OFFICE OF LINDSEY PARK,

MPP for Durham

QUEEN’S PARK: On Thursday, April 7th, Bill 104, The Connected Communities Act, 2022, passed second reading in the Ontario Legislature. This Bill requires the Ontario Government to develop a strategy to reduce loneliness and social isolation and support Ontarians, young and old, who may be struggling with loneliness or social isolation.

“Before the pandemic, there were signs many people in Ontario were feeling less connected than they did in previous generations,” said Durham MPP, Lindsey Park. “Spending more time online, seeing friends less, volunteering less time in the community – this all has an impact on our productivity, health and well-being.”

MPP Park went on to say, “The pandemic only exacerbated this serious public health problem. The time for a comprehensive, province-wide strategy is now.”

The Connected Communities Act, 2022 provides one year for the development of an initial strategy and requires the Government of Ontario to review the strategy, at least once every five years, subsequently. The Act would require consultations when developing or reviewing the strategy and that the strategy be published.

According to oft-cited research, being disconnected is just as dangerous to good health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness and social isolation are also major risk factors for abuse and neglect.

The current body of research, on the risks of loneliness and social isolation, is similar to obesity was, three decades ago. Research has predicted loneliness will reach epidemic proportions by 2030, unless action is taken.