L035A - Mon 1 Dec 2014 / Lun 1er déc 2014

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO

Monday 1 December 2014 Lundi 1er décembre 2014

Introduction of Visitors

Wearing of ribbons

Wearing of ribbons

Visitors

Wearing of hat

Oral Questions

Social Assistance Management System

Community care access centres

Social Assistance Management System

Child advocate

Child care

Automobile insurance

Secrétaire générale de la Francophonie / Secretary General of La Francophonie

Government accountability

Services en français / French-language services

Elderly persons centres

Social Assistance Management System

Infrastructure program funding

Public transit

Community care access centres

Agri-food industry

Housing Services Corp.

Introduction of Visitors

Members’ Statements

Doctor shortage

John McGivney Children’s Centre

Worlds AIDS Day

Majestic Women’s Institute

Events in New Liskeard

York Memorial Collegiate Institute

Secrétaire générale de la Francophonie / Secretary General of La Francophonie

Paralympic athletes

Journée mondiale du SIDA

Visitors

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Estimates

Introduction of Bills

Utility Task and All-Terrain Vehicles Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 sur les autoquads et les véhicules polyvalents

Protection of Public Participation Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 sur la protection du droit à la participation aux affaires publiques

Motions

House sittings

Petitions

Alzheimer’s disease

Ontario Drug Benefit Program

Child care

Hospital parking fees

Credit unions

Rural and northern Ontario transportation

Lyme disease

Legal aid

Hydro rates

Correctional facilities

Credit unions

Wind turbines

Off-road vehicles

Legal aid

Orders of the Day

Child Care Modernization Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 sur la modernisation des services de garde d’enfants

Better Business Climate Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 visant à instaurer un climat plus propice aux affaires

Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 sur la sécurité des tribunaux, des centrales électriques et des installations nucléaires

The House met at 1030.

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

Prayers.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order from the member for Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock.

Ms. Laurie Scott: I seek unanimous consent to put forward a motion with respect to a select committee on sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock is seeking to put forth a motion. Do we agree? I heard a no.

Introduction of guests.

Introduction of Visitors

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce, in the gallery, believe it or not, someone who actually worked for me for 22 years and put up with me: Helen Gerteis, who was in the constituency office.

Applause.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Yes, you should give her a standing O.

Helen was in my constituency office for 20 years and has been retired for a number of years. We have lunch every now and then. She still talks to me after all this time.

Ms. Indira Naidoo-Harris: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome members from Epilepsy Ontario, who are here today from across the province for Epilepsy Action Day. A special welcome to the local epilepsy agency that serves my riding: Epilepsy Halton Peel Hamilton. Welcome to Cynthia Milburn, Nicole Palmieri and Harrison Milburn.

I would also like to remind all members that there is a reception in the legislative dining room from 5 to 7 this evening. I hope all members can attend.

Mr. Jim Wilson: The parents of page Nick Sammon, from Simcoe–Grey, are in the members’ gallery today: Sherry Banks and Peter Sammon. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Cindy Forster: I would like to welcome Smokey Thomas and Eddy Almeida from OPSEU. They’re in the members’ gallery today.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: It’s my pleasure to introduce, from Durham region, Dianne McKenzie, executive director of Epilepsy Durham Region; along with Chelsea Kerstens, community outreach associate, also with Epilepsy Durham Region. Welcome and thank you.

Mr. Rick Nicholls: I’m pleased to introduce the family of Mikaila Nouhra: her father, Michel; her mother, Micheline; along with her grandmother Sammira Yammine. Mikaila is serving as the page captain today and attends école élémentaire catholique Saint-Michel in Leamington. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Sophie Kiwala: I would like to welcome Dr. Nikki Porter, project manager of Epilepsy Ontario; Suzanne McGuire, a director of Epilepsy Niagara; and Susan Harrison, executive director of our wonderful riding of Kingston and the Islands’ Epilepsy and Seizure Disorder Resource Centre.

Mr. Joe Dickson: I would like to introduce the family of page captain Haniah Iqbal here this morning: mother, Kubra; father, Asif; sister Nuha; great-aunt Malik; great uncle Amjad; aunt Syeda; uncle Mohammed; and cousin Hafsa.

We also have with us Carruthers Creek Public School teachers Catherine Oikawa and Sandy Taylor. Welcome all.

Mr. Han Dong: It’s my pleasure to introduce to Queen’s Park the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor, led by Dr. Bill Anderson, joined by Sarah Dunphy and Monika Burdzy. Welcome.

Mme France Gélinas: It is also my pleasure to introduce Rozalyn Werner-Arcé, executive director; Dr. Suzanne Nurse; and Mrs. Suzanne Moffatt, all from Epilepsy Ontario. They came and visited me this morning.

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: I’m not sure they’re here yet, but Jeff and Angela Hurst from Cobourg are joining me for lunch today and a tour of Queen’s Park. Welcome.

Wearing of ribbons

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I don’t have an introduction, Mr. Speaker, but I have a point of order.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order from the Minister of Health.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I believe that you will find that we have unanimous consent that all members be permitted to wear ribbons in recognition of World AIDS Day.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Health is seeking unanimous consent to wear ribbons. Do we agree? Agreed.

The Attorney General on a point of order.

L’hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Monsieur le Président, je me lève pour demander un consentement unanime pour que tous les partis puissent faire une courte déclaration sur la nomination de Mme Michaëlle Jean comme nouvelle Secrétaire générale de l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to seek unanimous consent for all parties to make a brief statement on the appointment of Michaëlle Jean as the new Secretary General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Attorney General is seeking unanimous consent for all three parties to make a statement on the appointment of Michaëlle Jean. Do we agree? I heard a no.

Wearing of ribbons

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Ottawa South.

Mr. John Fraser: A point of order, Mr. Speaker: I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent that all members be permitted to wear ribbons in recognition of Epilepsy Action Day.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member is seeking unanimous consent to wear ribbons for Epilepsy Action Day. Do we agree? Agreed.

Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Today in the Speaker’s gallery, we have a delegation from the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress of Hubei Province of the People’s Republic of China. Please welcome our guests from China.

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Wearing of hat

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order from the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek—and don’t tell me.

Go ahead.

Mr. Paul Miller: I request unanimous consent, out of respect for my team that came so close yesterday, to wear the Tiger-Cat hat.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek is seeking to wear his hat as a result of their participation in the Grey Cup. Do we agree? Agreed.

