40th Parliament, 2nd Session

L106 - Wed 26 Feb 2014 / Mer 26 fév 2014



Wednesday 26 February 2014 Mercredi 26 février 2014


SUPPLY ACT, 2014 /

SUPPLY ACT, 2014 /




































(TAX RELIEF), 2014





























The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Good morning. Please join me in prayer.



SUPPLY ACT, 2014 /

Mr. Milloy, on behalf of Mr. Sousa, moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 164, An Act to authorize the expenditure of certain amounts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014 / Projet de loi 164, Loi autorisant l’utilisation de certaines sommes pour l’exercice se terminant le 31 mars 2014.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: This is, actually, the final piece of three administrative, routine matters that have come before the House this week. The Supply Act, as it’s called, is one of the cornerstones in this Legislature. Passing it will constitute the final authorization by this Legislature of the government’s program spending for the fiscal year that’s coming to a close. If passed, this bill would give the government the authority to finance its programs and honour its commitments. As I said, Mr. Speaker, it’s an administrative and routine matter. I look forward to the debate and discussion, but it’s something that’s dealt with on a regular basis by the Legislature.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Further debate.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It’s a pleasure to actually have the opportunity to debate this morning on behalf of Tim Hudak and the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus. The government House leader mentioned that this is the cornerstone and that it’s an important debate for us to have. I couldn’t agree more, Speaker.

I have been in this chamber for eight years now, getting elected on March 30, 2006, with Christine Elliott and Peter Tabuns, in a by-election. My first opportunity to debate in the assembly, my maiden speech, was about the budget. I learned very quickly thereafter that there are three major opportunities for legislators in this assembly to speak: It is on motions of supply, where you have the flexibility to talk about the issues in your community; it is the throne speech, where you’re able to bring your constituents’ concerns and their values to the floor of this assembly as we set the stage for the vision for the province, and you actually have input into their views; and, of course, the budget. I find the budget is an excellent opportunity to talk about those combined and shared experiences that our constituents, our stakeholders, our families, our friends, face. We can bring those to the floor with the flexibility of telling their stories and trying to shape government policy.

I think that my party has made it very clear, particularly over the past two years but even more so in the last year, that we have a different approach for how we would take the province of Ontario. We have talked about creating a million jobs. We have talked about making life more affordable in Ontario by looking after energy rates that have become far too high in the province of Ontario. We have talked about eliminating red tape so that our small job creators, our small businesses are able to continue to thrive in a province that was built on prosperity but right now seems to be having some very basic and troubling challenges.

Speaker, I like to tell the story—and you’re going to hear a lot from me, because I had this great opportunity this past January on behalf of Tim Hudak to visit almost 30 different ridings. I found that to be an actual dream come true. There’s a lot of young pages here, and I look at them, and I was their age once before—I know you’re probably doubting that, Speaker, that I was ever that young, but I was young once.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: You still are.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I still am, says my good friend from Timmins–James Bay.

I arrived in this province, like many other people here, not from a different nation but from a different province. I always dreamed about going to Ontario. You know, I’d heard about Toronto, but I’d only ever seen it on television, and Ottawa was a place, because I was politically interested, that I had always wanted to visit. Who would ever know I would move to this province?

The point is, Speaker, when I was the young age of Abbey Jackson, who is our page from Barrie—when I was her age, Ontario was the beacon of Confederation. She was the strongest province. She was our economic engine, and she was so for a very basic reason. She had a strong economy that was fuelled by energy prices that were affordable. They were able to ensure that we had a branch-plant economy in this province, and that branch-plant economy made life here in Ontario not only affordable but gave people the opportunity and hope for a job. If they could get a job, that meant they could buy a house. If they could buy a house, they probably would buy a car. If they could buy a car, they started to think about having a family of their own. Over the years, they would send their children to schools that they helped fund publicly. They would use hospitals that were built by people like Bill Davis. They then sent their children to universities and colleges in this province, and then they could retire here. That was the dream that myself and many others in this chamber who came from a different place—that was the dream, regardless of our political affiliation. That was the dream that brought us here.

I’ve now had an opportunity, as I stated at the very outset of my remarks—I had an opportunity not only to come here, to move here, to get a job, to have a home and buy a car, have a child, use some of those services, but I’ve also had the opportunity to stand in this assembly for almost a decade. Eight years I have spent in this assembly. The entire decade of my 30s, I have been right here. What I have noticed is a steady decline, Speaker, in Ontario’s prowess as a leader in Confederation and a leader in North America and a leader in the world. I remember a time when people from all over the world, all over Canada, would come here. Today, those kids, those people with a dream, are going to Alberta. They might be going to Newfoundland. They could be going to Saskatchewan. But the problem is, they are not coming here. So those young kids that are about the age of our pages are now starting to think, where are they going to dream of getting their job or going to university? And unfortunately, because of the last decade, I don’t think it’s in Ontario.

And I think it’s for one major reason. As I travelled the province these past two months, I started to talk to a lot of people, find out what their concerns were. The number one issue in Ontario today is high energy prices. From there stems our prosperity. From there stems job creation. From there stems people’s affordability in their own province, where they live in their home, what they can afford to put into that home. The one thing that I think that we can offer in the Ontario PC Party is our affordable energy plan, and I say this because I spoke about this previously when I talked about the branch-plant economy. Why were job creators coming here to make investments in Ontario? They were coming here because our industrial policy was linked to our energy policy, and it was for over 100 years, until the last decade. When that veered off, when that track became off the track, when the former Minister of Energy, Mr. Duguid, became energy minister—when they became more about a social policy than an economic policy, we saw a rapid increase in the rates that people pay, a rapid increase on the bills that people pay. What are we hearing? We’re hearing from job creators, we’re hearing from seniors, we are hearing from families that they can’t afford it anymore.


I want to tell you a little bit about some of the places that I had an opportunity to visit. I want to tell you about some of the people whom I had the opportunity and the privilege to speak with. I want to tell you what their concerns were so that, as we move forward as a province, we can adequately address some of the challenges that they are facing, because, as I’ve stated, the best way for us to become an economic leader in Confederation again, become the place where people from all across the world come, is by addressing our province’s energy policies.

I had this wonderful opportunity to travel, and my first visit was to the beautiful city of London. I had the opportunity to work with our candidate there, Chris Robson, and to meet with a great deal of people in his community. In fact, he took me to a stable of people who were already badly beaten by this government. They were horse people. Not only were they threatened with their livelihood and their jobs because of this government’s destructive policies on gaming, but they were also, on the other hand, dealing with high energy costs to heat their barns and to heat their homes. I really feel that they were in double trouble. They were facing some severe challenges because of government policy, not of which the least was energy policy.

After I left London, I went over to another riding with Jeff Yurek. Jeff Yurek is our London–Elgin–Middlesex MPP, a strong addition to the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus since he joined us. I went to visit with him, and we did a round table with energy stakeholders. Those energy stakeholders weren’t next era. They weren’t the big guys. They weren’t the people that were being made whole by this government when they cancelled gas plants. These are the people that actually pay for that little black box of problems that they’ve created on the other side. These are the people that told me that Hydro One’s billing problems were so severe and so bad that they were concerned that they weren’t going to be able to keep their business in operation. They were young mothers who came around the table at Jeff Yurek’s constituency office to tell me that they opposed this government’s wind turbine policy and because of that were being sued by a big, bad wind company. That is who I met with in Jeff Yurek’s riding.

Jeff also took me to Cole Munro food processing. Cole Munro food processing was incredible. It is a small fish-packing plant right in the heart of southwestern Ontario. It is a company whose profits went up 1% last year. You’d think that we would want to encourage that, but their hydro bill went up by 30%. That’s unsustainable. But I congratulate my colleague Jeff Yurek for his attention to this and his desire to assist his constituents at Cole Munro.

I, from there, went to visit Kitchener after that. I had an excellent meeting with the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy. In fact, the meeting that was supposed to have gone on for 30 minutes lasted for two hours. We had some of the best experts in sustainable energy meeting with myself and our candidate there, Tracey Weiler, to discuss the important issues of the day. And when I came away, I was more convinced than ever that our concerns on the Green Energy Act were absolutely, 100% validated, when we met with those academics and when we met with those experts in the field. I think they would agree with me that this government policy of the Green Energy Act is actually catastrophic for the province.

From there, I had an opportunity to meet with the Kitchener chamber of commerce. Again, what were people talking about? The high cost of energy in the province. Tracey Weiler was standing there, in the proud tradition of Elizabeth Witmer, talking about these very important issues that she wants to bring to Queen’s Park, and I admired that. I thought it was absolutely important and absolutely critical.

From there, I had the opportunity to move on and visit Oakville, and I was there with our candidate, Larry Scott. Larry and I met with the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. We had an opportunity to sit there around the table with the likes of Ford and Tim Hortons. We focused exclusively on energy. I gave them much of the same speech, and the discussion focused around a lot of the same issues I talked about earlier: coming from a different place to what the greatest place on earth is, and then finding a decade of decline, where there is no environment for major companies around the world to set up here when they can find cheaper and more sustainable power elsewhere. We’ve got to fix that problem, and I’m here on behalf of Tim Hudak and the Ontario PC caucus to tell you we will fix that problem.

I had an opportunity as well to spend some time during the by-election in Thornhill, where I was going door to door with our new MPP, Gila Martow. Gila has a great presence at the doorstep. She’s feisty. I can tell you one thing, Speaker: We need more feisty women in the Ontario PC Party—because we only had seven of us and now we’ve got eight, but we’re looking for a few more.

It was great to have Gila Martow out on the trail with us. When we were going door to door, the number one issue—whether we were in a factory or in a shopping centre, they were talking about the high cost of energy in Ontario. In fact, that’s why Gila Martow was sent to Queen’s Park with a higher percentage than her predecessor was: because of those key, invaluable issues.

From there, I had the opportunity to join my leader, Tim Hudak, on a day in Ottawa, but also, as we went from Toronto to Ottawa, we stopped in a few communities. We stopped in Cobourg with my friend Rob Milligan. He assembled one of the best round tables I’ve been to. He sat there with his business leaders, folks in the energy sector, people who were concerned about the economic prosperity of the people of Northumberland–Quinte West. I want to congratulate him.

What we heard when we were standing and we were sitting and we were discussing and we were talking and we were batting around ideas—what did we hear from the people of Northumberland–Quinte West, those job creators, those visionaries that were planning for the future? They told us the high cost of energy was driving away jobs from Northumberland–Quinte West. You don’t have to take my word for it. You don’t have to take Mr. Milligan’s word for it. You don’t have to take Tim Hudak’s word for it. You just have to take the word of all those job creators that were there, that produced a report to say the high cost of energy is driving jobs away from Cobourg.

From there, we went with Scott Stewart to Peterborough. Tim Hudak and I had the opportunity to meet with the media. We had the opportunity to speak with the public. We had time to talk to our candidate, Scott Stewart, in Peterborough, about the high cost of energy in Ontario.

While we were in Peterborough, we talked about the Million Jobs Act. We talked about the situation this government has put us in by losing 330,000 manufacturing jobs. Peterborough has been hit like every other community. What do we need to get back on track? Tim Hudak has got a plan in the Million Jobs Act; we’ll talk a lot more about that tomorrow. But I can tell you, we talked about the high cost of energy.

From there, I had the opportunity to drive up to Lindsay with our very good friend and outstanding colleague Laurie Scott. She’s a great MPP. She has been representing this chamber since 2003. She left, as you’ll recall, out of loyalty to the province and to the party, to allow our leader to run there. When he was not successful, Laurie Scott came roaring back to this assembly. She has been standing up for her constituents against wind turbine developments since she arrived back at Queen’s Park. If you can believe it, Speaker, this Liberal government is attacking a Buddhist temple in her constituency.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: And the airport in Peterborough.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: And the airport in Peterborough.

I had the opportunity to do a round table with job creators and seniors in Laurie Scott’s riding. That is where this Hydro One billing issue really came bubbling up. People had not been given bills for months at a time, and finally, when they did receive a bill, it was for thousands of dollars. They were told, “Pay up now or disconnect.” That’s what we’re telling seniors in Ontario under this Liberal government, and I think it’s wrong. I think it’s dead wrong, and we have to change that.

The day that I was most excited about on my tour was when I actually was able to get back to my own community of Nepean–Carleton. In Bells Corners, I met with Tim Hudak and Randall Denley, our Progressive Conservative candidate in Ottawa West–Nepean. We met with the Ottawa coalition of business improvement areas, and what they said to us was that the high energy rates are killing small businesses in eastern Ontario, specifically within the city of Ottawa. They wrote a letter to Premier Wynne. They hand-delivered it to the Minister of Energy, who has a few of these BIAs in his riding, and they’ve never yet received a response, so they were very upset. We met with the likes of Alex Lewis from the Bells Corners Business Improvement Area, Tom Moss from the Barrhaven Business Improvement Area. We met with them from the market. We met with them from Orléans. We had an opportunity to sit with some of the brightest visionaries on the local Ottawa economy, and they were telling us the number one cost of doing business for them is high hydro rates.


They also did talk quite extensively about the minimum wage, so I have referred them to speak with their local Minister of Labour, who will have some input into that. But that Ottawa coalition of BIAs, I think they’re 18 to 22 strong, representing the whole city in terms of small business and large business—they have some very serious concerns about this community.

From there I had the opportunity to go to a number of winter carnivals. Obviously that’s my favourite part of the job, is being out there. I can take my daughter. We bring our skates and, as a former hockey and ringette player, I like to get out on the ice every once in a while. I don’t skate as fast as I used to, but I can tell you I’ve been getting a lot of practice this year, Speaker. It’s really, really important because she’s now at that age. I can tell you, this is what my favourite part of the job has been this winter. I will have three winter carnivals in a day. I have the largest geographic riding, and population-wise, in the city of Ottawa. What I’ll do is I’ll take my daughter and all of her friends. I load them up in my minivan and I’ll go do the ribbon cutting or the chili competition, and the three or four kids in the minivan go off and they skate. They get their face painted. My daughter has been to more winter carnivals this year than I probably was from the age of 5 to 15. I always make a joke with her. I tell her that I’m grooming her to be my successor, so that she’ll have a poll captain in every village in my riding, to which she says, “No, no, I don’t want to do that.” That’s fine.

She’s a great little girl and she has lots of great little friends. She’s at school today in Nepean and she’s enjoying—

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Chip off the old block.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: She is. She’s not shy, that’s for sure. She comes by it honestly with this Celtic heritage that I bring to this assembly.

You know what, I want to go back to this tour that I’ve taken because I had a great weekend in the riding. I saw several of my constituents. Their number one issue, not surprisingly, was hydro. They also wanted to see an election called. The folks in Nepean–Carleton are telling me that that’s what they want. They’ve lost confidence in this government. They’re expecting that the NDP will actually stop propping up this government. I think that’s an important message for you to understand.

But the issue is that we continued on. I have a friend, Andrew Lister, who’s running for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives in Orléans. I went there with our finance critic, Vic Fedeli. Vic spoke for a great deal of time on the implication of a gas tax for the city of Toronto and what that will do for us in Ottawa. He talked about the debt retirement charge that should have been paid off by this government and wasn’t. We talked about energy prices. We had their BIAs. We had business owners. We had people from a wide spectrum. We had seniors that were there. They were tired of this government’s policies. They have encouraged us to win that Ottawa–Orléans seat so we can send some common sense to Queen’s Park from that area.

From there we drove off to Rockland, to the area of Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, the riding of Roxane Villeneuve Robertson. I’ve spoken about her before. Her father is a former agriculture minister and francophone affairs minister. We went to Rockland to meet with their chamber of commerce. Vic Fedeli, our finance critic, gave a wonderful speech. He dissected the challenges Ontario is facing today. Again, not surprisingly, when we were in Rockland, the people of Rockland, the job creators in Rockland, told us their number one issue was energy. So that was, I think, really important.

The next day, I flew off to Toronto, because I have an office here, as we all do, in this assembly. I came to do some work and I worked with my leader, Tim Hudak. We toured a factory with Gila Martow, Kohl and Frisch, in Vaughan. As we walked through this wonderful factory—this a factory that supplies Walmart. They’re a major player in Canada. Number one issue: energy. A major job creator in Toronto that’s almost 100 years old, their major issue is hydro. From there, I met with a number of energy folks. I had a luncheon. I’m going through my calendar, Speaker. I don’t have notes; I’m just going through my calendar to actually tell you what I did in the month of January. It’s true. I can give you my calendar. It’s not that exciting. There’s not really any entertaining things in there other than work.

Hon. Ted McMeekin: What did you have for breakfast?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Today? I had a nice cup of tea.


Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I think the Liberals are heckling me, Speaker, to get a life. I’ll tell you something: I will not stop working until this government is defeated, and that is why I’m reading into the record my calendar.

I gave two speeches that week, one in Toronto and one in Cambridge. I won’t get into who was exactly there, but I can tell you there were energy executives, and I remember standing up and talking a little bit about Hydro One. I thought to myself—

Mr. Steven Del Duca: How much did they pay?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Well, I can say this. I stood up in Cambridge, and I stood up in Toronto, and I said this: “Enbridge can find me once a month. Why in the hell can’t Hydro One find my constituents once a month? A private company can do that. Hydro One is fumbling all over the place.”

I still maintain the CEO, Carmine Marcello, should be fired. He knew about the problems with Hydro One’s billing as far back as 2010. He has been with the company for over 25 years. He does not have the confidence of the people of Ontario to fix that problem. It’s time that he takes leave and puts somebody in place that actually knows what they’re talking about.

That brings me to later that evening. I had an energy round table in Tim Hudak’s area, and we were meeting with wind energy folks. When Tim Hudak stands here and he talks about the Green Energy Act, Tim Hudak knows what he’s talking about. You want to know why? His community is actually being assaulted, like my community and Lisa Thompson’s community, with wind turbine development that is not wanted, that we cannot afford. So I met with Mothers Against Wind Turbines. They stood there and they told me about their real concerns. They told me about their high energy prices. They talked about the fear of their children moving away from Ontario, like the exact same fear my father had when I left Nova Scotia. That is Ontario today. That’s in the Niagara region, Speaker. If the Liberals don’t—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Well, folks, there seem to be three ministers that are really projecting their voices this morning. I guess they want us all to hear their thoughts. But the Speaker doesn’t want to hear their thoughts until it’s their turn. So we’ll keep it down, won’t we, folks?


Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Thank you, Speaker. You know what? This is a message I don’t think the Liberals want to hear. That’s why they’re trying to speak over me. I’m only bringing to the floor the collective experience of the people who I met and the experience that I brought, and that brought me to this assembly. And I’m happy that my colleague is here from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke, my seatmate. He has stood in this House on numerous occasions defending the people of Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke on the high hydro rates that are killing this province.

Speaker, I had that wonderful opportunity to do that during the month of January, and I think that the really important thing here and the message that I want to leave with you—well, I actually have 15 more minutes, so I’ll find some more to talk about. But the message that is very strong with me—

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Not enough research last night. You should have stayed longer.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Oh. The message that was very important to me in the month of January, and what I received loud and clear from all of those communities that I had gone to, was that people feel that there is a real energy crisis in the province of Ontario. So I think that is critical and that is key.

I then went on tour in the month of February as well. Tim Hudak kept me quite busy—a lot of kilometres on my car; my minivan looks quite beaten up. Of course, I had to drive down the 401. I lost a tire. I should actually show the picture to the Minister of Transportation, because I think we have a real problem with the winter road maintenance. I’ve never seen roads this bad in the province of Ontario in my life.

I then went down to have an energy round table with Jim McDonell in the Cornwall area, and we met with a number of seniors that were there as well as the mayor, Bryan McGillis, of that local community. While we were there, it was very clear to me how bad this propane crisis is in Ontario and how bad the Hydro One crisis is in Ontario. I had one woman stand and tell me that her OAS does not cover her hydro, let alone her propane bill. What concerns me is that the poor little minister of whatever she is from Vanier—she doesn’t quite understand that there are people out there who don’t make as much money as her, and there are people out there who are trying to—

Hon. Glen R. Murray: A point of order, Mr. Speaker?


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): A point of order: the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I never knew that “poor little minister from Vanier” was an appropriate form of address for the Minister of Community Safety. She’s many things, but she isn’t little in spirit, and Vanier isn’t very poor.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Well, we might want to be careful how we describe, with our adjectives, fellow members.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Sure. I unreservedly apologize to the minister. I did not want to refer to her as poor.

The point is, we went down to the Long Sault, and we were standing there with some folks who had worked for Hydro One, telling us about the laissez-faire attitude in that community. Then, they also talked to us about the challenges they face living on a fixed income. With that fixed income that they live on—not unlike the people of Overbrook in Ottawa, they were wondering how they were going to pay their hydro bill on the limited income that they have. That was a real challenge, and one that this government does not have an answer for.

From there, I had the opportunity to meet with my own constituents. I had a full day of constituency meetings. I talked a lot about health care that day—on autism, we talked quite a bit; about cancer drugs that aren’t being approved. A lot of my constituents, when they were coming in, they were scratching their head. They were saying, “They have enough money to cancel two gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, but they don’t have enough money to pay for my child’s cancer drugs?” Or, “They don’t have enough money for my child to get appropriate autism services?”

Mr. John Yakabuski: Priorities.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: My colleague from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke speaks about priorities. There are no priorities in this government because there are too many priorities in this Liberal government, because Kathleen Wynne flails around whichever way the wind is blowing, trying to be everyone’s friend. Well, I think it’s time for leadership in Ontario. I think the person who can offer that is Tim Hudak. I think he’s got the opportunity to do that, and I think that’s consistent with what we’ve heard.

Let me tell you about the trip to Sarnia I took with Bob Bailey. What a wonderful day that we took with—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Great member.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: He’s a great member. He’s been actually very vocal on the energy file. When I was in Sarnia and we met with the chamber of commerce there—they consider themselves to be the energy capital of Ontario, but they can’t understand this government’s preoccupation with the so-called advanced manufacturing, when they still think we have to invest in manufacturing and make sure there’s a climate ready for manufacturing in the province of Ontario that this government doesn’t seem to want to deal with.

We had an opportunity to go to the UWO research park. We toured it with Tom Strifler, the director there.

We met with some constituents of Bob’s. It was interesting when we were meeting with the constituents because what I had heard in Long Sault earlier in the week and what I had heard in St. Thomas earlier in that month was the exact same thing I heard in Sarnia—a senior citizen brings in his hydro bill and brings in his OAS cheque, and his OAS cheque is less than his hydro bill, courtesy of Kathleen Wynne and her Ontario Liberal government. Speaker, that’s what I saw in Ontario during the months of January and February.

While I was out working, we didn’t know where the Minister of Energy was; we didn’t know where the Premier was—she was on a campaign stop boasting about her rented campaign bus. But those are the challenges.

In the time I have left in this 10 minutes, let me tell you how we will address these challenges that Ontarians are facing. Our leader, tomorrow, will talk about his Million Jobs Act, and I hope it has support from all of the parties in this assembly.

Let me tell you how we will address energy. Energy is a key component in the Million Jobs Acts. We actually do have a policy on energy and how we would make it more affordable for seniors, those on a fixed income, mums and dads, small business owners and manufacturers. We have said this: We will end, without a doubt, the FIT program. No more subsidies for wind and solar, making life more unaffordable for people in Ontario. We’re going to change that. We’re going to make sure that people pay for power at the appropriate rate. We’re going to end that program. And I cannot be more clear than saying that a Progressive Conservative government under Tim Hudak will scrap the Green Energy Act.

Secondly, we are going to make sure there are sensible trade arrangements with neighbouring jurisdictions. If we can get cheaper power from Manitoba or Quebec, or we can export without a loss, we’re going to do it; we’re going to revisit that. I once was in a debate about four years ago, maybe even three years ago, with a Liberal now-cabinet minister who told us, “We can’t deal with the province of Quebec because we don’t know if they’re going to separate.” That’s not an appropriate response to our energy issues in Ontario. We have to make sensible trade agreements so that my friend Steve Clark in Brockville doesn’t have to deal with a neighbouring community on the other side of the St. Lawrence Seaway trying to come over to poach his businesses, Fortune 500 companies—because in upstate New York, they actually have cheaper power than they do in Brockville, Ontario. We have to stop that. Ontario’s Progressive Conservative leader, Tim Hudak, has made that commitment, and I’ll stand with Steve Clark in trying to get those jobs back to eastern Ontario. That’s what we’re going to do.

Third, it is without a doubt one of the biggest scandals in Ontario today: the Hydro One over-billing scheme and the challenges that they have as a result of their utter incapability—

Mr. John Yakabuski: Incompetence.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: —incompetence and mismanagement.

