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Halton Region is home to more than 624,000 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 by reading our advocacy documents from the 2022 Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference (PDF file) as well as our Challenges of Growth Communities (PDF file) and Education Advocacy (PDF file) documents. 

 

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Halton Region is accountable for delivering Public Health programs and services to the community. Halton Region Public Health, like Public Health units across the province have been and continue to be on the front lines of Ontario’s COVID-19 pandemic response providing essential services, such as vaccine clinics, contact tracing and outbreak management.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Halton Region provided written submissions as part of the Provincial Government’s Public Health Modernization consultations. Experience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response has reaffirmed much of the submission including:

  • Public Health unit boundaries should reflect Halton Region’s geography, be consistent with any community partners and support strong relationships, collaboration and connectedness.
  • Public Health should be given a clear mandate to support the OHTs.
  • Public Health should continue to be delivered by Halton Region with Regional Council serving as the Board of Health given proven effectiveness and direct accountability.
  • Provincial funding formulas must recognize growth consistent with Provincial growth objectives and projections.
  • Increased Provincial centralized support, including through Public Health Ontario, could reduce duplication, improve consistency and service delivery.

As the Province considers reinitiating the review of Public Health, it is important that it be done in the context of the health system transformation work now underway. Public Health is integral to the population health and the health equity focus of the Provincial health system transformation.

Halton requests:

  • The review of Public Health be undertaken in collaboration with the Municipal sector leveraging the experience gained through the COVID-19 pandemic response and in alignment with the ongoing health system transformation including the work of the OHTs.
  • That Halton Region’s previous submission to the Public Health Modernization consultation be considered as part of any review of Public Health by the Province.
  • A Provincial commitment to providing adequate and predictable funding for Public Health to ensure mandated services and the response to COVID-19 can be delivered to the Halton community.

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As the health system recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been under significant pressure with increasing wait times in emergency departments, lack of available in-patient hospital beds and staffing shortages across the health system.

These pressures are impacting Paramedic Services as they experience ongoing staffing shortages and corresponding reductions in the number of ambulances staffed on a daily basis. Staffing shortages are due to COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related absences, seasonal absences due to approved leave and a lack of new paramedics available for recruitment provincially. Call volumes in Halton have also increased by 11 per cent compared to 2021.

This situation is compounded by the fact that local hospitals are under extreme pressure due to high patient volumes, sicker patients and staffing challenges. At times, these staffing shortages result in reduced capacity in emergency departments, which means increased offload delays for paramedics.

These system pressures have resulted in an increased number of occurrences where there are inadequate paramedic resources available, including periods where only one or no ambulances are available for the entire region.

Paramedic Services continues to implement measures to try to manage the situation but these issues are system-wide and system-wide solutions will be required for the system to recover.

Halton requests:

  • That the Province urgently implement measures to address the health system pressures.

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Halton Region and the OHTs can provide value to each other and each other’s work through:

1. Strong alignment with Halton Region’s commitment to Community Well-being.
  • The vision of the OHTs to integrate care through population health and equity approaches strongly aligns with Halton Region’s objectives related to Community Well-Being.
2. Regional services are integral to a population health management approach.
  • The OHTs have committed to a population health approach focusing on the well-being of the population and of individuals. This approach requires increased focus on prevention, promotion and consideration of the social determinants of health.
  • Some Regional Services have been identified as “in-scope” for the OHTs by the Province.
  • Many of Halton Region’s services are focused on addressing the social determinants of health through population-based policies and interventions. This brings a unique and important perspective to the work of the OHTs.
3. Halton Region, together with community partners, plays a critical role in addressing the social determinants of health and advancing health equity including through Halton’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.
  • Halton Region’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan fosters intergrated human services approaches that impact population health.
  • Priorities identified by Halton’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan are well-aligned with the priorities being identified by the OHTs including mental health and addictions, and seniors. Working together, Halton Region, the local OHT’s and the community partners in the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan have the opportunity to better serve vulnerable populations and address health inequities.
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4. Halton Region makes significant funding investments into the health system.
  • Ultimately, the OHTs at maturity will be funded through an integrated funding envelope and would establish priorities for healthcare spending. Given Halton Region is a significant funding partner for many of the services in-scope for the OHTs, it is essential that Halton Region have a voice at the table.
  • Over $350 million or approximately 40 per cent of Halton Region’s operating budget is spent on health and social services. This includes $120.2 million of Regional property taxes, including:
    • $42.6 million for the Ministry of Health funded services
    • $57.2 million for Social Services funded by various ministries
    • $20.5 million for Long-Term Care

