What’s ON: The week ahead in Ontario politics (January 24-28) – 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

Housing: Premier Doug Ford met with leaders of rural, remote and northern communities yesterday to discuss how the growing cost of housing is affecting them. “We know the key to addressing the housing crisis is getting more homes built faster. Today’s housing roundtable with smaller, rural, remote and northern municipalities was another important next step as our government coordinates with municipalities to make it easier to unlock and fast-track housing,” Ford said in a written statement.

Watch The Agenda on TVO Tuesday night at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. for a discussion on how smaller cities across the province are grappling with unaffordability and housing inequity.

Child care: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce a new $10 per day child-care agreement has been reached with the government of Nunavut. That would leave Ontario as the only province or territory without a deal. 

A man filming in The Agenda studio

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Metrolinx: The Toronto Star has learned that a consultant’s company received millions of dollars in contracts from Metrolinx while he was also serving as a vice president at the transit agency. Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the arrangement with Brian Guest, whose company is Boxfish Infrastructure Group, was above board. “Usually contractors are not appointed to executive roles — this circumstance was unique and temporary” she said. “At no stage was there a conflict of interest.”

School absences: Starting today, the province will share information via its website about how many are closed due to COVID-19, according to the Canadian Press. It will also have a searchable table showing the combined absenteeism rate for staff and students by school.

Highway 413: The government of Ontario will not consider Brampton city council’s request to have the portion of the planned Highway 413 that will run through the city turned into a boulevard, according to Brampton South MPP and President of the Treasury Board Prabmeet Sarkaria. “I appreciate the council’s views on this project, but for us (we want to) make this a highway that will serve one of the fastest growing regions in North America,” Sarkaria told the Brampton Guardian. “We’re committed to making this a 400-series highway.” Brampton made the request because the highway would pass through the northwest corner of the city, where a new residential area called Heritage Heights is being planned.  

Beyond the Pink Palace

COVID-19: Yesterday the province reported 3,797 people were in hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. There were 604 patients in intensive care. There were 5,833 new cases of the illness reported, though that is likely an underestimate since the province’s testing system has been overwhelmed by the Omicron variant. 

Sick kids: Doctors who spoke to the Toronto Star say they are seeing more children being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals compared to previous waves of the disease. But the doctors stressed that most children who get sick from the virus will have cases that are mild and manageable from home. They said that getting your family vaccinated offers the best protection against severe outcomes. 

Truckers: Plans by some truckers to stage protests over the federal government’s new requirement that any Canadian trucker crossing the border must be vaccinated for COVID-19 got a rebuke from a federation that represents the trucking industry. “The Canadian Trucking Alliance does not support and strongly disapproves of any protests on public roadways, highways, and bridges,” the organization said in a statement. “CTA believes such actions — especially those that interfere with public safety — are not how disagreements with government policies should be expressed.”