Ontario’s omnibus bill falls short of a just recovery from COVID-19
…but does much to help build more sprawl with less oversight and regulation – for whose benefit?
From Just Recovery Simcoe
Just Recovery Simcoe was created to bring together people from across the county to create a green and just vision of what Simcoe County can become. Although our Just Recovery principles were geared towards steps that municipal governments can take, we fully recognize that without financial and policy support from the provincial and federal governments, there will be limited capacity for our cities and towns to be the change makers they want and need to be.
Recently, the Ontario government tabled an omnibus bill which impacts 20 pieces of legislation aimed at getting Ontario’s economy back on track. This is what Just Recovery Simcoe wants to see too although we believe that the best way to take care of our economy is to take care of the people and the environment on which it depends.
It will take a while to fully digest the impacts of the changes to these many pieces of legislation, but what we didn’t see is quite obvious and concerning:
-No direct financial assistance to help municipalities provide services to people
-Nothing to address a safe return to school plan or childcare which is key to help women and families return to work
-No mention of utilizing green infrastructure or green technologies to create new jobs in ways that support climate action
-No policy designed towards making housing available for those who are experiencing homelessness or recognizing housing as a right
-No mention of strengthening and protecting our local farmland and food producers or addressing food insecurity which impacts 1 in 8 households in Simcoe County (pre-COVID)
-Nothing to address the economic crisis faced by workers who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, as well as injured workers and people on social assistance
-No inclusion of paid sick days, which are needed so workers can afford to stay home to look after themselves or their loved ones
-No mention of policies aimed at better protecting our water, beaches, forests and wetlands – all important in helping combat rising temperatures due to a changing climate
However, we did see many paragraphs of policies dedicated to helping build more sprawl with less oversight and regulation. We saw many paragraphs dedicated to making Environmental Assessments less burdensome, in some cases to the point of virtually eliminating them altogether, to get things built quicker. Who are these policies benefiting?
While we want policies that invest in people, communities and nature, we received a plan that invests in status quo solutions that enrich a few, but leave many unaided. We call on the province to reconsider this plan and take serious steps at ensuring that policies help people and families thrive and keep our environment protected.