We also saw before Christmas that the Auditor General came out and proved once and for all that the sense of entitlement of OPG has run away for far too long. People in this room without a pension and people at home watching without a pension are subsidizing, on their hydro bills, pension plans of the OPG that we could only dream of. That has to stop. Under the Ontario Progressive Conservative plan, our leader, Tim Hudak, has said we will monetize the OPG, we will monetize Hydro One, and we will make them more accountable. Again, I ask you, if Hydro One can’t find my constituent, why can Enbridge? Why can the company Propane Levac? Why can other companies find my consumers or my constituents—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services is spinning her chair and talking loud and thinking I can’t see it or hear it. I would suggest that she cut it back a bit, because it’s not fooling me.


Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Thanks, Speaker. It’s not fooling the people of the province of Ontario either. They’re tired of this government. They want an election. They want a party in place that actually has a vision for where to take the province. They know we have a plan on energy; they know we have a plan on bringing jobs back. So let’s get at it.

Clinging to the office tower here on the second floor with Kathleen Wynne’s fingernails going down the wood panelling so she can’t be removed from office—is a pathetic reason to try and be Premier. You either have to have a vision to be Premier, you have to understand who you want to help, you have to understand why you want to be here, or you should leave.

I think it’s time that we had a provincial election. I think it’s time that we actually talked about how we can get Ontario out of the rut she’s been in for 10 years under the management of this government. We have had a decade of darkness, a decade of decline. It’s time for a change in the province of Ontario. We’re offering that.

I go back. The reason I decided that, yes, I wanted to speak to supply after the government decided to change their speaking order today and not deal with the World Trade Organization ruling that has found them in non-compliance and has embarrassed our nation—I was supposed to have spoken to that for an hour today, but they decided they didn’t want to come into compliance with the WTO; they wanted to embarrass Stephen Harper. That was more important for them, that we talk about supply.

So I decided what I would do this morning when I woke up was to talk about the people I met. I thought I’d tell you about the experiences that they had. I thought I would tell you what’s happening in Ontario outside Wellesley Street. I thought I’d talk to you about the constituents that my colleagues have who are concerned about their future. An election, for those people, can’t come soon enough.

We’re dealing with real people’s problems. This isn’t a think tank; it isn’t 37 panels of good buddies from downtown Toronto sipping lattes and having some cappuccino. This isn’t about the union elites that want to meet with Kathleen Wynne. This isn’t about the Working Families Coalition that’s really about big unions, not about real people. This is about the people that my colleagues represent.

I see him now, my colleague from Carleton–Mississippi Mills. I had the opportunity to be in his riding as well; we share a boundary. We went to his riding. The number one issue is energy.

They’re tired in Carleton–Mississippi Mills, they’re tired in Nepean–Carleton, they’re tired in Huron–Bruce, they’re tired in Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke, they’re tired in Etobicoke–Lakeshore, they’re tired in Northumberland–Quinte West, they’re tired in Oxford, and they’re tired in Perth–Wellington. They want an election. Under this government, rural Ontario is languishing.

I look at my colleague from Perth–Wellington. We had an opportunity to do a phone-in show on a radio station in the month of January, and the number one issue people were talking about—what was it? Yell it out. It was energy. His community is like mine in many respects. Those people who are being hit with high energy prices are also the same people they put out of the work in the horse racing industry. I’ve never seen an economic plan like it.


One thing we have to do in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, in order to turn this province around, is again make energy a focus of our economy, make sure that energy is the number one issue for the people we represent and make sure that we turn this province around with affordable energy rates, so that we can once again lead Confederation, and I believe we can.

People come from all over the world to marvel at this province. They saw what Bill Davis did to build it. They saw Mike Harris turn it around and bring in a million jobs, and they will see Tim Hudak do the same thing. We will have clear priorities. It will be completely different from the mess we’ve had, that decade of decline, the decade of despair, the decade of darkness. It was a time when they took in more revenues than they’d ever taken in their life, yet still posted record deficits.

Our third-largest spending priority in the province of Ontario today is the debt and the deficit. It ranks this way: health care, education, the debt and the deficit to pay for the cancelled gas plants, the debt and the deficit to pay for the scandal at Ornge, the debt and the deficit to pay for the eHealth scandal, the debt and the deficit to pay for all of the Presto and Metrolinx problems—the debt and the deficit to deal with all of the scandal, the little black box of scandal that that government has given to the province of Ontario in the last decade.

That concerns me, as a mother, to no end. When I think of my daughter and I put the three or four kids into the car or the minivan and we’re driving—this government has loaded $20,000 worth of debt on each one of those children’s heads, and they’re only eight years old. They’re paying for the problems and mistakes of this government, and the only party with a plan to get us out of it and put us back on track here in the province of Ontario is our party with our leader, Tim Hudak.

I think in the weeks ahead, we will have confidence motions. I can tell you, we had 12 yesterday. It shocked me to no end, and my constituents as well, that the New Democrats under Andrea Horwath stood up 12 times yesterday to defend this Liberal government, even after they found out last week that the OPP had launched a search warrant into the cancelled gas plants and the deleted emails. To me, that was quite a shocker, and it was shocking that they would stand up and provide confidence to that level of corruption, but they did.

Speaker, I can tell you this, and I can tell you right now: We are going to be on the side of people who want change in Ontario. We are the ones with a responsible plan. We are the ones who are going to continue to work on behalf of the people of Ontario whom we have met with. We have brought their shared experiences to the floor of this assembly, and we are going to do something about it.

So as I conclude, I want to thank all members for this spirited discussion. I thank them for letting me have the opportunity to speak for 40 minutes, almost uninterrupted. I’m going to have a wonderful time going back into my community to tell them what our plan is, and I’m looking forward, when there is actually an election, to being part of that change that restores Ontario to its rightful place as a leader in Confederation, under the leadership of Premier Hudak, with people like John Yakabuski, Lisa Thompson and Doug Holyday. I call him Doug Ford sometimes—


Ms. Lisa MacLeod: But sometimes I make the mistake.

I can tell you one thing: It’s time for a change.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of New Democrats, I want to speak and actually talk to the point that we’re dealing with here today and what we dealt with yesterday, and that is both the issues of the concurrence votes on estimates and on the supply motion that’s before us today.

To listen to the Conservatives, they say this is a prime opportunity—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Nepean–Carleton and her group: We just listened intently to your presentation—

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: You have my apologies, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): —and I think now it would be nice of you to give respect to the member from Timmins–James Bay.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Sorry, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): So if you want to have your little conference, take it outside.


Mr. Gilles Bisson: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, this debate is about supply and about concurrences that have been before the House. To listen to the Conservatives speak, they say, “Oh, this is a real opportunity for all of us in the opposition to gang together and to bring the government down and to have an election.” Well, listen, there may very well be an election in this province, but the province of Ontario needs the authority to pay the bills. These Tea Party Republicans, the Conservative Party of Ontario, quite frankly, are taking a play out of the Republican playbook in the United States. They’re saying, “Let’s take Ontario and push it over the fiscal cliff and then have an election.”

Well, can you imagine what would happen if we actually did what Tim Hudak wants? We would be in a situation, as of the vote yesterday, for the province of Ontario to have lost the authority to pay the bills. That means to say that air ambulances wouldn’t fly. That means to say that ambulances would close. That means to say that Elections Ontario couldn’t even run the darn election.

So what kind of plan does Tim Hudak have? It’s more of the same. It’s what Tim Hudak has been doing for the last two and a half years. He comes into this minority Parliament as the party who’s in the best position to be able to influence the government in a minority Parliament, and he says, “You know what? I’m dealing myself out. I’m going to be the oppositional leader who doesn’t propose anything and who just stands on the sideline and swipes at the government, swipes at the opposition NDP,” and does what they’ve been doing for two and a half years.

I think Ontarians are starting to understand. If New Democrats won by-elections in places like Waterloo, London, Windsor and recently in Niagara Falls, it has to do with the public that has looked at what Tim Hudak is doing, and they’re saying, “I’m not buying it.” The public understands, as we do, and Conservatives agree, that there is a displeasure with the Liberal government. We all understand they’ve done a bunch of things that we’re really not happy with, everything from the energy file—where they stole the Conservative plan to deregulate and privatize hydro, then the Liberals did it themselves. We understand that there are issues, but there’s a time and a place to deal with it.

For Ontario to be in the position, as of yesterday, to have not had the ability to pay the bills, I say to Tim Hudak and the Conservatives, I just don’t know where you guys are coming from, other than saying you’re a bunch of Tea Party Republicans who have taken your plays out of Mitt Romney and others in the Congress of the United States and have decided to try to push Ontario over the fiscal cliff.

There is a responsibility with being elected. There’s a responsibility, that the public puts onto us as elected members, to do what is right in this Legislature. There are times to be hyper-partisan. I get it. We all do it, from the government side to the opposition side. There are times to propose and there are times to oppose, but this is not a time to oppose. This is a supply motion.

So, let’s be clear about what this means. If we were to listen to Tim Hudak and we were today to vote down the supply motion, as of the time of the vote, Ontario would lose the ability to pay the bills.

Mr. John Yakabuski: That is wrong.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: That means that there would be no authority—


Mr. Gilles Bisson: See, my learned friend from the Conservative caucus says I’m wrong. Go and check the standing orders and go and check the precedents. What happens when you vote down a supply bill? The government loses the authority to pay the bills. It means to say that all of Ontario would shut down because this Legislature would not give the authority to the government of Ontario to pay the bills. Then they would say, “Well, we just have to go to the Lieutenant Governor and the Lieutenant Governor would issue a warrant in order to pay the bills. We don’t have to worry about that.” Do you think for one minute that the Lieutenant Governor, once this House votes by majority to turn down the supply motion or to turn down concurrences, would all of a sudden undo the mess that this House created? The Lieutenant Governor is not the one to make that decision. It is this Legislature that makes this decision. And for Conservatives, under Tim Hudak, to all of a sudden try to pretend as if this is another opportunity in order to bring down the Liberal government and that we’re propping up the Liberals is preposterous. You know what I’m upset about? We’re propping up Hudak—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Renfrew. I guess you were ignoring me. Twice I asked you to keep it down.


Mr. Gilles Bisson: So I say, really the question here is—we’re propping up Tim Hudak’s bad leadership. That’s what the Conservatives are asking us to do. A leader with common sense, something that I thought the Tories really believed in, would understand the difference between voting down a throne speech and voting down a budget. When it comes to supply and concurrence, it means to say you’ve lost the authority to spend the money and to pay the bills of the province of Ontario. I think Conservatives, who are supposed to be the party who understand fiscal matters and are supposed to be the ones who really get the economy would be the first ones to figure out you cannot throw this province into a fiscal crisis. It makes absolutely no sense.


The Tories are doing what the Tories do best and what Tim Hudak has learned over the two and a half years here. They’ve decided that they are not going to in any way recognize what the people of Ontario told us in the last election, and that is, “We are not giving the government a majority. We’re creating a minority Parliament. We want people to come into this Legislature and take their responsibilities seriously, to oppose when necessary, to propose when it’s right, and always to remember what’s important to the people back home.”

For Tim Hudak to all of a sudden say that voting this down would just cause an election and would have no consequence whatsoever on what happens in Ontario is preposterous.

The rules are clear. This is a supply bill. If the House votes down supply, it means the government loses the authority to pay the bills. That means the jails close down, the hospitals close down, much in the way of our provincial transportation system closes down—hospitals, education and the rest. I don’t believe that’s what Ontarians want. Some Ontarians—and I would agree, probably a majority—are very upset with this government. I get that. But what they don’t want is for all of us here in this Legislature to play games, create a fiscal crisis in order to have a provincial election, and to have nobody have the ability to get provincial services until such time that a new government would be formed, because the reality is it would probably take about 60 days for all of that to happen. By the time you have an election, by the time you gazette the members and have the members reported into the House, by the time you have a throne speech and by the time you can reintroduce the Supply Act, you’re probably talking about 60 days. Can we really afford to shut down all government services that the province of Ontario gives for 60 days?

Unfortunately, my aunt Doris just died two days ago. She died in the United States. If she was in Canada and wanted to go to an emergency room, she couldn’t have gotten to the hospital, period.

So Tim Hudak—I just say that leadership is somewhat questionable. For these guys to all of a sudden play politics with an issue like supply doesn’t make any sense.

The last point I’m going to make is this—I checked this fact out yesterday: There has not been a case in the history of this province where a government has fallen on a supply motion or on an interim supply bill. It has not happened, and for Tim Hudak to try to say otherwise flies in the face of reality and speaks volumes about the Conservatives. They are about politics. They’re about the politics of self-interest. They are about trying to create a fiscal crisis in order to do the things that are to their political advantage. If that’s what Tim Hudak’s leadership is all about, I say it fails the test.

Yes, I will vote for supply, along with the rest of our caucus.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Steven Del Duca: It’s a great opportunity for me to rise in my place today and speak, after having had a chance to listen to the two members of both opposition caucuses speak on this. Far be it from me to ever stand in my place and perhaps inadvertently or accidentally get in the way of two of the members opposite doing a wonderful job of attacking each other and demonstrating to the people of Ontario yet again—not for the first time and hopefully not for the last—why neither is particularly fit to show leadership for this province.

It’s funny, as I was driving down to Queen’s Park this morning and I was thinking about what I might say with respect to the Supply Act and how important it is to make sure that we can continue to pay our bills, as was mentioned earlier—I was looking forward to the discussion in the Legislature. I didn’t know that I’d be showing up and I’d have the opportunity to listen to the member from Nepean–Carleton provide us with sort of a day in her life or a week in her life or a month in her life. It was fascinating to hear her talk about the tour that she has taken across this province and rhyme off the names of so many other candidates running—

Interjection: Leadership tour?

Mr. Steven Del Duca: If I was the leader of her party, I’d be a little bit concerned about the work that she might be doing. It sounded an awful lot like a leadership tour.

The bottom line is, we’re here today to talk about the Supply Act and why it’s important. It has been mentioned by others in this place. I just want to make sure it is understood that we need to move forward on this. We need to pass this legislation to make sure that Ontario pays its bills and to make sure—we say that at a high level, but in a very granular way, what that means is that we’ll be able to continue paying the nurses, the doctors, the teachers, the folks who work at municipalities. We’ll be able to continue to provide financial and income support for those who need it: people with disabilities and special needs, children’s aid societies, and the list goes on. Why anybody on the opposite side would want to put the province of Ontario into a position where we couldn’t continue to pay those individuals working in these kinds of settings is beyond me. It’s beyond the people of my community in Vaughan, and I’m certain that the people who elected those members of the official opposition, the PC Party, to come to this place expect better. I hope that we will continue moving forward on the Supply Act, that it will get passed, and we will return to doing those things that the people of our respective communities elected us to do.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? Last call for further debate. Seeing none, pursuant to standing order 64, I am now required to put the question.

Mr. Sousa has moved second reading of Bill 164, An Act to authorize the expenditure of certain amounts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

I heard a nay. In my opinion, the ayes have it.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Sorry, they didn’t have five members. Sorry.

The vote is carried. This bill, therefore, is ordered for third reading.

Second reading agreed to.

SUPPLY ACT, 2014 /

Mr. Gerretsen, on behalf of Mr. Sousa, moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 164, An Act to authorize the expenditure of certain amounts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014 / Projet de loi 164, Loi autorisant l’utilisation de certaines sommes pour l’exercice se terminant le 31 mars 2014.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Orders of the day?

Hon. John Gerretsen: Speaker, you’ll be very pleased to know that there’s no further business at this time.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): There being no further business, this House stands recessed until 10:30 this morning.

The House recessed from 0959 to 1030.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Introduction of friends—of guests.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We’re all friends here.

The member from York–Simcoe.

Mrs. Julia Munro: I would agree with you that we’re all friends.

Attending in the Legislature this morning, I’d like you to help me welcome Debbie Gordon, Josh Garfinkel, Ian McLaurin and Carmela Marshall, who are here this morning as guests of my colleague John O’Toole. We certainly appreciate their participation here today.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m pleased to welcome one of my friends and, actually, my council representative in Lakeshore and Belle River, Dave Monk, who is a councillor from the town of Lakeshore. He’s here as a part of the delegation at the OGRA/ROMA conference to speak about municipal issues.

Hon. Michael Chan: It’s really my pleasure to welcome everyone who’s here from the Ontario Arts Council visiting Queen’s Park today, and in particular the chair, Martha Durdin, and CEO Peter Caldwell—as well as two members from my riding of Markham–Unionville, Eric and Malarville.

Mr. Bill Walker: It’s my pleasure to welcome David Adair, from the Georgian Bay Symphony; Ian Boddy, from the Tom Thomson Art Gallery; and Heather Fullerton, from the Georgina Arts Centre, in the great riding of Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound.

Miss Monique Taylor: It gives me great pleasure today to welcome some staff members as well as a co-op student from my riding. I have Sandra Troulinous, Angelica Garcia-Hennings and Haley Naso. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Vic Dhillon: I’d like to welcome my wife, Shaminder, who’s here today to observe our son Robin, who’s the page captain.

As well, I will be joined shortly by some friends from my riding. Mr. Jagmohan Sahota will be bringing his guests who are here from India and who operate a very well-known college in India: Dr. Zora Singh, Tajinder Singh, Meera Mehta, Vinay Kohli and Sagmitra Singh.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I think it was more important to get the applause for your wife than it was for your guests. I just wanted to let you know that.

Introduction of guests?

Ms. Laurie Scott: I’d also like to welcome everyone here today from the Ontario Arts Council and introduce Brad Copping, a glass artist from my riding—his shop is in Apsley—and Diane Davey and Dawn Cattapan. Welcome to the Legislature.

Hon. David Orazietti: Given we’re introducing invasive species legislation today, I want to introduce Steve Hounsell, chair of the Ontario Biodiversity Council; Dave Ireland, Biodiversity Education and Awareness Network; Kim Gavine, Conservation Ontario; Julie Cayley, Ducks Unlimited; Nancy Goucher, Environmental Defence; Gillian McEachern, Environmental Defence; Dilhari Fernando, Invasive Species Centre; Mark Stabb, Nature Conservancy of Canada; Angelo Lombardo, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters; and Daniel Pujdak, Chiefs of Ontario.

Mr. Rob Leone: I would like to welcome the students and staff from Southwood Secondary School, my alma mater, to Queen’s Park today. They are going to be witnessing proceedings here.



Mr. Victor Fedeli: Good morning, Mr. Speaker. Good morning, Premier. My question is for the Premier.

We heard loud and clear, during our finance tour and pre-budget hearings: high taxes, skyrocketing energy rates, and red tape. But more than anything, Premier, there is absolutely no support for your provincial gas tax increase.

Premier, in the last 10 years, you have doubled our debt, tripled our hydro rates, and now you want to dig deeper into the pockets of hard-working Ontarians. Why is it that to solve the problems you’ve created, your default is always to increase taxes—health tax, diamond tax, all sorts of new taxes? When you spend the money on rich subsidies for wind power, Ornge and cancelling gas plants—people understand.

Will you support my opposition motion today and commit to not raising taxes on students, families and seniors?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I guess I would just respond to the member opposite by saying, why is it that his party is not interested in long-term thinking? Why is it that his party is not interested in making investments in the people, in the infrastructure and in the business climate that we know are going to be necessary in order for this province to thrive? That really is the question that I think has to be answered at this moment.

Our plan is to invest in infrastructure and, yes, that includes transit, but it also includes roads and bridges and water systems across the province. I don’t know if the member opposite had an opportunity to go to ROMA/OGRA, but there’s not a municipality in this province that isn’t interested in stable, predictable infrastructure funding. There’s no plan coming from the other side on how they would do that. We have that plan.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Premier, your tax-and-spend government is killing businesses and hurting families.

Speaking of OGRA/ROMA, let me share with you some of what we heard. The mayor of North Bay described your gas tax plan this way: “It’s an awesome program if the idea is to drive manufacturers and companies out of the province.”

The mayor of East Ferris wrote to you last month and called your gas tax “another assault on rural municipalities.”

The Trillium Automobile Dealers warned that “hiking taxes on drivers and vehicles will increase the cost of using public transit.”

Premier, we’ve heard loud and clear: high taxes, skyrocketing energy rates, and red tape. Will you support our motion today and not increase taxes?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I’ve had the opportunity to see the mayor of North Bay within the last few weeks, and I saw the mayor of East Ferris yesterday. I know that they are very committed to having the right infrastructure built in their communities. That’s why I put the question to the member opposite: How can he not support stable, predictable funding for infrastructure? How can he not support $100 million a year in roads and bridges and water system funding that municipalities across the province can count on?

That’s the kind of investment that I know municipalities across Ontario need. That’s why it’s part of our plan.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Premier, you’re bringing in nearly $50 billion more in revenue since the time you first took power, and now you want to add a 10-cents-a-litre hike in gas.

Here’s what Bill Love had to say at our pre-budget consultations: “It’s not a revenue problem; it’s really a spending problem.” I think he said it best.

Now, you’re also planning to raise corporate taxes by 0.5%. Listen to what the Ontario chamber’s Liam McGuinty had to say—and, yes, I think you know who that is: “The bulk of studies show that lowering corporate income taxes has a significant impact on investment.”

Premier, you don’t need that extra money. But what we do need is real leadership here. I’ll ask you once more: Will you support our motion today that promises no new gasoline, no new corporate or no new payroll taxes?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.


Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I just say to the member opposite that I think it would be a very good opportunity, given that this is his line of questioning, for him to talk to the municipal leaders from across the province and tell them that he actually doesn’t believe in investing in infrastructure, Mr. Speaker. He doesn’t think there needs to be an investment in their roads and bridges and in transit. I think that would be important. I think he could go on to say that, furthermore, he believes that cutting education workers and cutting health care workers, cancelling full-day kindergarten, cutting tuition supports—that’s what their plan is.


We think the reverse of that is what is needed. We believe that investment in people, making sure that they have the education supports that they need, making sure that municipalities have the infrastructure that they need—and that we would partner with them on that. We believe that those are the kinds of investments that are needed right now.


Ms. Lisa MacLeod: My question, as well, is to the Premier. I can think of a billion reasons why Ontarians should be wary of your government’s new gas tax for Toronto transit. It’s like a billion popping red flags. The people of this province have seen time and time again that this tired, old Liberal government can’t manage their money. They are tired of giving more to the provincial treasury, and that’s because this government consistently finds ways to squander their hard-earned tax dollars at a rate of about $1 billion at a time. The Ornge scandal, the gas plant scandal, the eHealth scandal, the Hydro One scandal, the miscalculation of the hydro debt retirement charge are billion-dollar babies of Premier Mom and her predecessor, Premier Dad.

Why is the Premier—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please.

I’m going to ask the member to address the Premier properly, as we do for everyone in this place. No first names. No personal names. Titles only. Please finish. You have 10—

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Why is the Premier asking Ontarians for more money when she can’t manage the money that they send to Queen’s Park now?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.


Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. So let’s just—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I heard it over here again, and if I hear it again, I’ll ask the person to withdraw or leave. It’s enough. We’re respectful in this place.

Carry on.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have been called worse things than a mom.

It is extremely important to me that, in answer to both the questions from the opposition and, in fact, the questions from the third party, it is clear that we have said that we are going to invest in transit. That is true. We’re going to invest in infrastructure. There have been a number of reports and a number of suggestions about how we might do that. We will bring a plan forward in our budget. I know that it’s in the interests of the opposition to focus on one particular revenue tool and to ride that one. We have not made a decision on how we will put together that plan. That is the work that we are doing right now.

What I will say, Mr. Speaker, is that we know very clearly that avoiding investment in infrastructure, as the opposition did in the past and would do again, is irresponsible, is not in the best interests of this province, either now or in the future.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Speaker, I have to laugh at her. Just last week, we had a sinkhole in Waller Street in Ottawa. That’s the infrastructure of the province of Ontario. It’s crumbling after a decade of decline.

The Premier should admit that she does not have a plan. She just wants the money. Her claim for the people of Ottawa and London and Windsor and Sudbury, to wait until her budget to tell them how much money they’re going to have to send to Toronto for Toronto taxes, is a stall tactic. This government is desperate for cash, and she doesn’t care where it comes from. She just wants it, to spend their money. They’ve had an inability to manage the economy, whether it’s in the energy sector, whether it’s jobs and the economy, or right now with the transit plan here in the GTA. This is the great province of Ontario. She has squandered the opportunity.

Will the Premier admit she won’t tell us what she’s going to do with that transit tax because she doesn’t know?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that has made it so impossible for governments to take action on important long-term issues for decades.

The fact is that we have been investing in transit since we came into office. We’ve been investing in infrastructure, and we exponentially have increased the number of dollars we’ve put into infrastructure compared to what their government did. The fact is, we are going to continue to make those investments.

We are having an honest conversation with people across the province about the needs for infrastructure. That’s why the $100-million infrastructure fund for roads and bridges, for northern and rural communities—that’s why that fund is in place, because those communities said to us that they need predictable infrastructure funding. We need partnerships—municipal, federal, provincial—working together. That’s the process we’re working on.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: This Premier has had a decade to put forward a plan and to spend money wisely. She had an opportunity this past year to invest in the 401, but people were losing tires on the side of the road. She had an opportunity to deal with the sinkholes in Ottawa, but they’re still happening. She had an opportunity to build subways in Toronto; she didn’t do it.

