Ontario invests in virtual learning at Loyalist College


SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2021

Province provides increased access to online courses and retraining opportunities

BELLEVILLE – The Ontario government is investing $401,280 to support four innovative virtual learning projects at Loyalist College to help provide students with more choice and access to high-quality postsecondary education and retraining opportunities.

“These projects will help ensure our postsecondary institutions have the tools they need to create great curriculum online,” said Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte. “By increasing virtual course offerings, we’re helping the next generation of workers, innovators, researchers, and leaders develop the skills and training they need to succeed in their careers, when and where they need it most.”

The projects are part of the province’s Virtual Learning Strategy announced last December and  support key priority areas that include creating or adapting digital content, equipping faculty and students with skills and resources to teach and learn online and identifying educational technologies to enhance online courses and programs. Projects include:

  • A collaboration with Fleming College on the creation of an Ontario-specific, open resource on Early Childhood Education and Child Development Practitioner Apprenticeship. This project will make available Ontario practices and regulations for Ontario learners who will become registered early childhood educators and will create ancillary resources to support slide decks, learning activities, assessments and test banks to be used virtually, in-person, or hybrid.
  • The adaptation and creation of an Ontario-specific open resource on Human Resource Management. This project will update the current PressBooks versions to include Canadian contexts, including practices, rules and regulations for Ontario learners. Additionally, this project will create ancillary resources to support slide decks, learning activities, assessments, and test banks.
  • The adaptation of an open resource for use in existing asynchronous online courses focusing on Microsoft Access software, offered by Loyalist through OntarioLearn. The adaptations will coincide with wholesale course revisions to update content to the most current software version.  The adaptation will allow Loyalist to improve accessibility, content relevancy and overall experience while offering significant cost savings to students.
  • The creation of three net new positions within Loyalist’s Centre for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning (CATL) to increase its capacity to develop new digital by design learning opportunities. The positions include an instructional designer, a multimedia developer, and an open education strategist – all dedicated resources that do not currently exist at the CATL.  The positions will help Loyalist realize immediate goals to advance online course and program development and assist in building policy and processes for future enhancements.  This direction will help Loyalist advance an OER (Open Education Resources) strategy, rather than relying on paid textbooks and resources, ultimately benefiting students at Loyalist and across Ontario’s post-secondary education system.

“The Ontario government’s investment in virtual learning will empower Loyalist College to build capacity by supporting faculty who’ve made a dramatic change in program delivery this year,” said Dr. Ann Marie Vaughan, Loyalist College President and CEO. “Through these four projects, this generous funding will enable us to enhance our distance studies programs and hybrid offerings, which are in demand as more people migrate to the beautiful Bay of Quinte region from urban city centres. As a destination college, we’re bringing our vibrant in-class experiences online by incorporating industry cluster-based engagement, simulated applied learning, and meaningful one-to-one interactions.”

The province is investing more than $70 million to implement Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy, including $21.4 million announced in the 2021 Ontario Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. 

“Ensuring that Ontario’s postsecondary institutions offer responsive and flexible digital courses and programs will help students build the skills and competencies they need to be competitive in today’s economy,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Our Virtual Learning Strategy is aimed at creating a platform that will allow all post-secondary institutions to compete in the new and necessary environment of learning from home.” 

The Ontario government is transforming virtual learning across the province by supporting nearly 400 innovative projects at colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes.



Ontario provides $581,400 to Centre for Workforce Development for online job fair platform


SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2021

BAY OF QUINTE – The Ontario government is supporting new research that will help employers locally and across Eastern Ontario access the skilled labour they require to contribute to the long-term success of the local economy and aid Ontario’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, announced that the Centre for Workforce Development (CFWD) will receive $581,400 from the Ontario Labour Market Partnerships (OLMP) program for its Virtual Research Platform Project.

“Matching skilled labour to meet the needs of local employers is critical to the growth and sustainability of our region’s economy as we emerge from COVID-19,” said Smith. “This research will help to develop digital resources that make that process easier for all involved, resulting in greater productivity.”

Brad Labadie, the Executive Director for the Belleville-based CFWD, explained many employers across the region are increasingly turning to digital recruitment, particularly in light of the pandemic, however there are numerous online platforms with different methods of interaction. The CFWD plans to develop a standardized job fair platform to be implemented and utilized by the Employment Ontario Service Provider Network that could attract domestic and international candidates.

