual materials on Learn at Homewill continue to be added on a regular basis to provide new and compelling content throughout this period. Other learning programs, such as Ontario’s Virtual Learning Environment, are being further developed to provide enhanced learning options.

  • Mathifyprovides real-time homework help led by OCT educators for students between grades 6-10, six days a week, including weekdays from 9AM ET – 9PM ET. The Government worked in concert with TVO to expand Mathify beyond the existing grades 7-10, to now include grade six.

  • Eurêka!is another online learning support program that helps students in French language schools from grades 1 to 12 with their school work and their learning.

  • Ontario public schools will be closed from March 14 through to April 5, 2020 in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Similarly, private schools and licensed child care centres will also be closed until April 5, 2020.

  • EQAO assessments for the 2019-20 school year have been cancelled, including the Ontario Secondary School Literacy test. The literacy requirement for students graduating in the 2019-20 school year has also been waived.

  • The Ministry of Education is working with TVO and TFO to roll-out robust education programming on their broadcast channels, with a phased-in approach commencing next week. This iterative process will ensure that Ontario students and families have additional mediums available for engaging with high-quality, made-in-Ontario education resources that support a continuity of learning for students.

Additional Resources

Learn at Home

Information on COVID-19

 

NDP Education critic responds to announcement about alternative learning tools for Ontario students during COVID-19 school closure

 

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Official Opposition Education critic Marit Stiles issued the following statement in response to the government’s announcement Friday of alternative learning tools during the closure of schools due to COVID-19:

“Parents and students are understandably anxious during this unprecedented closure of schools to address the COVID-19 crisis.

Second only to their health and well-being during this pandemic, the priority for students is ensuring some ongoing learning so that kids don’t fall behind.

When I met with Minister Lecce this week, I offered the NDP’s support to identify and seize opportunities to use technology to support learning during this time, while ensuring equitable access to these tools. I’m encouraging the government to also work in close partnership with its education partners, including parents, teachers, school boards and education unions, to develop and implement these solutions.

Many parents and students, particularly Grade 12 students preparing to graduate, are asking for more clarity from the government on how the school year will be completed and how final grades will be assessed if students can’t return to classrooms in the coming weeks. We urge the government to provide that clarity to students, parents, teachers, education workers and school boards, and offer our help to get that plan finalized and effectively communicated.”