She wants the people’s money, and she wants billions of it from all across this province, for just downtown Toronto, but she doesn’t know what she’s going to use it for.

The other problem this Premier has is that she is losing jobs, she is hiking energy rates, and she has no plan. She wants to cling to power.

She has an opportunity this afternoon; she can support our motion. Will she do it? Yes or no?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.


Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I’m sorry, but the rant is just ridiculous—$500 million for the Queensway Carleton Hospital—in the member’s riding, Mr. Speaker—and $2 billion a year for both the southern and the northern highway programs. It is just ridiculous to suggest that this government has not invested in infrastructure. We have done it year over year; we are going to continue to do it.

The reality is that there was an infrastructure deficit when we came into office in 2003, and that infrastructure deficit had been built, had been left, by the previous government. We’ve been climbing out of that hole, we’re going to keep climbing, and we’re going to make those investments for the future.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. More and more studies show that experts are figuring out what families have been telling us for some time. Families feel like they’re being squeezed right out of the middle class. An internal federal government document says that the middle class is being “hollowed out.”

Given all that, is the Premier ready to back away from her plan to hit households with new taxes, tolls and fees?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member from Eglinton–Lawrence, come to order.


Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Same question, different party. It’s surprising, coming from the NDP, that there isn’t a question about how they would build transit and how we would work together as a collective, all of us, to make sure that the investments are made for the future.

Nonetheless, I understand that people in the middle class—that there are constraints and there are pressures on people. That’s why we have made many of the changes that we’ve made, whether it is expanding the 30%-off tuition grant—230,000 students received that last year, and we’ve now expanded that to five-year programs.

Securing retirement with pension reform: You know, if there is any issue that is of concern to people across the middle class, it’s what their retirement is going to look like. I’m surprised that the leader of the third party isn’t working with us on that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Yesterday, I asked whether the Premier agreed with her federal leader, who said this weekend, “The middle class is already having a hard time making ends meet, and struggling with debt. Tax increases for them are not in the cards and not on the table.”

The Premier didn’t answer my question, so I’m going to ask her again: Does the Premier agree with her federal leader that middle-class families experiencing hard times shouldn’t be asked to pay more?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: As I said yesterday, we need a federal partner. It would be terrific to have a federal government that would work with us. If we had a federal government that could work with us and that understood that having a long-term infrastructure plan was something that was critical, then we might be having a different discussion. We don’t have a federal government that is interested in doing that, unfortunately. I will continue to call on the federal government, but it may take a change of government to actually get that in place.

I just want to talk about some of the other things that we have—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: And by that—



The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, Justin Trudeau isn’t the only one concerned about middle-class families. During the Liberal leadership race, one candidate made it clear that this was the wrong way for Ontario to go:

“Lots of people are calling for an ‘adult conversation’ about road pricing, property tax hikes, and even regional sales taxes….

“Glen Murray does not think it’s the right way to go….

“The middle class is taxed out.”

Does the Premier agree with her Minister of Transportation? Is she actually ready to back away from her plan?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I’m not going to back away from a plan to build transit. We have not brought forward our plan in terms of the revenue stream. The leader of the third party and the members of the Conservative caucus who are interested in focusing on a tool and an issue within a broader discussion—fine; that’s their prerogative. The fact is that we have not brought forward our plan, but will I back away from building transit? I will not.

Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, I think that the members for Parkdale–High Park, Bramalea–Gore–Malton, Davenport, Beaches–East York, Hamilton Mountain, Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, Toronto–Danforth and Trinity–Spadina, all of whom said, “I pledge to support new ways to raise funds for a better transportation network in the GTHA,” don’t want to back away from building transit either, so I stand with those members.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Premier. The Premier can argue that Justin Trudeau’s views don’t apply to Ontario. She can claim that the views of the Minister of Transportation are irrelevant. But I want to ask her about her own party as well. The 2011 Liberal platform specifically and clearly ruled out new taxes. Page 53 of the Liberal platform says that they will keep their promises “without resorting to higher taxes.” Does the Premier agree with the promises she made to the people of Ontario when she was elected?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, as I have said, we are committed to continuing to build transit. I have not said what the plan will be. We are going to bring the plan forward in our budget. There are a number of suggestions that have been made about how to put in place a revenue stream to build transit. We are going to bring forward a plan to do that.

In case the member opposite had not noticed, I’ve only been the Premier for the last year. This is a new government, a new Premier, and we are putting our plan in place. I would expect that the leader—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Carry on, please.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I would expect, Mr. Speaker, that the leader of the third party would support, at least in principle, the notion of building new transit and having the money to pay for that transit.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, our economy is made up of people, and if they’re not doing well, our economy will not do well and will not prosper. The Premier seems determined to move ahead with her plan to hit families with new costs that will make life more expensive for them, and she doesn’t seem to care that everyone from her Minister of Transportation to her federal leader disagrees with her and agrees with us. Is this Premier finally ready to back away from this wrong-headed move?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I completely agree with the leader of the third party that if people are not doing well, then the economy is not doing well. If people can’t get to work, if businesses can’t move their goods around and can’t expand, then they can’t create the jobs that people need.

We’re going to continue to support people. We’re going to support them in the ways that we have. We are going to continue with the reduction on tuition. We’re going to continue on the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit. We’re going to continue to modernize the child care system. We’re going to continue to put the Ontario Child Benefit in people’s hands. Those are all very important issues. And we are going to invest in infrastructure and in transit to make sure that in the immediate future, there are jobs, and that in the longer-term future we have the economic growth that we need for the people in this province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, adding new taxes, tolls and fees will make life more expensive for families, and they’re already struggling with the highest hydro bills and auto insurance rates in the entire country.

Yesterday, the Premier said she’s “very cognizant of the burdens that middle-class people are feeling.” Well, if that’s the case, I don’t understand why she doesn’t feel that she has an obligation to listen to Ontario families, to listen to her federal leader, to listen to her transportation minister and back away from her plan to put more taxes, tolls and fees on the backs of those families.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I have spent a lot of time listening to people, Mr. Speaker. I have travelled the entire province in the last year, and I have spoken to people in every part of this province, in every corner of the province. I agree with the member opposite that people are feeling stretched; they are feeling pushed. They want a certain economic future. They want to know that there’s some stability. They want to know that jobs are going to be there.

So it’s our responsibility as government to make sure that we address the issues that may be holding the economy back. Infrastructure is one of those. So while we work to put more money in people’s hands by reducing auto insurance—and that is happening—by reducing electricity prices, by making sure that young people have access to post-secondary, we also have to invest in the infrastructure that will allow the economy to thrive.


Mr. Rob Leone: My question is for the government House leader. The House leader still has an opportunity to walk away from his job-killing gas tax. Business leaders in his riding are telling us loud and clear that this government has the wrong priorities. He should also find it troubling that in an article published on April 5 in the Waterloo Region Record, the Premier said that there are no guarantees Kitchener–Waterloo will get to use any new money to fund transit projects for the region.

Now, as the government’s lone wolf from a region where a Liberal MPP qualifies as an endangered species, I would think he would attempt to put his constituents’ interests first. But to my amazement, Mr. Speaker, the government House leader said, “We need to have a conversation about what’s going to work for Toronto and Hamilton (first).”

Will the government House leader stand up for his constituents and say no to the job-killing gas tax, or will he continue to toe the party line at their expense?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Forgive me; I’m going to provide the member with an opportunity to either rephrase his question or redirect it. It has to be to his portfolio, which is not the government House leader, under the circumstances. As minister, he’s the minister responsible for government services. So I would ask you to decide how to either—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Excuse me. Order.

I would ask the member to either redirect the question to the appropriate minister or to rephrase the question so that it fits into his portfolio. You have that choice. Please.

Mr. Rob Leone: I’ll direct that question to the Premier.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, in Kitchener–Waterloo, we are making the biggest transportation and transit investments in the history of this province. We are working with Chair Seiling and with the member from Kitchener Centre to build the most amazing rapid transit line. We are now buying up and building tracks to get two-way GO service.

What is his party doing? We put four GO trains in, and the Tories take four Via trains away. Your party has just overseen the biggest reduction in rail service to Kitchener in the history of the country, and you have the nerve to ask that question?

Why don’t you call the federal members from your area and ask them to put the four Via trains back? Then we’d actually have eight. Put four Via trains back so you—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.



The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Stop the clock.


Mr. Rob Leone: Mr. Speaker, I want to know who’s in charge over there. The transportation minister says that there’s going to be money to be used for transit in the area; the Premier made no commitment that gas tax revenue will be used for our transit area.

I want to know if the people of Kitchener Centre and Waterloo region will stand up for this Toronto-first strategy, at the expense of residents of Waterloo region.

It’s a simple fact which the government does not seem to understand: When the cost of doing business goes up, jobs go down. Failed green energy policies have driven the cost of doing business up, and the gas tax threatens to do the same thing. The Ontario Trucking Association and the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce both agree that a 10-cent gas tax, road tolls and other misguided revenue tools will lead to more job losses.

Will they finally stand up for residents in Waterloo region and say yes to jobs and no to more taxes?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’m curious. I’m still waiting for the answer from the member. There were four Via trains. We added four GO trains. I know his math isn’t very good, but I think even the PhD could figure out that that was eight. The Tories took four away. We’re back to four.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Oxford, come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It seems that I can’t get order until I actually stop everything going on. Stop the clock, please.

The member from Oxford, the member from Halton, and the member from Cambridge, who asked the questions, come to order.

Carry on.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: The other thing we’re doing with the member from Kitchener Centre is, we are assembling land and building Highway 7, which is critically important.

GO service, LRT service and Highway 7: That sounds like the best deal the people in Kitchener have had in several generations. Why is that happening? Because we are spending 2% of the province’s GDP on infrastructure.

They spent 0.25%. I want to conclude by commending Mr. Flaherty and the Tories. They are consistent federally. They’re spending 0.25%—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

New question.


Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Premier. During the economic downturn, Sarnia lost more than 7% of their workforce, and it still hasn’t recovered. There are families in Sarnia who used to rely on a paycheque from Ethyl in Corunna, Dow or the UBE parts plant, but those jobs have left, and 5,000 jobs that used to be in Sarnia before the recession haven’t returned.

Does the Premier think that the Liberal status quo is working for communities like Sarnia?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, I am proud and happy to say that there are 8,000 more people working in the Sarnia area than there were a year ago today. There’s no question that this is an area that has been challenged by the recession and the change in manufacturing. It’s an incredibly important part of this province.

I met, in fact, just yesterday with local leadership from Lambton county, talking about the chemical sector. I know that there are many people in the Sarnia area that are employed in that important sector. But most importantly in terms of indicators, the unemployment rate in January 2013 was 9%; in January of this year, it is down to 6.9%.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Again to the Premier: The Liberal government claimed the HST would create 600,000 jobs, which we have yet to see. They claimed no-strings-attached giveaways would create jobs, but in southwestern Ontario, anyone can see that that plan isn’t working.

According to the Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Board, unemployment in their community is 8%; in Guelph, it’s 7%; in London, it’s 8%; and in Niagara, it’s a whopping 9%.

Clearly, the status quo isn’t working. Ontario needs a smarter plan. Will the Premier admit that this province needs a targeted plan that rewards job creators, gets hydro rates under control and provides some relief for small businesses, or is she going to stick with the status quo?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Eglinton–Lawrence, come to order.


Hon. Eric Hoskins: The facts from Stats Canada show there are 8,000 more people working in Windsor and Sarnia than there were a year ago today. The unemployment rate has dropped down to 6.9%. This is proof that our jobs plan is working.

Certainly, the discussions that I had yesterday with members who are concerned about the chemical sector, which is one of the sectors that’s extremely important in that entire area—they were very positive about the outlook. They appreciate the efforts the province has been making to partner with them to make sure that the progress that we’re beginning to see continues, and it’s progress that we’re seeing right around this province, with almost 450,000 jobs created since the bottom of the recession, and 80% of those jobs in the private sector. We added 7,800 youth jobs last month alone in this province. We’re seeing the progress and we’re seeing the importance of our jobs plan.


Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: I’ve got a question this morning for the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment. Ontario’s agri-food sector is a very strong driver for the Ontario economy and it’s one of the priorities of this government. However, it’s also an industry that’s had its challenges of late, especially in the Leamington and Essex county areas. There have been a number of stories recently—today as well—in the news stating that a company may be looking to move its business into the Heinz facility.

Now, I know our government’s been very, very active in this area, but today, Speaker, through you to the minister, would he please provide this House with an update on what our government has been doing to assist the community of Leamington?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I appreciate the question from the member from Oakville. Although I can’t talk about the specifics—the reference to the articles in the media that have appeared today—I can say that since day one I and many members of the government, including, of course, the Premier, have been working very collaboratively with the local leadership, the business and political leadership in Leamington and the Leamington area, as well as representatives of the employees who were affected by the Heinz closure.

I want to say that the mayor of Leamington has been very proactive on this as well. I spoke with him last week. Of course, the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp., led by Sandra Pupatello, has been very involved. And can I say, most importantly, as well, Teresa Piruzza, the MPP from Windsor West, has been very active, working with the company and prospective investors to bring jobs to this important part of the province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you, Speaker. Through you, back to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, I’m sure we’re all pleased to hear about that ongoing support the government has provided in the Leamington area.

Now, Leamington, like the region of Chatham–Kent–Essex, is the hub of Ontario’s agri-food sector. I’m sure that all the workers and the growers in that area are going to be pleased to hear that efforts are being made that are ongoing to ensure economic growth in the area and to make sure that growth continues.

Speaker, today, through you, can the minister update the House on any concrete and specific examples of the work our government is doing to attract new business to this wonderful area?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Again, it’s our role as government to do everything we can to support this community as they move through this challenging time. I have to say that I’ve been deeply involved since day one in doing what I can to make sure that investment in jobs comes to this community. We’re working closely with Heinz and with potential investors, working with them about Heinz’s plans for their plant so we can work with the community to move forward.

Of course, late last fall, we provided funds through our communities in transition fund as well to support the workers who were affected and will be affected by the layoffs. But I’m optimistic that we’re going to find a solution that’s going to bring new, good, high-paying, sustainable jobs to Leamington and the Leamington area. Quite frankly, it’s due to the hard work of so many great, dedicated individuals in the business community, through the development corporations in the Windsor-Essex area, the mayor and his staff in Leamington, and the government officials working hard on this.


Mr. Monte McNaughton: My question this morning is for the Deputy Premier. In the past 12 months, Ontario has lost 30,000 vital manufacturing jobs. You will know that London, and specifically your riding of London North Centre, and all of southwestern Ontario—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. I’ll listen carefully to this, but I’m getting a sense that there seems to be a theme where you’re going after somebody in a riding. That’s not appropriate. Make sure you ask your question to the person whose portfolio is responsible for the question.

Mr. Monte McNaughton: Mr. Speaker, then, this is for the Premier. In the past 12 months, since you’ve become the Premier, we’ve lost 30,000 vital manufacturing jobs. You will know that London and all of southwestern Ontario has lost a number of companies: Invacare, Kellogg’s, Tender Tootsies, Worthington Cylinders, Wescast Industries, Imperial Oil lubricants and Ethyl Corp.


Premier, these job losses are occurring across southwestern Ontario. Why is your government persisting with your half-baked idea to raise gas taxes 10 cents a litre to pay for Toronto’s transit? Premier, with thousands and thousands of jobs being lost in London, do you think now is the time for a $2.6-billion tax grab?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know that the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment is going to want to speak to the job creation that has gone on in the southwest. But I just want to, once again, say there have not been decisions made about a revenue stream and what tools would be used or what tools would not be used. I just want to be very clear about that. We’re very sensitive to whatever we do to have a revenue stream in place to build infrastructure—that it be fair, that it be dealt with in a way that is sensitive to how people are struggling in their day-to-day lives, and that, by region, the money that’s raised in one region is used to build the infrastructure in that region.

The attempts to cloud the waters on this issue when what we’re talking about is continuing to invest in infrastructure across the province, I think, are really irresponsible.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Be seated, please. Thank you.


Mr. Monte McNaughton: Speaker, back to the Premier. Of course, Premier, you are from Toronto so it’s no wonder you are calling for all of Ontario to pay its share in the costs for public transportation in downtown Toronto—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. Order.

Finish, please.

Mr. Monte McNaughton: And Premier, despite all their talk, the leader of the NDP refuses to hold your government to account and actually continues to support your each and every move.

Premier, here’s a nice and easy one for you: In January, London’s unemployment climbed higher once again, as 3,300 more London residents lost their jobs. With so many London residents currently out of work, do you think it’s right to force the city of London drivers to pay for Toronto’s transit that most will never use?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The member opposite knows perfectly well that that is not something we have ever supported. It’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about investing in transit across the province. Whatever the revenue stream is and however we decide in our plan to put in place that revenue stream, we will do it in a fair way.

I want to be clear that the way I do politics, the way we do politics, is that we believe that government has to work for the whole province. The extension of his question is that somehow we come here with a narrow view of our responsibility and we only look to our own riding and we only think about the people we directly represent. Well, that may be the way he does politics, that may be the way their party does politics—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Stop the clock.

I am going to mention the same thing once again, and that is that we have members who are provoking other members while the questions and answers are being put, and that’s not helpful to this debate in this House. I’m going to ask you and remind the government side again—there are members who are using members’ names on that side. I don’t like it. It’s got to stop. It elevates the temperature that it shouldn’t be, so let’s bring it down.

New question?


Miss Monique Taylor: My question is to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Yesterday, the minister defended the closure of the acquired brain injury clinic at McMaster Children’s Hospital. If the minister had bothered to talk to the pediatric ABI experts, she would know the importance of the clinic’s cutting-edge, coordinated and integrated approach.

Dr. Robert Hollenberg, a highly regarded pediatric neurosurgeon who co-founded the ABI clinic, wrote to me. He said “an archaic model not supported by any research or accepted best practice guidelines.” He further reported that the clinic had been praised by colleagues across Ontario and that similar programs are now being funded in Ottawa and Toronto.

Will the minister explain why she didn’t do her homework?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Well, Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that what I said yesterday is absolutely true. Children will still receive care for brain injuries at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Instead of having to wait two weeks for an appointment—because that clinic only operated one day every two weeks—they will be able to get the care they need in a more timely way.

We are transforming health care. When services can be provided in the community instead of in the hospital, then that is often more appropriate care. Sometimes patients need care in hospital, and they’ll get that care quickly. If services can be provided in the community, then they should receive those services in the community.

This is a reorganization, but I can assure you that children who need care because of an acquired brain injury will receive that care.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Miss Monique Taylor: Speaker, the clinic population has quadrupled in the last few years as a result of developing awareness of the prevalence of ABI and its potentially life-altering effects on young people, but now, following the acute stage, no comprehensive or multidisciplinary care will be available to these young people.

Dr. Hollenberg says, “This will not only overwhelm already busy primary care pediatricians and family physicians in the community, but will also frustrate and dismay the majority of the ABI population who truly need a comprehensive, multidisciplinary follow-up clinic staffed by professionals.”

Is the minister going to continue to justify this cut, or will she finally do something about it?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Our commitment to people with acquired brain injuries, I think, speaks for itself. We have almost doubled our funding for services for people with acquired brain injuries. We’re spending an additional $36 million for people with acquired brain injuries. We’ve also more than doubled supportive housing supports for people with acquired brain injuries.

Speaker, this is often a lifelong disability, and it’s really important to get people back into the community, living as full and normal and productive a life as they possibly can. That happens when they’re in supportive housing.


Mr. Phil McNeely: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources.

In Ontario, we are fortunate to have a wealth of biodiversity. This biodiversity, along with our natural heritage, is severely threatened by invasive species. As well, invasive species can cost the Ontario economy tens of millions of dollars.

Once established, invasive species can be extremely difficult and costly to control and remediate. For example, the negative impact of invasive zebra mussels is estimated to cost $75 million to $91 million a year, and that’s just one species.

I’ve read about Asian carp, and I have attended meetings in Chicago on Asian carp, and I’m very concerned about their spread in Ontario’s Great Lakes. These fish can grow to 100 pounds, and are a threat to our $2.2-billion recreational fishing industry and the commercial fisheries.

As well, every year, invasive plants cost the agriculture and forest industries in Canada about $7.3 billion.

I know that stopping the spread of invasive species is a priority for your ministry, and I’m—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Minister of Natural Resources.

Hon. David Orazietti: I want to thank the hard-working member—he has more to add, obviously—from Ottawa–Orléans for this very important question.

Indeed, this legislation has broad support from many stakeholders, many of whom are here with us today. I appreciate the opportunity to inform members about this legislation and about what our government is proposing.

If passed, Ontario would become the first and only jurisdiction with stand-alone legislation in Canada. This is landmark legislation that would help by providing the powers to intervene earlier, leading to significantly reduced environmental and economic costs for Ontarians.

The new legislation would provide a stronger legislative framework with which to prevent, detect, control and manage invasive species that impact our natural environment, by including prohibitions on activities such as possessing and transporting invasives, enabling rapid response and ensuring modernized inspections.

Speaker, this is a risk-based approach that considers the full range of costs to the environment and the economy.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Mr. Phil McNeely: Thank you, Minister, for letting us know about this important legislation. As I previously mentioned, invasive species are causing significant damage to the natural environment, and managing invasive species of Ontario is a complex and challenging task.


I’ve heard from many of my constituents in Ottawa–Orléans about the damaging effects of the emerald ash borer. This insect is a serious threat to ash trees across Ontario. The beetle kills approximately 99% of the ash trees as it moves through an area, and has infested many trees in my riding and across the whole city. I’m glad your ministry has taken action on invasive species such as emerald ash borer.

I understand this proposed legislation will provide many tools to address these challenges in Ontario. Could the minister please tell the members of this House what other steps our government has taken to stop the spread of invasive species?

Hon. David Orazietti: Again, I appreciate the question from the member from Ottawa–Orléans. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to outline the important measures we are taking to combat the spread of invasive species.

In 2011, our ministry established an invasive species research centre in Sault Ste. Marie, the first of its kind in the province, to help combat invasive species. We provided nearly $10 million toward the establishment and operation of this centre, in partnership with the federal government. The invasive species centre would support the proposed legislation by working with our partners to help deliver research and technology that can help us better understand invasive species and develop the options to combat them, and also to develop education and outreach programs to help Ontarians be more aware of the risks of invasive species, and the part they can play in helping to defend our province.

In the province of BC, the mountain pine beetle has cost the BC government $917 million. These are effects that we certainly do not want to see in this province, so we’re going to work very hard to ensure that we do everything we can to combat invasive species in Ontario.


Mr. Rod Jackson: My question is to the Premier.

The current NDP MPP from Niagara Falls demonstrated yesterday that he fully supports the government’s agenda to introduce a provincial gas tax to fund GTA transit. This extra 10 cents per litre for gas is going to bankrupt families and businesses already struggling to keep up with rising costs. Today, it costs over $1.32 for gas.

As of January, Niagara has one of the highest unemployment rates in this province. This government has failed Niagara. Their new MPP failed Niagara by propping up this government. Premier, why should the residents of Niagara pay for you to ride the subway?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Finance.

Hon. Charles Sousa: I heard a lot of nonsense today and for the last week in this House about what is happening and what is actually occurring. Let me say this: There were over 200 pages in the last budget and economic update. Nowhere does it call for what they have just suggested.

If they read what’s here, this is what they’ll learn. They’ll learn that we have cut personal income tax by $355 per average family. We have actually cut $8 billion, in tax relief for businesses. We’ve cut the small business tax from 5.5% to 4.5%. We’re helping more businesses grow as a result of stimuluses that we’ve been putting in.

The individuals across the way here—all they want to do is take away on the one hand, and the other one wants to just give it away. We have to take a balanced approach, Mr. Speaker. We cannot take extreme points of view in order to grow our economy. That is exactly what we’ll do.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Rod Jackson: I’ll tell you what’s extreme: It’s continuing to tax the Ontario people to the point where they can’t afford the rent anymore.

The truth is that the gas tax, trades tax, Liberal health care premium tax—remember that one—they’re just euphemisms for Liberal scandal tax. The problem is this government’s affinity for scandals.

The solution is not to gouge the taxpayer. You would have enough money for transit if your weak ministers didn’t blow millions on Ornge, eHealth, gas plants or the Pan Am Games. The latest tax will cost an extra $5 every time you fill up your tank.

Stop the taxes. Stop the overspending. Stop the scandal. Ontario deserves a responsible government just as much as Niagara deserves responsible representation.

Instead, Premier, do you think you could use the money from your next inevitable scandal to fund GTA transit instead of dipping into all our pockets again?

Hon. Charles Sousa: We’ll continue to work on behalf of the good of Ontario, including all the infrastructure projects that we’ve been doing in Barrie. That individual across the way has not supported these very initiatives that are for the benefit of our competitiveness for the future.

In fact, the members opposite like to quote a very prominent economist. This is what he has to say about their plan: “It’s extremely unlikely to produce any jobs. A few calculations should have made that evident,” said Don Drummond.

