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Halton Region is home to more than 580,000 residents in four communities. Along with its Local Municipalities (City of Burlington, the Town of Halton Hills, Town of Milton, and Town of Oakville) Halton Region is an effective two-tier government recognized for its strong financial position, safe communities, natural environment, progressive approach to urban development and citizen-focused reliable services.

COVID-19 update

Halton Region has remained committed to keeping our community safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic and to delivering essential services when Canadians need them most.

Halton has been working closely with the Federal and Provincial Governments to support our communities through these unprecedented times and in moving forward into recovery. We look forward to continuing to support our community partners to stabilize our local economy. We are calling on all levels of government to take action so that municipalities can continue to deliver essential frontline services and support Canadians through this crisis.

Related correspondence

 

The Advocating for a Strong Halton campaign outlines Halton’s advocacy issues and acts as a guide to support Regional Council in their advocacy efforts. Halton advocates on behalf of the community for legislative and policy changes on issues that have been identified as important to residents and in maintaining their quality of life. Halton Region has been advocating for support from all levels of government to ensure that Halton’s taxpayers are not burdened with the cost of growth and that the appropriate services are in place to meet the needs of the community. Halton’s advocacy positions align with Halton’s programs and services, reflect Council’s approved positions, and respond to priority issues identified by the Halton community, Council, our polling data, and Halton’s Strategic Business Plan. Regional Council has been successful in:

 
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Advocating

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Raising awareness

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Advancing key priority issues

Shared Priorities

A Strong Halton for a Strong Ontario

Halton Region shares the Provincial Government’s priority of protecting the health and safety of Ontarians while working toward a safe and responsible re-opening of the economy, and adapting to a new normal. Learn more in the In this Together: A Strong Recovery for Halton and Ontario document (PDF file), Challenges of Growth Communities (PDF file) and Education Advocacy (PDF file) documents.

 

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Ensuring the health and safety of Halton residents has been a priority for the Region during the pandemic and will continue to be during the recovery period. As we continue to respond to impacts of COVID-19, case management, contact tracing, outbreak management, increased surveillance, producing local information for public consumption on COVID and assisting community organizations, businesses and schools with infection prevention control advice remain critical. At the same time, Halton will need to continue to meet essential requirements under Ontario’s Public Health Standards as we move forward into recovery and post pandemic efforts. Under funding for Public Health in Halton Region is a long standing concern that has been further heightened by the pandemic.

In addition, supports are also required from the Provincial Government to continue the response to the pandemic. Access to COVax data at the local level remains restricted, and local Public Health Units are unable to fully meet their mandate of surveillance under the Ontario Public Health Standards due to this lack of access. Having community primary care offices under the public health authorizing agreement for COVax has resulted in a lack of supports for primary care offices to operate independently and placed a larger burden on public health to provide supports and manage inventory. Primary care remuneration makes it less favorable for them to offer vaccines in their offices.

Halton requests:

  • Increased base funding for Halton Public Health to allow strengthened infectious disease control and vaccine management, and the provision of all services required under the Ontario Public Health Standards.
  • Continuous engagement with Public Health Units, to support COVID recovery efforts that meet the needs of local realities, including long-term immunization needs.
  • Access to COVax data for local Public Health Units, for the purposes of local surveillance.
  • A long-term strategy to ensure that Primary Care is able and motivated to continue vaccinating the population in the future and can operate independently, as is the case for many other vaccines.

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Since 2014, the Provincial Government has only provided a base increase in Public Health funding once, in 2018. This has resulted in a significant program funding gap. Additional costs have been incurred for Paramedic Services due to similar pressures.

Public Health and Paramedic Services provide service at a local level effectively, within the boundaries of the Region. They also participate in a number of collaborative community partnerships. The ability to continue to do this will be critical to recovery and to ensure the health of the people of Halton. Paramedic Services is a key contributor through community paramedic programs to reduce hallway medicine. Public Health and Paramedic Services have worked collaboratively with all parts of the local and provincial health care system throughout the pandemic, and actively contribute to Halton’s Ontario Health Teams.

The Modernization reviews began pre-pandemic. Public Health and Paramedic Services have played a key role in the pandemic response and demonstrate the value of these local services. Historic under-funding of these services have created challenges in the pandemic response and must be addressed.

Halton requests:

  • Re-focus the Public Health & EMS Modernization on determining the investments required in Public Health and Paramedic Services post-pandemic to improve the health of Ontarians.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical need for long-term care reform as evidenced by the Final Report by the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission. Halton Region is supportive of the Provincial Government’s decision to overhaul the “one-size-fits-all” funding model for long-term care homes. Halton Region operates three long-term care homes throughout the region and requires long-term funding to support required service levels that respond to the Commission’s recommendations.

