June 2024 Community Update

  • Community Update

Welcome to my community newsletter. Summer is officially here! Legislators are back in their ridings until the fall. You can re-watch some of the action from the spring sitting here.  

Need help? 
See my website to plan your visit: Contact-MPP Ted Hsu.

Here’s what you can find in this month’s issue: 

Across Ontario

  • The Premier’s Misplaced Priorities 
  • The Biggest Cabinet in Ontario’s History
  • Ontario Science Centre Closure
  • Rural Infrastructure: The Case for Tweed
  • Ontario Government’s Extra Long Summer 
  • Ontario Ending Wastewater Surveillance Program

Local Issues

  • Lasalle Causeway
  • ICYMI: Bath Road Service Ontario Location

In Our Community

  • Pride Parade
  • St. Barnaby’s Parish
  • Princess Street Promenade
  • End of School Year
  • 70th Anniversary of the Pete Petersen Basketball League
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters 125th Anniversary
  • Looking Toward the Next Election

Warm regards,

Across Ontario

Here are some of the big stories from Ontario over the last month.

The Premier’s Misplaced Priorities

The Premier said ending the pre-existing agreement with The Beer Store a year early would cost $225 million. However, opposition figures suggest the changes could cost taxpayers over $1 billion. The $1 billion is calculated from the plan to give private-sector retailers a wholesale discount, offering brewers a full rebate on “cost-of-service fees”, and foregone licensing fees. That money could solve many other, more pressing problems in healthcare, education, housing elsewhere. For example, in Kingston, it could pay for a new hospital. On June 7, I spoke in the Ontario Legislature about this government’s misplaced priorities and what the residents of Kingston and the Islands have been asking for.

What Kingstonians Want (SPOILER: it’s not beer)

Ontario Science Centre Closure

On June 21, the government announced they would permanently close to the Ontario Science Centre. A recently released engineering report said there was a “risk of failure” for a small percentage of roof panels “as early as this winter due to snow.” Last year, the government announced they would be moving the Science Centre to Ontario Place. Opposition MPPs and advocates say the Ontario government should not have let the institution fall into this state of disrepair.  

In a press conference, MPP for Don Valley East, my colleague, said the damage does not warrant closing the entire facility. So many have worked so hard to keep the Ontario Science Centre open. It doesn’t matter to the Premier that its closure right before the summer break is horrible news to families who want to visit. It seems what matters is that he has a scapegoat to permanently close an Ontario institution. 

Rural Infrastructure: The Case for Tweed

This month, I had the opportunity to visit the municipality of Tweed to inspect their aging rural infrastructure – specifically, several bridges that are falling into disrepair. The municipality has 53 bridges to maintain and they think the total accumulated infrastructure deficit is potentially $120 million. They estimate that they have to set aside $11 million a year to cover future infrastructure costs (about $1800 per person per year) while their annual budget is around $5 million, and that’s all spoken for. 
Tweed isn’t an anomaly. They are just one of many rural municipalities that don’t have the money to fix or replace old infrastructure, and they aren’t getting enough support from this government.  

The Government’s Extra Long Summer

The Ontario government adjourned the spring session on Thursday, June 6, 2024. The House will not be sitting again until October 21st, six weeks later than expected (and 7 weeks after kids return to school). Normally, the Fall Session starts the Monday after Labour Day. For comparison, the Federal House of Commons will be returning on September 18th. The Premier’s adjournment is far too long. The people elected their MPPs to represent them and scrutinize government decisions, using the tools in the legislature.  For example, the government won’t have to worry about Question Period during those six weeks. 

