Premier and Minister of Education champion Ontario’s back-to-school bus plan
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce are championing the province’s preparations for student transportation this fall.
Some school bus drivers say they haven’t received COVID-19 safety protocols within weeks of starting school.
Others told CBC Toronto earlier this month that they had no idea whether they would return to work, given concerns about crowded buses with insufficient physical distance.
During its daily COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Ford said bus driver shortages are something the province deals with “every year.”
Ford said the province will speed up all first-time bus drivers who are waiting to go through the Ministry of Transportation to get their licenses.
Lecce added that the province is investing $ 1 billion in transportation this year, which he called “the biggest transportation investment in Ontario history.”
Union demands more security measures
The bus drivers, who are represented by Unifor, held a press conference on Tuesday to discuss their request for information on safety measures on their vehicles.
They are also calling on the government to do more to protect drivers, including hiring private companies to clean and disinfect vehicles.
“We have a lot of older drivers who now have to do a lot of physical labor to clean and disinfect the buses and this is going to be very difficult for some drivers to do,” said school bus driver Angela Sargeant.
Lecce was asked today why he had not yet met with Unifor to discuss the needs of school bus drivers.
He responded that he was in “constant contact” with the School Bus Association of Ontario – an association that represents school bus companies, not the drivers themselves.
TDSB writes open letter asking for more funding
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) on Tuesday released an open letter asking the province for more money to hire teachers and repair and upgrade classrooms and washrooms.
The board also called on the government to honor its commitment to pay for PPE and ensure that the new COVID-19 protocols do not negatively affect TDSB’s nutrition programs.
In its response, Lecce touted the money already on the table, including an additional $ 50 million announced by the province earlier this month to pay for classroom ventilation upgrades.
He said the province was encouraging outdoor education – another of TDSB’s demands – and would foot the bill for PPE as well, saying “we’ve been very clear we’ll be there.”
Ontario released a plan to reopen schools a few weeks ago that will see students return to class in early September.
School boards have been allowed to stagger the start of classes over the first two weeks of the school year if they need more time to prepare.
Teacher unions and parents have expressed concern that the Ontario government’s approach has not done enough to reduce class sizes and encourage physical distancing.
Ford announces new school in Etobicoke, defends back-to-school ads
Also today, Ford announced the construction of a new Catholic school in Etobicoke.
“This new school will accommodate up to 600 children,” said Ford. “The project will also create 88 new affordable child care spaces.
The project will cost just under $ 16 million, as part of a 10-year, $ 12 billion provincial investment in new and existing schools, the province said.
On Tuesday, the premier also found himself defending a series of provincial back-to-school ads, which were criticized by New Democrats and Ontario Liberals, who argue the money could be better spent elsewhere. .
100 COVID-19 cases announced on Tuesday
Ontario reported another 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the province’s total to 41,607 since the outbreak began in January.
The 0.2% increase in cumulative cases across Ontario comes as the province’s lab network processed more than 20,000 tests yesterday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a series of tweets.
Most of the province’s 34 public health regions keep transmission rates of the novel coronavirus relatively low, with 30 reporting five or fewer new confirmed cases in today’s update. Of those 30, 18 saw no new cases.
There are currently 1,059 confirmed and active cases in the province, after a further 75 were marked as resolved in today’s update. The majority of active cases are concentrated in Peel, Toronto and Ottawa.
The official death toll from COVID-19 in Ontario has increased by two and now stands at 2,800. A CBC News tally based on data from public health units puts the actual number at 2,834.
There is one less person with a confirmed case of the disease hospitalized since Sunday, but the number of patients on ventilators has increased from seven to 10.
All of the numbers used in this story can be found in the Department of Health’s daily update, which includes data up to 4 p.m. the previous day.
The number of cases for a particular region on any given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoids delays in the provincial system.