This is what somebody else had to say about their job-killing plan: “Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak’s latest economic offering is a simplistic, headline-hunting plan that’s more concerned with austerity than job creation. And it ignores many of the most important drivers of economic growth.” That was said by Michael Warren on January 14.

Better still, this is what an individual had to say about the Ontario Liberal plan. He said that things are looking much better in Ontario than they were and that the Ontario economy is starting to grow again—courtesy of Jim Flaherty—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.


Mr. Wayne Gates: I’d just like to remind my colleague that I beat—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock.

As a learning moment: Identify who you have the question for. Leave that for another time. Carry on.

Mr. Wayne Gates: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Local schools are the heart of communities. Concerned parents from Niagara-on-the-Lake made passionate and informative presentations last night to keep their local school, Parliament Oak Public School, open. Parents in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the chamber of commerce and the Lord Mayor Dave Eke and council are all working to ensure that Parliament Oak Public School does not close its doors.

This school sits on a historic site, where the act against slavery was signed in 1793.

Will the Premier listen to local voices and ensure that Parliament Oak Public School stays open?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Education.

Hon. Liz Sandals: I want to congratulate the member for his recent election.

I think it would be useful to review the process around how school closures work. I think we do have to acknowledge that one of the problems that we have in Ontario today is that the birth rate has gone down. I’m sorry; I can’t do anything about that as Minister of Education—


Hon. Liz Sandals: Yes, the member from Cambridge is working on it.

The reality is that we do have, in many communities, more seats in our schools than we actually have children, or are ever likely to have.

But it’s actually local school boards that are charged with addressing this particular issue of trying to figure out what schools need to stay open and where there are too many schools, and we can talk about that process more in the supplementary—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you; yes, we will.


Mr. Wayne Gates: Students at Parliament Oak scored well above the provincial average for literacy and math. The school has attracted new families to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The accommodation review committee recommends that the school stay open, and $1.6 million has been invested in renovating Parliament Oak since 2009.

I was with the parents in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and so was the Premier. Parents know that Parliament Oak Public School should be a model for schools for the Niagara region and the entire province.

Will the Premier assure parents, families and the community in Niagara-on-the-Lake that Parliament Oak Public School will not close?

Hon. Liz Sandals: As I was saying, this is actually a question for your local school board, because in fact, under Ontario’s Education Act, it is the local school board that is charged with making the decision around what schools will be open, what schools will be closed, where the students will attend, and managing the whole issue around whether we have enough schools.

Certainly, if you want to intervene on behalf of your community, you can make an intervention with the local school board. But it is the trustees, who are locally elected, who are responsible for the accommodation review process, which you describe, which is ongoing.


Ms. Dipika Damerla: My question is for the Minister of Education. As you know, today is Pink Shirt Day, and it all started when a boy in grade 9 in Nova Scotia went to school wearing a pink shirt, and he was mercilessly bullied for looking gay.

Two thirds of kids who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered feel unsafe at school. Almost three quarters of kids report hearing homosexual slurs at school every day.

Minister, bullying in our schools and in our society is a real problem, with devastating results. I know that this is an issue that all members of this House feel strongly about, so would the minister please tell us what she’s doing to fight bullying in our schools?


Hon. Liz Sandals: I thank the member for the question, and I’m delighted to be able to speak about this issue, because it’s very important to me and, I think, important to members from all three parties.

Two high school students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, didn’t stand by while that grade 9 student in Nova Scotia was bullied for wearing pink. They went out and they bought pink shirts too, and took a brave stand against bullying.

I’m proud to be a member of this Legislature, which passed aggressive anti-bullying legislation. I’m proud to see so many members from all parties wearing pink today in honour of those Nova Scotia students and showing their support for our anti-bullying initiatives, knowing that we all stand united when it comes to protecting our kids from bullying.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Dipika Damerla: Thank you, Minister. Those two grade 12 boys encouraged their classmates to wear pink too. They went home that night and emailed their friends, and word spread. What they essentially did was, they changed the culture at their school, and that is what we need to do, not just in our schools but in society at large. Would the minister tell us what we are doing outside of our schools to help counter bullying?

Hon. Liz Sandals: The member is absolutely correct, and as a government, we took, actually, a precedential action for Canada. For the first time in Ontario and Canada, we recognized cyberbullying in our Accepting Schools Act. In fact, we included cyberbullying as part of the definition of bullying. That means that in Ontario schools, if a principal believes that actions that occurred online have a negative impact on the school climate, the principal has the authority to take action.

But that’s not all we’re doing. We’ve provided bullying prevention training for up to 25,000 teachers now, and close to 7,500 principals and vice-principals. We work with Kids Help Phone to provide a bullying prevention hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re bringing together experts to advise on the best possible way to make sure that we continue with bullying prevention programs all across our schools, to keep our kids safe in their learning environment.


Mr. Jeff Yurek: My question is to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Minister, back in June, I asked your ministry to give me a breakdown of the capital costs for the St. Joseph’s forensic mental health care centre in St. Thomas. After a dizzying array of emails going back and forth between the Minister of Health and the Minister of Infrastructure, I could not get a straight answer.

Today, we learned that you shortchanged the hospital on $3.9 million in annual operating costs and only authorized the money at the last minute. This financial mismanagement is unsettling, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from this government.

Minister, what other financial oversights have you made with this facility?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: Speaker, I am very, very happy that the member opposite has asked me this question.

Any member who has had a hospital built in their riding—and there are many of us who have had a new hospital built in their riding—will know that sometimes hospitals are built for future expansion. We have something called the post-construction operating program, that ramps up operating money as the hospital actually increases their capacity. This is the normal business of new hospitals opening. It applies as well to the hospital in St. Thomas.

I was very pleased that we were able to follow through on that commitment. We are not shortchanging any hospital anything. This is an additional $3.9 million in funding so that more people can be cared for in that wonderful new facility.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jeff Yurek: Back to the minister: Minister, this government has squandered billions on moving gas plants, billions in the Ornge fiasco, and we’re not even close to uncovering how much the Pan Am Games are going to cost us. You yourself have presided over more scandals than any other minister. Your ministry couldn’t give me a dollar amount for the capital costs—and apparently still can’t—for the hospital that you built in St. Thomas, and you only authorized the $3.9 million in annual operating costs at the last minute, after receiving a call from the London Free Press.

For a minister with so many scandals under her belt, who is making major financial decisions on an ad hoc basis, I’m concerned that you pose a risk to worthwhile projects like the St. Joseph’s forensic mental health care centre. Minister, what other financial irregularities are you responsible for?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I think this is this member’s way of saying “thank you” for building not just one new hospital but two new hospitals in his riding, so I am very pleased to say “you’re welcome,” and I’m glad that people in the St. Thomas area are getting access to better care.

You will know that the previous capacity of the old facility was 80 beds. The new building was built with expanded capacity for 89, and over time, as we always do, we will be ramping up funding. This was very much a normal part of business, and I was very happy to confirm that we are expanding to ramp up capacity at the hospital as it gets up and running.


Mr. Michael Prue: My question is to the Minister of Labour. It has been more than three years since I introduced my private member’s bill to protect employees’ tips. Bill 49, as amended by committee following second reading, is still languishing somewhere on a Liberal list. Meanwhile, thousands of hard-working Ontarians continue to wait for the protection which you yourself promised them.

Will this bill be called for third reading by this government?

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I thank the member for the question. I think the member opposite knows that we have worked very closely together on this very important bill. I’ve spoken in support of the bill, and, in fact, we have worked in quite a collaborative way in making sure that all the necessary amendments that need to be made to the bill in the committee get made. I want to thank the member for the hard work and collaboration on that bill.

When this bill comes for third reading—as the Speaker, you know, and the member opposite knows—that’s not a decision that I as the Minister of Labour am responsible for. That is up to the three House leaders to decide what matters come to the floor of this House, and I will leave it in their good wisdom. I support the bill, and I urge all three House leaders to bring that bill to the floor of the House.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Prue: With all due respect, it is up to the Liberal government to call the bills that they say they support. The minister has repeatedly expressed his support for this bill, and he’s done so again today. His party has made amendments to make the bill even more palatable to them. All of the amendments that were made during committee were made by the Liberal Party.

Workers across the province have waited long enough. If the bill is passed today, they will still have to wait until August 26 to finally stop some of their bosses from stealing their tips. When will this government call this bill?

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Again, I want to thank the member. We worked shoulder to shoulder on this very important bill. I have spoken in support of it, and we have made some necessary amendments. Again, it’s up to the three House leaders to decide when they’re going to bring the matter forward to the floor of this House, not me as a member.

I do want to talk about one important issue. I wish that that member from the NDP would have shown the same kind of passion for minimum wage, as well, because when it comes to an issue like minimum wage, he and his party have been absolutely silent.

For over a year we’ve been working on the issue of minimum wage, and I did not hear from that member, who claimed to speak on behalf of vulnerable workers, to talk about the issue of minimum wage—that we should increase minimum wage, that we should index it to the cost of living. I hope that this member will speak to his leader and his caucus and support Bill 165, the Fair Minimum Wage Act.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Before I entertain a few points of order that I know are coming, I would like to introduce, in the Speaker’s gallery today, the Ontario council of universities’ research group, who are here to observe. We welcome you and thank you for being here in the gallery.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Parkdale–High Park on a point of order.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Because it is the day to wear pink, I would like to move a unanimous consent motion that all parties this afternoon could have up to five minutes to speak about the importance of this important day.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Point of order.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I have to do the unanimous consent first.

The member from Parkdale–High Park is seeking unanimous consent to this afternoon speak up to five minutes on pink day—or bullying. Do we agree? Agreed.

The member from Nepean–Carleton on a point of order.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I appreciate the comments by my colleague from the third party. I’m just rising to say that the Ontario PC Party also wanted to seek unanimous consent for the same five minutes, so I’m pleased that that—


Ms. Lisa MacLeod: No, no. We had talked—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): No, no, no. I have to hear this, please, so can you please explain in more in depth?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I appreciate this, Speaker. We spoke beforehand. I appreciated the comments by the Minister of Education, as well as the comments from the MPP for Mississauga–Streetsville, but we did obviously want to have our opportunity to speak, and our education critic will address that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We don’t need, then, unanimous consent. Therefore, that’ll be taken care of and—I’m going to have to direct this because “this afternoon” is very broad. I’ll ask the—

Hon. John Milloy: Same point of order.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I suspect we’re going to be doing this following members’ statements. Having said that, it would be the normal—so the government House leader on the same point of order.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I was simply going to say perhaps we could leave it up to the House leaders to determine when it happens. You’ve suggested after members’ statements. I’ll confer with fellow—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank you and I’ll leave that to the House leaders to determine that particular issue for this afternoon.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Premier on a point of order.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to correct my record. I noted that the Queensway Carleton Hospital is located in the riding of the member for Nepean–Carleton. In fact, it is not. She lives in the riding where the hospital is located, and the hospital serves her riding.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Prince Edward–Hastings on a point of order.

Mr. Todd Smith: It’s a pleasure to welcome a couple of local politicians to the Legislature today. Dan McCaw is the reeve of Wollaston township, and Graham Blair is the deputy reeve of Wollaston township, from beautiful Coe Hill in North Hastings. Welcome to the Legislature, gentlemen.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Finance on a point of order.

Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, I just would like to take the opportunity to welcome Asma Mahmood, a strong community advocate in Mississauga and a champion of the arts. She’s visiting Queen’s Park today.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Okay. I’m taking a chance by standing and not dismissing the place, but I’m going to remind you once more, please, if you know that they’re coming and they’re not here during introductions under both opportunities we are provided, say their names during that time anyway when you know they’re coming later. It’s just the way we’ve decided it’s going to work, and it’s just going to make it more difficult for us when we continue to do this.

I’m going to say that there are no deferred votes, so this House stands recessed until 3 p.m. this afternoon.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): And no drive-by heckling.

The House recessed from 1143 to 1500.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order for the government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As members will recall, earlier today, by unanimous consent, it was agreed that each party would be given five minutes to make a statement with respect to the anti-bullying day and Pink Shirt Day campaign. It was agreed that House leaders would discuss over the break. We have, Mr. Speaker, and we wish to do this five-minute unanimous consent presentation after members’ statements—so just to give notice to the House.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you for that announcement. I’m sure all members heard that.


Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Mr. Speaker, my friend is not here yet, but I’d like to introduce to this House my great friend and colleague from Osgoode Hall Law School, Jason Bogle. Please welcome him to the House. He’s on his way.

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: It’s my pleasure to introduce into the House Dave Meslin, a local leader who has led an initiative called the Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto.



Mr. Bill Walker: I rise today in my capacity as both MPP for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound and co-chair of the PC nuclear caucus, which I tag-team with the honourable member from Durham, John O’Toole.

I’m pleased that today Bruce Power, Canada’s largest public-private partnership and a majority producer of our nuclear power, launched a new outreach effort, called Ontario’s Nuclear Advantage, to remind Ontarians of the importance of nuclear. According to their new website, www.ontarionuclear.com, nuclear is critical to Ontario if our families and businesses want to enjoy stable and low prices, grow the economy and lead healthier lives.

Nuclear power provided almost 60% of Ontario’s electricity in 2013. It did so safely, reliably and affordably. In fact, electricity from nuclear alone was as much as 30% cheaper than the average cost of electricity last year.

The industry supports employment of approximately 71,000 Canadians. According to a study by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the refurbishment of the Bruce units will inject $3 billion into our economy and support 15,000 jobs a year overall. By 2040, the cumulative economic activity is estimated at $70 billion.

Bruce Power is located in the neighbouring riding of my friend and colleague Lisa Thompson, Huron–Bruce, and provides 70% of the energy needed to phase out coal in Ontario, allowing Ontarians to benefit from cleaner air.

Both nuclear producers, Bruce Power and OPG provide well-paying jobs and deliver a baseload power supply. An affordable baseload supply of power is required if we are to sustain existing business and attract new business to the province. A clean, reliable and efficient supply of power from nuclear is also required if we are to provide an affordable energy to all households. This is a model that has served us very well over the last decade and will be essential moving forward.

I encourage all Ontarians to check out this new website and to provide all three political parties with their feedback in regard to the role they expect nuclear energy to play in our future.


Mr. Percy Hatfield: Today I have the privilege of recognizing Brandt Huber, an outstanding good Samaritan in my community of Windsor.

Brandt was walking to volunteer at a street mission on a cold wintry morning last month. He stopped at a busy intersection in downtown Windsor and noticed, a few blocks ahead, someone lying on the sidewalk. It turns out it was a 13-year-old girl, a girl whose parents earlier had reported her missing.

When Brandt Huber found her, she was cold, wet, shivering and only semi-conscious. He took off his warm winter coat, wrapped it around her, and called 911. Police and paramedics were there within five minutes.

As he waited, he looked around. Cars were driving by and people were shovelling their sidewalks, yet before Brandt came along, no one had bothered to stop and help this girl.

Brandt Huber is a hero in my eyes, and he’s been a community hero for a long time. He volunteers at Street Help, an organization dedicated to the homeless. They provide hot meals, warm clothes, backpacks, sleeping bags, shoes, socks, snacks—you name it.

Just ask my friend Christine Wilson, Street Help’s administrator, about Brandt Huber. She describes him as someone who is selfless, always giving back to others. He’s incredible, remarkable and, most of all, caring and genuine. I couldn’t agree more with Christine Wilson.

Brandt Huber, you are a true local hero. If you didn’t help that young girl when you did, who knows what the consequences would have been? As a member of this provincial Parliament, I say thank you, Brandt. Job well done.


Mr. Phil McNeely: On Saturday, February 22, the Global Community Alliance held their annual gala dinner in support of Black History Month in Ottawa. This annual event highlights the diversity within the Ottawa community and recognizes individuals, associations, businesses and organizations that have made a significant difference in our community.

The event featured a presentation by Canada Post of their stamps honouring Black History Month; a performance by a local musician, Angelique Francis; as well as a delegation from the Nigerian High Commission. The guest speaker was none other than the Minister of Labour, Yasir Naqvi.

A highlight of the gala is the community builder awards ceremony. I would like to mention those recipients, many of whom are from my riding, for their contributions to our community. Those who were recognized at the event were Oluwasegun Makinde, a sprinter who won the gold at the 2013 Jeux de la Francophonie and who went on to the 2012 summer Olympics; Marie-France Lalonde, a community and business leader working in health care and for seniors in Orléans; the Agoro family, for their work promoting peaceful conflict resolution; Mr. Charles Ofori-Attah; the Ottawa Police Service, for their community outreach efforts; the Ottawa Catholic School Board; Ms. Angelique Francis, for her impressive musical accomplishments; Mr. Merrick Palmer, a fabulous basketball coach; and Mrs. Ana Jimenez, for outstanding leadership at Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School.

I’d also like to thank the Global Community Alliance organizers, Yomi and Kelly Pratt, for another excellent and successful gala event.


Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Today, I’m proud to stand up in the House and give acknowledgement to a school in my riding of Huron–Bruce for a very special accomplishment. On January 23, Hillcrest Central School, which happens to be in my hometown of Teeswater, was declared a winner of the 2014 waste-free lunch challenge.

As part of Waste Reduction Week in Canada, elementary school children across the province committed to reducing, reusing and recycling for lunch. It was clear that these efforts made a significant contribution to reducing Ontario’s waste in that particular week. The annual waste-free lunch challenge helps schools decrease the amount of garbage they generate, and educates students, teachers and parents about smart consumption and waste reduction.

In participating in the waste-free lunch challenge this year, schools measured how much waste they brought. The efforts of all these schools kept nearly 16,000 kilograms of lunch material from entering landfill over the one-week period. This amounts to the equivalent of 35 grand pianos.

I’m so proud to see this sort of activism and environmental concern in my riding of Huron–Bruce and across all of Ontario, and it’s wonderful to see Hillcrest receive such significant recognition.

I’d like to offer my congratulations to the Teeswater community and extend my thanks and congratulations to the students, teachers, parents and volunteers who helped in this initiative.


Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Today, I would like to acknowledge the passing of a woman in the London community who devoted her life to promoting multiculturalism and welcoming immigrants to Canada.

Ayshi Hassan passed away peacefully on February 12 at the age of 92. Ayshi immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 1939, when she was just 16 years old, and settled in London. She and her husband raised 11 children, and over the course of the 1950s and the 1960s, the Hassan home welcomed many family members emigrating from Lebanon to Canada.

Ayshi helped establish the first Arabic language program through the board of education, as well as the building of one of Ontario’s oldest mosques on Oxford Street in London. Over the years, she worked at the London multicultural learner centre, helping with Canadians adjusting to life in Ontario, accessing social services and connecting with the community.

Ayshi was recognized for her work in community service, human rights advocacy and the promotion of a multicultural Canada, receiving many awards, including the Canadian Council of Muslim Women’s “Inspire” award and, more recently, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.


Ayshi Hassan was, by all accounts, a keystone of London’s multicultural, Muslim and immigrant communities. She worked incredibly hard to assist newcomers to come to Canada, to advocate for those less fortunate and to promote peace.

I would like to extend my condolences to the Hassan family and all those affected by Ayshi’s passing. It is a great loss to the London community, who I am sure will continue to celebrate and remember this woman’s incredible contributions.


Mr. Bob Delaney: Speaker, the Chinese New Year is the most significant holiday in Chinese culture. At 15 days long, it is also the longest holiday in China. Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the lunar calendar, known as the beginning of spring. It is a time to extend hospitality and generosity to everyone you know and everyone you don’t.

On February 22, I attended the Mississauga Chinese Professionals and Businesses association banquet. The fire marshal insists that we pop balloons instead of setting off firecrackers to bring good luck into this new year of the horse.

The traditional lion dance was performed, followed by a sumptuous nine-course meal at Mississauga’s Emerald Chinese Restaurant. Guests brought non-perishable items to donate to the local food bank. Along with Councillor Ron Starr and MP Bob Dechert, I joined in dressing up as one of the gods of fortune. All the proceeds of the lucky event were donated to the Yee Hong geriatric care foundation.

On the following evening, I attended another Chinese New Year banquet, this one hosted by Mr. Yuan Sheng OuYang, who is the owner of Yuan Ming supermarket. The dinner recognized the great work that Mr. OuYang’s employees do at the supermarket and the contributions to the community of Mr. OuYang and his very generous family.

Speaker, Gong Hay Fat Choy.


Mr. John O’Toole: I’m so proud today to stand and recognize excellence in educators as my sister, my wife and my daughter are all educators, and I’m so proud today to also recognize, from my riding, Andrea McAuley.

Andrea is the principal of R.H. Cornish Public School in Port Perry, and she has earned a national education award. She is one of 40 Canadian educators named by the Learning Partnership as Canada’s outstanding principals for 2014.

The Learning Partnership is committed to success in publicly funded education through Canada-wide programs such as Take Our Kids to Work, the Entrepreneurial Adventure Program, and kindergarten orientation.

Principal Andrea McAuley was nominated for her outstanding leadership and planning skills as well as her initiative in encouraging connections between the school and the community. In fact, this morning, I watched as she was on television being congratulated and interviewed on CTV’s Canada AM by Marcia MacMillan.

Her achievements have included kindergarten orientation programs at R.H. Cornish and also the establishment of an early years parent and family literacy hub at the school. As one of Canada’s outstanding principals, Andrea McAuley joins a five-day executive leadership training program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Andrea will join Canada’s National Academy of Principals.

Congratulations to Andrea, to R.H. Cornish Public School and the community, and, more importantly, to the Durham District School Board for their excellence in education today.


Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I rise in the House today to speak about ranked balloting in local elections. Today, I plan to introduce a bill, the Toronto Ranked Ballot Elections Act, which comes out of a request from Toronto city council.

There has been a tremendous amount of activism on this issue, and I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize those individuals who joined me either in person or in spirit this morning at my news conference, including Dave Meslin.

My riding of Scarborough–Guildwood is a diverse one, as is the city of Toronto, and the way that the people of Toronto elect their representatives should reflect that. It’s my hope that with the city, the province and the people working together, we can strengthen our local democracy. I also recognize the diversity of our entire province, and I hope this will spark debate in communities across Ontario.

Toronto may be the first city in Ontario to make this request and the first in Canada to elect its local representatives by a ranked ballot. It doesn’t have to be the last one.

Today, I’m standing up for my community and for my city, which I’m not doing alone. I am looking forward to input and, hopefully, support from my colleagues from all sides of the House who do the same each and every day for their communities.


Mr. Rob Leone: I rise in this Legislature to talk about confidence in the Legislature. Every once in a while, from time to time, the opposition has an opportunity to pass judgment on this government. If I were a card-carrying member of the New Democratic Party, I would have been outraged. You see, they scorn the government in the morning, and then in the afternoon prop them up. The NDP members wake up to protest and defeat, in solidarity with their brothers and sisters, only to stand down their arms later in the day. Months of tough talk and bluster, only to stand and support the government time and time again.

I’m from Waterloo region. I’ve heard time and time again from members of—from Kitchener–Waterloo, disappointed that the member has not voiced their concerns about this government. She supported them in the budget, and she’s now crossing the floor without really crossing the floor. Now, I luckily am not a member of the New Democratic Party, so I know exactly the type of games they play. It’s not new to me. Put union bosses before constituents. Her vote is supposed to be for the constituents. Instead, she gives it to the highest bidder. The people of Waterloo region need change.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): While I waited to hear the entire statement, I am prompted to make a comment. That comment is, the tradition of this place, over the decades—and recently it’s been deteriorating—is statements are usually designed for your own ridings or an opportunity to make comment about things that are happening. Debate is the opportunity to disagree with government. I’m going to ask all members—and I suggest that your colleagues who might not hear this directly read Hansard.

I’m asking for some understanding on what statements are supposed to be about. The tradition is to talk about the good things that are happening in your ridings, the proposals that you make, legislation that may impact, negatively or positively, in your own riding. Debate is where some of that other stuff can be done. I’m going to leave it at that and say that that’s just my comment about how statements should be used.

I now ask for reports by committees. Reports by committees?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m sorry. Because there has been a specific request for the placement of the unanimous consent of the statements, instead of saying afternoon, the specific spot, we now have to have unanimous consent for the placement.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It’s not ministerial statements. I’m sorry. I apologize. Let’s get this right. We have unanimous consent on statements. I thought it was after ministerial statements; it’s after members’ statements. We now have time for the five-minute comments from each of the parties for pink day. So now we’ll go to the Minister of Education for that unanimous consent.


Hon. Liz Sandals: It’s lovely that we have all-party agreement on what we’re doing here, for at least a few minutes.

It’s my pleasure to speak today about Pink Shirt Day. As most of the people in this House know, Pink Shirt Day began in Nova Scotia, when a grade 9 boy wore a pink shirt to school. He was then bullied by his schoolmates for looking gay. But two high school students, David Shepherd and Travis Price, didn’t stand by while that student was bullied. No. They bought pink shirts of their own. They contacted their friends, spread the word and encouraged classmates to wear pink as well. The following day, the school was a sea of pink. These students took a brave stand against bullying and should be examples for us all. They helped change the culture at this particular school, and in order to combat bullying in schools across this province, we need to shift the culture in all of our schools.


