September 2021

Welcome to COCA's monthly Newsletter. Unless noted otherwise, all articles written by COCA President, Ian Cunningham.

Financial Accountability Office Report Compares Planned to Actual Spending 

Here are the highlights copied from the Financial Accountability Office’s recent report on the provincial government’s spending plan versus its expenditures for the first quarter of the 2021-2022 fiscal year (April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022).
In the first quarter, the Province made program budget reallocations that added $466 million in planned program spending. 

  • The largest budget increases were $202 million for the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit transfer payment program and $235 million for the Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebate Grants program. 
  • The $466 million net increase in planned program spending was offset by a $474 million drawdown from the Contingency Fund. Overall, the Province’s 2021-22 spending plan decreased by $7 million to $178.3 billion.

The Province spent $36.9 billion in the first quarter of 2021-22, which was $2.6 billion (6.6 percent) less than planned. 

  • Most sectors spent less than planned, led by ‘other programs  ($1.0 billion or 16.6 percent under the plan),  health ($1.0 billion or 5.4 percent under the plan) and  children’s and social services ($0.5 billion or 11.6 percent under plan). 
  • Key programs with below plan spending include: 1) In the  health  sector, the Province did not spend any of the $2.7 billion COVID-19 Response transfer payment.  2) In the ‘other programs’ sector, the Province recorded a $554 million negative adjustment for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. 3) In the  children’s and social services  sector, the programs with the lowest relative spending include the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, Autism, Supportive Services, and Children’s Treatment and Rehabilitation Services. 
  • Spending information for all of the Province’s programs by ministry is available on the FAO’s website at: 

Spending in the first quarter of 2021-22 was $1.1 billion (2.8 per cent) lower than during the same period in 2020-21. 

  • Health  spent $0.9 billion (5.8 per cent) more in the first quarter of 2021-22 compared to 2020-21, largely due to higher spending on long-term care homes and payments to physicians. 
  • Education  spent $1.7 billion (24.1 per cent) less in the first quarter of 2021-22 compared to 2020-21, largely due to the government’s decision in 2020 to temporarily defer municipal Education Property Tax payments for 90 days

As of June 30, 2021, the remaining balance in the Contingency Fund was $1.6 billion. In the government’s 2021-22 First Quarter Finances, the Province announced that an additional $2.2 billion in unallocated funds would be made available through a new program called the Time-Limited COVID-19 Fund. As of the end of the first quarter, this new program was not included in the government’s financial accounts and so is not reflected in the 2021-22 spending plan information in this report. The FAO expects that the Time-Limited COVID-19 Fund will be available in the second quarter.” 

For the complete report, click on the following link: 

COCA 2020 Year in Review
COCA’s 2020 Year in Review takes a look back at 2020, at our accomplishments and a glimpse of what lies ahead.

Download/view the Year in Review in Magazine magazine view:

Download/view the Year in Review in Magazine single page view:
August Job Growth in Ontario 

Statistics Canada’s report for August 2021 revealed the following: 
  • 90,000 jobs were added across Canada in August 
  • 53,000 jobs were added in Ontario 
  • Ontario’s unemployment rate fell by 0.4% from the previous month to 7.6% 
  • Almost all the new jobs created in August are part-time 
  • Accommodation and food service accounted for much of the job growth in Ontario 
  • Total construction employment in Ontario is 534,700 up 10,000 from the previous month
New Chief Prevention Officer Appointed 

On September 8th the Deputy Minister of Labour Training and Skills Development, Greg Meredith, announced the appointment of the Province’s third Chief Prevention Officer to his Ministry’s staff. 

Succeeding Ron Kelusky will be Joel Moody. Highly credentialed, Moody comes to the role from the Electrical Safety Authority where he was a member of the ESA’s senior leadership team. His appointment was effective September 15, 2021. Both Kelusky and Moody will participate in a virtual meeting of the Prevention Employers Partnership (PEP) on September 22nd.  
News on Workplace Vaccination Policies 

It should come as no surprise to anyone with knowledge of their commitments to and leadership in the area of workplace health and safety that Ellis-Don and PCL have implemented vaccination verification policies that require all employees working at any location on company business to be fully vaccinated.  For the complete announcement, click on the following link: 

Also taking a strong leadership position on the issue of workplace vaccination policies is the Canadian Construction Association. They are requiring anyone entering the CCA’s office or anyone participating in person at a CCA meeting or event to be fully vaccinated. For the CCA release, click on the following link:  

