New Lock Down Measures and New CSWB Plan Deadline
New Lock down measures, elementary school closure extension and emergency child care extension
As COVID-19 cases are currently increasing throughout the province, the Ontario government is extending certain public health measures for the safety of students, education staff, and residents of Northern Ontario. This includes extending the shutdown in Northern Ontario for another 14 days, aligning with the shutdown period in Southern Ontario until at least January 23, 2021.
In response to increasing community transmission, in-person learning will be deferred to January 25, 2021 in Southern Ontario, which aligns with the planned return of in-person learning for secondary school students in these regions. Elementary students and secondary students in the seven Northern Ontario public health unit regions will proceed with returning to in-person learning on January 11, 2021. This new timing in Northern Ontario is also trying to be responsive to the fact that Northern Ontario students are not able to learn at home as effectively due to limited access to reliable Internet service.
Since Ontario was moved into a Provincewide Shutdown on December 26th, trends in key public health indicators have continued to worsen in both Northern and Southern Ontario, including concerning trends in health system capacity. Trends show increasing transmission in many Northern Ontario public health regions, with only one region showing a sustained low level of transmission.
To support families during this extended school closure, child care centres, and home-based child care services will remain open. Ontario is also expanding eligibility for the Ministry of Education's targeted emergency child care program for a broader number of frontline health and safety workers.
The impacts of these time-limited measures throughout the province will be evaluated after 14 days to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if they need to be extended.
New Community Safety and Well-Being Plan (CSWB) Deadline
In April 2020, the Solicitor General delayed the January 1st, 2021 deadline for the completion and adoption of Community Safety and Well-Being (CSWB) plans. This delay acknowledged the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic was placing on municipal governments and restricting their ability to complete these plans by year end.
On December 24th, 2020, the Ministry of the Solicitor General announced a new July 1st, 2021 deadline date for municipal governments to have their CSWB plans adopted. This six-month extension is appreciated but we understand will continue to prove challenging for many municipal governments across Ontario.
AMO has long been concerned that CSWB plans are an unfunded mandate placed on municipal governments including many with limited staffing resources. With managing an aggressive second wave of the pandemic, municipal governments will find it challenging to conduct and coordinate effective community engagement, including required strong participation from local health and education agencies, that is necessary to produce meaningful plans by the middle of 2021.