I’m proud to say that with some of the actions this House has taken over the past few years, that culture shift is already happening. We passed the Accepting Schools Act, which ensures school boards take preventative measures against bullying and support students who want to promote understanding and respect for all. The same act recognizes cyber-bullying as part of the definition of “bullying,” because we know that in today’s technologically driven world, bullying does not stop at the end of the school day; it, unfortunately, carries on into the homes and recreation spaces of our students.

While we take important steps to adjust our laws to changing times, we also need to give our education professionals the tools they need to provide an accepting, safe and welcoming school culture. Just last week, Speaker, I attended the Beginning Teachers’ Conference organized by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, where this year’s theme was “Bullying: Stepping Up to the Challenge.” At this conference, I heard from so many new teachers who want to be empowered with strategies to address bullying in their schools. This includes many occasional teachers, who have the added challenge of working in a variety of schools, with a diversity of school cultures. We need to ensure these educators are empowered to intervene and stop bullying when they see it occurring in their schools.

These are the professionals who often see what we here in this place only read in reports or statistics—statistics like the fact that two thirds of kids who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered feel unsafe at school, and almost three quarters of kids report hearing homosexual slurs at school every day. So it is important that teachers, principals, support staff and students themselves feel just as empowered to stop bullying as David Shepherd and Travis Price.

Speaker, we’ve done a lot to help prevent bullying in Ontario schools already. We’ve provided bullying prevention training for up to 25,000 teachers and close to 7,500 principals and vice-principals. We’re working with Kids Help Phone to provide a bullying hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we’re bringing together experts to advise on the best possible way to develop resources and practices to promote a positive school climate. But we know a lot more work needs to be done to create an environment where all our students feel accepted. We’re committed to ensuring that all of our students, regardless of race, culture, creed, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, feel welcome and respected in their individual schools.

I want to thank the members of this House who are displaying their support for Pink Shirt Day, like my colleague from Ottawa–Orléans who has the Most Spectacular Sweater of the Day Award, and I want to recognize all of our young people who have organized Pink Shirt Days in their schools across Ontario. We know that for our students to do well in school they must feel safe. By working together to prevent bullying, we can help all of our students reach their full potential.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. The member from Ottawa–Orléans.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Thank you, Speaker. It’s actually Nepean–Carleton. The member from Ottawa–Orléans is sitting diligently beside the Minister of Education in a very lively bright pink shirt, and I commend him for that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It’s the sweater that threw me off. My apologies.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I thank the minister for her comments about how our assembly can make a difference by continuing to talk about anti-bullying and by continuing to allow our young people across the province to know that we’re watching, that we’re listening and that we are going to continue to use our voices, as loud as they can be from time to time, to bring this issue to the forefront so that they know that they are not alone, so that their parents can identify what the signals are and so that our teachers in our school system understand that we are with them as well.

I’ve had a number of occasions to speak about anti-bullying in the Legislature, so I’m pleased today that our education critic, Rob Leone, has asked me to step in as he is in committee. I want to thank my leader, Tim Hudak, for allowing me this opportunity to speak on behalf of our caucus.

Anti-bullying has become a very big issue for many members of this assembly. In fact, I recall my first statement in the 40th Parliament being about Jamie Hubley. I’ve spoken many times about how his death affected me personally, but also how it affected our community in Ottawa. I know that Jamie’s name and his legacy live on in this assembly, and across the rest of Ontario and Canada even, because unfortunately his death highlighted something that was quite significant that was happening in our communities. So it is with great pleasure that I can continue to speak on that issue, although I have left the education portfolio.

I am a mother, as many people know here. I know that this assembly in the past couple of years has changed dramatically. We do have a lot more parents of young children here. In fact, a couple of our members have either had their wife give birth or they’ve started to see their children go off to school, and with that, I can speak from my own experience. You get the worries that your own child will be bullied. I actually had that experience, and I can say that the teachers in her school system were so understanding that they not only made her feel better; they actually worked with the child who was perpetrating some of these acts. That’s absolutely critical, so I want to congratulate at this time my daughter’s own school and just say to her principal, Mr. Taniguchi, and her teachers, Madame DiStefano and Madame Marinelli, and all of the teachers at her school, how welcome I felt going through those experiences myself.

I’d also like to say that there are a number of people out in our communities who are trying to raise this message, and they’re not the government; they are regular people. They are people who want to help little kids. We have a lady in Nepean whose name is Maria Hawkins, and she’s got a great, big, beautiful voice, and she goes in and she sings. She’ll spend a day with the kids and they feel really good. They understand that anti-bullying is also about school spirit, and I think that’s pretty great.

I’ve had the opportunity, as I know the minister has had, and I know my friends in the third party will say this—when we’re MPPs, we have the opportunity to travel Ontario, and you get to meet some pretty incredible people. I think I’d be remiss not to mention them today, as I have in the past, and their efforts to keep their children and other children safe from bullying.

I think about my friend—and I know my friend from Ottawa Centre will say this as well—Stuntman Stu. He was bullied as a kid and now he is on Majic 100.3 in Ottawa. He is the Sens announcer. That’s what he gets to do for a living in the evening: He gets to announce Senators hockey games. And every celebrity he meets, whether they come into the studio or it’s a hockey player, he gets them to wear a bracelet that says “No More Bullies” on it. We have that bracelet, and I get a kick out of Stuntman Stu, because he uses his professional experience to actually reach out to parents and kids and make them feel better and make them feel that they’re not alone. Pretty good stuff, eh?

I’d like to also talk about Karen Sebben and Corrina Morrison, and Jeff and Julie Stauffer. These are parents who have seen this first-hand and they’ve dedicated numerous hours of their life to give back, to bring that anti-bullying message.

But one of the things I’m most excited about isn’t happening at this chamber; it’s actually happening at the federal chamber. In my private life, I’m actually married to a man named Joe Varner. He’s the deputy chief of staff and senior policy adviser to Canada’s justice minister. Over the period of the summer, they came to me to tell me they were going to be working on anti-bullying legislation and cyber-bullying because Minister MacKay’s home province of Nova Scotia had dealt with the death of Rehtaeh Parsons and he decided he wanted to do something about it. So over the summer, I had the opportunity to sort of share some of my experiences with them, and they’ve got legislation now in front of the House of Commons. This is a national problem, and finally we’re having a national discussion about it. I’m very excited about that because we need to make sure that our children across Ontario know that there’s hope, but we also have to ensure that people understand that when they bully, and particularly when they cyber-bully, they’re not supposed to do that and it does come with consequences.

I want to say thank you to all members of the assembly for agreeing to unanimous consent. I was really proud to be able to take part in this and I feel absolutely privileged. Thank you all very, very much.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. The member for Parkdale–High Park.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s a pleasure and it’s a privilege to stand in this House and speak on behalf of New Democrats and our leader, Andrea Horwath, on this issue.

Day of Pink: I just want to bring it back a little bit in discussion. I mean, this child was bullied because they thought he was gay. This is about the bullying of LBGT students.


First of all, kudos; I don’t want to repeat what the Minister of Education has said about the history of the day so much, but to talk about where the day has progressed and what we’re looking at now.

I was privileged to be a part of the Accepting Schools Act committee that travelled around the province, but we’re still seeing in this province the problems that children are having starting gay-straight alliances in their schools. It’s not seamless. There’s work to be done, and that work is being done by our children right now.

So I would say to my friend the Minister of Education that there still should be some focus on what’s happening in schools around bullying of LBGT students, because it’s still going on, and gay-straight alliances are not being allowed in all schools. That needs to happen. That’s number one.

Number two: I think this province truly is a beacon to the world in its legislation in some ways, and I was proud to be a part of Toby’s law. That was a tri-party bill—I tabled it many times to get to that point—ultimately that added gender identity and gender expression to the Ontario Human Rights Code. Again, that has made a difference in the lives of trans students, who are the most bullied and the most at risk. In fact, trans people generally have a 50% attempted suicide rate and a 50% poverty rate.

But—again, there’s a but, Mr. Speaker—we saw just recently Avery Edison, who is a British comic who came over to Canada. She had a visa irregularity—this was not a criminal offence—and she was imprisoned in a men’s prison, after being subjected to a really humiliating body search. This cannot be allowed.

She was then, after a Twitter storm in her defence—this is a woman of some fame in Great Britain—transferred to Vanier women’s prison, to solitary again. If our only answer in this province is to put trans women and trans men in solitary for visa offences, we’ve got a problem. People are not putting into practice what is the spirit of the law that sets us apart as a province. We need to do this.

Again, I would say to my friend the minister of corrections that we need a policy that goes out to correctional facilities—that goes out to all of our facilities—so that people know what they’re expected to do. It’s an educational process, because we know now that it’s about education.

I just have a few moments left, but I want to set the context even broader. When we look at bullying, the major problem of bullying of LBGT people in this world is by governments. I would be remiss if I did not call attention to the fact that 70 countries in the world still have anti-LBGT laws. In seven of those, homosexuality, transsexuality, as well, and bisexuality are punishable by death.

Just today on Facebook, there was a number of posts about the situation in Uganda. I think we, with one voice, would want to decry that reality. There’s much, much work to be done. The major source of bullying in this world of young people who are gay, or queer in any way, is by their own governments. That’s something we have to stand up to as Canadians, as Ontarians, and make sure everyone knows.

The clip that was on Facebook that was horrendous was the front page of a newspaper in Uganda that listed 200 gay individuals, and pretty well invited violence against them. This cannot be allowed to go on. We would call upon our federal government, certainly, to stand up and to start talking about human rights, because LBGT rights are human rights.

By the way, our own press is not immune to that, either. We have to make very sure that Toby’s law—just like sexual preference, which was the last time the Human Rights Code was updated, and that was 25 years ago—is actually enforced, so that we don’t use transphobia to attack people. It has been done in our own press as well; I won’t go into details there.

Suffice it to say that, yes, we’re proud. I thank everyone who wore pink. I thank all for giving and granting this unanimous consent, so that we could all speak about the Day of Pink, because that’s important, that we keep this democratic. This isn’t and shouldn’t be partisan. We are speaking about bullying. We need to stop bullying.

A final shout-out to a very good friend: Jeremy Dias of Jer’s Vision, who’s done so much on this, and so much good work across the province and across Canada. He’s in British Columbia now for their Day of Pink today. Hey, Jeremy, way to go.

To all of the kids in all of the GSAs and all of those who’ve worked so hard to get us where we are, thank you.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): First, I thank all members for their comments.

I stand from time to time to offer my own personal comment, and that is, I apologize for my confusion in the House for not following through what I should have done. I had mistaken members’ statements and ministerial statements. That’s what I did, and I apologize for that. I thank the Clerk’s office for putting me right back on track.

I apologize to the member from Nepean–Carleton because the member from Ottawa–Orléans threw me off with that wonderful sweater. I couldn’t think straight.

Again, I offer my subtle apologies. I will be less confused in the future, so thank you.


(TAX RELIEF), 2014

Mr. Marchese moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill Pr27, An Act respecting Toronto International Film Festival Inc.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Pursuant to standing order 86, this bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills.


Ms. Hunter moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 166, An Act to amend the City of Toronto Act, 2006 to allow the City of Toronto to pass a ranked ballot by-law for city council elections / Projet de loi 166, Loi visant à modifier la Loi de 2006 sur la cité de Toronto afin de permettre à la cité de Toronto d’adopter un règlement municipal sur le scrutin préférentiel pour les élections au conseil municipal.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: My bill, the Toronto Ranked Ballot Elections Act, would enable the city of Toronto, working with the province and after public consultation, to introduce a ranked ballot for local elections by 2018.

I’ve spoken broadly to this earlier, but it’s my hope that the city, the province and the people, working together, we can together strengthen our local democracy. I’m looking forward to input and hopefully support from my colleagues from all sides of the House.


Mr. Orazietti moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 167, An Act respecting Invasive Species / Projet de loi 167, Loi concernant les espèces envahissantes.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.

Hon. David Orazietti: Thank you, Speaker. I’ll wait until ministerial statements.




Hon. David Orazietti: I’m pleased to introduce this legislation today, and with the support of all members, hopefully this will pass expediently.

Invasive species are a serious threat to our economy and to our environment. They cost Ontario’s economy tens of millions of dollars each year. Once established, invasive species can be extremely difficult and costly to control. The impacts on our natural environment can be often extensive and irreversible. These species put resource-based jobs at risk, like the $11.9-billion forestry industry, which supports more than 55,000 jobs in over 220 communities across northern Ontario, and the commercially sensitive areas around fishing, which are extremely important that we protect. This economy contributes approximately $234 million to Ontario’s economy annually.

With the Great Lakes on our borders and the high levels of trade and travel, Ontario is particularly at risk from invasive species. Sometimes, they’re spread unintentionally, like boaters who unknowingly transfer zebra mussels attached to their boat from one body of water to another. But they may also be introduced into Ontario knowingly, whether it’s purchasing invasive plants for gardening, dumping aquarium plants into local waterways or moving contaminated firewood. Once invasive species are introduced into the wild with no natural predators, they’re able to spread quickly, reproduce rapidly, and have few competitors for food and water in their new environments.

According to a 2010 report on the state of Ontario’s biodiversity, invasive species are the second-greatest threat to species at risk in Ontario and they are a leading cause of extinction of species globally. Take the zebra mussel, for example, a species I’m sure many Ontarians are familiar with. Each year, Ontario spends between $75 million and $91 million just to manage this single species, and these invasive mussels have virtually eliminated all native mussels from Lake Erie. This is in addition to the negative impacts that this species has on Ontarians’ enjoyment of our lakes and rivers.

Another example is the mountain pine beetle, which the people of British Columbia have had to deal with for a number of years now. Since 2001, it has destroyed millions of hectares of pine trees in BC, and with it, the government has spent $917 million in an attempt to control this invasive. There is a very real threat and concern that if it arrives in Ontario, it will impact all species of pine and create significant negative impacts on our forestry industry.

That’s why I’m pleased to rise in the House today to introduce this proposed legislation that would address the serious threat to Ontario’s natural environment. The proposed Invasive Species Act would provide a strong legislative framework to better prevent, detect, rapidly respond to and eradicate invasive species in the province. This landmark legislation would help by providing the powers to intervene earlier, so invasives do not become established and lead to significant social, environmental and economic costs for Ontarians.

Prevention is the key to stopping invasive species. In some cases, control programs cost 24 times more than prevention programs. Currently, Ontario relies on a patchwork of more than 20 federal and provincial acts, none of which were designed to deal with invasive species. This has left legislative gaps that our proposed legislation would help to address. Addressing these gaps would enable the government to take a more strategic and preventable approach to invasive species management. It would give us the tools to prohibit activities such as possessing and transporting certain types of invasive species, enable rapid response actions to address urgent threats, and help ensure compliance through modernized inspection and enforcement measures.

If the proposed legislation is passed, Ontario will be the first jurisdiction in Canada that has stand-alone invasive species legislation. Managing invasive species has always been a collaborative effort across all levels of government as well as with industry, environmental groups and the public. Ontario will continue to collaborate with all of those involved in invasive species management, including municipalities and the federal government, which have an important national role to play in invasive species management.

Our government has many enduring partnerships in this area. As a member of the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, Ontario is working with the Great Lakes states and the US and federal governments to prevent aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp, from entering the Great Lakes.

For more than two decades, we have been working with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to deliver the Invading Species Awareness Program.

More recently, we supported the creation of the Invasive Species Centre, in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie, to collaborate on research, strategic planning, communications and outreach, as well as response actions, mitigation and rehabilitation activities. To date, Ontario has provided approximately $9 million toward the establishment and operation of this centre.

Partnerships such as these are helping to protect our recreational fishing industry, an industry that contributes about $2.2 billion to Ontario’s economy and is a notable contributor to the Ontario tourism industry.

This landmark legislation would, if passed, expand the use of strategic partnerships such as these, and build on the work MNR has been doing with stakeholders for many years. Our 2012 Ontario Invasive Species Strategic Plan acknowledges the critical roles that partners and stakeholders play in prevention and management of invasive species. It was followed by a discussion paper we issued last summer, and we welcome comments from the public and stakeholders on the proposed legislation.

I can tell you that a broad range of stakeholders have expressed support for stronger action to address invasive species. All of them—municipalities, conservation groups and industry—recognize the need for stronger action in managing this threat to our province’s economy and our natural environment.

Speaker, invasive species can spread quickly and impact all Ontarians, including landowners, anglers, industry and businesses. With the introduction of the proposed Invasive Species Act, Ontario is taking a leadership role with significant and necessary action to address social, ecological and economic threats posed by invasive species to our great province.


Hon. Michael Chan: Today marks a significant milestone in government support for the arts in Ontario. It was 50 years ago that the government established the Ontario Arts Council. The vision and mission of the Ontario Arts Council was “to foster the creation and protection of art for the benefit of all Ontarians.” Speaker, that was five decades ago. Today, this vital mission remains strong.

The creation of the Ontario Arts Council marked a bold beginning. It established a system that built the most robust arts infrastructure in Canada, enabling Ontario to earn the reputation as an artistically rich and creative province, thanks to our innovative artists and arts organizations. We are blessed that generations of musicians, dancers, writers, painters and visionaries generously share their great gifts within our borders and beyond.

Today, Ontario is proudly home to one of the best culture sectors in the world. This success is in large part because of the critical support received by the Ontario Arts Council over the last 50 years.

Mr. Speaker, here in Ontario, creativity and culture is a natural resource. Found in every corner of our big province, it thrives in our cities, in our centres and in our communities. It unites us and defines us as a people and as a society.

As the arts in Ontario enrich our quality of life and strengthen our economy, our government values this significant contribution. This is why we, as a government, have been strong supporters of our arts and our artists. Since 2003, the government has invested over $5.8 billion in culture. This includes close to $600 million to the Ontario Arts Council. In 2012 and 2013, OAC has supported over 2,500 professional artists and arts organizations in 232 communities across our province, offering an incredible, incredible return on our investment.

Today, Ontario’s culture sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors, contributing over $23 billion annually to Ontario’s economy and generating 300,000 jobs.


In times of economic uncertainty, many governments sacrifice culture as the first casualty of fiscal constraint. I am proud that our government has continuously partnered with our artists and our arts organizations to build an innovative and competitive economy, to support a healthy and vibrant society, and to ensure a strong foundation for economic growth and prosperity.

The work of the Ontario Arts Council has been key to this success over the past 50 years, and will continue to be in the next many more years to come. As we seek to foster future growth, as we nurture new and emerging talent, and as we strengthen our creative infrastructure, we create jobs, promote prosperity and ensure that Ontario’s talent stays in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize our artists and arts organizations that join us here today to mark this golden anniversary, and to thank them for their contributions, for their vision, for their passion, and for their spirit that entertains and enlightens audiences and inspires all of us to participate in the extraordinary cultural life found in all of our communities.

I would also like to congratulate the Ontario Arts Council on its 50th year of strengthening the arts in Ontario and helping to make our province the true cultural capital that it is today.


Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Our government is working hard every day to make sure that workers go home safe to their family and loved ones at the end of their shift. We have introduced new standards for those working at heights, as well as basic health and safety awareness training.

But one of the most common injuries is work-related repetitive strain injury, also known as RSIs. These injuries mainly affect muscles, nerves and tendons, and they can develop as a result of repetitive work, including typing, forceful exertions like heavy lifting and carrying, or when our limbs are put in awkward positions for long periods of time.

RSIs may not be life-threatening, but they can be life-changing. Whether it is a store clerk stocking shelves at the local department store in Windsor or an office worker typing at a computer in Ottawa, RSIs can affect any worker, anywhere, at any time. The impact of these injuries can be debilitating, with some suffering constant pain that makes it hard to get out of bed.

Speaker, nearly 40% of injuries that require time off work in Ontario are a result of musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, an umbrella term that includes RSIs. In 2012 alone, MSDs amounted to 469,000 working days lost and more than $68 million in medical and other claims in Ontario. And the thing about these injuries is that they often result from jobs that people don’t think are dangerous.

Today, we mark Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day to promote avoidance of these injuries to improve the well-being of workers across the province. That’s why our government has conducted workplace inspection blitzes that target MSD hazards in a variety of sectors.

And we are making progress. In 2006, our government launched a Pains and Strains Campaign to increase awareness of ergonomic-related injuries. Since then, we have created a wealth of resources, increased the number of ergonomists at the Ministry of Labour, and enhanced training for inspectors on MSD prevention.

From 2006 to 2012, the number of injuries that resulted in people missing work because of MSDs dropped 41%. The direct cost associated with this has decreased 47%, and the number of working days lost due to MSDs has declined 61%. This is good news for workers, for employers and for workplaces all across Ontario.

But we can do more. As long as one worker can’t go to work, much less get out of bed in the morning, because of a painful injury, we all must do more. We encourage everyone to go to the Ministry of Labour’s website at Ontario.ca/labour. We have a wealth of resources from videos to fact sheets, interactive tools, podcasts and posters. It contains dozens of sector-specific examples about how these hazards can be eliminated or controlled, in 14 different languages, in addition to English and French: information that can help you prevent MSDs for yourself or, if you are an employer, for your employees.

Speaker, our government is committed to making sure workers in Ontario are protected from injuries on the job, but it is a partnership, and it starts in the workplace. So today, let’s redouble our efforts to ensure workplaces address these hazards, keep workers safe and eliminate repetitive strain hazards that could cause years of pain—because we have the ability to stop it before it happens, because prevention starts here with us.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It is now time for responses.


Mr. Toby Barrett: I commend this government for taking invasive species seriously enough and taking MNR seriously enough to introduce this legislation today. The goals are admirable: to support the prevention, early detection, rapid response and eradication of invasive species. By way of example, in 2011, I submitted a resolution calling for the evisceration—the gutting—of Asian carp brought into Ontario for food. MNR made the same call in 2013. However, the clock is ticking.

While on vacation in Louisiana, I testified at the Army Corps of Engineers on the Chicago area waterways report. I testified that it really makes no difference if a truck full of live Asian carp gets into a collision in Ontario or Ohio or Michigan, and the fish escape into a ditch that flows into a Lake Erie tributary. These invasive species don’t abide by borders. My question, Minister: Are you talking to your American counterparts about interstate transportation of these carp? Will you commit to work directly with Great Lakes and other jurisdictions with respect to exotics?

Mother Nature is complex, and so is our political and economic relationship with the United States. Have you talked to the tow tug and the barge industry with respect to the Chicago canal? Will this legislation dovetail with any proposed federal regulations, whether they be Canadian or American?


Ms. Laurie Scott: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of Tim Hudak, our leader, and the PC caucus in recognizing Ontario Arts Council day at Queen’s Park and on this, their 50th anniversary. This day provides us with a great chance to recognize and celebrate the importance of the arts in Ontario.

Most people don’t understand the job creation and economic stimulus that the arts add to our province. It’s amazing to see that more than 252,000 Ontarians work in the cultural sector, which represents 4.1% of the provincial workforce. The arts are important for the economy, for tourism and culture, especially in rural areas like my riding of Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock. They have many small businesses, including amazing individuals who create and produce various forms of art within the community. The most recent statistics actually indicate that the culture sector generates $23 billion annually to the provincial economy.

I know that many of you had meetings today—and the long list of organizations in our ridings that have received funding, everything from theatres to music festivals to kids’ shows to sponsoring exhibitions just to try and promote the arts in our communities.

The Ontario Arts Council plays a vital role in development of arts in Ontario, and I’m happy that they now have a strategic plan in place to ensure the future development of the arts, considering that art and culture are certainly large pillars in our province.


Mr. Monte McNaughton: I’m pleased to rise today to speak about repetitive strain injury day. This is an important day for workers and employers all across Ontario. It’s a day meant to raise these issues amongst workers and employers.

Repetitive strain injury is an umbrella term that is used to describe a series of disorders that affect tendons, muscles, nerves and joints. They are often caused by work-related activities that are frequent and repetitive, or ones with awkward postures, fixed or constrained body positions, repetition of movements on a continual basis, forced concentration on small parts of the body such as the hands or wrists, or any kind of work that does not allow enough rest between movements.


When a worker suffers from workplace-related injuries, it inhibits their ability to successfully do their job and ultimately impacts Ontario’s economy. It’s important to dedicate a day to increase awareness, further educate, and help prevent these types of injuries, and I’m pleased to rise and speak on behalf of the PC caucus and our leader, Tim Hudak, and on behalf of the workers in my riding of Lambton–Kent–Middlesex.

On behalf of our party, we remain committed to standing up for Ontario workers and their safety in the workplace, and wish everyone a safe and informative repetitive strain injury day.


Mr. John Vanthof: It’s an honour to stand in this place and speak on behalf of the NDP caucus and our leader, Andrea Horwath, in response to the government’s proposal to introduce legislation to take action against invasive species. Invasive species have long been a threat to our province, and as our world becomes more connected and our climate changes, they’re becoming an even larger threat.