Ontario Ending Wastewater Surveillance Program

The Ontario government will not be renewing the wastewater surveillance program, known for cost-effectively monitoring outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic. It can also catch infectious disease threats and researchers and local public health officials are looking to wastewater for signs of the bird flu that is crossing the U.S., hurting poultry and dairy farms. The government’s rationale for ending the program was that it is duplicative to an existing federal program. They also stated that the federal program would be expanded to fill in any gaps left by the ending of Ontario’s wastewater surveillance program. My office has inquired to federal officials about whether these statements made by the Ontario government are true. Here is the response we received: “Federal wastewater monitoring programs do not duplicate the work done by provincial wastewater program. While work is underway to expand federal testing in Ontario, the scope of the expansion would not replace the current scope of the Ontario program. Ontario’s decision to sunset their wastewater testing program was not coordinated with PHAC’s decision to expand its wastewater monitoring program.” This program cost-effectively monitors dangerous viruses — and its absence poses a risk to farmers, and public health across the board. The government’s excuse is just misleading. 

If you want more frequent updates about provincial news, subscribe to my Weekly Wrap where I cover five of the top news stories of the week. 

Local Issues

Lasalle Causeway

Demolition on the LaSalle Causeway is underway. As of June 20th, the marine navigation channel is open. Public Services and Procurement Canada continues to “develop a plan in partnership with the City of Kingston to reinstate access for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians using a temporary bridge solution.” The bridge has been closed since March 30th when it was damaged during construction. For updates on the demolition and on the LaSalle Causeway construction, you can follow MP Mark Gerretsen’s social media posts.  

ICYMI: Bath Road Service Ontario 

This month, it became known that more small business-run Service Ontario locations could be closing their doors in place of kiosks in large, box box-retailers, like Staples, Walmart and Canadian Tire. Our own small-business Service Ontario on Bath Road (above) has a contract that goes only until the middle of next year. After that, it may lose out to a big-box retailer under the government’s new model for Service Ontario locations. 

In Our Community

Kingston Pride Parade

On June 15, I joined the Kingston Pride Parade with my friends, MP Mark Gerretsen, and community members. With sunny weather, high spirits, and a large turnout, it was a wonderful day to demonstrate the prominence of our 2SLGBTQIA+ community. Thank you to everyone who came out to show support and allyship!  

St. Barnaby’s Parish

Congratulations to St. Barnaby’s Parish in Brewer’s Mills for celebrating their 150th anniversary! It was a pleasure to be with you all to commemorate this significant milestone. St. Barnaby’s features such a strong, passionate local community – here’s to many more years of service.  

Princess Street Promenade

Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth during the June Princess Street Promenade despite the rainy weather! (I had a schedule conflict and was in Meaford, near Georgian Bay, studying a big energy storage project.) We still had a great turnout, and my staff enjoyed meeting and talking to you all. If you didn’t get a chance to visit this time, we will also have a booth for the fall Promenade.  

End of School Year

As school comes to a close, I hope both students and staff are able to enjoy a much-needed summer vacation. I know I’m looking forward to spending some time with my family in the next few months. If you want to keep updated on what’s happening in Kingston over the weekends, stay tuned to my social media channels! 

EXTRA: If you are, or know of, a student returning to high school in the fall, consider applying to my Youth Council! Applications open in early fall and are open until early November. 

70th Anniversary of the Pete Petersen Basketball League

I was able to attend the Pete Petersen Basketball League Family Fun Day to celebrate their 70th anniversary. This basketball league has been well-loved for generations by the community — its legacy has spread across the whole of Kingston and area. I am especially impressed by the values and dedication of the volunteers. Thank you for making team sports fun accessible and affordable in Kingston and the Islands.  

United Brotherhood of Carpenters 125th Anniversary

On June 15, I had the pleasure of celebrating the 125th anniversary of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 249. Your work has been part of building community landmarks, some of which have come to define Kingston and the Islands like Stauffer Library, the St. Lawrence College expansion, Providence Care hospital, and Kingston Secondary School. Thank you for your passion and dedication to your craftsmanship. 

Looking Towards the Next Election

On June 23, I announced my nomination as a candidate for Kingston and the Islands in the next provincial election! Fortune smiled on us as the sun broke through the rainy weather just in time for the event which coincided with the annual BBQ with local supporters. I’m looking forward to gearing up for the next election, and taking on the Premier, whenever he decides to call it!