Halton requests:

  • That the Province and Ontario Health recognize the value proposition for municipal leadership in the
    OHTs including the significant role of municipalities in funding the health system as it considers the future governance of the OHTs.
  • That Provincial investments in key health services delivered by Halton Region including public health, longterm care and paramedic services be dedicated and predictable to meet the needs of the community.
  • That the Province and Ontario Health establish standards for the OHTs including those related to technology, data sharing and governance to promote consistency of service delivery for residents and minimize duplication of effort, particularly where there multiple OHTs are within a municipality or region.

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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 Ontario 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 continue to 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).

Staffing needs continue to be a critical issue for long-term care homes across the province. Immediate investments and implementation in a human resources strategy are needed to make long-term care a career of choice.

Halton requests:

  • Additional long-term care beds in Halton to meet the growing needs of our aging residents and underserviced communities. A new assessment by the Provincial Government to ensure that Halton receives support in the long-term care sector, which reflects its position as one of the fastest growing municipalities in Ontario.
  • Immediate delivery and implementation of the recommendations from the Long-Term Care Commission, in partnership with longterm 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 and as part of the Province’s longterm staffing plan.
  • Funding to support the implementation of the increase in hours of direct care for long-term care residents as announced on November 2, 2020, to ensure to delivery of care can be provided, particularly from a staffing perspective.
  • Address the CMI funding shortfall by providing funding that reflects and keeps pace with the increasing complexity and care requirements of residents.

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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 cost-sharing arrangements, reductions to administrative funding and have not updated well established funding mechanisms. These actions will create a funding shortfall for Halton Region in 2022 and future years.

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 funding reductions that will have future financial implications for Halton Region.
  • Work to fill staffing shortages in child-care facilities caused by COVID-19.
  • That the Provincial Government work with their Federal counterparts and Halton Region to confirm details and funding for the $10-a-day child care program announced in Budget 2021.

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Halton Region has invested significantly, in partnership with the Provincial and Federal governments in delivering assisted housing opportunities. Since 2014, Halton have delivered 1,005 new assisted housing opportunities and has expanded and enhanced shelter and supportive housing programs. The need for assisted housing and homeless supports have however continued to increase, compounded by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the arrival of people escaping war in Ukraine.

While Halton Region has received funding from the Federal Government to assist with the expansion of Halton’s shelter system, we have not received a commitment from the Provincial Government for the full operating costs associated with the expanded capacity. Current estimates show the shortfall in annual funding to exceed $1.6 million.

To respond to the increasing demand for assisted housing, Halton Region has created a portfolio of potential new housing opportunities and undertaken pre-development work for various sites owned by the Region. The portfolio includes approximately 600 potential units at an estimated cost of $451 million. To successfully deliver these new units, federal and provincial funding is required.

Halton requests:

  • Supports for Ukrainian arrivals, including:
    • immediate funding to support the housing related costs;
    • changes to the Social Housing wait list eligibility to accommodate people arriving from Ukraine; and
    • programs and supports to move Ukrainian arrivals from the shelter system to transitional housing including rent guarantees and rent subsidies
  • Increase in Halton Region’s Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) allocation to recognize the expansion of the shelter system and related operating costs.
  • Commitment to a funding partnership to deliver 600 new assisted housing units in Halton.

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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:

  • 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, such as enhanced GO service including: all day, two way service to Milton, and new 407 Transitway Stations in Halton, including a Neyagawa Road Station.
  • Appropriate funding tools and mechanisms for delivering timely funding to pay for municipal infrastructure required to support growth.
 

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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 1,100 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 renewal of multi-year funding of the Region’s Small Business Enterprise Centre commencing 2022-23, which will allow the Region to support over 1,000 entrepreneurs in 2022 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 and Digital Transformation grants in 2022-23.