Put it on.

It is now time for question period.

Oral Questions

Social Assistance Management System

Mr. Jim Wilson: My question is for the Premier. Your government spent over $250 million of taxpayers’ money on the Social Assistance Management System, or SAMS. The system was supposed to improve the delivery of social assistance for recipients of Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

The Minister of Community and Social Services in fact said during a November 4, 2014, meeting of the estimates committee that she felt “fairly confident that the new system will have a pretty seamless rollout….”

Premier, we don’t need another eHealth. Will your government recall the estimates committee so we can hear directly from witnesses and front-line workers to get to the bottom and help you get out of another Liberal scandal?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I appreciate the question from the member opposite. I just want to step back and say that the reason this new system is being implemented is that there was an outdated computer system in place. This new system is designed ultimately to allow for better service to clients, to make sure that front-line workers will be able to spend more time with clients, that clients will have 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week access to online information and more information about their cases.

The reality is that there was a glitch. I understand that. There are 500,000 cheques that go out every month. There was a problem with a portion of those. My understanding is that less than 1% now, a little over 100 cheques, still need to be dealt with, but that 99% of the error has been corrected.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Before we get going, I’m going to ask for a stop to the injections into this conversation.

Supplementary?

Mr. Jim Wilson: Again to the Premier: Your government continues to demonstrate an inability to manage Ontarians’ best interests. Your minister signed off on this expensive new system, a $250-million system that was flawed from the beginning, and you were forewarned. A letter written by OPSEU President Warren “Smokey” Thomas in July to your minister responsible stated, “Unless improvements are made to SAMS, the launch in late fall will be rife with problems, delays and poor service.”

Premier, Ontario’s most vulnerable rely on these payments. I don’t believe you, and I don’t think anyone believes, that 99% of the problem is fixed at this point. What is your government going to do to make sure these people aren’t left behind, that they have their money for Christmas?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I would welcome Smokey Thomas to the Legislature today. He’s here, and I’m sure that he shares with me a desire to make sure that clients of the system get the very best service possible.

The system that was in place was outdated. There was an overpayment error. It was caught immediately. Within 24 hours, about 99% of the payments were stopped or they were retracted immediately. There’s about 1%, a little over 100 situations, that still need to be dealt with.

I’m sure the Leader of the Opposition is not saying there should never be change. I’m sure he’s not saying that we should never update a system and make sure that caseworkers would have more time with clients—because that is what we are doing. We are in the business of improving service to the people of Ontario, making sure that people get better service. Along the way, when there is a situation like this, we act quickly to rectify. That is what has happened in this situation.

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

Mr. Jim Wilson: Premier, you only acted after the fact. Mr. Thomas, the president of OPSEU, warned you back in July. He told you that his members were telling him there would be major problems with the rollout. He was exactly right. Why didn’t you heed his warnings? Why did you buy an expensive program that doesn’t appear to work from the get-go, and why are you moving forward defending this when it’s just going to turn out to be another Liberal scandal? How much is this Liberal scandal going to cost us?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. Helena Jaczek: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to set the record straight on the error that occurred last week. I think it’s worth knowing that SAMS is a technology that uses the Cúram case management software—the same platform that it used in many jurisdictions globally—now owned by IBM. We have a contract with them to assist us through the transition of going live with SAMS.

As the Premier has stated, clearly this is a new system that is replacing a totally outdated computer system. It will bring our services into the 21st century. We have spent the last many months training the users on SAMS, some 11,000 users both in municipal OW offices as well as ODSP offices—extremely extensive training.

We thank the workers for all their hard work, but clearly the opposition is trying to make a mountain out of a very small molehill.

Community care access centres

Mr. Jim Wilson: This is also for the Premier. Last week, your health minister bowed to public outrage and provided the Erie St. Clair Community Care Access Centre with an additional $4.1 million toward their deficit.

There are 14 CCACs in Ontario. Throughout the province, CCACs are being forced to claw back health care services because of budgetary pressures.

Earlier this year, my colleague the member for Dufferin–Caledon brought to your attention the fact that the Central West CCAC would have to cut the number of new patients it could accept. That is despite the fact that since 2010 the amount of patients needing that CCAC’s services has nearly doubled.

Premier, is your health minister going to provide new funding for all CCACs?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I know the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care will want to speak to this in the supplementary, but the fact is, we are investing more than $4.3 billion in the community sector, Mr. Speaker. We’ve increased that funding by $270 million this year, in 2014-15. So we continue to invest more in the community sector.

As I have said many times in this House, we are in a transition. There is no doubt about that. We are changing the way we deliver health services in Ontario. People want care in their homes; they want care in the community. We are moving to a system that provides much more of that care in the community, Mr. Speaker. But we have to continue to work with the CCACs, work with the community agencies, to make sure that people get the care that they need when they need it. To that end, we continue to invest and increase funding to that sector.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jim Wilson: Back to the Premier: The Canadian Union of Public Employees, CUPE, says there has been a 33% spike in the demand for home care. We can expect this trend to continue as our population ages.

CUPE says the South West Community Care Access Centre—

Interjections.

Mr. Jim Wilson: And the NDP obviously think this is funny—which services patients in a large geographical area from London to Grey-Bruce, is resorting to cutting care for some ill patients and denying care to others altogether.

Premier, do you believe the $250 million you squandered on the failed SAMS computer system could have been better used to help people who need care through our CCACs?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Health.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I appreciate the question.

Mr. Speaker, we’re investing more than $4 billion this year in home and community care across the province. That’s an increase of more than $250 million from last year.

I want to talk about what we’re particularly proud of. We have got a team that’s being led right now by Gail Donner. Those in the home and community sector see this woman for the experience that she has got and the leadership that she is providing to help us look at our home and community sector as we continue to transform as a province and transform our health care system.

We have been focusing, as everyone in this Legislature knows, over the past several years on our acute-care facilities. Now we’re beginning to turn our attention in a very substantive way to home and community care.

We know there are improvements that need to be made. We know that we need to make sure that we are providing the highest quality of care to people where they need it as close to home as possible. We’re working on that, and, with Gail Donner’s leadership, I expect to report back in January. I’m sure that we’re going to have solid recommendations to help guide us into the future.