Zebra mussels and the emerald ash borer are examples of species that we are currently battling with. The Asian carp and the mountain pine beetle could soon join the fray. We have seen the incredible damage that these species have caused in other jurisdictions.

The Invasive Species Act could certainly be a step in the right direction. It could support the prevention, early detection, rapid response and eradication of invasive species in the province—noble goals. We all agree that more needs to be done. The main challenge is: How? The Ministry of Natural Resources’ budget has basically flat-lined for the last two decades. If you compare it to spending in other parts of the government, it has fallen drastically behind. On the ground, where it matters, the ministry is a mere shadow of its former self. There are not enough people on the ground to do their current jobs.

We look forward to debating this legislation and support its intent. It will be our main goal to ensure that its intended goals can actually be achieved.


Mr. Paul Miller: For over 50 years, the Ontario Arts Council has provided funding for Ontario arts, community and cultural events. Last year, they provided over $50 million in total grants. Included in this are events such as the Hamilton Fringe Festival and organizations like the Hamilton Children’s Choir. I’ve seen the positive impact that this funding has provided in our ridings.

The arts play a pivotal role in all our communities, from large exhibits in our cities to theatre productions in our small towns. Not only do these grants help to tell our history, but they keep our cultural fabric alive. They also provide a venue for young artists of all disciplines to fine-tune their skills for future endeavours.

With changing demographics and diminishing arts education in schools, however, there is an increasing need to promote the arts to our youth. I just spoke to Katherine Carleton, Yvonne Felix and Jeremy Freiburger, who emphasized the need to continue funding the arts in Ontario. Not only do the arts provide a cultural cornerstone to our communities, but they provide measurable economic impacts.

I hope that all members will continue to support the arts in Ontario, and I invite everyone to attend the Ontario Arts Council reception this evening.

Speaker, I can’t emphasize enough that we have to reintroduce programs of art in our schools. It’s very important.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m pleased to rise in recognition of the 14th annual international repetitive strain injury day. Repetitive strain injuries, or RSIs, are an umbrella term for a number of overuse injuries that can occur from work.

RSIs affect muscles, tendons and nerves of the neck, upper and lower back, chest, shoulders, arms and hands. Typically arising as aches and pains, these injuries can progress to become crippling disorders that prevent sufferers from working and from leading normal lives.

The work-relatedness of RSI is under attack. Some 300 years after Bernardino Ramazzini, the father of occupational medicine, first wrote about RSIs, the WSIB quietly commissioned a report on permanent impairment advisory services from a US firm, Brigham and Associates. Without announcement or public consultation, the report was sought, contracted, written and submitted back to the WSIB within a short three-month time frame.

As unbelievable as it sounds, the Brigham report states that RSI diagnoses are not appropriate and may actually lead the patient to believe that he or she has a condition that is something more than the ordinary aches and pains of life. Not only will this be disastrous for those workers suffering from RSI, but it will lead to more injuries, as there will be no need or attention paid to prevent injuries that are not deemed to be related to work.

This is a disturbing trend that we saw last year with low back pain. In 2012, Ontario researchers criticized a systematic review that called into question the idea that occupational physical injuries can cause low back pain. Specifically, the authors did a systematic review of their own other eight systematic reviews to get these findings. Injured workers can tell you that work causes low back pain, just like they can tell us and the WSIB that RSIs from work cause debilitating, lifelong injuries—if only they were asked.

Instead, injured workers once again find themselves and their allies having to defend and critically analyze the scientific reports that WSIB obtains to inform WSIB policy. It is important to critically analyze and consider sweeping conclusions and to study the validity of the scientific basis of such claims before they form the basis of WSIB policy.

I want to thank all those who bring attention to repetitive strain injury and those who suffer from repetitive strain injury, and certainly extend support from our caucus to injured workers across the province.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank all members for their comments.

It is now time for petitions because the member for Durham has one.



Mr. John O’Toole: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It’s so surprising that I have one. This petition here is from my riding and it is very, very sensitive:

“Whereas current OHIP legislation and policies prevent Ontario post-stroke patients between the ages of 20 and 64 from receiving additional one-on-one OHIP-funded physiotherapy; and

“Whereas these post-stroke patients deserve to be rehabilitated to their greatest ability possible to maybe return to work and become provincial income taxpayers again and productive citizens;

“Whereas current OHIP policies prevent Ontarians under age 65 and over the age of 20 from receiving additional OHIP-funded physiotherapy and rehabilitation after their initial stroke treatment; and

“Whereas these OHIP policies are discriminatory in nature, forcing university/college students and other Ontarians to wait until age 65 to receive more OHIP-funded physiotherapy;

“Whereas the lack of post-stroke physiotherapy offered to Ontarians between the ages of 20 and 64 is forcing these people to prematurely cash in their RRSPs and/or sell their houses to raise funds” to get back to work;

“Now therefore we, the undersigned, hereby respectfully petition the Ontario Legislature to introduce and pass amending legislation and new regulations to provide OHIP-funded post-stroke physiotherapy and treatment for all qualified post-stroke patients, thereby eliminating the discriminatory nature of current treatment practices” and regulations.

I’m pleased to sign this and support this on behalf of my constituents and seniors in Durham, and present it to Aqil.


Ms. Sarah Campbell: I have a petition here which reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the cost of living in northwestern Ontario is significantly higher than other regions of the province due to the high cost of necessities such as hydro, home heating fuel, gasoline and auto insurance; and

“Whereas an increase in the price of any of these essential goods will make it even more difficult for people living in northwestern Ontario to pay their bills and put food on the table;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“To reject any proposed increase to the harmonized sales tax, gas tax or any other fees or taxes in the northwest; and instead investigate other means such as increasing corporate tax compliance or eliminating corporate tax loopholes in order to fund transit in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.”

I support this, will affix my signature and will give it to the page.


Mr. Grant Crack: My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas we, the undersigned residents of Edwards, Carlsbad Springs, and Vars, of the city of Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, draw to the attention of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario the following:

“The petitioners have serious grievances with the proposed development by Taggart Miller Environmental Services (TMES), proponents of the Capital Region Resource Recovery Centre (CRRRC) and waste disposal/landfill facility, which is to be situated in Carlsbad Springs just south of Highway 417, east of Boundary Road, west of Frontier Road, and north of Devine Road in the city of Ottawa. As is currently evidenced at other waste disposal/landfill sites, they are unsafe and dangerous and pose a serious threat to the environment and to the people in the surrounding area. No one will or can guarantee that there is no risk or even limited risk. Landfills will eventually leak and toxic liquid landfill leachate could seep into the high water table and Shaw’s Creek, contaminating wells and water supplies for the surrounding residents, farmlands and commercial industries, jeopardizing the natural environment and seriously jeopardizing our health and livelihoods.

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and the Ministry of the Environment, to reject the proposed CRRRC waste disposal facility by Taggart Miller Environmental Services, on the proposed site and surrounding rural, agricultural, commercial and residential properties in Carlsbad Springs, within the city of Ottawa, in the province of Ontario.”

I affix my signature and agree with the petition and send it with Emily.



Mr. Rob E. Milligan: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Health Canada has approved the use of Esbriet for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a rare, progressive and fatal disease characterized by scarring of the lungs; and

“Whereas Esbriet, the first and only approved medication in Canada for the treatment of IPF, has been shown to slow disease progression and to decrease the decline in lung function; and

“Whereas the lack of public funding for Esbriet is especially devastating for seniors with IPF who rely exclusively on the provincial drug program for access to medications;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Immediately provide Esbriet as a choice to patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and their health care providers in Ontario through public funding.”

I concur with this petition, and I’ll affix my name to it.


Ms. Catherine Fife: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas escalating rental costs are making Ontario less affordable and leaving many tenants financially insecure or falling into poverty;

“Whereas tenants living in residential apartments and condominiums built after 1991 are not protected within the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) by rent control guidelines, nor are they protected from other arbitrary changes to their rent which currently cannot be appealed to the Landlord and Tenant Board;

“Whereas this has created an unfair two-tier system of tenant protection in Ontario, where some tenants have no protection from large and arbitrary increases;

“Whereas removing these simple exemption loopholes in the RTA law will help protect tenants and help make housing more affordable and secure for thousands of Ontarians;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That the province of Ontario acts to protect all tenants in Ontario and immediately move to ensure that all Ontario tenants living in buildings, mobile home parks and land-lease communities are covered by the rent control guidelines in the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.”

It is my pleasure to affix my signature to this and give this to page Owen.


Mr. Vic Dhillon: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas protecting the environment should be everyone’s responsibility, including manufacturing and material producing companies; and

“Whereas it is important to require producers to be financially and environmentally responsible for recycling the goods and packaging they sell in Ontario, and to divert these wastes from landfill to recycling to drive innovation, generate new jobs, and new Ontario-made products; and

“Whereas new approaches are needed that reflect ideas and recommendations from the recycling sector that are designed to improve current recycling systems, to increase recycling and diversion rates, and better protect our environment;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That members of the Legislative Assembly pass Bill 91, the Waste Reduction Act, 2013, introduced on June 6, 2013, by the Ontario Minister of Environment.”

I approve of this petition. I affix my signature and hand it over to page Ibrahim.


Ms. Laurie Scott: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario government has approved massive increases to Ontario Tire Stewardship’s eco fees for agricultural tires, increasing some fees from $15.29 to $352.80, $546.84 or $1,311.24;

“Whereas Ontario imposes tire eco fees that are dramatically higher than those in other provinces;

“Whereas other provincial governments either exempt agricultural tires from recycling programs or charge fees only up to $75;

“Whereas these new fees will result in increased costs for our farmers and lost sales for our farm equipment dealerships;

“Whereas the PC caucus has proposed a new plan that holds manufacturers and importers of tires responsible for recycling, but gives them the freedom to work with other businesses to find the best way possible to carry out that responsibility;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Please suspend the decision to significantly increase Ontario Tire Stewardship’s fees on agricultural and off-the-road tires pending a thorough impact study and implementation of proposals to lower costs.”

I sign this and give it to page Shannon.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m pleased to introduce this petition in support of members of my riding who signed the petition in support of Geri Sutts, who suffers from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Health Canada has approved the use of Esbriet for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a rare, progressive and fatal disease characterized by scarring of the lungs; and

“Whereas Esbriet, the first and only approved medication in Canada for the treatment of IPF, has been shown to slow disease progression and to decrease the decline in lung function; and

“Whereas the lack of public funding for Esbriet is especially devastating for seniors with IPF who rely exclusively on the provincial drug program for access to medications;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Immediately provide Esbriet as a choice to patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and their health care providers in Ontario through public funding.”

I agree with the petition, will affix my name and send it to the Clerks’ desk through page Owen.


Mr. Joe Dickson: I have a petition from my constituency of Ajax–Pickering to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas the regions of York and Durham are at the final stages of completing an EA for the YD-WPCP (York Durham water pollution control plant’s) outfall; and

“Whereas the regions of York and Durham have chosen as the final solution an alternative which will not address the quantity of total phosphorus (TP) nor soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) being deposited into Lake Ontario; and

“Whereas Lake Ontario has been identified as the most stressed lake of the Great Lakes in the July/August 2013 issue of Canadian Geographic; and

“Whereas the town of Ajax and PACT POW (Pickering Ajax Citizens Together—Protecting our Water) have documented the excessive algae blooms on the Ajax waterfront with photos and complaints to the region of Durham; and

“Whereas SRP, and indirectly TP, contribute to the growth of algae in Lake Ontario;

“Therefore we undersign this petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and ask that the government of Ontario require the regions of York and Durham to implement an alternative that will reduce the amount of phosphorus (both TP and SRP) being deposited into Lake Ontario from the YD-WPCP.”

I attach my name to it and pass it to Samer.


Mr. Todd Smith: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the government of Ontario, through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, levies the Ontario provincial fee on the sale of break-open tickets by charitable and non-profit organizations in the province; and

“Whereas local hospital auxiliaries/associations across the province, who are members of the Hospital Auxiliaries Association of Ontario, use break-open tickets to raise funds to support local health care equipment needs in more than 100 communities across the province; and

“Whereas in September 2010, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced a series of changes to the Ontario provincial fee which included a reduction of the fee for certain organizations and the complete elimination of the fee for other organizations, depending on where the break-open tickets are sold; and

“Whereas the September 2010 changes to the Ontario provincial fee unfairly treat certain charitable and non-profit organizations (local hospital auxiliaries) by not providing for the complete elimination of the fee which would otherwise be used by these organizations to increase their support for local health care equipment needs and other community needs;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to eliminate the Ontario provincial fee on break-open tickets for all charitable and non-profit organizations in Ontario and allow all organizations using this fundraising tool to invest more funds in local community projects, including local health care equipment needs, for the benefit of Ontarians.”

I agree with this petition and will send it to the table with Jessie.


Ms. Sarah Campbell: I have a petition that reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas home heating and electricity are essential utilities for northern families;

“Whereas the government has a duty and an obligation to ensure that essential goods and services are affordable for all families living in the north and across the province;

“Whereas government policy such as the Green Energy Act, the harmonized sales tax, cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga have caused the price of electricity to artificially increase to the point it is no longer affordable for families or small business;

“Whereas electricity generated and used in northwestern Ontario is among the cleanest and cheapest to produce in Canada, yet has been inflated by government policy;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“To take immediate steps to reduce the price of electricity in the northwest and ensure that residents and businesses have access to energy that properly reflects the price of local generation.”

I support this and will give it to page Owen to deliver.



Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: The petition here, addressed to the Ontario Legislative Assembly, reads as follows:

“Whereas protecting the environment should be everyone’s responsibility, including manufacturing and material producing companies; and

“Whereas it is important to require producers to be financially and environmentally responsible for recycling the goods and packaging they sell in Ontario, and to divert these wastes from landfill to recycling to drive innovation, generate new jobs, and new Ontario-made products; and

“Whereas new approaches are needed that reflect ideas and recommendations from the recycling sector that are designed to improve current recycling systems, to increase recycling and diversion rates, and better protect our environment;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“That members of the Legislative Assembly pass Bill 91, the Waste Reduction Act, 2013, introduced on June 6, 2013, by the Ontario Minister of Environment.”

With that, Speaker, I send this to you by page Anne.


Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Health Canada has approved the use of Esbriet for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a rare, progressive and fatal disease characterized by scarring of the lungs; and

“Whereas Esbriet, the first and only approved medication in Canada for the treatment of IPF, has been shown to slow disease progression and to decrease the decline in lung function; and

“Whereas the lack of public funding for Esbriet is especially devastating for seniors with IPF who rely exclusively on the provincial drug program for access to medications;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“Immediately provide Esbriet as a choice to patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and their health care providers in Ontario through public funding.”

I will affix my signature to this petition and send it to the table with Ibrahim.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The time for petitions has ended.



Mr. Victor Fedeli: I move that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario recognizes that many Ontario families are struggling with the high cost of living, unaffordable hydro rates, and already pay enough taxes; and

That taxpayers should not be forced to dig into their pockets any further to pay for the Liberal government’s waste and scandals;

Therefore, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario agrees that the Liberal government should not introduce or raise any taxes, including, but not limited to, the gas tax, payroll taxes and corporate taxes.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Mr. Fedeli has moved opposition day number 1.

Mr. Fedeli?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Speaker, this morning, 600,000 men and women woke up in Ontario without a job. Heinz, Kellogg’s, Caterpillar: They’re all companies that recently announced they are shutting their Ontario operations and heading for greener pastures. They’re still making ketchup. They’re still making cereal. They’re still making earth-moving equipment. They are just not making them in Ontario any longer.

With Ontario boasting the highest energy prices in North America, the highest payroll taxes in Canada, 86 consecutive months with unemployment higher than the national average, and a government about to raise the gas taxes and the corporate taxes, is it any wonder these companies are abandoning Ontario in record numbers? In addition, other companies are bypassing Ontario as they search for a place to set up shop.

Whatever happened to this once-powerful province, the envy of all of Canada? Ontario, once the engine of Confederation, has become a have-not province, relying on equalization payments from the federal government. We had a low debt-to-GDP. We had low unemployment. We had cheap hydro. We had less red tape. But look at what’s happened to us over the last decade.

Hydro rates have tripled, and the government has recently told us they will increase almost 50% more in the next few years. Corporate taxes, which were scheduled to fall from 11.5% to 10% in the 2012 budget, were left at that high level, as part of the Liberal deal with their NDP partners to win their support. As a result, Ontario businesses will be paying the highest corporate taxes amongst the large provinces in Canada.

The increasing burden of red tape, which costs the Ontario economy billions of dollars—in fact, costs Canadians $31 billion annually—has prevented Ontario businesses from reinvesting into their companies and has hurt non-profits and social organizations, as we heard in the pre-budget consultation.

For the first month of 2014, PC caucus MPPs here toured Ontario in a series of pre-budget consultations and finance round tables. They met with business groups, social groups and individuals. After visiting almost 30 cities from Sarnia to Kenora, from Timmins to Cornwall, a definite theme arose: expensive energy, high taxes and crushing red tape. For those Ontarians who pleaded with us at the pre-budget consultations to deal with these urgent issues, you have been heard by the Ontario PC caucus. We are dealing with those here today. That’s what this opposition day motion is all about. It’s time to take a stand for Ontario families and businesses and just say no to new taxes.

Unfortunately, the best predictor of this government’s actions is past behaviour. So today, we will indeed find out if the Liberals and the NDP intend, again, to raise your taxes. I think we know which way the government is going, so let’s just have a look again at some of the past behaviour. The most recent and significant tax hike is the one I mentioned, where the budget was scheduled to drop taxes from 11.5% to 10%. They left them at that high rate and now are about to, in the new taxes proposed by the Premier and her Liberal Party, raise corporate taxes to 12%.

Let’s look at what happened in 2003. They repealed the corporate income tax cuts, cancelled scheduled personal income tax cuts and raised tobacco taxes. In 2004, the favourite of Ontario, of course, was the Ontario health premium, along with OHIP delisting eye exams, chiropractic and physiotherapy services. In the 2009 budget, we saw the harmonized sales tax, which this government sold to us as the creator of 600,000 jobs in Ontario. Sadly, we haven’t seen them. It’s 600,000 who are now unemployed in Ontario.

The waste diversion eco-taxes, as our members have talked about frequently, with the Ontario tire stewardship fees, the electronics recycling fees—when you go to a consumer store now and buy a TV on sale for $119, and you head up to the counter and see that there’s another $39 in new taxes, it’s no wonder they’re piled up at the registers. We’ve got other taxes, miscellaneous taxes, in addition to tripling our hydro rates: vehicle and carrier registrations, driver’s licence fees, estate- and court-related fees, camping unit fees.

But sadly, and I won’t call it my favourite—it’s just the classic example of what this government is all about and why and how they shake consumer and business confidence—is what this Liberal government did to raise taxes in their 2007 budget. They made a sudden change to the tax structure for diamond mines, very close to the start of production at the Victor mine, Ontario’s first, and now still our only, diamond mine. At the time of the budget announcement, De Beers had already invested approximately $1 billion into the construction of the Victor project, which was scheduled to start in 2008. The government introduced a diamond royalty system, but they said to De Beers, “Don’t worry, we’re going to charge this brand new tax to all diamond companies in Ontario.” Of course, as I said, De Beers was the only one, and now is still the only one. When you wonder why the companies up in the ring of north have not developed the chromite mines, I can tell you plain and simply that I have met with every one of them, and the three principal mines are all very concerned that the government will pull another tax stunt and they’ll have a chromite tax as soon as they’ve spent a couple of billion dollars.

So what has this all done? It’s doubled our debt, it’s tripled our hydro rates and it is chasing businesses out of Ontario on almost a daily basis. Quite frankly, it’s not working. The answer to Ontario’s deep problems isn’t to dig the hole deeper and dig into the pockets of hard-working Ontarians, increasing their taxes. It’s our leader’s Million Jobs Act, which will be voted on tomorrow, Speaker.


Here’s what we need to do. First, we need to produce more jobs and increase take-home pay through lower taxes and less debt. The Million Jobs Act will balance the budget quicker, using tools like an across-the-board wage freeze, and will reduce taxes on employers so they can start hiring people again.

Second, we must ensure affordable energy that will create jobs, not eliminate jobs. Our Million Jobs Act will provide cost-efficient and reliable energy and put an end to expensive wind and solar subsidies that have driven up costs and punished manufacturers and families and seniors with high electricity bills.

Next, we need to train more skilled workers to meet the demand in trades and help young people find good jobs. Our Million Jobs Act will change the apprentice-to-journeyman ratio to one-to-one and abolish the College of Trades, which is nothing but a tax on workers and a costly bureaucracy that gets in the way of new job opportunities.

Fourth, our leader Tim Hudak’s Million Jobs Act will increase trade with our neighbours. We will require the government of Ontario to begin negotiations to join the economic partnership of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Finally, our leader, Tim Hudak, will stand tomorrow on his Million Jobs Act saying that we must end the bureaucratic runaround that inhibits job creation. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, complying with Ontario’s regulatory requirements costs Ontario businesses $11 billion annually. The Million Jobs Act will reduce the regulatory burden in Ontario by a minimum of one third.

Certainly the members of the third party, if they are, as their leader says, opposed to any new taxes, will have no problem supporting both my motion today and our leader Tim Hudak’s motion tomorrow. Sadly, what we’ve seen is them say one thing and do another. Time and time again, they call the government “scandalous” in the morning and then prop them up in the afternoon. They did so just yesterday. We’ll soon see if their new-found allergy to tax increases is legitimate or whether they maybe have cooked up a secret budget deal to keep the Liberal coalition partners in power.

Speaker, it’s decision time for Ontario and the members of this House. We need to support my motion on behalf of the taxpayers of Ontario, and, tomorrow, support our leader Tim Hudak’s Million Jobs Act and get this province going in the right direction.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Ms. Sarah Campbell: I’m pleased to rise and speak to this motion, which calls for a moratorium on new taxes. New Democrats have been championing this issue of not imposing any new taxes on the middle class for quite some time. But we took it one step further: We also said that we don’t want to see any new tolls or fees imposed on the middle class.

We have been leading this charge, not just for the past couple of weeks or the last week, as the Conservatives have signed on to this, but for actually the past year. Families have overwhelmingly told us that they cannot afford any new taxes or fees; that they are feeling squeezed; that they are doing more with less, and so should we; that if they can adjust to the increasing pressure of having less money coming in and out-of-control price increases, with their grocery store, with their hydro bills and auto insurance, kids in sports and daycare and everything else, then we should be able to manage the province with similar pressures. They’re tired of government going back for more and more.

Any new taxes, fees or tolls, whether it’s the HST, any taxes or fees to fund public transit—and that’s especially true in the north, where we’re already paying our fair share. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at a lot of mayoral discussions, where it has routinely been discussed that people are growing increasingly tired of seeing a lot of the revenue that comes out of northern Ontario, especially as a result of resource extraction, leave northern Ontario only to fill coffers in southern Ontario and never to be seen again; that we are routinely told when we need to make upgrades to our basic infrastructure like roads or bridges that we need to present a business case, but it’s not necessarily the case for people in other parts of the province.

I’ve often said that it’s not the case that we need more money, but it’s the case that we are not spending the money we already have wisely. An example of that is with the GTHA transit funding where the province is planning to expand transit services in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area. That could potentially result in a five-cent or a 10-cent increase in the price of gas per litre or an increase in the HST.

There is no mention that’s ever made by this Liberal government of the 8% that has already been collected per litre of gasoline that’s been sold in this province since the provincial sales tax was added to gasoline as a result of the implementation of the HST on July 1, 2010. Where has that 8% been going? There are also a number of things that were previously exempt from the PST that are now being taxed as a result of the HST.

On September 16, 2013, I asked the Minister of Finance to provide a detailed accounting of where the 8% provincial portion of the HST was spent since it was added to the price of gasoline as a result of the implementation of the HST in Ontario. The Ministry of Finance responded with, “Revenues, such as the provincial portion of the harmonized sales tax, are deposited into the province’s consolidated revenue fund,” which, as we have seen with this Liberal government, is nothing more than just a Liberal slush fund. And it’s not just gasoline. There were a number of other things that were previously exempt from the PST that are now being taxed since the HST has been implemented.

The Liberals have proven themselves to be, by their own track record, not the safe bet that voters may have hoped for. If they were safe, they wouldn’t have so many black marks on their track record, and they would not be asking for more money to make up for bad decisions. Whether it’s hydro, auto insurance, Ornge, eHealth, the cancellation of the gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga or taxes, the list keeps going on and on. I encourage people to remember back to the tax pledge that the Liberals made in their 2011 platform where, on page 53, it states that they will keep their commitments “without resorting to higher taxes.”

When it comes to the PCs and the intent behind this motion, I think it’s nothing more than a gimmick. I think that needs to be stated. With their recent media stunts asking us to sign a pledge not to add any taxes, I found that timing kind of suspect because, on February 18 this year, our NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, sent a letter to the Premier stating, “In recent months, you’ve made clear that you believe families should be paying more and that you are planning new taxes, tolls and fees that will hit the household budgets of families struggling with tough times.