Halton requests that the Provincial Government accelerate the development of new and redeveloped long-term care beds within the region. There is currently an insufficient number of long-term care beds available to meet the needs of the current population and to implement the recommendations from the Commission. Care requirements at long-term care homes in Ontario are increasing as per the increasing Case Mix Index (CMI).

Halton requests:

  • Additional long-term care beds in Halton to meet the growing needs of our aging residents and underserviced communities.
  • Immediate delivery and implementation of the recommendations from the Long-Term Care Commission, in partnership with long-term care operators.
  • Increased assistance and support with ongoing long-term care resourcing including human resources and staffing, personal protective equipment and financial supports, in addition to those announced in Budget 2021.
  • Funding to support the implementation of the increase in hours of direct care for long-term care residents as announced on November 2, 2020.

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Through Halton’s Comprehensive Housing Strategy, Halton Region has made tremendous progress in preserving existing housing stock and creating new housing opportunities for residents. Halton Region appreciates the investments made through the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative and Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative, however, current funding allocations for the two programs is significantly lower than the federal/provincial funding previously received.

Halton Region has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of individuals and families at-risk of and experiencing homelessness. The pandemic environment has required new approaches to emergency shelter and supportive housing programs to enable physical distancing and appropriate infection prevention and control. Halton Region, like many other municipalities, has increased its footprint of physical infrastructure for homeless populations by capitalizing on one-time provincial capital funding to better meet the needs of this highly vulnerable population. Halton Region requires increased Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) funding to support ongoing operational expenses associated with housing and supporting homeless populations going forward. The post pandemic environment cannot be funded in the same pre-pandemic manner – costs have increased significantly and provincial funding must keep pace.

Halton requests:

  • Provide adequate capital and operational allocation based funding and flexibility to allow Halton to increase the supply of assisted housing for families.
  • Review Halton’s base CHPI allocation and provide increased funding to allow us to meet operational requirements beyond the pandemic for at-risk and homeless populations and to fund increased homelessness prevention capacity.
  • Communicate clear and timely information on funding and program changes.

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Child care will play a key role in Ontario’s economic and social recovery from COVID-19 by allowing parents to return to work and supporting early childhood development and improved educational outcomes.

Child care operators are experiencing significant financial challenges due to COVID-19. This includes new costs associated with provincial infection control guidance, as well as revenue loss from decreased enrollment and program closures due to outbreaks.

As well, the Provincial Government is implementing new municipal cost-sharing arrangements and have not updated well established funding mechanisms. These actions will create a funding shortfall of $3.8M for Halton Region in 2022.

Halton requests:

  • Adequate funding to stabilize the child care sector, maintain the current number of licenced spaces, and allow planning for needed growth.
  • Reversal of the subsidy funding decisions that will have financial implications for Halton Region in 2022.

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Halton Region and its Local Municipalities have long-term infrastructure plans to ensure that municipal infrastructure is available to support planned growth and grow the economy in a responsible way. In November 2019, Regional Council approved the 2020 Allocation Program that represents a financing plan to provide roughly $1 Billion worth of water, wastewater and transportation infrastructure to support growth, development and new housing supply across the Region for the next 6-10 years.

While this investment in infrastructure underscores the Region’s commitment to advancing housing supply, the absence of a provincial infrastructure plan focused on growing communities, including the delivery of schools, hospitals and highways, has resulted in barriers to increasing housing supply and economic growth. These Provincial assets are integral to unlocking housing supply opportunities and need to be financed, planned, designed and commissioned seamlessly in time to support the needs of growth in new communities. A strong partnership with the Provincial Government is vital to our community’s long-term success.

Halton requests:

  • Provincial investments and municipal funding tools to ensure that growth pays for itself.A coordinated, provincial infrastructure investment plan and funding connected to the Growth Plan, to support high-growth communities in advancing critical Provincial infrastructure:
    • New schools to support families in high growth areas like North Oakville and the Boyne Survey in Milton;
    • The expansion of Hospital services in Georgetown;
    • Investments in Provincial Transit infrastructure, including enhanced GO service (as an example: all way, two way service to Milton) and new 407 Transitway Stations in Halton, including a Neyagawa Road Station.
  • Appropriate tools and mechanisms for delivering timely funding to pay for municipal infrastructure required to support growth.

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Halton Region continues to advocate to the Provincial and Federal Governments to increase broadband connectivity in Halton’s rural and urban communities. Advocating and encouraging telecommunications providers has resulted in over 15 rural Halton applications for Provincial and Federal broadband funding. To date, eight projects have been awarded, addressing 1,410 or 31% of the approximately 4,631 underserved rural Halton homes and businesses.