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The experience through the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated that broadband is an essential service. There is a need to increase and accelerate broadband connectivity, quality and affordability in Halton’s communities. Halton has completed comprehensive broadband rural and urban service availability studies identifying significant service gaps including approximately 4700 households in west Burlington, north-west Milton and south Halton Hills. The Region estimates that an additional 2300 households in older urban municipal areas are also underserved. Halton Region has supported telecommunications providers in over 15 rural Halton applications for Provincial and Federal broadband funding. Confirmed projects to-date will serve approximately 1100 households and we look forward to further announcements related to the Improving Connectivity for Ontario (ICON) program.

The current CRTC 50Mbps/10Mbps target is not sufficient to support future technology and applications. Many of the internet services available in Halton do not provide fibre technologies to homes and are therefore not scalable to 1 Gbps services required to support 5G technology. It is estimated that there are currently significant gaps in the fibre network in Halton, which will need to be addressed to achieve the benefits of 5G technology.

Working with all Halton’s Local Municipalities, Halton Region has developed the Halton Digital Access Strategy which sets a goal for a unified network of 5G mobile and 1 Gbps broadband across all of Halton Region by 2026.

Halton requests:

  • Confirmation and approval of ICON and joint UBF/ICON funding announcements for rural Halton Region including coverage and timing details.
  • That fibre investments awarded through the UBF/ICON programs support 5G requirements and are scalable to the 1 Gbps target.
  • That the Province, working with the Federal and Provincial governments deliver investments to support 1 Gbps across Halton by 2026. 
  • That the Province work with the Federal Government to ensure affordability of fibre and 5G services.
  • That the Province work with the Federal Government to publish useful broadband service data and establish a framework for sharing this data with municipalities.

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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 to ensure that the proposed Milton CN truck-rail hub to ensure CN complies with laws that protect the health of residents and the environment. The Halton Municipalities have commenced litigation through an Ontario Court Challenge, an application for a Federal Judicial Review that seeks to overturn the decision by the Federal Minister and Cabinet, and we are also appealing the Canadian Transportation Agency’s decision to approve CN’s application for railway lines required for this proposed project.

Halton is seeking to ensure that should the project move forward, that all provincial and municipal by-laws 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 In this Together: A Strong Recovery for Halton and 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 response and recovery. Municipalities and businesses have experienced significant increase in 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, childcare, public health services, and water and wastewater treatment while addressing increased costs in long-term care and public health in the post-pandemic world.

Halton Region’s recovery relies on the Federal and Provincial Governments continuing to work together to address the long-term costs resulting from COVID-19 and beyond.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on main street businesses. The survival of the small business sector is essential to the country’s recovery efforts. Online and digital channels are important tools for main street businesses to interact with customers and generate revenue. The Digital Main Street Program has supported over 1,100 businesses in Halton and a long-term investment would allow more Halton businesses to benefit from this program.

In addition, workplace transmission of COVID-19 has highlighted the crucial need for paid sick time. In November 2021, the Federal Government introduced legislation that would provide ten days of permanent paid sick leave per year to workers in the federally regulated private sector. However, many workers outside of the federally regulated private sector still do not have access paid sick days. This is a barrier to COVID-19 control measures, including testing and isolation, due to the fear of income loss and financial hardship.

Halton requests:

  • The continued delivery of relief funding for 2022, to support ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
  • Renew funding of the expanded Digital Main Street program and Digital Transformation grants in 2022-23 to help Halton businesses benefit from this program.
  • The Federal Government consults with provinces, territories, and other stakeholders to develop a national action plan to legislate paid sick leave across the country, while respecting provincial-territorial jurisdiction and recognizing the unique needs of small business owners.

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The Federal Government has the responsibility for procuring and delivering COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada. With increasing cases and the emergence of new variants, there continues to be a demand for vaccines particularly with the roll out of 5-11 year olds and third doses/boosters for eligible groups.

COVID-19 vaccinations are an important step in Canada’s response to reduce the spread of COVID-19, while keeping Canadians healthy, and avoiding further 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 timely access to vaccinations. This is not possible without a consistent supply and equitable distribution of vaccines to meet with needs of Halton.

Halton requests:

  • The Federal Government procure sufficient vaccines to ensure adequate supply for vaccinating children and third doses/boosters for eligible groups.

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Transportation and infrastructure continue to be priority issues for Halton residents. Halton Region is committed to creating complete communities that ensure a high quality of life for residents and a competitive economy. Investments in infrastructure make Halton Region a desirable place to live and do business.