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

Mr. Jim Wilson: Again to the Premier. Premier: our CCACs have their backs against the wall. The reason they are not receiving adequate funding is because the government has dug a deep fiscal hole. Over a decade of Liberal mismanagement means we’re spending millions on servicing debt interest payments and waste. That money should be invested towards safeguarding front-line health care and providing for patients in need.

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Premier, your health minister even vowed to “personally address any issues with specific clients who say they are not getting the care they need.” Well, we’re hearing dozens of stories by the day, hundreds by the week. So, Premier, have you asked your minister to directly report to you about these individual cases and, if so, how many house calls has the good doctor made?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I’d be happy to make a few house calls if that is going to lead us down the important path of continuing to improve our health care system. But the same thing I did privately last week with the NDP I want to do publicly, not just with the Conservatives but with the NDP: to actually implore them, if they have specific examples—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Essex, come to order. The member from Dufferin–Caledon, come to order.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Essex, second time.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: —in fact, with my colleagues on this side of the Legislature as well; it’s an important part of my job. It’s a responsibility that I take very, very seriously as the Minister of Health and as a health care professional.

I would ask them, if they are aware, through their constituency offices or elsewhere, of specific individuals whose health is being compromised because of what they perceive is a real or actual change in the support they’re providing at home and in the community, to bring those specific cases to my attention, and I commit to working with them to resolve them.

Social Assistance Management System

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. Nearly a million people rely on social assistance to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, but the Liberals’ new software program is causing chaos for clients and staff. How could the Premier sign off on a quarter-billion dollar lemon, frankly, having been warned in advance that it could turn into a nightmare for our province’s most vulnerable?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I will answer this question again. The fact is, there was an outdated system in place that needed to be upgraded. We needed to improve the service to the people of the province who rely on social assistance. We needed to have in place a system that was going to allow front-line workers, caseworkers, to have more time with their clients. That’s what this system is about.

Five hundred thousand cheques go out every month. There was an error earlier in the month, earlier this week. It was immediately caught. Within 24 hours, 99% of the payments were stopped or retracted. Ministry officials are working to make sure the final 1% of cases get dealt with.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Folks on social assistance trust the government to get things right, but the Liberals rolled out a program full of bugs, causing a $20-million glitch. Payments are being lost, cheques are being delayed, people are suffering and staff are at their wits’ end. Can the Premier tell me how many Ontarians faced empty cupboards this past weekend and what the government did to help them?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The first question I asked of my staff this morning was whether people who were relying on these cheques did get their money. My understanding is that they did, and that there are still about a hundred or so cheques that need to be rectified; not that people didn’t get cheques, but that the amounts need to be clarified.

To the best of my ability, I asked this question, and to my understanding, people did get their money and there were about 1% of situations where there still needs to be some change. But the fact is that the ministry acted immediately and 99% of the cases were dealt with. All of that speaks to how important it is, obviously, that we be vigilant, but it does not suggest there should never be change. It does not suggest that we shouldn’t update systems. It does not suggest that we shouldn’t put in place a system that allows caseworkers to spend more time with their clients.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Liberals’ quarter-billion dollar app is full of bugs, and it’s causing havoc for people on social assistance. The most vulnerable people deserve better than trial and error. They deserve a social assistance program that actually works for them. How can the Premier allow the most vulnerable Ontarians to pay for the Liberals’ mistakes?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Those are broad, sweeping generalizations that bear little or no resemblance to what is actually going on.

The ministry trained 11,000 users to make sure that they knew what was required with the new system. In addition to that, because there was this error, there are now staff being deployed to go to offices to make sure those final problems get worked out.

The fact is, we made a change. Yes, I am very, very clear that it was necessary to make a change, to put a better system in place. When there was an error, there was an immediate reaction, and there continues to be a reaction that gives support to those front-line workers to make sure people have the money that they need. That was my concern this morning: to make sure that people who were counting on those cheques got them, and that has happened.

Child advocate

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Premier. Will the Premier tell the parents of children in youth detention centres, mental health facilities and schools for the severely disabled—some of the most vulnerable kids in Ontario—why she’s preventing the child advocate from protecting the rights of their children?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, what I would say to the leader of the third party and to all those people who are paying very close attention to advocacy and accountability in this province is that we are expanding the authority of the child advocate. We are increasing the powers. In fact, the measures that are contained in Bill 8 were ones that the child advocate was very positive about when we first brought them in.

My understanding is that the current requests are things that go beyond the mandate of the child advocate. But we’ve expanded the authority of the child advocate; we have done that in the bill. As that bill works through the Legislature, the child advocate will have more authority, not less authority. That is as it should be.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Premier seems more interested in talking about accountability than she does about doing anything about it. Experts call Bill 8 troubling—

Interjections.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Experts, Speaker, are calling Bill 8 troubling. They say it falls seriously short. Experts like the child advocate, Patients Canada and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies have some serious concerns about the gaps that currently exist in Bill 8. Why isn’t the Premier interested in what the experts have to say on transparency and accountability?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I know that the Minister of Children and Youth Services is going to want to comment on the final supplementary. But we have worked with many experts, including the experts that the leader of the third party is talking about. We actively consulted with the child advocate as we drafted Bill 8. We appreciate the feedback that we got from him and his office. We have accepted amendments that the advocate brought forward. We’ve accepted amendments to the bill that we consulted with him about.

The fact is, Bill 8 expands the powers of the child advocate, Mr. Speaker. The NDP, I understand, plans to vote against our legislation, but the fact is that we are expanding the authority of the child advocate. We are increasing his powers. We are creating advocacy and accountability in the health care system that didn’t exist before. So I hope the third party would be able to work with us on this.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, the Liberals’ so-called transparency bill seems to be more about slapping a nice name on a Stephen Harper-type omnibus bill than it is about increasing transparency in our province. When something as basic as addressing aboriginal children and youth—

Interjections.

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

Mr. Mike Colle: She should withdraw that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Eglinton–Lawrence might himself be withdrawn.

Please finish.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: When something as basic as addressing aboriginal children and youth being cared for by children’s aid societies is left out, people wonder what the heck is going on.

Why is the Premier shutting out the advice of people like the child advocate?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Children and Youth Services.

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: We are definitely not shutting out the advice of the provincial advocate. We have met with the advocate numerous times. The reason we’re recommending expansion of his investigatory powers to children’s aid societies is because it’s a natural fit. Children don’t have a natural voice. We thought it was a perfect fit for the advocate to oversee children’s aid societies. We know there has been a general call for that.