In addition, Halton continues to plan for the coordinated implementation of next generation digital access technologies, including 5G, to ensure affordable and equitable access for Halton rural and urban homes and businesses.

Halton requests:

  • That the Provincial Government work with Halton Region on the recently announced Infrastructure Ontario – Ontario Connects program to identify, incent and implement all remaining broadband gaps in Halton as soon as possible.
  • Develop new strategies, funding programs and tools to ensure that the availability of next generation technologies is equitable and affordable across Halton.

Watch our webinar from Wednesday, August 12 to learn about broadband in Halton and opportunities to participate in industry-led solutions. Participants heard from Regional staff on:

  • Background on rural broadband in Halton
  • Current state of rural broadband, including gaps and challenges
  • Recent, current and future broadband funding programs
  • Opportunities to participate in industry-lead solutions

Learn more about Halton’s support of recent broadband proposals and advocacy for improved rural broadband from our news release on January 14, 2021.

Links to related media releases:

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Survival of the small business sector is essential to pandemic recovery efforts. Online and digital channels are an important method for main street businesses to interact with customers and generate revenues. Halton is appreciative of the additional $10 million announced in the 2021 Provincial Budget for the Digital Main Street program in 2021–22 to help more small businesses achieve a digital transformation and serve customers effectively online. The Digital Main Street Program has supported over 550 businesses in Halton and a long-term investment into this program would allow more Halton businesses to benefit.

In addition, Halton appreciates the Province’s three-year funding of the Region’s Small Business Enterprise Centre which allowed the Region to support over 950 entrepreneurs in 2020 to grow and create jobs, and to run the provincial Starter Company Plus and Summer Company programs which provide important grant opportunities to eligible entrepreneurs.

Halton requests:

  • Renewed funding of the expanded Digital Main Street program in 2022-23.
  • Enhanced multi-year funding of the Region’s Small Business Enterprise Centre commencing in 2022-23 for core services and entrepreneurship programming providing grant opportunities for local job-creating entrepreneurs.

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CN Rail is proposing to build a new truck-rail hub in the Town of Milton which would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and result in 1,600 truck trips to and from the facility each day. On January 21, 2021, the Federal Government approved the truck-rail hub, putting the health and safety of Halton residents at risk. Halton Region commenced litigation in the Federal Court of Canada to review the decisions by the Federal Minister and Cabinet to approve the CN Project. Halton is taking this step to protect the health and well-being of its residents. In addition, in April, the Halton Municipalities and Conservation Halton resumed their 2018 Ontario court case against the proposed Milton CN truck-rail hub to ensure CN complies with laws that protect the health of residents and the environment.

Halton is seeking to ensure that should the project move forward, that all provincial and municipal bylaws and approvals are applied to the project.

Halton requests:

  • The Provincial Government to support Halton’s position on the CN Truck Rail Hub in Milton, at Federal-Provincial tables and in ongoing Ontario court proceedings.


A Strong Halton for a Strong Canada

To be successful in meeting the expectations and addressing the concerns of Halton residents, a strong, collaborative, action oriented partnership with the Federal Government is necessary. Learn more in the A Strong Halton for a Strong Canada (PDF file)  document.
 

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While facing unprecedented challenges, municipalities have played a vital role in supporting residents, non-profits, and businesses during the COVID-19 emergency. Municipalities and businessses have experienced significantly increased costs and large decreases in revenue while delivering critical services and responding to the new normal.

Canada’s economic recovery will rely on municipalities continuing to deliver economic stimulus, infrastructure projects, child care, public health services, and water and wastewater treatment while addressing increased costs in long-term care and public health in the post-COVID-19 world. Halton Region’s recovery relies on the Federal and Provincial Government continuting to work together to address the long-term costs resulting from COVID-19 for 2021 and beyond.

Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on main street businesses and the survival of the small business sector is essential to the country’s recovery efforts. Online and digital channels have emerged as an important method for main street businesses to interact with customers and to generate revenues. The Digital Main Street Program has supported over 550 businesses in Halton and more could benefit, however applications are no longer being accepted.

In addition the rise in workplace transmission of COVID-19 has highlighted the crucial need for paid sick time. The lack of paid sick days, financial/income supports, and sick leave protection are known barriers to COVID-19 control measures, including testing and isolation, due to the fear of income loss and financial hardship.