Making significant investments in infrastructure is a priority for Regional Council. In March 2021, the Federal Government proposed an additional $2.2 billion through the Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF) to address short-term infrastructure priorities in municipalities and First Nation Communities. In August 2021, Halton received $16.7 million of the $2.2 billion one-time funding from the Federal Government, which was welcomed and will be critical in supporting the Halton community.

While Halton Region is appreciative of the Federal Government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan, our 10-year capital infrastructure program totals $5.7 billion, including $2.4 billion to fund the state of good repair. Funding for necessary infrastructure together with outdated funding tools that do not provide long-term sustainable funding continues to be a challenge for our growing community.

Halton requests:

  • Develop updated funding tools and mechanisms for delivering long-term sustainable infrastructure funding and investments to support municipal infrastructure planning.

housing

The provision of safe, affordable, accessible housing is a critical component of fostering healthy communities. For many residents, affordable homeownership remains out of reach.

Halton Region is investing $107 million in our social infrastructure through the 10- year Comprehensive Housing Strategy (2014-2024) to provide government-assisted housing options to low income residents.

By the end of 2021, Halton will have created a total of 1,899 government-assisted housing opportunities since 2008. Halton is projecting to have 1,979 governmentassisted housing opportunities by the end of 2022.

Halton Region has taken significant steps to prepare a portfolio for funding from the Federal Government, which will allow us to create more housing, faster. Halton is positioned to deliver 600 new purpose built rental and assisted units over the next 10 years, with an estimated cost of $451 million. The Region’s current Comprehensive Housing Strategy financing plan provides $174 million to 2031. Partnering with the Federal and Provincial Governments to make up the approximately $270 million funding shortfall to fund these projects will be essential for success.

Halton requests:

  • Federal funding of approximately $270 million over 10 years to ensure the success of all projects in Halton Region’s housing portfolio.
  • Predictable long-term, sustainable, allocation based 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:

  • 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, 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 Region continues to advocate to the Provincial and Federal Governments to increase broadband connectivity in Halton’s rural and urban communities which 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 appreciates the Federal Government’s commitment to ensure that all Canadians will have access to broadband by 2030, but this is too far in the distant future, immediate access to connectivity is needed

Halton requests:

  • The award of the remaining seven rural Halton broadband funding applications.
  • Ensure awarded fiber investments through the UBF/ICON programs support 5G backhaul requirements and the 1GMbps target.
  • Ensure that fiber investments include urban underserved pockets.
  • The Federal and Provincial Governments and telecommunication providers ensure affordability of fiber and 5G service.

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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Child care plays a key role in the economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing parents to return to work, supporting early childhood development, and improving educational outcomes. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a decrease in the number of children enrolled in care and licensed child care operators are struggling with the financial impacts of COVID-19 response and recovery.

The creation of accessible and affordable spaces for Halton families is critical to support parents’ return to work and eliminates the financial barriers to high quality, inclusive child care. Halton Regional Council is encouraged by the Canada-wide early learning and child care plan and is eager for the agreement for Ontario to be signed.

The longer the negotiations take, the longer Ontario families have to wait for affordable child care. A national system of early learning and licensed child care services that are high quality, affordable, inclusive, and accessible for all families is in the best interest of all Canadians and an immediate equitable signed agreement with the Province of Ontario is necessary.

Halton requests:

  • The Federal and Provincial Governments reach a timely and equitable child care agreement that acknowledges the provincial investment in full-day kindergarten and delivers affordable and accessible child care spaces for Ontario families.

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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. The Federal Government’s own environmental assessment panel determined that CN’s Project was likely to cause six significant adverse environmental effects that cannot be mitigated, including effects on air quality and human health.

The Halton Municipalities and Conservation Halton remain committed in our opposition to this project going forward with their approval and contrary to multiple municipal and provincial laws, designed to protect the health of residents and the environment. The Halton Municipalities have commenced litigation through an Ontario Court Challenge, an application for a Federal Judicial Review that seeks to overturn the decision by the Federal Minister and Cabinet, and we are also appealing the Canadian Transportation Agency’s decision to approve CN’s application for railway lines required for this proposed project.

Halton requests:

  • Support Halton’s position on the CN truck-rail Hub in Milton

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