OC Transpo bus trip cancellations continue and a section of Hwy. 417 closed next weekend: Five stories to watch this week
An OC Transpo bus turns onto Elgin St. from Wellington St. in downtown Ottawa, Ont. in this undated photo. (Photo by Shubham Sharan on Unsplash)
The Ontario government delivers its speech from the throne, all eyes on hospitals facing staffing shortages and OC Transpo warns commuters that bus trip cancellations are possible again this week due to a driver shortage.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.
Ontario Legislature resumes
The Ontario legislature will resume this week for the first time since June's provincial election, with the Progressive Conservative government facing a health-care staffing crunch, skyrocketing inflation and the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier Doug Ford and his government will outline the new agenda during Tuesday's throne speech.
The Canadian Press reports Ford is expected to acknowledge the health care and economic inflation, but it's unclear if any new measures will be introduced in the throne speech and the budget.
"The mainstays of the agenda are the same as they were before and during the election campaign, including rebuilding Ontario's economy, getting more people into the skilled trades, and getting shovels in the ground to build more homes, roads, highways, transit and other key infrastructure," a senior government source told The Canadian Press.
“The government will also reiterate how it's supporting the health-care system particularly in light of current pressures. That said, we are signalling that the context and climate in which that agenda is being implemented is shifting based on global economic trends.”
Emergency room closures
Patients and staff will be waiting to see if any emergency room closures in Ottawa and eastern Ontario continue into this week, after staffing shortages forced the temporary closures of the emergency departments at the Montfort Hospital and in Carleton Place this weekend.
The Montfort Hospital closed its emergency department from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, citing an "unprecedented shortage" of nurses. The Carleton Place and District Memorial Hospital closed its ER for 24 hours.
The Ottawa Hospital warned patients visiting the ER at the Civic Campus and the General Campus that wait times would be "much longer" due to the closure of the Montfort Hospital ER.
"They are overworked, morale is practically non-existent, they're not getting time off – it's horrendous," said Rachel Muir, ONA Local 83 bargaining president and a registered nurse at the Ottawa Hospital.
Muir says the staffing shortage is affecting care.
"Things are bad. Care is being given but basic care," Muir said on Saturday. "Nurses don't have the time or the personnel or even the equipment to give the care they're trained to give."
The Queensway Carleton Hospital and CHEO have warned wait times are longer than usual in the emergency department this weekend.
BUS TRIP CANCELLATIONS
OC Transpo warns bus trip cancellations could continue into this week, as Ottawa's transit service deals with a staffing shortage.
More than 200 bus trips a day were cancelled between Wednesday and Saturday in Ottawa, leaving hundreds of customers waiting at the curb for a bus.
"We anticipate that customers could continue to be affected by the non-delivery of trips into next week based on a few short-term factors, including the number of staff who worked overtime last week while O-Train Line 1 was being repaired, higher-than-usual sick leave absences, and normal seasonal vacations," OC Transpo general manager Renee Amilcar said in a statement.
"OC Transpo is making every effort to improve service reliability for the balance of August and to prepare for September."
Amilcar says customers can expect service reliability to increase in mid-August, when dozens of new recruits graduate bus driver training.
Commuters will also face service disruptions starting later this week, when overnight work begins on the O-Train.
Between Aug. 12 and Aug. 25, sections of the O-Train will be out of service from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. for maintenance work. The work will include rail grinding and profiling, plus proactive measures like switch heater calibration and rail repairs and replacements. The work was originally scheduled to take place in June but was postponed because of a shipping delay.
Rail service will resume as early as 5 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. on Saturdays.
Section of the Queensway closed for four days
A section of the Queensway will be closed next weekend for the replacement of the Booth Street Bridge.
The Queensway will be closed between Metcalfe and Carling/Kirkwood from 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 11 to Monday, Aug. 15 at 6 a.m. for the construction work.
Work was originally scheduled for July 14 to 18, but was delayed due to labour disruptions.
The following on-ramps will be closed on the Queensway:
- O’Connor westbound
- Lyon westbound (ongoing)
- Bronson westbound (ongoing)
- Rochester westbound
- Parkdale westbound
- Maitland eastbound
- Carling/Kirkwood eastbound
- Parkdale eastbound
The city of Ottawa is outlining the detours on the Queensway during the construction.
- Westbound motorists must exit the highway at Metcalfe
- Westbound on Catherine Street
- Turn left on Bronson and travel southbound
- Turn right on Carling Avenue and travel westbound
- Take Highway 417 westbound on-ramp from Carling Avenue
- Eastbound motorists must exit the highway at Carling/Kirkwood Avenue
- Drive eastbound on Carling Avenue
- Turn left on Bronson Avenue
- Travel northbound to Chamberlain Avenue and turn right
- Continue onto Isabella Street
- Take Highway 417 eastbound on-ramp at Metcalfe Street
Canadian Elite Basketball League championship weekend
The Canadian Elite Basketball League champion will be crowned in Ottawa next weekend.
The CEBL is hosting its championship weekend at TD Place in Ottawa from Aug. 10 to 14. The semifinals are set for Saturday, with the BlackJacks playing at 7 p.m.
The championship game is set for Sunday at 2 p.m.
For more information, visit cebl.ca.
OTHER EVENTS THIS WEEKEND
The Casino Lac-Leamy sound of light festival continues on Wednesday and Saturday night. For more information and tickets, visit https://feux.qc.ca/en/programing/
Ottawa Greek Fest continues from Friday to Sunday. For more information, visit http://www.ottawagreekfest.com/.
The Capital Fair begins on Friday at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.
Ottawa Titans host New York Tuesday to Thursday and Quebec Friday to Sunday