Leamington, Kingsville Cleared for Stage 2 Reopening as Premier Doug Ford Proposes Made in Ontario Plan for Growth, Renewal and Economic Recovery

In his daily briefing from Queen’s Park, Toronto, Premier Doug Ford announced several updates including Leamington and Kingsville’s approval to move to Stage 2 of Ontario’s COVID-19 Reopening and Recovery plan. 

With the approval for the two regions to move to Stage 2 of reopening, all of Ontario is officially in Stage 2 of the three-stage reopening plan and awaiting the news of Stage 3 reopening plans. 

In his announcement today, Premier Doug Ford thanked the patience and cooperation of the people living in Leamington and Kingsville as the province finally permitted them to move ahead into Stage 2. 

“Outbreaks in the community have been contained, community transmission is low, and we have the resources for testing and contact tracing,” said the Premier. 

“I’m coming down to pay you folks a visit. I’m in desperate need of a haircut. I’m going to be down there, let’s pick a barber somewhere in Leamington or Kingsville. I just can’t wait to go down and thank the people personally.”

“Most importantly out of anyone I want to sincerely thank the people of Leamington and Kingsville for being as patient as you have been,” said Premier Ford.

The announcement came after a few days since Premier Ford confirmed Ontario’s Emergency Management team that was deployed into the region. 

The team, which worked with members of the Canadian Red Cross and Public Health Ontario, addressed the growing concern about COVID-19 cases among agriculture farm workers and helped co-ordinate health care and housing for more than 190 agri-food workers who tested positive to the virus.

According to the premier, COVID-19 outbreaks on the local farms have been under control with the community spread of the virus being low at this time. 

Ontario Propose Made-In-Ontario Plan for Growth, Renewal, and Economic Recovery

Alongside the Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney and Associate Minister of Transportation for the GTA Kinga Surma, Premier Doug Ford provided details about Ontario’s plans for economic recovery during COVID-19. 

The proposed plan included measures that would make it easier and faster for infrastructure projects, such as building provincial highways, major transit projects, and affordable housing projects while also allowing opportunities for input and consultations from the communities. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant hardship for individuals, families, and businesses throughout the province. We’re going to need everyone’s help to rebuild the province and get people back to work,” said Premier Ford. 

“Through these proposed initiatives, we will start Ontario down the road to recovery by getting critical infrastructure projects built faster, creating jobs in communities across the province.”

As part of the plans proposed by the government, Ontario proposes to accelerate key provincial highway construction and prioritize transit projects by exempting a Hearing of Necessity process. 

The Province’s Hearing of Necessity takes place 5 to 10 times a year and adds months of delays for infrastructure projects. 

Notably, in a press release from the Ontario government, up to five months of delays occur for transit projects and up to 12 months of delays occur for provincial highway projects because of the Hearing of Necessity process. 

“Communities need reliable transit, transportation and housing as a strong foundation for future economic growth,” said Minister Mulroney. 

“These initiatives would create tens of thousands of new well-paying jobs, make our roads safer, reduce gridlock, and put homeownership within reach of many people across the province.”

The proposed Made-In-Ontario plan would also see the government enter commercial agreements with partners to build “transit-oriented” communities. 

In other words, it would allow for the development of more housing around the local transit system in a way that creates more job opportunities within reach of more people. 

It was noted that the measures would save taxpayers money as the development industry will be making a direct and significant contribution to the cost of building transits for the benefit of the communities, transit riders, and Ontario taxpayers. 

“Instead of building stations in isolation, we will build fully integrated communities,” said Associate Minister Surma. 

“Transit-oriented communities will benefit the Greater Toronto Area by increasing ridership, reducing congestion, providing a mix of housing ― including affordable housing ― and providing critical local services and amenities like daycares and recreational spaces.”

Ontario will be collaborating with the City of Toronto and York Region in a historic joint transit partnership agreement which will support transit-oriented communities. 

While no budget was specifically mentioned from the briefing on Monday, it was announced that Ontario plans to invest $2.6 billion to expand and repair Ontario’s highways and bridges.

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