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I also want to assure the member of the third party and everybody in this House that for every other ministry program under the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Ombudsman has investigatory power. I mentioned last week in the House that he does have powers to investigate things like youth justice facilities. We are extending the powers to the children’s aid societies. We feel the advocate is well-positioned for that, given his background, and that he’ll do a great job in the interest of children and youth.

Child care

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: My question is to the Minister of Education. Bill 10 will likely pass this week, after limited and sparse public debate and public consultation. Given the minister’s personal commitment to Bill 10 and her desire, can she provide a detailed assessment of how many child care spaces will be impacted by her plan? In other words, can she tell us how many fewer child care spaces there will be in Ontario as a result of her bill?

Hon. Liz Sandals: Actually, the good news in child care is that if you look at the number of spaces that have been created over the last several years, not only have we created 130,000 since 2003—if you look at each of the last several years, we’ve created, on average, 18,000 a year. We have no reason to think that is going to change; that we’ll see any slowdown in the creation of high-quality spaces for our children. We would anticipate that we’ll in fact see over 70,000 new spaces created in the next several years.

In particular, if the licensed home child care operators take advantage of the opportunities, we could see 6,000 more spaces just in private home child care.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: [Inaudible] and not acknowledge that’s the impending crisis. In addition, this was the same minister who told me, over a year and a half ago, that reopening contracts didn’t cost $500 million, yet the auditor last week did tell us just that.

The ministry knows that the range of lost child care spaces will be 140,000, as a result of what the Coalition of Independent Childcare Providers suggested, and up to 180,000 if we follow the Ombudsman’s numbers.

Bill 10 is not about safety. We should be talking about hiring more inspectors, if that is the case, or ensuring we have stronger enforcement and regulations, or creating an independent registry. But we’re not. Instead, we’re talking about eliminating spaces, changing pedagogy of Montessori and private religious schools, and eliminating parental choice.

I ask the minister, finally and once and for all, in the name of transparency: Will she tell this assembly how many child care spaces her government is going to eliminate?

Hon. Liz Sandals: I’m glad that the member mentioned some of those safety factors, Speaker, because I’d like to tell you what the Tories propose to do to Bill 10 with their amendments. For example, they were going to limit the scope of child care to children under 10 years of age, which would have the effect of removing subsidies from a number of very needy children. That was what they were going to do.

They were, despite the evidence from Yellowood, actually going to increase the number of children who are allowed in private home child care centres above and beyond what we put in Bill 10, despite all the problems we’ve had. They were going to remove the new administrative penalties from the bill—that’s what actually allows us to go in and find people—and they were going to limit the protection orders where you get to actually close places down. They were going to—

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

Automobile insurance

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: My question is to the Minister of Finance. This government claims to be a government based on transparency and accountability. I hope we’ll see that in the answer to the question.

According to the fall economic statement in early November of this year, the first annual Automobile Insurance Transparency and Accountability Expert Report was delivered to the Minister of Finance. The whole point of this report was to let the public know why premiums are staying so high despite the fact that we had draconian benefit cutbacks in 2010 and subsequent years that reduced the costs for insurance companies. Despite promising over a week ago to make this report public “momentarily,” the government has refused to release it.

What’s in this report that the government does not want the eight million drivers of Ontario to know about?

Hon. Charles Sousa: Yes, last year, our government took leadership in launching the Auto Insurance Cost and Rate Reduction Strategy, something that I thought that member opposite would have been supportive of, given that it would have initiated the ability for us to reduce the cost of claims, enabling us to reduce the cost of premiums—and we are doing so, obviously, now without their support. We did commission a report, a report that would have been available to us much sooner, of course, had we not had an unwanted election, again, prompted by that party.

We will continue to do our work. We’ll have the report out in due course. We’re reviewing it now, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance said, weeks ago, that this report would be out momentarily. Where is the report?

The fact is, you said you would release this report momentarily and you haven’t.

New Democrats have long argued that the insurance companies already pocketed billions of dollars of savings but none of those savings have been passed on to drivers. That’s why we called for a 15% premium cutback. We are the ones who championed this cause for the people of Ontario.

Mr. Mike Colle: But you voted against the bill, though.

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: We voted against a bill that stripped the right to sue from the people of Ontario, that stripped the right for people to stand up to insurance companies, and we proudly did so—

Interjection.

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

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Our question, very directly, to the Minister of Finance: Why won’t you release this transparency report? Why are you delaying? What’s in this report that you don’t want people to know about?

Hon. Charles Sousa: What the people should know, Mr. Speaker, is the history that’s gone to get to where we are now and the constant obstacles that we had to deal with, primarily from the third party in many circumstances.

In 2003, we introduced the Auto Insurance Rate Stabilization Act. In 2005, we introduced a regulation to prohibit auto insurance from using certain information, such as credit scoring. In 2008, we completed our first five-year review of the auto insurance system. In 2010, we provided new reforms for increased consumer choices to stabilize rates. In 2011, we created the Auto Insurance Anti-Fraud Task Force. In 2012, we strengthened FSCO’s authority to deal with unfair practices. In 2013, we made a commitment to reduce auto insurance rates by 15%.

We introduced legislation this week so that we can get this under way, and it was voted against by that member, by that party, Mr. Speaker.

Our report is in hand—

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

New question.

Secrétaire générale de la Francophonie / Secretary General of La Francophonie

Mme Eleanor McMahon: Ma question s’adresse à la première ministre en sa qualité de ministre des Affaires intergouvernementales. L’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, connue de façon informelle comme la Francophonie, est une organisation composée de 57 États et gouvernements membres, trois membres associés et 20 observateurs.

The modern organization of the Francophonie was created in 1970. Starting as a small group of northern French-speaking countries, the Francophonie has since evolved into a global organization whose numerous branches co-operate with its member states in the fields of culture, science, economy, justice and peace.

Speaker, as a Canadian, I am proud of our rich French heritage and our participation with la Francophonie.

Premier, yesterday Canadians heard the news that former Governor General Michaëlle Jean has been chosen as Secretary General of la Francophonie, the first woman and the first Canadian to lead this vital organization.