“I will not support any new taxes, tolls or fees that hit” the middle class. “Now, more than ever, we need to respect the families who sent us here. Families tell me they cannot afford new unfair taxes and fees at this time. It is time to focus on making their lives more affordable, not more expensive.

“I am writing in the hope that you will make your plans clear, and disclose how they will impact household budgets.”

The very next day, the member from Nipissing tabled this motion and challenged our party to sign a “no new taxes” pledge. This is just a prime example of the crass political games that the PC Party plays. It’s just like other political games they’ve been playing, like voting down the routine supply motion that would allow the province to continue to pay its bills while the budget is introduced and debated.

It was a routine supply motion, and my understanding is that every routine supply motion has passed since Confederation. Again, it’s a routine piece of business that we’re always dealing with. If it failed to pass, it’s important to mention to people at home that we would encounter situations similar to what happened in the United States from October 1 to 16 last year when the government was essentially shut down because a continuing resolution for the interim authorization of appropriations was not passed. It resulted in nearly all government services grinding to a halt and nearly 800,000 federal employees being indefinitely laid off.

What did the PCs do? They voted against this routine motion. It’s the same PCs who claim, on one day, to care about business and to make sure that businesses can have better dealings with the Ontario government, that they can be paid faster, smoother, and claim to be looking out for business, yet all of those same businesses that would provide services to the province of Ontario would be put in a situation where they wouldn’t get paid.


Can you imagine what it would be like for Ontarians who wake up the next morning after a snowstorm only to have no highway clearing performed? The PCs claim to care about that, but they’re reckless. What would happen for somebody who needed to go to the hospital to get some medical treatment, only to find the doors locked, or seniors who are in long-term-care homes who need regular care? And yet they tell us that we should be trusting them to lead this province. These are the types of crass political games that the Progressive Conservatives play.

So they can hold as many round tables across the province and talk to as many people as they want, but they won’t act in the best interests of the people across this province because they only act in their own self-interest.

While the PCs are content to play political games, the Liberals are determined to overtax Ontarians to the point that it breaks their spirit. People can only be asked to be stretched so far, and many are already at the edge. People in this province do not have to accept this, and the NDP does not support it. Liberals are trying to push taxes up while we in the NDP are trying to push things down, like auto insurance premiums and small business tax. We are making jobs a priority as well as trying to pull up the minimum wage while we hold taxes down. We know that we have to make life more affordable for Ontarians, and for these reasons, I will be supporting this motion.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member from Vaughan can actually talk openly now.

Mr. Steven Del Duca: Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to speak openly. It was hard for me to stay in my seat and listen as closely as I did to both of the speeches that have just preceded mine, but I did my best to restrain myself psychologically, as I listened to the comments made by both the sponsor of this motion, the member from Nipissing, and of course the member of the NDP caucus, who spoke just a couple of minutes ago.

I don’t have a ton of time, Speaker, but I did want to say that I listened intently to the sponsor of this motion today, the member from Nipissing, and in everything he said during the 10 or so minutes that he spoke, I am prepared to admit to those watching and everyone else here in this chamber that there was, in fact, one thing, one sentence, one phrase that he used that I actually agree with. There was one in that entire discussion. I’m going to paraphrase; I don’t have access at this moment to the exact quote. The member from Nipissing said that previous or past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour. I’m paraphrasing, Speaker. And as much as I disagree with virtually every other punctuation mark, letter or phrase in that speech, that one particular sentence, Speaker, I agree with. I think it’s really important.

This wouldn’t be my first opportunity to convey this message in this chamber, but I will do it again, and I will do it again gladly. It is a little bit rich—for folks watching in my community of Vaughan and in communities like Glengarry–Prescott–Russell and others—to sit here or to watch from home and to listen to that member and members of that caucus, the Ontario PC caucus, talk about what might have come in the past and what might come in the future. That is a caucus and that is a party that in 2003, when they were booted, deservedly so, from office by the people of Ontario in dramatic fashion, left a $6-billion hidden deficit that they were not forthright with the people of Ontario about.

Over the course of their time in office, they closed hospitals and they starved Ontario’s infrastructure budget. They closed schools. They threw education workers and health care workers out of work. They filled in subways. This is a well-worn phrase and a well-used phrase in this chamber, and deservedly so. We all remember the Eglinton line that was filled in. Over the last 10 years, we are a government that has invested significantly in all aspects of improving Ontario and moving it forward.

Now, it may be easy for some members opposite to talk about the fact that they weren’t here back in 1995, 1996, 1997 or 1998, and the member who sponsored today’s motion wasn’t a member in this House, nor was I at that particular time. But here’s the interesting thing, Speaker: His leader was. Mr. Hudak, the leader of the official opposition, sat in this chamber, sat in the caucus of the former Premier, and he voted with every single measure, all of those things that I talked about a second ago: closing hospitals, starving the infrastructure budget, moving Ontario backwards, recklessly damaging core public services in this province. Mr. Hudak and other members who continue to serve in leadership positions in that caucus were quite prepared to be there, to vote in support of those measures.

Interestingly, Speaker, for the last 10 years, we have taken the steps to move the province forward and to invest in building hospitals and to invest in extending highways, like Highway 427 in my community of Vaughan. We have taken steps to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in subway extensions, like the Spadina subway extension that’s currently under construction that is going to be running up to York University and up into Vaughan, in the Jane and Highway 7 area, in 2016. We have taken those decisions, and every single time, Mr. Hudak and members of the Ontario PC caucus voted against those kinds of progressive, productive, positive measures—every single time. Then we brought in legislation to make sure that no future government in this province could do what they did, and hide a deficit of $6 billion.

Let’s reflect for a quick second about what they did during the 2003 campaign, and just before that campaign. They had a finance minister of that day serving in their caucus and in their government who stood in this place, or perhaps it was at a car parts manufacturer nearby—

Hon. Jeff Leal: It was Magna.

Mr. Steven Del Duca: It was Magna—thank you very much. They stood at Magna, and they told the people of Ontario, in their budget in 2003, and then throughout that election campaign that followed not too long after that budget, that the province’s books were balanced. Then we found out after the fact that it wasn’t true.

We passed legislation to make sure that that could never take place again in the province of Ontario, and the leader of the official opposition and members of that caucus voted against it. They have consistently done what they can to obstruct and to defeat every single progressive measure that demonstrates this government’s commitment to invest in crucial infrastructure.

Here’s the good thing. Here’s the really good news for the people watching and for those who are in the chamber right now: The people of Ontario have seen the movie before that this gang is putting out there right now. They’ve seen it before. They saw it from 1995 to 2003, and do you know what the verdict was, Speaker? The verdict was that they were resoundingly and deservedly defeated in 2003, and again in 2007 when they offered up similar things, and again in 2011 when they still couldn’t get off the particular message track they seemed to be stuck on.

I’m confident, because I have an immense amount of faith in the people of my community and the people of communities right across this province, that at some point in the future, when we eventually go back to the people, and all parties ask for their faith and their support, that that caucus, that leader, this member and most of his friends over there on that side—because of the recklessness of what they propose, generally speaking—will be defeated once again.

I think it’s also important to note—I don’t have that much time left now, Speaker—that I did listen closely to the member of the third party who spoke just a second ago. I understand that there’s an effort there from time to time to draw a distinction between the two opposition parties, the PCs and the NDP. What I found interesting today was that, for all of the things we heard from the NDP caucus about what they don’t think should be happening in the province of Ontario, we heard almost nothing—not for the first time, not for the second time, perhaps not even for the 100th time recently, we did not hear any clear, definitive sense of the direction they want the province to go in. We have seen now over the last number of months—disappointingly, I know, to people right across this province—that Andrea Horwath and that caucus don’t seem to be interested in putting forward any kind of plan.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I think we’ll be mentioning the riding, not the leader of the third party.

Mr. Steven Del Duca: Thank you, Speaker. I think what’s disappointing to people in my riding and communities across the province is that the leader of the third party and members of her caucus seem unwilling or incapable of putting any kind of plan forward, and that’s unfair to the people of Ontario. So I’d be interested to hear discussions over the course of the rest of today and, as we move forward, over the next number of weeks and months.

People have an opportunity here to witness both opposition parties: a reckless, destructive agenda put forward by the PC Party, and no particular plan whatsoever put forward—from time to time, once in a while—by the Ontario NDP. It’s not good enough.

The people of this province understand that the Ontario Liberal government has a plan to invest in people, to invest in modern infrastructure and to do what we can do to create a dynamic and innovative business climate. The good news, yet again, is that our plan is balanced, our plan is fair and, best of all, the Ontario Liberal government’s plan is working.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member from—

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Thanks very much—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Are you talking before I’m talking? The member from Nepean–Carleton.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It’s a pleasure to be able to speak and rise in the chamber. I appreciate your ability to introduce me.

I also had a wonderful discussion here with the Minister of Transportation. We don’t see eye to eye on this, but it is very clear that I do see eye to eye with our finance critic, Vic Fedeli, who I think delivered a very good summation of his points of view. I clearly think that the point of view that we’re putting forward is the right one for the province.


I just want to say, with respect to this motion, that it is important for us to recognize that Ontario families are stretched in an unprecedented way today. They’re struggling with the high cost of living. They’re struggling with the possibility that they may not have a job. They’re struggling with the high taxes they pay, and, of complete relevance to me, they’re struggling with their inability to pay their hydro bills.

I spoke at length this morning about the challenges our hydro bills are—


Ms. Lisa MacLeod: The member from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell calls those people “whining,” those people who contact us with high propane bills, high bills for—

Mr. Grant Crack: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order from the member from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell.

Mr. Grant Crack: On occasion, there is some heckling that goes back and forth in this House. The member from Nepean–Carleton has insinuated that I said something. I would like her to kindly withdraw. I did not say those words. She’s taking them out of context.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): With all due respect, I can’t ascertain whether you did or not; I don’t have any proof in front of me. As long as it was not unparliamentary, I really can’t say anything.

The member will continue.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): By the way, to the member heckling, it has certainly gone up a notch in the last couple of minutes, and I’ll be watching very closely.

Go ahead.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Thank you, Speaker. I can say this: I was not heckling, because I’m the speaker.

I will say this, as well: My constituents and those across the province have been telling us that they have an inability to pay an insurmountable amount of taxes to this Liberal government, primarily because they cannot afford their high cost of hydro.

I was in that member’s riding to meet with the Rockland chamber of commerce. The business people there told me that they couldn’t afford their hydro bills. The member from Nipissing, our critic, was with me as well. He will attest to the fact that the primary concern for the folks at that round table was the high cost of hydro. We had that opportunity. I encourage the member from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell to understand the issues that are important to the people he represents.

I would like to point out that AMPCO, the Association of Major Power Consumers in Ontario, said that their “latest benchmarking analysis compares Ontario’s industrial rates with those in other provinces in Canada as well as selected US markets. Our analysis shows that Ontario has the highest industrial rates in North America. Ontario not only has the highest delivered rates of all these jurisdictions; the disparity in rates also is growing.”

For 100 years, this province built a strong economy based on low taxes, based on major branch-plant economies, and based on affordable energy rates. For the last decade, we’ve had a vast departure from that economic policy and that industrial policy and that energy policy that were so closely linked, and we’re seeing today that that has created not only problems with jobs; it has caused this government to try to tax more, and it has driven our hydro rates so high that people in the communities that I represent and in the surrounding communities are telling me that their old age security cheque is lower than their hydro bill. That’s of concern to me. That’s why I support the member from Nipissing putting forward this piece of legislation that would suggest to the assembly, but also to the people of the province of Ontario, that we cannot afford more taxes by this Liberal government.

I am about to close, Speaker, because I want to split my time with my colleagues.

I will make a point for the member from Vaughan. He suggested that his party was the party for transit in Ontario, and I beg to differ. We calculated the amount of subway lines and subways that have been built here in the province of Ontario, particularly in the city of Toronto, and it stacks up this way: Progressive Conservative Party, 62; Liberals—and I’ll do this for my friend from Ottawa Centre—0.

The only party that built this province was the Progressive Conservative Party. The only party that brought forward cheap and affordable energy rates in Ontario was the Progressive Conservative Party. And the only party that is going to bring jobs back to this province is the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, under the leadership, the premiership, of Tim Hudak.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Kitchener–Waterloo.

Ms. Catherine Fife: It is a pleasure to stand in the House and speak to the motion that’s before us today. I will be addressing some of the comments, of course, because some of them are completely and utterly outrageous.

I do want to say, though, to the member for Nipissing, who has actually brought this motion to the floor of the Legislature today, that we did travel around the province and sit on the finance committee and listen to the diverse opinions across the province. The one thing that we did hear which was resounding from town to town, from city to city, from region to region, is that the proposed gas tax increase would not only hurt revenue generation for everybody; it would negatively affect tourism. In fact, the fellow from North Bay actually—it stays with me—said, “This gas tax will kill tourism. Don’t do it to us.”

There was a level of desperation in those finance committees that I haven’t heard, and actually, the fear was probably the most powerful thing. The fear was tangible. The Liberal plan for this province is—their record is so poor, and their plans are so misguided that people were literally begging us to hold them to account and to make sure that no new taxes come down from this government. We have taken that task to heart. We have stayed true to our key focus, which is affordability for the people of this province, and we’ve done so in a number of ways, but with a renewed focus on job creation.

Just to be clear, though, we will not support any more gas taxes, as our leader has made very clear. We will not support an increase in payroll taxes, as our leader has made very clear. With regard to the corporate tax rates, we’ve heard loud and clear from businesses: They think it’s a competitive rate. We are hopeful, though, and we’re going to stick to our guns on the 2% fairness tax which we negotiated in the first budget, which has generated revenue for the province: Those people who are making over half a million dollars pay 2% more. It’s a very reasonable plan, it resonates well across the province, and it’s good for the province. So we want to see that fairness tax stay in our priorities.

It is interesting, though, to see the juxtaposition in how parties see themselves, quite honestly. The Conservatives have brought forward this motion through the member from Nipissing today, and yet for two and a half years, they have let the clock run down by not participating in this democracy. They’ve taken it to an all new level of negative and cynical politics by, of course, the vote on the supply motion that happened this week. It’s important for people who are at home—my mom included, who will know this now because I’ve told her—that no Ontario government has ever fallen on a supply motion. This is a housekeeping measure. It’s reckless to play these kinds of games, and it is dangerous to our democracy because the level of engagement that we have in the province of Ontario is already at an all-time low. When people who are paying attention to what happens in this House see the leader of the official opposition play these games—that is what they are, and the issues are too serious that are before us to play those kinds of games—they get disengaged. We need people to pay attention to what is happening in this House, and we want them to. As the third party, we want them to pay attention to the fact that, for the last two budget cycles, we have successfully negotiated wins for the people of this province, and that’s what they expect us to do.

We come to this place each and every day from a position of respect for this minority government. I know it doesn’t sit that well, with two and a half years on the sidelines, with the PCs. They’re struggling. They’re struggling to hold their base, and that’s why you see these sort of public relations acts or media acts. It’s turning into a bit of a circus. We want to stay focused on the jobs.

To be fair to the member for Nipissing, that finance committee, what we heard—you have to be respectful of what you hear from the people of this province. That is why we will be supporting this motion.

That said, our priority in this place, aside from the renewed focus on jobs—it’s a very different plan than this million jobs plan that the leader of the PC caucus has brought forward, which is not targeted to any specific area. It’s vague. It’s as vague as you can actually get. And actually, it builds on some of the principles of the Liberal government, which have proven to not be successful. So if we supported that plan, then we’d both be wrong.

I waited a long time to use that line. I think it’s a good line. Yes, it’s a good line.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: It’s good. It’s a good line.


Ms. Catherine Fife: But going back to the very heart of this issue, Mr. Speaker, is that New Democrats are not only focused on creating jobs and building confidence in the economy, but we certainly want to end the waste, which is why, in the last budget session, we introduced the Financial Accountability Officer. I think it would be good for everyone in this House to know that we just finished the first round of interviews for that officer. Please remember that we negotiated the FAO last May. It is now February 2014, nine and a half months later.

We wanted to hire a Financial Accountability Officer; we didn’t want to give birth to one.

It’s important, because this is a measure—


Ms. Catherine Fife: I know. This is a measure that is needed for the province of Ontario. Actually, it’s a forward-thinking accountability officer, who would end the waste and ensure that any policies or legislation that happen in this place are actually based on fact and not fiction. We see that as a very key issue, because ultimately it is about trust. When the PC caucus continues to play the games, as they have, and when the Liberals continue to break promises that they put forward in their last platform, we have to be honest: There is a serious trust issue. So we’re going to stay focused on ensuring that that Financial Accountability Office is established. We see it as a necessary way for us to get spending in control in this place, with the goal of reprioritizing those tax dollars to the very issues that we know are key to this province, which are front-line health care, special education services and the education system, and, yes, transit and infrastructure, because there are a lot of jobs to be created on that front.

When we look at the track record thus far of the last two and a half years of this minority government, we actually have some tangible results that we can take to the people that have actually proven to be very successful. While the PC caucus has struggled to prove themselves, not only to their own base but to the rest of the province, we have been able to present pragmatic solutions on the economy and on the social infrastructure that is needed to actually inspire people to come to this province and invest. We have to be very cognizant of the fact that the current environment that we are working in in this province is fairly dire. I am concerned, just as the member from Nipissing, actually, about the effects that these potential tax increases will have on future Ontarians and investment in industry and innovation.

A recent study said almost a third of Canadian households report never or almost never having any money left to save after paying their bills. When the respondents were asked why they were not able to save, they responded that they felt their incomes were not keeping pace with the cost of living. This is a collective issue we all have to struggle with, and I know that we have different approaches to the economy. We do favour a targeted tax credit system for investing in research and innovation and commercializing that research to address productivity and create jobs. We certainly, of course, have been a huge proponent of the job creator tax credit.

I was speaking with the deputy mayor of Leamington the other day and I was telling him about this idea, because those 700 jobs that we lost in Ontario as the Liberals watched them leave the province—Ohio offered the job creator tax credit, which gained Heinz $530,000 because they were rewarding that company for creating 250 jobs in Ohio. That holds onto the jobs. It’s a signal from the government that they’re interested in that kind of investment and that they are pro-business.

What we’ve seen, though, from the Liberals is picking and choosing winners, and that does not instill confidence in the province of Ontario. When I was at ROMA this week, I asked them, “This southwestern development fund: Is it working for you?” Do you know what they said back to us? They said, “We don’t really know how these decisions are being made. Who is making these decisions, aside from the fact that some of those key investments were made in by-election areas?” We really feel that if you had a local regional board who would make those decisions—because they know their community best; they certainly know their community better than this government—then that money would strategically be invested and then you’d actually have a significant amount of buy-in as well.

This motion, which addresses some key issues around affordability—and I want to say that I’m respectful of the position that this member has brought forward, because this motion is reflecting the reality of the people of this province. While we don’t agree with everything, and we certainly don’t agree with the games—quite honestly, it’s frustrating and sometimes embarrassing to see the games played out in this place—we understand that the people of this province are feeling squeezed.

We’ve listened carefully, and that’s why we brought forward a balanced and measured approach around minimum wage with the support of small businesses, because small and medium-sized businesses create jobs. In fact, they are a huge generator for the economy and for jobs, and we want to be respectful of that position. When you listen carefully and you just don’t hear what you want to hear, then you have a responsibility as a member of provincial Parliament, as a leader of a party, to actually take those voices into consideration as you develop policy.

Here we are, two and a half years later into this session of the Legislature. We’ve seen from the PC caucus motions—you know, it’s a fine motion—but nothing, no action. For us, it’s a matter of being disrespectful to the people of this province. We have tried, and it has not been easy, to work with the Liberal government and to bring forward the priorities of the people of this province. We have some common understanding with the people we serve. They want us to come here each and every day, and they want us to put their priorities on the table, be it affordability around auto insurance, be it standing up to unfair taxes and tolls, or standing up for practical and responsible minimum wage paired with reductions in small business taxes. I understand that people are unsettled by it, that it’s balanced, that it’s pragmatic, that it recognizes that you have to generate revenue in order to support the social infrastructure that we all value.

We’re going to continue to stay the course on this. We will be supporting this motion. It’s an acknowledgment that the people of this province are hurting and that this government has been disrespectful of the tax dollars that have come into this House. We’re going to continue to do the hard work of bringing the priorities of people to this place, because it’s an honour and it’s a privilege to be here, and the responsibility carries a lot of weight. The games, they need to end.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Bob Delaney: The motion today shows the panic and desperation rising among members of the Ontario PC Party. They’re frightened, and they have good reason to be. The PC Party has publicly flip-flopped on its strident anti-union policies, even as the member from Cambridge recycled the same Tea Party, out-of-touch, right-wing, anti-labour rhetoric yet again today in members’ statements.

The Ontario PC Party has become the voice of yesterday’s status quo, telling Ontarians they should not do anything at all to address the 21st century’s defining challenges. All they propose to do is chase away one million jobs. Just as this patently contradictory motion says that Ontarians shouldn’t have to actually pay for anything, the PC Party repeatedly seeks to disassemble the ability of government to be able to take any substantive action in any field by taking away from the province the ability to invest in the future of its citizens.

There are some strong reasons the Ontario PC Party has been blown out in the 905 belt and in Ontario’s urban areas since the end of the Davis years. They propose abandoning those of us who live in urban areas with no way of getting around other than on already clogged roads. They filled in the Eglinton subway tunnel at a cost of $150 million of taxpayers’ funds while in their sad, sorry term of government. They withdrew altogether from funding public transit. Nine years after the end of those lost PC years, Ontario is just catching up on the neglect of the Tea Party Tory years.


Speaker, it is laughable for the Ontario Tea Party Tories to hector any government on managing the economy, let alone this government, which has actually had to pay their bills during our 10 and a half years in office. The PC Party purports to talk about taxpayers digging into their pockets even as they left behind a $5.6-billion hidden deficit when the voters tossed them out in 2003.

Hon. Jeff Leal: That was Erik Peters, the Auditor General.

Mr. Bob Delaney: But wait, as the hucksters say on TV—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Sit down, please. You know, usually when someone gets up and they’re irritating the other party, we get heckling from the other party against the speaker, but I get more heckling in conjunction with the speaker from his own group.

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: This is cheering.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): That’s not cheering; it’s trying to aggravate. So I would suggest that the members want to listen to their own member and keep it down a bit, because the Speaker doesn’t like it—especially the one from Etobicoke North.

Carry on.

Mr. Bob Delaney: Thank you, Speaker.

The PC Party purports to talk about taxpayers digging into their own pockets even as they left behind a $5.6-billion hidden deficit when the voters tossed them out in 2003. But wait, as the hucksters say on TV; there’s more. The great-granddaddy of PC financial boondoggles is their $20.6-billion stranded debt left behind for the taxpayers after the failed neocon-inspired privatization of Ontario Hydro in the 1990s. For further details, see the 2010 Auditor General’s report at www.auditor.on.ca. The specifics are on page 30.

Today, that $20.6-billion souvenir debt from the Mike Harris era has been paid down to about $3.8 billion and will be paid off in the next few years. Like the $5.6-billion budget deficit this government inherited and the post-recession debt that this province incurred to keep Ontarians working and to protect our auto sector in the last recession, this government deals with deficits and debt in a traditional and effective way: We pay it down.

But that is not what this Tea Party-inspired resolution proposes. It says that Ontario must cut its way to prosperity. To quote Professor Mark Blythe of Brown University, who wrote in the May-June 2013 issue of the US bi-monthly magazine Foreign Affairs about PC-style austerity policies—I’ll use his words:

“The Eurozone countries, the United Kingdom and the Baltic states have volunteered as subjects in a grand experiment that aims to find out if it is possible ... to cut its way to prosperity.

“The results of the experiment are now in, and they are equally consistent: austerity doesn’t work.”

The article shows that every country that had embraced austerity policies ended up with significantly more debt than it had when it started. There are in fact no real-world examples of Tea Party Tory policies like the one advanced in this resolution ever working. For the families living in the communities represented by the member from Nipissing’s colleagues, the inevitable outcome of forbidding the wealth-creating engines of the 21st century—which are cities—from investing in themselves is to do worse than kill the goose that lays the golden eggs of the province’s wealth; it is to undermine the ability of Ontarians to fund programs and services in the very regions that sent PC members to this Legislature.

The Tea Party Tories have never explained to anyone that if corporations are not spending and if government is forced to stop spending, then how is anyone other than the independently wealthy to have anything at all to either invest or save? How will anyone have a fabric of community and social supports to sustain them? They have never provided an answer for that.

These very Tea Party ideological policies have not merely failed in the United States; they have kept the US economy sputtering for lack of investment, even as the 400 richest Americans now control more assets than the poorest 150 million—about half the US population.

