As Ontario prepares to enter the third and final stage of its reopening following COVID-19, there’s plenty for Nipissing’s Member of Provincial Parliament, Vic Fedeli, to look forward to.
“I think it’s a pretty exciting day for the Nipissing area. Virtually all businesses in the area will be open,” said Fedeli, who also serves as the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Cabinet Chair at Queen’s Park.
On Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced that all but 10 Ontario health units were given the go-ahead to move into Stage 3. Not being grouped in with larger municipalities is something that Fedeli’s constituents are particularly happy with.
“They’re very grateful that we’re opening in this area and that we’re opening regionally, not waiting for Toronto to catch up,” Fedeli said. “They also wanted to make sure that we’re opening right.”
Stage 3 allows for indoor gatherings, which means that many businesses will be running again and more people will be heading back to work. Fedeli is excited about the change that Stage 3 will bring.
“I think you’ll see a big change now because offices will be allowed to open and restaurants will be able to allow people to come inside. They’ll be able to increase their numbers. You’re going to see a big change now. We’re pleased that Nipissing has come through this well-disciplined.” he said.
And with Stage 3, comes a sense of normalcy – something the MPP is also looking forward to.
“Just seeing people; seeing people out and about with a little more normalcy. It’ll be nice to see families out again,” said Fedeli.
Stage 3 will also increase the number of children that child care centres can have, rising from 10 children to 15. Fedeli believes that this increase will benefit families.
“We’re at about 90 percent of where we were pre-COVID. This is a very, very big leap for families to be able to put their kids back in daycare so that they can go to work,” he said.
Businesses and workers may be returning to near-normalcy, but a question mark remains on what the upcoming school year will bring.
Fedeli says that the Ontario government has been working toward planning for as many scenarios as they can for the school year.
“We understand that there have been incredible difficulties on educators, parents and students. We appreciate the work that the boards are doing considering all of the scenarios. We’re providing almost $26 billion toward school boards for the upcoming school year. That’s almost a billion over last year. Another $212 [million] in support for student funds so we can hire teachers and support staff,” said Fedeli. “But we realize that there’s going to be an increased cost with a safe reopening of our schools. So, we’re going to continue working with our school boards to ensure they have all the resources they need come the fall. It’s always going to be about keeping the kids safe.” he added.
Fedeli says that the month of August will be an important one for determining what the 2020-21 year will look like.