“COVID-19 forced Employment Ontario Employment Service (EOES) providers to shift how they shared job opportunities with job seekers. Traditional job fairs were no longer an option, so they moved to hosting virtual ones. The pandemic saw the quick expansion of platforms which, in many cases, were found to be difficult to navigate, expensive to host, and provided a less-than-desirable user experience,” Labadie said. “This project will assist EOES providers in Eastern Ontario by providing a consistent, easy-to-use virtual platform for job fairs.”

The project is drawing support from employment service providers.

“In a time where technology is required more than ever to keep people connected, virtual job fair platforms can be an extremely valuable tool,” said Warren Gee, Loyalist College’s Bancroft Campus and Employment Ontario Programs Director. “This project can research the many options and identify effective, affordable, and user-friendly options for our communities.”

Katie Sexton, the Senior Director of Employment Services for the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region added “Virtual programs are numerous, expensive, and do not always provide a quality user experience. This project will help us provide a consistent, easy-to-use platform for both employers and job seekers, reducing frustration and providing better job fair co-ordination in our communities.”

The OLMP program funds ongoing research into regional economic needs and employment pressures, so municipalities and employment services and training providers have more information to conduct long-term planning.

“It’s essential that we help local workforces plan for the future,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “By supporting innovative research projects like this one in Eastern Ontario, we can create the right training programs so that workers have the skills they need to get in-demand jobs, now and in the future.”


  • In 2020-21, Ontario is investing $25.9 million into Labour Market Partnerships. There are currently 69 projects active across the province.
  • The Employment Ontario network includes more than 300 partner organizations across Ontario that offer a range of free services and supports that help businesses find workers and connect jobseekers to training and job opportunities. 
  • Recently, the Province also announced a $577,500 investment through the OLMP program for the Quinte Economic Development Commission to identify specific needs in the region’s manufacturing sector and assist with sector-based recruitment and retention activities.



Ontario to introduce legislation to provide three paid sick days, enhance COVID-19 supports for workers




BAY OF QUINTE – Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, was pleased to see new supports for workers introduced by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton and Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy this afternoon.

If passed, the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act would require employers to provide workers up to three days of pay, up to $200 per day, if missing work due to COVID-19 retroactive to April 19 and effective to Sept. 25.  Employers would provide workers their regular pay and be reimbursed by the Province through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. 

For longer-term absences, Ontario has also offered to provide funding to the federal government to double the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) by $500 per week to a total of $1,000 per week.

“This plan offers workers immediate access to the most paid sick time in any Canadian province during COVID-19 without placing extra burden on ailing businesses during a difficult time,” said Smith. “This meaningful support will ensure more people stay at home and reduce the spread of highly-contagious variants.”

The provincial government’s first act during the pandemic was to introduce a job-protected infectious disease leave to support workers needing to insolate, undergo treatment, or support others with COVID-19.  Last summer, Ontario joined the other nine provinces in negotiating the Safe Restart Agreement where the federal government committed $1.1 billion to fund 10 paid sick days.

Amid concerns about the CRSB accessibility criteria for days missed limited access to the program (an employee must be away from work at least 50 per cent of the week to qualify), the funding not being enough to address lost wages, and delays in payment, the provincial government advocated to the federal government to fix the program, rather than requiring provinces to duplicate it.

“With the generous financial commitment the federal government made, we felt it made sense to focus on improving that program, rather than recreating it – something no province had done.  That would have allowed provinces to focus their resources on improving our health-care capacity and other measures to prevent further spread,” said Smith. “When those changes didn’t occur, our government moved to fill the gaps and provide that support for workers and their families.”

McNaughton added “Our government has long advocated for the federal government to enhance the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program to better protect the people of Ontario, especially our tireless essential workers. It is a tremendously positive step that the federal government has signaled their willingness to continue discussions on the CRSB. Now we can fix the outstanding gap in the federal program so workers can get immediate support and can stay home when needed."

Smith thanked Bay of Quinte residents for their strong adherence to public health measures and encouraged them to continue that practice and book vaccinations when eligible to do so.