What’s ON: The week ahead in Ontario politics (February 28-March 4) – TVO

On Mondays, TVO.org provides a primer on what to look for in the coming week in Ontario politics, and features some stories making news now.

Here’s what we’ve got our eye on:

Queen’s Park Keywords

Gig economy: CTV News is reporting the provincial government will introduce the “Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act” in the legislature today. The bill promises to ensure that people who work for ride-sharing and delivery-based apps such as Uber and Skip the Dishes get at least $15 an hour in wages, over and above their tips. It also includes measures aimed at better pay transparency, such as a mandatory regular pay period and prohibiting companies from withholding tips. “We continue to hear stories that, you know, one week a gig worker will make $1,400 and the next week they’ll make $500, and they don’t know why,” Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said. 

Loosened restrictions: Starting Tuesday, capacity limits in indoor settings will be lifted and individuals will no longer have to present proof-of-vaccination to gain entry, unless an individual business chooses to require it. While many Ontarians are no doubt excited about public-health measures being relaxed, some people with weak immune systems are worried about what the change will mean for their health and their ability to go about their lives. “I don’t have the privilege not to live in fear,” Katie Babcock told the Toronto Star. Babcock has a primary immune deficiency condition called hypogammaglobulinemia, and has been told by her doctor to act as if she is unvaccinated even though she has had four shots of COVID-19 vaccine. For more on this issue, read “Saying ‘the vulnerable should just isolate’ doesn’t count as a plan,” by TVO.org’s Sarah Trick. 

A man filming in The Agenda studio

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COVID-19 case numbers: Yesterday, the province reported fewer than 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations for first time since late December. There were 842 Ontarians in hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 281 were in intensive care.

Sticker refund scam: Peel Regional Police are warning people to be on the lookout for text messages offering refunds for their vehicle license plate sticker registration fee. Some people have received texts, claiming to be from “Service Ontario,” offering a refund by clicking on a link. The police want to remind everyone that ServiceOntario does not offer refunds by text. The provincial government recently announced they were phasing out license plate renewal fees, and would offer people who had recently paid their fee a refund. 

Order of business

Here is some of what the legislature is scheduled to discuss this week: 

  • Monday: NDP Leader Andrea Horwath will put forward a motion telling the government to address the surgical backlog caused when hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients during the pandemic. It will call on the province to undertake several measures, including spending at least $1.3 billion in new funding to address the backlog.
  • Tuesday: There will be a tribute to former Ontario Liberal leader Stuart Smith; Bill 84, the Fewer Fees, Better Services Act, will be debated; and NDP MPP Jennifer Stevens (St. Catharines) will put forward a private member’s bill.
  • Wednesday: There will be more debate on Bill 84, and there will be discussion of Bill 67, the Racial Equity in the Education System Act, put forward by NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre).
  • Thursday: The government is planning to debate a piece of legislation it intends to introduce earlier in the week (quite possibly the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act mentioned earlier in this article). There will also be discussion of a private member’s bill put forward by independent MPP Roman Baber (York Centre).