By Goldie Ghamari, MPP for Carleton
It has been an exciting month in the riding of Carleton as the ground was turned for the construction of two different Catholic elementary schools in the eastern part of the riding.
On Oct. 3, the sod turning ceremony took place for the new school in Findlay Creek. Two weeks later, there was a sod turning for the new Catholic elementary school in Riverside South.
When I was first elected in 2018 as the MPP for Carleton, one of the major issues I kept hearing from residents throughout the riding was that more schools were needed. Nowhere was this more true than in the rapidly growing communities of Findlay Creek.
In the past five years, we have received approval and funding for the building or expansion of nine schools – which is the most ever for a five-year period in this riding.
The amount of funding from the Government of Ontario for these nine projects is more than $211 million. This funding provides classroom spaces for 5,064 students in our riding. These students will attend school in new, comfortable, state-of-the-art classrooms that will enhance their learning experience.
Since 2018, the Ontario government has invested more than $2 billion in capital projects in education throughout the province. This funding has led to the building of 100 new schools, 88 additions and renovations to existing schools, and 6,410 new licensed childcare spaces.
Our government provided approximately $22 million in funding for each of the new schools. Both will provide 507 new student spaces and 39 licensed daycare spaces.
But a new school is more than a building with capacity and technology. It is a community. These schools will provide a place where children will learn and feel comfortable, making lifelong friends with their peers, forming relationships with wonderful and dedicated teachers, and creating a foundation of childhood memories that will stay with them forever.
I can’t wait to visit these schools when they are open and full of children, as their local MPP.
Governments Driving Research and Innovation in Ontario
The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $16.5 million through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) to support agri-food research and innovation projects that will help Ontario develop new technologies, practices and solutions for the agri-food sector. These actions will strengthen the sector to be more competitive in global markets.
The Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative (OAFRI) will provide a multi-year suite of funding opportunities to support research and innovation activities that advance the sector. These funding streams include applied research, pilot and demonstration, knowledge translation and transfer (KTT) and commercialization of products, including a new Grow Ontario Accelerator Hub. Funded projects will align with the agri-food sector’s research priorities to deliver new knowledge, products and practices.
Ontario applicants with capacity for research and development are encouraged to apply in these upcoming competitive intakes.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will deliver the applied research, pilot and demonstration and KTT funding streams. Bioenterprise Corporation will deliver the commercialization stream. The first application intakes – for three of the streams opens on November 2, 2023.
This initiative is important as research and innovation are critical in bringing new technologies and processes to market and for developing new practices for on-farm solutions. This investment will benefit all of Ontario by bolstering a resilient agri-food sector that continues to produce safe and healthy food, while also increasing trade opportunities for Ontario grown and made food items.
Sustainable CAP is a five-year (2023-2028), $3.5-billion investment by federal‐provincial and territorial governments to strengthen competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector. This includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and a $2.5 billion commitment that is cost-shared 60 per cent federally and 40 per cent provincially/territorially for programs designed and delivered by the provinces and territories.
- The OAFRI applied research, pilot and demonstration and commercialization streams will open on November 2, 2023. More information is available online.
- The OAFRI research priority areas are: food safety, plant health, animal health and welfare, soil health, water quality and quantity, sustainable production systems, productive land capacity, competitive production systems, innovative products and product improvements, and trade, market and targeted sector growth.
- Eligible applicants include a university or college, a research organization or foundation, an industry organization or business, a non-governmental organization, or a municipal or Indigenous government or agency of Ontario.
- Under the applied research and pilot and demonstration steams, the maximum funding per project is up to $200,000, and for the commercialization stream it is up to $150,000.
- The Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario provides strategic advice, advocacy and leadership in Ontario’s agri-food research and research infrastructure such as this initiative.
- A goal of the Grow Ontario Strategy is to see over 250 patents and licences granted through OMAFRA-funded research.
- Supporting continued and targeted investments in science, research and innovation to address key challenges and opportunities in the agri-food sector was among the priorities set for Sustainable CAP by the federal-provincial-territorial agricultural ministers in The Guelph Statement.
Governments Supporting Mental Health Initiatives in Ontario’s Agricultural Community
The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing more than $8 million to support the mental health and wellness of farmers and their families.
With this commitment, the Farmer Wellness Initiative, the In the Know program and the Guardian Network will continue to be available to everyone who needs them. These initiatives are designed to meet the unique mental health needs of farmers and their families and are delivered by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division.
To ensure more people in the agricultural community know about the supports available to them, a new promotional initiative is being launched called the Sowing the Seeds of Wellness Initiative. It will make promotional materials available to eligible general farm and commodity organizations for use and display at member events. Funding will also be available over the next two years so organizations can produce customized materials, engage speakers, and/or develop other promotional activities that will provide farmers and their families with mental health-related information.
Funding for these initiatives primarily comes from the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP.) Sustainable CAP is a five-year (2023-2028), $3.5-billion investment by federal‐provincial and territorial governments to strengthen competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector. This includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and a $2.5 billion commitment that is cost-shared 60 per cent federally and 40 per cent provincially/territorially for programs that are designed and delivered by the provinces and territories.
- The 24/7 Farmer Wellness Initiative phone line provides farmers with free, professional mental health counselling services. Reachable at 1-866-267-6255, it first went live on January 1, 2022.
- The Guardian Network is made up of trained, adult volunteers who are likely to be in contact with farmers through their work, volunteer activities, or place in their community. CMHA Ontario trains and supports Guardians by equipping them with the strategies and tools needed to identify when someone is struggling with their mental health and direct them towards appropriate resources.
- In the Know is a mental health literacy program designed specifically for farmers, their families, and those who are involved in and/or support the agricultural sector. Participants cover topics such as stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and learn how to start a conversation about mental well-being during this three-hour, free workshop.
- The Canadian Mental Health Association delivers the Farmer Wellness Initiative, Guardian Network, and In the Know programs, while the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will be delivering the Sowing the Seeds of Wellness Initiative. More details about the promotional initiative and its application process will soon be available online.
- More details about the programs can be found online at: https://agriculturewellnessontario.ca/
- $7.03 million of the funding will come from Sustainable CAP, while a further $1.08 million will be invested from the Roadmap to Wellness, a provincial initiative aimed at building a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system in Ontario.
- Supporting and empowering farmers to take care of their mental health was among the priorities set for Sustainable CAP by the federal-provincial-territorial agricultural ministers in The Guelph Statement.
My office is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you require assistance on any matter, please contact me at any time. My staff and I will be happy to assist. Even if it’s not a provincial issue, I’ll make sure to connect you with the proper office.
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