The legislature will re-convene on Tuesday to extend emergency provisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic that has altered Ontario's way of life for the past month.
It will once again be a pared-down session, with just enough MPPs to ensure quorum and representation from all parties. Twenty-eight MPPs are expected to be in attendance, including 14 Progressive Conservatives, eight New Democrats, two Liberals, Green Leader Mike Schreiner and independent MPPs Randy Hillier and Jim Wilson.
The number of MPPs is being limited to ensure adequate social distancing can be maintained to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus. In the last sitting, members were allowed to sit in seats other than their own in order to accommodate the unprecedented needs.
The legislature will meet at 1 p.m., where it is expected that the members will grant unanimous consent to extend the declared state of emergency for 28 days. The motion, if passed, would extend the state of emergency until May 12. That state of emergency has seen vast swaths of the province shut down, including many retail stores, restaurants, places of worship and gatherings of more than five people. The house will sit for up to 80 minutes, if unanimous consent is granted. The premier will kick off the session by delivering an address from the floor.
"I just want to thank members of the opposition for their co-operation," Premier Doug Ford said at his Monday afternoon press availability, recognizing the more collaborative approach that the house has taken during extraordinary times.
The legislature will also consider an omnibus bill that folds in five pieces of legislation, affecting education, colleges and universities, municipal affairs and housing, and the ministry of the solicitor general.
Included in the proposed legislation is an extension to the ability for school boards to collect fees on new construction, suspend student loan payments for people borrowing money through OSAP, temporarily suspending planning decision timelines to allow municipalities to focus on public health, and allowing municipalities to extend their existing development charges policy for six months.
Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said her party will support the bill put forward, but that she would like to see some gaps addressed by the government. "We’ve proposed several packages of supports for people and small businesses, as well as changes in long-term care and supports for frontline workers, and we’re going to keep pushing for those improvements," she said in a statement. "Queen’s Park can be doing so much more to help Ontarians get through this pandemic."
Schreiner's office said that the priorities he is hearing from Ontarians include rent relief for small businesses, direct financial assistance, and opening up community gardens.