The truth is that today, nine out of 10 Ontarians pay less tax than on the last day of the Harris-Eves PC regime. The truth, Speaker, is that following the adoption of the value-added or harmonized sales tax, inflation has been lower in Ontario than in other areas with the inefficient, wasteful, duplicative, red-tape-laden and expensive sales tax that the Ontario PC Party supported.

The truth is that small business taxes are down and the HST has reduced business costs and paperwork. Ontario does not need these tried-and-failed, threadbare, ideology-driven tax ideas that would disinvest in Ontario.

We don’t need any more sales of assets like the 401 giveaway scandal of the 1990s, in the Harris-Eves era. We don’t need our hospitals and schools sold to private firms. We don’t need the regressive labour policies of Tea Party Tories to drive down the wages of hard-working families or to make the wealthy even richer.

We do need our cities, the wealth creation engines of our province and every region on earth, to move people and goods quickly, economically and safely, and we need to pay our bills and not pretend that there is a free lunch. This resolution, born of a failed ideology and a grab-bag of bad ideas, won’t do the job. I can’t support this resolution and neither should this Legislature.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate.

Ms. Laurie Scott: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this opposition day motion today, and I thank the critic for our party, Vic Fedeli, for bringing this motion forward. I hope that the government members are actually listening to some of the stories I’m going to tell of just how badly the Liberal tax increases are hurting my constituents.

The motion says, “That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario recognizes that many Ontario families are struggling with the high cost of living,” including unaffordable hydro rates. The motion then goes on to say that Ontarians already pay enough taxes—amen!—and shouldn’t be forced to dig deeper to pay for the Liberal government’s waste and scandals.

Well, we in this House know all about the waste and scandals that this Liberal government has done, like the billion-dollar gas plant cancellations, another billion wasted in the eHealth scandal and the hundreds of millions on Ornge, so I can’t believe that the government would want to impose more taxes on the burdened people that we have. Certainly, they do want to, but they say—how could the people of Ontario trust them with their money?

Finally, the motion asks the Legislative Assembly to agree that the Liberal government will not introduce or raise any taxes, “including, but not limited to, the gas tax, payroll taxes and corporate tax rates.” The member from Mississauga just spoke eloquently—it didn’t make any sense to me; I don’t think it makes sense to the people of Ontario—about the goodness that they have done as Liberals to this province, because they have not. They’ve got to stop living in Disneyland and come back to the reality that we have in this province now.

The Liberal government, running down—there’s a health tax that they’ve introduced since they’ve been in government of up to $900 a year per taxpayer. Despite this additional health tax, Ontarians are paying more out of pocket for medical services like eye exams and physiotherapy.

There’s this HST, which added 8% to the cost of many services that had not been previously subject to the provincial sales tax, everything from haircuts—but home heating, which has had a huge impact this year, that people have to pay the HST on their home heating fuels.

We’ve got the College of Trades, another tax on industry that the people are being forced to pay—some increases for their licence of up to 675%, in which they get no more value for that. Again, it’s just another tax grab from the Liberal government.

The WSIB, Bill 119, the independent contractors—the CFIB just awarded the Liberal government the 2013 Paperweight Award because of the WSIB burden that they have placed on businesses, just another sample of burdens they put on businesses. They’re leaving the province, and we see the unemployment rate so high in this province, especially in my riding of Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock.

They introduced eco taxes on everyday items like cleaning supplies, increased taxes on tires, and then of course we have the hydro rates, which is the number one thing that’s driving people either out of their houses, out of their businesses or out of the province of Ontario. They’ve doubled since they got elected, and the Minister of Energy is now saying there’s nowhere for electricity prices to go but up, so they’re going to be tripled for sure.

You have the HST, which is now added onto the debt retirement charge on your hydro bills. I get this all the time, going, “Why the heck is this debt retirement charge still on there?” Well, it should have been paid off in 2012, according to the Minister of Finance—the Liberals’ own Minister of Finance saying that. We’re paying HST now on that debt retirement charge, and it won’t be paid off until 2016.


You continue to waste money. My constituents have tightened their belts as much as they can. They’re doing their laundry late at night; they are trying to keep their hydro costs down. They’re heating with wood if they can because of the cost of electricity, oil and propane.

I have a fuel bank in my riding—not just food banks; I have fuel banks. I have such desperate situations that I have a fuel bank, which has run out several times this year already. People going into wood suppliers’ stores are saying, “Could I just have $25 worth of wood? That’s all I can afford for now.” It is that bad out there.

Today I had an email from my constit office that all a poor lady had left was change to pay for groceries in the store lineup, because she has to pay her hydro bill. It’s the heat, then the groceries.

The food banks are burdened, no question. People are shocked about the fuel bank story, but it shows you that it is desperate times out there.

We had round tables. The member from Nepean–Carleton came, as the energy critic. We did a round table for businesses. The stories we heard were unbelievable. Besides Hydro One’s bungling and mismanagement of bills, just the costs of electricity are hit so bad that they can’t—they have to keep the lights on and the refrigerators going, but they’re going to have to cut the staff. They have nowhere else to save any money, if they can stay open at all.

When you have the proposed gas tax increase that the Liberals are bringing in, which is an urban tax, of up to 10 cents per litre, you can imagine my people up there aren’t too happy because they can hardly pay their bills. They all have to drive, if they can afford a car, and so that extra cost of 10 cents a litre on their gas is hundreds, if not a thousand dollars, more out of their pocket yet again. That increase in gas tax will also, of course, drive up the cost of food, putting the squeeze on both the consumers and the grocery stores they shop in.

I have more and more people relying, as I said, on food banks, and the sum is adding up of all the increased taxes they’ve had to pay.

The tourism sector is going to be hit if that gas tax comes on. People aren’t going to be travelling as much. That’s going to hurt all of our ridings, because we all have a certain degree of tourism within our ridings.

Just think of the school boards, the municipalities, and how much more they’re going to have to pay with this gas tax. At ROMA this week, the OPP commissioner said that for every one cent that gas goes up, the OPP increases their costs by $250,000—the same for other emergency vehicles.

The OPP costing, if I can just touch on that for a minute—the proposed Liberal government’s increasing of OPP policing for municipalities. In Haliburton county, the cost of the OPP will go up from $3.3 million to $8.5 million. Haliburton county has the highest level of unemployment and poverty in the province, and it’s the second-hardest-hit municipality with this increase. North Kawartha: from $653,000 to over $1.4 million is the increase. Trent Lakes: from $914,000 to more than $2 million. For the portion of the city of Kawartha Lakes served by the OPP, they’re going to see an increase from $6 million to $10 million. These costs are thrown on the backs of municipalities, but guess what? There’s only one taxpayer. It’s going to come back down to them too.

This is a serious situation. This government has increased taxes to the breaking point. We cannot have any more tax increases in the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Grant Crack): The member from Essex.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you very much, Speaker. It’s great to see you in the chair, of course, a welcome reprieve from some—anyhow, I won’t even go there.

I’m pleased to join the debate today. It has been invigorating to listen to the various comments from all sides of the House on a fundamental aspect of the job that we do here: taxation, and representation based on that taxation.

New Democrats already, I think, have indicated that we are going to support this motion. It’s indicative of the real frustration that’s coming out of our ridings in terms of how our communities, our neighbours and our friends feel about the failure, in terms of making prudent investments, that the government has taken, the abdication of their responsibility to provide fiscal oversight—something that we’ve remedied, thankfully, through our imposition of the Financial Accountability Office. New Democrats are proud of that. The overall waste of valuable government resources is what frustrates our communities and our friends in our communities. For that reason, I certainly will be supporting the bill.

But I have to take issue with much of the commentary that came out of the PC caucus, specifically from the motion’s originator, the member from Nipissing. From the top, he referenced job losses in the manufacturing sector without indicating the enormous toll that multilateral free trade agreements have had on manufacturing in the province of Ontario and across the country. Those are trade agreements that have been signed by Conservative and Liberal governments at the federal level and endorsed by Liberal and Conservative governments at the provincial level for 25 years. Had you walked the Ambassador Bridge along with those auto workers back in the mid and late 1980s, who warned that the trade agreements that were on the table were going to devastate manufacturing in the province, you would have seen that it has now come to fruition. So I put much of the blame on free trade agreements that tip the balance in favour of the cheapest-wage jurisdictions on the planet. If we’re going to do business with them, then it is a losing battle.

The member from Nipissing talked about the high rate of corporate taxes. Well in fact, in the days of the Mike Harris era, corporate tax rates were well above what they are today—18%. If he claims that those days were good, I would say maybe he might want to return to a figure that was closer to 18%. But I don’t think that’s exactly what he’s talking about.

One of the most egregious things that I’ve heard come out of this debate today is something that the PCs are talking about in terms of us supporting the programming motion that came before the Legislature. I’ve now voted on three programming motions, and I understand their impacts. Many people in the province of Ontario don’t know what a programming motion is, so I’m proud to stand here today to teach them or tell them what a programming motion is.

A programming motion gives the government the ability, legislative capacity and mandate, to pay the bills, to keep the lights on, to make sure that the EMS trucks go out and respond to calls, to make sure that the 911 service is in place, to pay doctors and nurses, to keep the lights on and to pay the teachers. The Progressive Conservative government of Ontario voted yesterday to shut down those services in the province of Ontario—full stop. They absolutely wanted to walk away, shut the lights off and, I guess, head for a polling station where, in fact, there would be no money allocated for Elections Ontario to even run an election. They are dislocated from reality and dislocated from logic if they think that that actually makes sense to the people of the province.

I’ve been able, thankfully, to explain it to my constituents who are calling and saying, “What are the PCs doing? What are they doing?” I have to explain. They say, “That is ridiculous.” It’s dangerous, it’s absolutely reckless, and it’s irresponsible. They’re certainly not fit to govern.

I’ve been hearing a lot of this talk about a million jobs coming out of somewhere from the PC caucus. It’s maybe a conglomeration of their white papers—a million words that add up to nothing. What’s interesting is that the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party has been a member of this House for well over a decade. He was a part of the government—I believe he was a cabinet minister. I haven’t checked his stats. I’ll Google him later on.

Imagine: The leader of the PC Party has this plan for a million jobs in his back pocket, and he has been keeping it there for over a decade. Lo and behold, here comes the million jobs plan. I wonder how many times he has watched the Austin Powers movies over and over because it seems as though that’s where he’s getting his job plans from—one million jobs. It’s an infomercial. People aren’t buying it. They absolutely see through the fact that it’s all glitz, glamour and rhetoric. It has no bearing.

If he was serious about creating jobs in this province, he would address the most pressing issues: the income inequality gap that exists in our economy, not only in this province but across the country. He would also have a real clear vision of how our hydro distribution and production system needs government oversight from the provincial level to be able to ensure that it’s done at cost and effectively, that we’re making those investments, not simply selling them off as they did under Mike Harris in the rush to privatize everything.

They have resorted to their old plan. We’ve heard it before. Fortunately, we know better now. We know better than to buy into the rhetoric around cutting red tape. What does that really mean in real speak? It means a return to the ages of Walkerton. That’s what they mean when they say cutting red tape: cutting health regulations, cutting health inspectors, privatizing essential services, deregulating services. It means nothing about making businesses more productive. It means an absolutely reckless and irresponsible return to the governance of the PCs, and we’re not buying it.


Of course, New Democrats have put together a practical, prudent, responsible plan, and people actually understand it. The government is so anxious because they want to adopt our plan like they do with all the other ones. We will give it to them in small doses so that they can digest it, because we don’t want to overwhelm them.

I am proud to stand as a New Democrat here today to add to this debate and to provide some insight as to how we will govern, and I’m pleased to hear from other members in the chamber.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: There are some days when I am very sad as a Canadian.

Hon. Ted McMeekin: Is this one of them?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’d just like to not be heckled by my own team, please.

I’ve been in this House for four years, and I would say that after four years there are too many days when it’s discouraging. I remember when I left the New Democratic Party for the same reasons, for the same shift that you’re now making and that it made before. It’s great politics; it’s not nation-building.

I think about every great prime minister. Read about Robert Baldwin, who got the Act of Union and brought Upper and Lower Canada together. He was the real father of Confederation and he was one of the greatest nation-builders.

John A. Macdonald was Prime Minister of a bankrupt, badly-in-debt colonial government with very high taxes because they had so few of them. John A. Macdonald didn’t talk about two-bit tax cuts. John A. Macdonald saw the potential of Canada. John A. Macdonald started laying rail tracks through northwestern Ontario, and when those rail tracks sunk into the bogs and mud and he was surrounded in scandal in the Abbott affair, he got up—

Mr. Bob Delaney: He was a Conservative.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I didn’t interrupt you. I don’t interrupt people when they’re speaking, and I would like just a little respect for each other, because I think we don’t give each other enough of that.

He laid track across bald prairie, through the steepest mountains, almost, in the world to a small fishing village. Today, some days I don’t think we can even build a subway. But we used to have the idea of nation-building. Can you imagine the debt and the tax burden on the Canadian government? Would we have a country today if we didn’t have that kind of leadership? I don’t think so. Do I ever hear a John A. Macdonald speech in this House about nation-building, about sacrifice, about dreams, about the impossibility of their fiscal situation, of a poor immigrant country where very few people were educated and almost no one had health care or education? How did he find the vision to build the national dream? Are we John A. Macdonald’s children? Are we capable of that kind of dream?

When did we build our infrastructure in this country? Prior to the Second World War and leading up to the Second World War, something astonishing happened. We raised taxes like we never had in our history—our income taxes, our sales taxes, our corporate taxes. We built a war machine to defeat Hitler like none other in the world. Canada had the third-largest navy in the world. We built stuff that no one thought was possible. That was nation-building. An entire generation of young men and young women laid down their lives.

In the middle of the AIDS epidemic, when I lost about 30 friends in their twenties, I said, “That must have been what it was like.” How did people survive when they lost everybody in public service—when public service was giving up your life—while they were paying higher taxes than we pay today? They were paying way higher taxes. The corporate tax rate wasn’t 25% or 18%; it was 45%. Ask your mother or your father what their income taxes were. Remember when sales taxes were up around 20%? That’s when we built 63 subways because we didn’t whine about taxes like some members have because everything in your community was built by that generation. Some 80% of our infrastructure was built in that so-called high-tax period in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s when 5% of our GDP went to infrastructure, building the best hospitals in the world, the best schools in the world, the 400-series highway system—everything that we cherish today was almost built then. That is amazing.

In 1973, we went from 5% of GDP to about 0.5% of GDP. The federal government dropped its capital spend to one quarter of one per cent of GDP—less than $3 billion in today’s dollars. The provincial government did the same thing. Every Liberal, Conservative and NDP government for the last 30 years stayed at 0.5% of GDP. Then Dalton McGuinty came along—and that’s when I got interested in politics in this province—and said, “We’re going to 2% of GDP.” The first Premier since Bill Davis to actually understand that, and if you want to understand that, call Bill Davis; ask him what he thinks—one of the last Premiers to raise taxes in this province.

We’re now at 2% of GDP. We’re at $14 billion. That’s the first time in over 30 years we’ve had a government in Ontario that is spending $14 billion. The municipal governments are about $7 billion. That makes 3% of GDP. What does that mean? Higher levels of job growth. The federal government is still at one quarter of 1%. If you think that’s a partisan shot, have a look at my commentary when I was mayor of Winnipeg when John Manley introduced the same budget. We need them to be at 2% of GDP. It is really critical.

What does that mean over the next 50 years? If the federal government just matched the $14 billion and actually did what we did, it would cost $1.5 trillion over 50 years. What would the difference in income taxes be? Some $7 trillion more—

Ms. Catherine Fife: You said you don’t want to increase taxes.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: No. If the federal government went back to the same level of spending, it would mean, over the next 50 years, $1.5 trillion—if they got to right where we are right now.


Hon. Glen R. Murray: That $1.3 trillion would bring in $7 trillion in revenue. It would give us 1.1% GDP growth annually higher than we do right now. If you look at the period of GDP growth between the 1940s and the 1970s, it was that level of spending that allowed this economy to expand. So before we even get to tax revenues—I don’t even want to debate that because I don’t think there’s anybody in this House who’s prepared to raise taxes in any significant way.

My question is a very simple one: How do we get back to 5% of GDP? And if we can’t get back to 5% of GDP being spent on infrastructure, how do you sustain economic growth? You can’t go through another 30 years, and the cute politics about everyone’s favourite tax cut, to me, is not nation-building. If we don’t start making the same investments that the Davis generation, the Hepburn generation, the Diefenbaker generation and the Pearson generation made, we will not grow this country.

So, before you tell me about 63 subway stations, you might want to look at the tax rates, because now we have a fully universal education system and we have a medicare system on top of that, and we’re spending less. It could be an all-party effort to work together as three parties here to get this country back to 5% of GDP and not be a whiny generation but actually be the generation that sucked it up, made some decisions, stopped talking about themselves as taxpayers and became citizens again because, you know, every one out there we celebrate, all of them, Conservatives and Liberals—because there aren’t any New Democrats except for Bob Rae, and this includes Bob Rae—all raise taxes. Every great Premier in this province—there isn’t one you can name who didn’t raise taxes, not one.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you, Minister.

Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: It’s a pleasure to speak to this debate.

I want to tell the folks they can turn the mute button off. I appreciated the speech by the minister. His view of history is his view, but it is not what we’re debating today. I appreciate his view on it, but it is about whether or not we’re going to be raising taxes in the very near future under this government, as they have stated, as they’re on the record having stated, saying that they are musing about a 10% gasoline tax to fund transit. They’re musing about other taxes.

The reality is, regardless of what your thought process on the other side is, you’ve got to get out and talk to the real people, and you’ve got to ask them, “Can you stand any more taxes or fee increases here in the province of Ontario?” You’ve got to remember that the day you’re born in Ontario today you’ve got a $20,000 debt; you’re starting with a $20,000 debt. The reality is that over the years, as this Liberal government has seen our debt climb to over $270 billion, all through that period they’ve increased taxes, so the revenues have grown and grown, but the debt continues to skyrocket.

I mean, there’s some school of thought that might say, “Look, if you’re raising revenue and you’re raising taxes, but you’re reducing the debt and reducing that future burden on the next generation, perhaps we can buy into a little bit of that.” But the reality is, you have raised the taxes and the debt has skyrocketed, so every day, we’re further and further behind the eight ball under this government, and now they want to muse about putting us even further behind that eight ball.

I’ve heard my colleagues: our finance critic, Vic Fedeli—I thank him for introducing the motion; our energy critic, Lisa MacLeod, for her contributions to the debate; and our tourism critic and member from Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, Laurie Scott, for her contributions. They talked about real-life stories. They talked about how people out there are hurting, and you can ignore it if you want. I say this to the members opposite: You can ignore that if you want, but you do so at your peril. Everywhere you go—I listened to the member from Mississauga–Streetsville and, good Lord, you would think that we were living in Shangri-La. You would think that Ontario was just going along tickety-boo and there wasn’t a problem out there. Well, my God, he must be living in some other world to believe that. His view just wasn’t realistic.

Go talk to the people on the street. Go talk to the small businessman who is struggling. Go talk to the business person who uses a lot of hydro. I’ve got business people in my riding who are talking about closing down because they cannot afford the cost of hydro. I have more emails and letters and calls to our office about the cost of hydro than any other issue in this province, and yet the Minister of Energy concedes that under your plan for Ontario, hydro will go up by another 42% over the next five years. If your hydro is going up 42%, where do you get the money to pay additional taxes and fees? Everywhere you go, you’re getting hit by this government.

People are pleading. They’re desperate. They’re saying, “We’re not making this up, folks. We can’t take any more.” Yet Kathleen Wynne and the finance minister, even though when she campaigned for leadership she talked about holding the line on spending, she talked about fiscal responsibility—she said, “Our number one priority is to get the fiscal house of Ontario in order.”

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: She either didn’t mean it or she changed her mind.

Mr. John Yakabuski: But she either didn’t mean it, or she very quickly changed her mind.

We came into last year, into the budget, and all of a sudden they’re talking about, “No, no. We’re going to invest in Ontarians.” That’s just gobbledygook language. “We’re going to invest in Ontarians.” That is code for, “You know what, folks? Your taxes are going up, your fees are going up and, by God, the debt’s going up too.”

You can only bleed people for so long. They’re desperate and they’re serious. You know, I was talking to a guy the other day and he said, “When this government is through with me, the only thing I’m going to have left in my pockets is lint”—lint. And that is a true story.


Mr. John Yakabuski: The member for Peterborough says that it’s not an original line. No, because in the last 10 years, I say to him, a lot of people are down to lint thanks to Dalton McGuinty and his successor, Kathleen Wynne.

But all across this province, we see it every day: People are leaving Ontario for better opportunities elsewhere. And why are they coming to that conclusion? Because the cost of living, the cost of doing business, the cost of providing jobs in Ontario is too expensive. Why? Because the government takes your money and they spend it as they see fit, building a bureaucracy that is much bigger than we need, putting more and more people to work on the government payroll instead of allowing the private sector to make this economy hum like it was designed to do.

So do not raise any more taxes. On behalf of the PC Party, I stand here in my place and say we speak for Ontario. We have been listening. We have toured all around the province all winter. The people don’t want more taxes; they can’t afford them. Stand in your place today and support this motion so we can unanimously say to the people, “We’re not raising taxes.”


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Are we all done now? Further debate.

Hon. Brad Duguid: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that. I think the member opposite, when he was travelling around the province over the last number of months, wasn’t listening very carefully, because what I’m hearing from Ontarians is that what they’re tired of is empty rhetoric. What they’re tired of is highly partisan politics. What they’re tired of is motions like this that are torqued, highly political, partisan motions that don’t speak to what a party—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Well, isn’t this very nice. They actually were listening and not criticizing when the member from Nipissing was speaking. Then all his crew came in and made a bigger noise than you were making.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Pardon me? What did you say? Are you going to retract that?

Mr. Jim Wilson: No.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): You’re not? The member is named.

Mr. Wilson was escorted from the chamber.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Further debate.

Hon. Brad Duguid: As I was saying, I wasn’t saying anything all that interesting, I didn’t think, to the folks opposite. But at the end of the day, what I find Ontarians are looking for are politicians and leaders who are going to stand for something, who are going to not only make commitments but tell them how they’re going to deliver on those commitments. I’ve said this for a very long period of time; I’ve said this before. The next politician that stands up and says they’re going to build big projects like subways without identifying how they’re going to pay for them ought to be whacked the heck out of here. I’ve said that before and I’ll say it again. I think the public’s tolerance for that kind of politics is really coming to an end. They’ve seen it too much.

The party opposite talks about building subways, but they refuse to say how they’re going to fund it. I think the public is tired of hearing this thing about if they find more waste—they can fund $50 billion in very important transit investments by finding more waste. Mr. Speaker, we’re always looking to eliminate waste, but—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Who’s next?


Hon. Brad Duguid: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I didn’t think what I was saying was all that interesting to the members opposite. It obviously is. I guess it’s hitting home, because they’re seeing the reality. On this side of the House, we have leaders with substance; we have a Premier with substance. On the opposite side of the House, we have blowhards who are going forward with policies that don’t make sense, that don’t add up, talking about doing things but not talking about how they’re going to pay for it, telling us what they don’t want to do rather than telling us where they want to take this province.

Mr. Speaker, I’m going to leave you with this quote. It comes from Rosalynn Carter, wife of President Carter. She said that some leaders lead people to where they want to go. Great leaders lead people to where they need to be.

That’s what we’re doing on this side of the House. On the opposite side of the House, they’re trying to step in front of the plate, and it’s not going to work.

Mr. Bob Delaney: Speaker, a point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): A point of order from the member for Mississauga–Streetsville.

Mr. Bob Delaney: I need to correct my record. Earlier, I made reference to a 401-giveaway scandal by the PC government. I meant to say “407-giveaway scandal.”

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member has the right to correct his statement. Thank you.

Mr. Fedeli has moved opposition day number 1. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I’ve obviously heard a no.

All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

I believe the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a 10-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1751 to 1801.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Members, take your seats. Order. Take your seats, please.

All those in favour of the motion will rise one at a time and be recorded by the Clerk.


  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Campbell, Sarah
  • Chudleigh, Ted
  • Clark, Steve
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Michael
  • Holyday, Douglas C.
  • Hudak, Tim
  • Jackson, Rod
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Klees, Frank
  • Leone, Rob
  • MacLaren, Jack
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McKenna, Jane
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norm
  • Milligan, Rob E.
  • Munro, Julia
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • O’Toole, John
  • Ouellette, Jerry J.
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Smith, Todd
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Walker, Bill
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): All those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time and be recorded by the Clerk.


  • Albanese, Laura
  • Balkissoon, Bas
  • Cansfield, Donna H.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Fraser, John
  • Gerretsen, John
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Jeffrey, Linda
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • McNeely, Phil
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Milloy, John
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Orazietti, David
  • Piruzza, Teresa
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Wong, Soo
  • Zimmer, David

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 38; the nays are 41.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I declare the motion lost.

Motion negatived.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): It being past 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1804.