Madame la Première Ministre, quelle est votre réaction à cette nouvelle historique et qu’est-ce que cela signifie par rapport à notre riche héritage francophone?

L’hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Je tiens à offrir mes sincères félicitations à Mme Michaëlle Jean.

She has been chosen by consensus as the new Secretary General of the Organisation internationale de Francophonie. As the first woman and the first Canadian to hold this position, Madame Jean is breaking down barriers.

Notre communauté francophone fait partie intégrale de notre histoire comme Ontariens et Canadiens, dans notre passé comme dans notre futur. La nomination de Mme Jean à ce poste reflète cela. C’est un moment de fierté pour nous, Canadiens. Nous pouvons facilement soutenir solidement ce que prône Mme Jean, une Francophonie internationale qui sait prendre sa juste place, l’élargissement du rôle des femmes et des jeunes dans le développement économique et un rapprochement entre le Sud et le Nord. Félicitations.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mme Eleanor McMahon: Merci, madame la Première Ministre. C’est en effet une excellente nouvelle pour le pays tout entier, qui se réjouit ce matin. La Francophonie est bien plus qu’un rassemblement de forces culturelles, mais c’est aussi un atout économique, politique et social.

Monsieur le Président, est-ce que la première ministre, dans son rôle de ministre des Affaires intergouvernementales, peut nous éclairer sur la place de l’Ontario dans la Francophonie internationale?

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L’hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: La ministre déléguée aux Affaires francophones.

L’hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Vaste est le monde francophone. En effet, dans l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, ses 80 États, gouvernements et 890 millions de personnes, l’Ontario a su se tailler une place de choix et nous avons participé aux six derniers sommets de l’OIF.

Je fais écho des paroles de la première ministre et c’est avec une profonde fierté que je félicite ma commettante d’Ottawa–Vanier, Mme Michaëlle Jean. Elle a su faire tomber les barrières, déjouer les stéréotypes et défier les conventions. C’est tout à l’honneur de Mme Jean, qui s’est présentée malgré les défis présents. C’est aussi à l’honneur des états membres, qui n’ont pas eu peur de changer les conventions et qui ont vu en elle une force rassembleuse, moderne et audacieuse.

Le résultat? Le poste de Secrétaire générale de la Francophonie mondiale est pour la première fois comblé par une femme et par une personnalité canadienne. Merci.

Government accountability

Mr. Randy Hillier: My question is to the Minister of Infrastructure. Minister, your sheer incompetence running a government portfolio is having deep consequences for the people of Ontario. You’ve wasted over $400 million on a building that was supposed to be dedicated to medical research. Instead, you’ve invested that money into a comfy glass palace for your bureaucrats rather than front-line services. Simply put, that money could have been invested in just about anything else and it would have been money better spent.

Minister, do you not agree that the money you’ve blown on MaRS should have been invested into improving our essential services?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Economic Development—

Hon. Brad Duguid: Mr. Speaker—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): —Employment and Infrastructure. I’ve got to get it all out.

Hon. Brad Duguid: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We struggle with this every time, don’t we, the long name? Premier, we might have to shorten it eventually.

Insults aside, I think it’s very clear that what the member talks about is a loan, not a grant—a loan that is fully secured on a property that’s worth more than what has been dedicated by the province. We put forward over 700 documents that verify and confirm that. Now what we’re looking for is advice from Michael Nobrega and Carol Stephenson on what’s the best path forward on a project that had some challenges during the recession. We’re looking forward to that advice.

I’m not sure why the member continues to try to use question period just to hurl insults at us. He should take a look at what we’ve done and what we’re trying to do to ensure that this project moves forward in a positive way.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Randy Hillier: Minister, I’ve heard your excuses for many months now, and nobody believes you, especially your fairy-tale happy ending, and especially not a constituent of mine, Jim Buchanan.

Jim Buchanan was told that even though he desperately needs a knee replacement, there is no money left at the hospital. The quota for knee replacements has been reached. Let me repeat that again: While a constituent of mine is told there is no money for needed surgery, you and your government have blown millions on a glass palace for your bureaucrats. This, sadly, isn’t a surprise anymore, just a disturbing reality and trend of your government’s terrible mismanagement.

Minister, do you not agree that the $400 million you’ve blown on MaRS should have been better spent providing essential access to surgeries like knee replacements for Jim Buchanan and many, many others?

Hon. Brad Duguid: We all feel a very strong amount of support for the Minister of Health’s work that he’s doing to ensure that we continue to invest more and more in health care. I think the minister would tell you, if I referred the question to him, that wait times are down for knee replacements across this province as a result of the efforts we’ve made.

For the member to compare a totally repayable secured loan with somehow money that has been spent either indicates that the member doesn’t understand this issue after all the time we’ve spent on it or that he’s trying to make his constituent think something that’s simply incorrect.

The fact is that what we’ve invested in phase 2 with MaRS is a loan that’s fully repayable and fully secured. We will move forward on a positive basis on this issue. The member ought to start working constructively with us on this instead of inaccurate things like—

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

Services en français / French-language services

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour le ministre de la Santé et des Soins de longue durée. Quand quelqu’un a une urgence médicale, la capacité de communiquer peut être une question de vie ou de mort. Les résidants des régions désignées ont le droit, selon la Loi sur les services en français, de communiquer en français avec le gouvernement et ses agences.

Mais récemment, une femme francophone de Dubreuilville n’a pas pu accéder au service 911 en français. Elle a dû abandonner, appeler sa fille, qui sait parler anglais, et lui demander de faire son appel à sa place. Un temps précieux a été perdu.

Malheureusement, cette dame n’est pas la seule francophone pour qui le 911 a échoué. Comment est-ce que le ministre peut expliquer qu’en 2014 le système 911 ne peut pas répondre à un appel en français?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: I appreciate the question from the member opposite. It’s important, when we talk about French-language services in the province—it’s imperative—that all of us, particularly we, on the government side, do everything we can in a responsible way to provide those services.

I’m not sure if the reference was specifically to 911. I know that the member opposite has already made me and the Attorney General aware of some legitimate concerns concerning translation services and the ability for a citizen of this province to converse—particularly, as you can imagine, in a 911 situation—in the language of their choice. We are working on solving that particular issue, and I’ve talked with the member opposite about other issues where we need to continue to strengthen and make sure that we meet our responsibility.