Halton requests:

  • The delivery of relief funding for 2021, to support ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
  • Renew and expand the Digital Main Street program for 2 additional years, to help Halton businesses survive the recovery.
  • Expand the Digital Transformation Grant to those businesses outside of Business Improvement Areas.
  • The delivery of longer, better funded sick leave to help address the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

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The Federal Government has responsibility for procuring and delivering COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada. There continues to be a lack of clarity regarding priority groups, availability and timing of vaccine distribution.

COVID-19 vaccinations are an important step in Canada’s response to reduce the spread of COVID-19, keeping Canadians physically and mentally healthy and avoiding lockdowns that impact the economy.

Halton Region is committed to working with the Federal and Provincial Governments as well as our community partners to ensure the quick vaccination of priority groups including our Long-Term Care homes. This is not possible without the adequate supply and equitable distribution of vaccines to meet with needs of Halton.

Uncertainty of supply of vaccinations from the Federal Government, including the redirection of vaccinations within the Province causes significant issues for Halton to plan and provide vaccinations within the Halton community.

Halton requests:

  • The Federal Government acquire and distribute more vaccines to ensure adequate supply and inoculation of vaccines for all Canadians that want one, by September 2021, as committed by the provincial government.

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Transportation and infrastructure continue to be priority issues for Halton residents. Investments in infrastructure make Halton Region a desirable place to live and do business.

Halton Region is committed to creating complete communities that ensure a high quality of life for residents and a competitive economy. Investments in infrastructure support a strong economy and a desirable place to live and do business. Making significant investments in infrastructure is a priority for Regional Council. While Halton Region is appreciative of the Federal Government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan, our 10-year capital infrastructure program totals $4.4 billion, including $2.1 billion to fund the state of good repair. Federal Gas Tax funding is $0.2 billion. Funding for necessary infrastructure with outdated funding tools, that do not provide long-term sustainable funding, continues to be a challenge for our growing community.

Halton requests:

  • Provide long-term sustainable infrastructure funding and investments to support the movement of goods and people.

housing

The provision of safe, affordable, accessible housing is a critical component of fostering healthy communities. Housing has become less affordable in both the ownership and rental markets. The cost of housing has outpaced income and it has now even more challenging for Halton residents to find housing that is affordable. In addition, demand for housing in Halton has increased exponentially as illustrated by the increase in applications to the centralized wait list.

Halton Region is investing $107 million in our social infrastructure through the 10-year Comprehensive Housing Strategy (2014-2024). This Strategy provides government-assisted housing options to low income residents. Housing is a shared responsibility across all levels of government, as well as the private and non-profit sectors. Long-term sustainable investments allow for the planning and delivery of, and access to, safe, affordable, and accessible housing which improves the lives of residents and strengthens communities.

By the end of 2020, Halton Region will have created a total of 875 government assisted housing opportunities, since 2014. Halton is projecting to have 927 government assisted housing opportunities by the end of 2021.

Although Halton is ahead of schedule in achieving the targeted 900 new housing opportunities by 2024, the increased demand and need for affordable housing demonstrates that long-term sustainable solutions are needed from higher levels of government.

In 2018, the Federal Government announced Canada’s first ever National Housing Strategy. While this 10-year, $55+ billion plan is intended to help drive the success of Canada’s housing sector by giving more Canadians affordable homes, it is unclear when municipalities will receive funding.

Halton requests:

  • Deliver predictable long-term, sustainable federal/provincial funding to match the Region’s commitment, in affordable and assisted housing.

climate change

Halton Region is committed to responding to climate change by reducing the impacts to the environment, ensuring its infrastructure and services are resilient, and that risks associated with severe weather events are mitigated. Halton has committed $85 million to flood mitigation strategies and continues to make this a priority as well as reducing our carbon footprint.

Halton requests:

  • Provide ongoing, sustainable funding and climate change mitigation support to enable municipalities to deliver resilient communities.

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Reliable access to broadband internet drives economic investment and job creation and enables small businesses to effectively compete in a digital world. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical need for universal access to broadband internet services to support on-line learning, mental health resources, family and government support services and working from home capabilities.

Halton has advocated for universal access to broadband internet for several years. It was announced that all Canadians will have access to broadband by 2030, while this commitment is welcomed news, it is too far in the distant future.

Halton requests:

  • Increase the eligibility of rural Halton Region to all and any funding programs.
  • Continue to incentivize and encourage investments, partnerships and innovation for broadband deployment in Halton.
  • Coordinate broadband funding and enhancements with the Provincial Government.

Watch our webinar from Wednesday, August 12 to learn about broadband in Halton and opportunities to participate in industry-led solutions. Participants heard from Regional staff on:

  • Background on rural broadband in Halton
  • Current state of rural broadband, including gaps and challenges
  • Recent, current and future broadband funding programs
  • Opportunities to participate in industry-lead solutions

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