Highlights of Ontario’s Vaccination Passport System 

As of September 22, 2021, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide their proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities. This approach focuses on higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn. Here are the highlights:  

  • The program will start on September 22 
  • Proof of COVID-19 full vaccination (2 doses plus 14 days) will be required to access designated non-essential businesses in Ontario including gyms, indoor restaurants, concert halls, casinos, theatres, cinemas, sporting facilities and events, banquet halls, bingo halls, convention centres, nightclubs  
  • some non-essential businesses are exempt, such as salons and barbershops, from the vaccine certificate rule because data shows that the transmission risk is not as high in those settings due to strong infection control practices.   
  • Unvaccinated people with medical exemptions and people under 12 will be exempt. Those with medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine certificate program will be required to present identification and a written document. 
  • A negative COVID-19 test or recent infection will not entitle a person to enter non-essential settings, although there will be narrow, time-limited exceptions for testing. 
  • From Sept. 22 to Oct 12, a person with a negative test result taken within 48 hours will be allowed to enter if they're not fully vaccinated to accommodate for weddings and funerals that have already been planned. 
  • After that, proof of vaccination will not be required to attend a wedding or funeral service but will be necessary if attending the reception. 
Where you need proof of vaccination in Ontario: 

  •  Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios) 
  •  Nightclubs (including outdoor areas) 
  •  Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres 
  •  Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities (with the exception of youth recreational sport) 
  •  Sporting events 
  •  Indoor areas of waterparks 
  •  Indoor areas of commercial film and TV productions with studio audiences 
  •  Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments 
  •  Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas 
  •  Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs 
  •  Racing venues 
Where you won't need proof of vaccination in Ontario: 

  •  At no time will anyone be prevented from accessing necessary medical care, food from grocery stores, basic medical supplies or other essentials 
  •   Outdoor settings, including patios, with the exception of outdoor nightclub spaces 
  •  Takeaway and delivery services from restaurants and bars 
  •  Retail shopping 
  •  Salons and barbershops 
  •  Banks 
  •  Places of worship 
  •  To access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route 
Ontario’s Credit Rating Unchanged 

The Financial Accountability Office recently reported that Ontario’s credit rating as determined by the major credit rating agencies has remained unchanged despite the battering the province’s economy took as a result of the COVID19 pandemic. It is perhaps a testament to the resilience of Ontario’s large and diversified economy. Here are the ratings: 
  • DBRS AA- (the agency’s fourth-highest rating) 
  • Moody’s AA- (the agency’s fourth-highest rating) 
  • Fitch AA- (the agency’s fourth-highest rating) 
  • S&P A+ (the agency’s fifth-highest rating) 
Premier Prorogues Legislature 

“By proclamation dated September 8, 2021, the 1st Session of the 42nd Parliament of the Province of Ontario has been prorogued.” So reads a banner on the homepage of the Ontario Legislative Assembly. 

Premier Ford decided to shut down the Ontario Legislature to allow the federal election campaign to proceed without the distraction of provincial affairs and to let the electors determine the shape of the next federal government. The Legislature has been prorogued and will reconvene on October 4th. This time out will allow the Ford government to reset and develop its pandemic recovery plan and its approach to the June 22, 2022, Ontario general election. 

The 2nd Session of the 42nd parliament will begin with a Throne Speech that outlines the government’s legislative agenda. It will be a short but likely action-packed session as the PC government will no doubt introduce, if not pass, a number of Bills designed to win favour with the voters and put the Opposition parties on their heels. Bills from the 1st Session that hadn’t received Royal Assent before this unexpected suspension was proclaimed will be wiped out leaving their sponsors to reintroduce them in the upcoming session, time permitting. 
Superior Court Rules Government Broke the Law 

In a recent challenge brought before the courts by Greenpeace, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Earthroots, Ontario Nature and other environmental interests, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the provincial government and its Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark, failed to comply with the Province’s Environmental Bill of Rights when it did not consult on amendments to the Planning Act contained in the omnibus bill, Bill 197 COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act 2020. Those changes strengthened the government’s authorities with respect of the issuance of Municipal Zoning Orders (MZOs). 

The government did not post the proposed amendments to the Environmental Registry in order to seek public input and advice as required by law. The Justice hearing the case gave Minister Clark what amounted to a “slap on the wrist” which he shrugged off. Environmental groups celebrated the victory.
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Council of Ontario Construction Associations
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Ian Cunningham
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