It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously: that we provide French-language services throughout the health care system for the people who need during those times.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: Il y a quelques années, aussitôt que le gouvernement envoyait un service en sous-traitance, ce service était exempté de la Loi sur les services en français. Après les recommandations répétées du commissaire aux services en français, le gouvernement a dit qu’il avait fermé cette échappatoire et que depuis le mois de juillet 2014, les fournisseurs de services de santé pour le gouvernement de l’Ontario sont assujettis à la Loi sur les services en français.

Mais il semble que cette échappatoire demeure. Le gouvernement a dit au commissaire que si les RLISS engagent un fournisseur de services de santé, ils n’ont pas besoin de se conformer à la loi. Dans son rapport annuel, le commissaire a qualifié cette situation de menace sérieuse, et il a tout à fait raison.

Pourquoi est-ce que le ministre demande si peu d’engagement envers les services de santé en français, permettant que ces lacunes dangereuses exemptent des centaines de fournisseurs de santé de la Loi sur les services en français?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: To the Attorney General.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister responsible for francophone affairs.

L’hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Oui, la membre de Nickel Belt a une très bonne question. Maintenant, oui, les services qui sont offerts par le gouvernement de l’Ontario et qui sont contractés avec un autre organisme—ils doivent offrir les services en français. C’était une lacune qui existait et on a changé, on a amélioré, on a modifié, et maintenant les organismes, comme les municipalités, auxquels la loi ne s’applique pas, s’ils offrent des services au nom du gouvernement de l’Ontario, doivent les offrir en français.

Maintenant les contrats qui avaient déjà été signés—on avait donné une certaine période pour pouvoir s’ajuster et s’adapter à ces nouvelles recommandations-là.

Vous avez tout à fait raison, et je veux féliciter le ministre de la Santé, qui a vraiment réagi très, très bien lorsqu’on a apporté ce problème du—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Merci. New question.

Elderly persons centres

Ms. Indira Naidoo-Harris: My question is for the minister responsible for seniors affairs.

Minister, seniors are our lifeline to the past and our future. They play an active and important role in our province’s communities and economy. Ontario is home to approximately two million people over the age of 65.

In my own riding of Halton, seniors are a thriving, active and incredibly engaged group in our community.

However, as we all know, there are challenges that our seniors face as they grow old.

I recently joined the minister for an important funding announcement for province-wide elderly persons centres, including one in my own riding. These centres promote the safety, well-being and health of seniors in Ontario.

Can the minister please tell us about EPCs and why they are an important investment for our seniors?

Hon. Mario Sergio: I want to thank the member from Halton for a very thoughtful question. Investing in elderly persons centres is only one of the many ways of helping our seniors stay active, engaged and connected in their own community. Indeed I’m very, very pleased to inform you, and inform the Legislature, that Ontario is investing over $11.5 million supporting 265 elderly persons centres located throughout our province.

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This is what I call investment at work for our seniors—investment to improve the quality of life of our seniors to live a healthy and more meaningful and fulfilling life.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Indira Naidoo-Harris: I would like to thank the minister for his response.

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the pleasure of attending a coffee house social at the local Milton seniors’ centre, which is receiving over $54,000 this year. This centre is incredibly important to the well-being of seniors in Halton. Each time I visit, I am delighted to see first-hand the difference elderly persons centres’ funding is making in my community. The Milton seniors’ centre has something for everyone. There are fitness classes, computer classes, arts and crafts and so much more.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister please elaborate on how funding for EPC is a key component of Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors?

Hon. Mario Sergio: Again, I want to thank the member from Halton for the question. EPC is indeed only one of the major components of Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors. Out of the 265 elderly persons centres, more than 60% are run by non-profit organizations and some 40% are run by local municipalities.

I visited the centre in Milton, and I have to say that they are getting $54,000 to assist them with their programs. If you really want to see how our investment for seniors is working, you have to visit this particular centre in Milton, which is called the coffee house social—seniors enthusiastically bursting with activities, fitness classes for every level of mobility, one-on-one computer classes, arts, crafts, knitting, dancing and music. This is what I call, Speaker—this it is what it’s all about—caring and investing for our seniors.

I thank you, Speaker. There is more to come.

Social Assistance Management System

Mr. Bill Walker: Earlier today my leader, the member for Simcoe–Grey, shared with this House that a quarter of a billion dollars and four years was spent with a new system that’s supposed to support those most needy in our society.

We also learned that this system is wrought with bugs and exploitable weaknesses.

We also learned that the minister knew about the computer problems all along but ignored—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Sorry. I did not get who the question was to.

Mr. Bill Walker: To the Minister of Community and Social Services, Speaker. Thank you.

We also learned that the minister knew about the computer problems all along but ignored staff’s warning, who summed up the computer situation in one simple word: chaos.

In fact, not only were they ignored, but in estimates on November 4, the minister said, “I feel fairly confident that the new system will have a pretty seamless rollout next week.” “Fairly confident” and “pretty seamless” don’t seem to equate to the reality of today, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, it’s your word against the front line. Who is telling the truth?

Hon. Helena Jaczek: Thank you to the member for Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound for allowing me the opportunity to reiterate what the Premier said so very clearly earlier in question period. This new computer system is state-of-the-art. It is a very large and involved system, clearly. It has taken many, many months of training of many staff to get into good working order.

I want to assure the member opposite that the concerns that were raised earlier in the summer by the presidents of CUPE and OPSEU were taken extremely seriously by officials in my ministry, and that’s why we accelerated some of the training that was provided. Again, some 11,000 users were trained in some 257 offices. There is no chaos whatsoever.

Individuals received their cheques last week, and the final number will be getting them today.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Bill Walker: Again, to the Minister of Community and Social Services: Well, Minister, state-of-the-art—I think SAMS should sadly be another money scandal coming at us. The minister responsible for eHealth too was working out glitches until the billion-dollar scandal surfaced.

The fact is, your government has a track record of asleep-at-the-switch oversight. In the case of this specific oversight, mistaken payments were sent to 6,000 social service recipients to a tune of at least $300,000.

Minister, we want to restrike the Standing Committee on Estimates so we can call witnesses and get to the bottom of this. We hope you’ll actually adhere to this this time so we can ensure that this does not turn into another eHealth boondoggle.

Will you support the striking of the Standing Committee on Estimates so we can get to the truth?

