Welcome to my community newsletter. Summer is here! With many great events taking place in our community and many places across Ontario to visit, this summer will be one of fun and cheer.
While the Legislature is on summer break, my constituency office remains open. We will be closed on major holidays but are open throughout the summer with regular hours. See my website to plan your visit: Contact-MPP Ted Hsu .
Here’s what you can find in this month’s issue:
- Auditor General Special Report on the Greenbelt
- Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program
- Accident Insurance Benefit Rates
- Preserving Farmland
In Our Community
- Ontario Arts Council Grant Recipients
- Labour Day Picnic
- Intern Day
- Youth Newsletter
- Princess Street Promenade
While the legislature officially rose for summer break on June 8th and won’t return until September 25, 2023, a lot has happened in Ontario over the last month.
Auditor General Special Report on the Greenbelt
On Wednesday, August 9, 2023, Ontario’s Auditor General released a report entitled Special Report on Changes to the Greenbelt. In her report, the Auditor General noted several instances where the process to open the Greenbelt for development was significantly flawed.
Equally troubling is that the report indicated that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was “unaware” of the actions of their own Chief of Staff. In her report, the Auditor General also indicated development that is occurring or will occur is on both evaluated and unevaluated wetlands and on some of the best farmland Southern Ontario has left. This report raises some serious questions about the actions of the Ontario Government and I will continue to pressure the Government to protect Ontario’s biodiversity, environment, and farmland (more on that below).
My full statement on the Auditor General’s report can be viewed here.
Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program
The Ministry of Health started the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program (OSDCP) to help seniors obtain otherwise unaffordable dental procedures. This program is available to seniors earning under $22,000 yearly or couples earning under $37,100. However, the federal Old Age Security (OAS), Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) programs have all seen recent increases that are likely to push the income of those who receive these benefits just above that limit.
Seniors only receiving income from these sources will likely exceed the OSDCP cut-off by just a few hundred dollars. All of this is despite the rising cost of dental procedures, many of which are unaffordable, even for seniors who are well above the income cut-off.
When the legislature sits again this fall, I look forward to trying to increase the income cutoff used by OSDCP so that seniors can receive a benefit increase aimed at helping them without the risk of losing access to necessary dental care. WATCH: Increase the OSDCP Income Cutoff
People from across our riding and Ontario have reached out to me about the current wildfire situation and the challenges our firefighters face in the province. Natural Resources and Forestry is one of my legislative critic portfolios. We have all seen the smoke around us, whether from Kingston, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, Thunder Bay, or Kenora. Each week my office receives a briefing update from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regarding forest fires in the province.
In May, the Ontario government announced they would invest $700,000 to support four free training projects for 203 professional and volunteer firefighters in the province. However, this is not enough. When students are drawn from shorter programs but not provided with the hope of permanent jobs and sufficient pay, we fail to retain them, and the long-term benefits of such training programs are limited.
I continue to watch the wildfire situation and the actions of the Ontario government very closely and will provide updates when necessary to our community and Ontarians.
Accident Insurance Benefit Rates
Outlined within section 7 of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (2010) is the amount of weekly income replacement one is entitled to if involved in an accident and unable to work. Since its establishment in 2010, the benefit allowed has been $400 if no optional income replacement benefit applies. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) as of June 2010, was 116.2, and, in June 2023, was 157.2. This is a 35.28% change, or an average annual inflation rate of 2.35% per year. While the province regulates insurance, it has not adequately adjusted these rates for inflation.
This is an issue which requires attention and updating. The Ontario system should provide fair and adequate support to all facing hardships and injuries. Given these circumstances, I have written to the Minister of Finance, requesting that the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule reflects present-day costs.
Preserving Ontario’s Farmland
I recently attended a meeting in Cobourg about preserving prime agricultural land in Northumberland County. I remember my high school geography teacher, Rick Price, back in the late 1970s, emphasizing how we were losing valuable farmland in the Golden Horseshoe. Prime farmland has continued to be lost to development. To reduce our dependence on imported food and ensure a secure supply, I believe it is time to put policies in place to protect the remaining class 1,2 and 3 farmlands.
The current government’s policies have been heavily criticized for using Ontario’s prime farmland for new housing developments. It’s not necessary, and it should be stopped. This classification of land, class 1-3 farmland, was the same type as some of the lands removed from the Greenbelt.
In Our Community
Ontario Arts Council Grant Recipients
Since 1963, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) has provided vital support to the professional arts community in Ontario. The OAC’s mandate is to foster the creation and production of arts for the benefit of all Ontarians.
I am proud of the many recipients in Kingston that have received an Ontario Arts Council award, allowing them to continue to pursue their work in the arts, thereby enriching our community.
I want to congratulate the following organizations and individuals:
- Organizations: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Brick Books, Calliope Collective, Cantabile Choirs of Kingston, Le Centre culturel Frontenac, H’art Centre, Kingston Arts Council, Kingston Canadian Film Festival, Kingston Symphony Association, Kingston Theatre Alliance, Kingston WritersFest, KPP Concerts, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, PeerLess Productions, Reelout Arts Project Inc., Single Thread Theatre Company, Skeleton Park Arts Festival, Les Soliloques, SpiderWebShow, SweetnFab Collective and Union Gallery.
- Individuals: Jared Beckstead-Craan, Ashley-Elizabeth Best, John Burge, Michael Casteels, G H Y Cheung, Nancy Jo Cullen, Sadiqa de Meijer, Michael Duguay, Helen Humphreys, John Jantunen, Ryan Laidman, Barbara Lorraine Laing, Ying Lee, Brenda Leifso, Nicholas Lennox, Kirsteen MacLeod, ck nosun, David Parker, John Pigeau, Chantal Rousseau and Zoey Roy.
Labour Day Community Picnic
Join me and MP Mark Gerretsen for a Labour Day Community Picnic on Monday, September 4 from 1:00pm-4:00pm at Lake Ontario Park. We invite you to join us for a fun-filled afternoon with food and refreshments, live music, and a wide range of activities for kids with prizes. All community members are welcome to attend this free event.
Though not necessary, we welcome you to RSVP at the link below to give us a better idea of attendance numbers.
What to Bring:
- Water bottles, lawn chairs and/or picnic blankets
- sunscreen/hats/sunglasses (hopefully!) or umbrellas/raingear (if necessary)
- *Active-wear recommended for kids: our Activity Passport includes a scavenger hunt, button-making, a photo booth, an obstacle course, and a tossing game
On National Intern Day, we celebrated the significant contributions of our constituency office interns. Throughout this summer, they have become important members of our constituency office team, and their work has been invaluable to the office. As the season quickly comes to a close, I look forward to witnessing their upcoming professional journeys – they have bright futures ahead of them!
We are thrilled to announce that our July Youth Newsletter is out! This exciting edition is tailor-made for young minds interested in politics. Written for and by youth, it offers a concise and engaging read available soon on our website! We are grateful for our youth volunteers and all their valuable contributions to the office! My Youth Newsletter can be viewed here.
Princess Street Promenade
Although I could not attend the most recent Princess Street Promenade, I’m happy to say that my office will be attending the next Promenade on September 23 (two days before the legislature returns). I’m looking forward to the opportunity to engage with the community during this event!