Hon. Helena Jaczek: Again, to set the record straight, the new system processed both the Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program monthly payments to some 570,000 individuals totally successfully. As the Premier stated earlier, there were a small number of overpayments. Those on direct deposit—some 85% of individuals receive their payments through direct deposit—were changed, and the correct amount deposited within 24 hours. The few remaining, who do receive paper cheques, are being issued new cheques today. We are down to contacting some 119 people as of 10:30 this morning.

We have coped with this very small glitch in an extremely effective way. In fact, I would like to thank all the front-line workers who were so diligent.

Infrastructure program funding

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is for the Premier. In Sudbury, there are 30-tonne mining trucks that are constantly driving along Lasalle Boulevard, a main shopping street, because it’s the only way that the trucks can travel between the mine site and the smelter. Sudbury officials want to extend Maley Drive so that the slurry trucks don’t have to mix with shoppers and residents.

The people of Sudbury have set aside millions of dollars for this top-priority project. The government has repeatedly promised to fund the project—it was right there in their budget—but so far not a single dollar has flowed. Once again, we have a promise but no action. When will the provincial government actually keep its promise to the people of Sudbury and fund the project?

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

Hon. Brad Duguid: The leader of the third party would be aware that before the election we brought forward a budget that committed to moving forward on this project. She didn’t support that; she made us go through an election. So we brought forward the budget again where she had a second chance to support this project, and she failed to do that—because in the second budget we brought forward, this project was clearly identified as a government priority, as we recognized it was a priority for the community of Sudbury.

Now you’re getting up to tell us that you support the project. Thank you for your support, but we’ve got it in hand. It’s a commitment we made in the budget. It’s a commitment we will fulfill, and we’re looking forward to moving on it as soon as we can.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Gee, all that talk, and still no action. Where’s the money? That’s the question.

The people of Sudbury have been waiting over 10 years for Maley Drive to be extended. They’ve waited long enough, Speaker. They have set aside—

Interjections.

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

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, come to order. Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, come to order.

Please finish.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The people of Sudbury have set aside their share of the project money. It’s time for the government to pay its share. Will this government stop playing games, stop talking a good game, and actually ante up the funding for the extension of Maley Drive in Sudbury?

Hon. Brad Duguid: I guess I want to know, which budget do you want me to refer to: the one that you rejected and sent us to an election on, or the one that we passed with our majority here in this House, which you opposed? Both of them refer to Maley Drive as a commitment of $26.7 million for the first phase of expansion. We’re committed to the project. We will be moving on the project. I’m looking forward very soon to moving on it.

We are in discussions with the federal government with regard to federal funding. It could be part of that; it may not be. It all depends. We’ve just received information—after asking since March—from the federal government with regard to the details of the federal program. We expect to be able to move forward soon, Mr. Speaker, but we don’t have a date as of yet.

Public transit

Mr. John Fraser: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. Often in this House, we speak about transit in the GTHA. I know there are many investments being made here, whether it’s the Eglinton Crosstown, UP Express or GO Transit. The problem, Mr. Speaker, is that there are those who say our government is only investing in Toronto transit, stating that those types of key investments aren’t being made in other parts of the province.

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In my community of Ottawa South, people care very much about their transit and transportation. They rely on OC Transpo to get to work, school and doctors’ appointments—all those things people do in their daily lives.

My community wants to know that our government is committed to investing in transit all across the province, including Ottawa South. Can the minister please tell members of this House what the government is doing to invest in transit and transportation in other parts of Ontario?

Hon. Steven Del Duca: I want to thank the outstanding member from Ottawa South for that question but also for his advocacy on behalf of his community.

I appreciate the question because, of course, I’ve heard some of the same concerns. I know that Ontarians want to know that our government is investing right across the province, not just in the GTHA.

Speaker, as you know, we have a bold $29-billion, 10-year plan called Moving Ontario Forward, which will invest in transit and transportation infrastructure right across the province, and we’ve already delivered in other ways.

Using the member’s region in particular, our government is investing in the Ottawa LRT. We’ve invested $600 million in that project. This is the single largest investment ever made to that city’s public transit system from the provincial government.

But we’re also investing in local transit all over Ontario by providing municipalities with permanent gas tax funding to support their transit growth.

Whether it’s Moving Ontario Forward or gas tax funding, we are committed to building up all of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. John Fraser: I thank the minister for his response. It’s good to know that our government is committed to making transit investments that count in Ottawa. The Ottawa LRT is a great project that will help commuters get moving across the city.

Mr. Speaker, the minister mentioned that our government is supporting local transit systems through gas tax funding. I know that Ottawa received over $33 million in gas tax funding this year to support public transit. Could the minister please tell the members of this House more about the gas tax program and how it can help those living in our communities?

Hon. Steven Del Duca: I want to thank that member again for that outstanding question.

Just a number of days ago, I was happy to announce the amount of gas tax funding being provided to municipalities this year to support their local transit. The member mentioned that Ottawa is receiving over $33 million in gas tax funding, but I want to highlight the fact that over $321 million is being provided to communities all over Ontario. This means that municipalities—whether it’s Ottawa, Waterloo, Windsor or Sudbury—will be able to continue to invest in their local transit systems.

Through the 2013 budget, our government made two cents on every litre of gas a permanent source of funding for municipalities. This funding demonstrates that our government is committed to improving public transit all over Ontario. We’ll continue to work closely with our municipal partners to make sure that wherever they are, we continue to make those investments in transportation that matter to Ontarians.

Community care access centres

Ms. Sylvia Jones: My question is to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. In responding to my leader’s question earlier today, you said you would “personally address any issues with specific clients who say they are not getting the care they need.”

Minister, I have a letter from you from last week saying you cannot intervene in matters concerning the provision of CCAC home care. Which is it: You can address specific issues, or you can’t?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: The member opposite knows that I’m happy to sit down any time with any member of this Legislature and speak about individual cases. If they feel that an individual is not receiving the support they require, that’s part of my job. It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously. If there are specific instances with the member opposite, I’m more than happy to sit down with her and see what we can do.

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, from time to time reassessments are made of individuals in home care. Sometimes those individuals require more care based on the assessment, and sometimes they require a little bit less. Those are some of the changes that naturally occur within a home care system that we’re continuing to fund. But I would certainly offer and encourage the member opposite to sit down with me and discuss particulars.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Sylvia Jones: Minister, then you better block off a week, because I deal with these CCAC questions all the time in the constituency office. We need to know, when we write you, that you’re actually going to do something about it.

The CCAC is funded 100% by your ministry. Our constituents need to know that when they need home care, it will be there.

Will you commit to review the decision by Central West CCAC to ensure their budget is being used for front-line care, and when MPPs write you on behalf of our constituents, you will not dismiss us out of hand?

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Members on all sides of this Legislature know—those who have come forward and worked with me in a co-operative fashion on individual cases, whether it’s to do with home care or any situation with regard to health care—that I work as hard as I can, and constructively. Party politics does not get into this in any fashion. So I would again encourage the member to sit down with me and talk about the particulars.

The truth is, we are investing $4 billion-plus in home and community care. We’re doing the best that we can with our local LHINs—the LHINs that, of course, are the objects the official opposition would have gotten rid of in the first place—and the LHINs with our CCACs, to make sure that we’re providing the care to those who need it most.

Obviously, as with all that we do in government, we have budgets, but the budget for our CCACs is going up as we continue to move care closer to where people live.

Agri-food industry

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Ma question est pour le ministre de l’Agriculture, de l’Alimentation et des Affaires rurales, l’honorable Jeff Leal.

Speaker, as the saying goes, farmers feed cities, and we in the government recognize that they are an integral part of our $34-billion agri-food industry. But if this already important industrial sector is going to continue to grow, to flourish and to compete globally, more needs to be done in partnership by both government and industry.

In October 2013, the Premier challenged Ontario’s agri-food industry to double its growth rate and create more than 120,000 new jobs by 2020. This challenge is an opportunity to demonstrate how this sector makes an important and essential contribution to our economy and our quality of life.

Minister, can you update this House, citing your own remarks to industry leaders at the Premier’s annual agri-food summit? What is the status of the challenge?

Hon. Jeff Leal: I want to thank the member from Etobicoke North for a very thoughtful question this morning.

Just last week, the Premier and I had the opportunity to participate in the ninth Premier’s agri-food summit, along with many members from outside of the House.

Our government fully supports growth, investment and innovation opportunities in the province’s agri-food sector.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to give you a bit of an update. Since the Premier issued the challenge last year, Ontario has created 17,000 new jobs in the agri-food sector and increased our exports by $1.1 billion.

There is always more to do. Our critical path to growth requires government and industry to play a role. That’s why we’re working with our industry partners to establish a growth measurement system to help identify opportunities and measure progress through a new growth steering committee. It will bring together industry and government leaders and experts to identify opportunities to help the industry meet the growth challenge.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: The numbers, commitment and energy all demonstrate a formidable political will.

It’s apparent that in the year since the Premier’s agri-food challenge was issued, the agri-food sector has done remarkable things.

Building on the success of last year, the new growth steering committee will assist in driving the agri-food industry’s growth and create jobs right across the province.

Nevertheless, Minister, many Ontarians across the province are concerned about red tape, what it means for Ontario farmers and how it might potentially stand in the way of meeting the Premier’s challenge. This is especially so in the light of the government’s recent decision around neonicotinoids, which are a class of neurologically active insecticides similar in chemical structure to good old nicotine.

Minister, what is our response to people who claim that government is increasing regulation at a time when we are tasked with growing the agri-food industry?

Hon. Jeff Leal: Mr. Speaker, I really want to thank the member from Etobicoke North for his great interest in the agricultural sector in the province of Ontario.

I know all of us are always very concerned about regulatory burdens and what impact they might have on Ontario farmers.

As you know, there are many people in Ontario today who are concerned about the challenge we face to reduce the use of neonics, which we announced last week.

I want to be very clear—and this is what Premier Wynne said at the agri-food summit last week: It’s not about some kind of agenda that would lead to more regulatory burden for Ontario’s farmers. We are committed to addressing the challenges of producers as we develop and implement new controls. We also remain committed to working with our farmers in Ontario with our very successful Open for Business forum, to reduce red tape in the agriculture sector.

We have had many more successes on that front, and we want to achieve more: addressing red tape, being environmental stewards and growing the industry together—very important to—

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

Housing Services Corp.

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Minister, you require all affordable housing corporations in Ontario to purchase services through the Housing Services Corp., which, of course, is your appointed corporation. The problem is that this organization funds their operating expenses, including almost $6.5 million in salaries, by charging social service housing organizations a premium on services such as natural gas and insurance.

We’ve heard from multiple municipalities that they would save money by purchasing directly—in some cases, millions of dollars that could go into affordable housing. They asked you if they could opt out. So why are you forcing them to give money to the housing corporation and not letting them buy at the best price they can get?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: I am only aware of one municipality that has asked for the option to opt out. We took a serious look at that and discovered that the economies of scale for all the other municipalities would be so discouragingly hurt by that that the decision was taken not to do that. We’ve communicated that with the municipality that made that request. That is, at the moment, our position, unless and until we get other information that may cause us to rethink it.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I appreciate the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek for his activities today and the fact that he’s wearing his hat. I’d like to give him permission to wear it for the whole day.

There are no deferred votes. This House stands recessed until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 1141 to 1300.

Introduction of Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Mississippi—sorry. I was looking over there. The member from Mississauga–Streetsville.

Mr. Bob Delaney: Well, thank y’all.

Speaker, coming very—well, actually, just present in the Speaker’s gallery, I would like to draw members’ attention to two very special people: Tyler Miller, a Paralympian for the men’s wheelchair basketball league for Team Canada, and François Robert, a member of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, who are visiting the Legislature and who hope that we will all join them for their reception tonight.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Welcome. I coached the Brantford Bobcats a long time ago.

Interjections: A long time ago.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You don’t have to be so agreeable.

Introduction of guests.

Ms. Indira Naidoo-Harris: I would like to acknowledge Rick Kennedy, the co-chair of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS, who is here with us today to mark World Aids Day. Thank you, and welcome to the Legislature.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Welcome. We’re glad you’re here.

Ms. Daiene Vernile: I too would like to say hello to Tyler Miller, who is actually from my riding, Kitchener Centre. It’s very nice connecting with you, and all the best to you at the games.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, I just noticed these beautiful children coming in from some school in Ontario, and I just want to welcome them to Queen’s Park. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We’ll call this a happy afternoon. I thank all members for their introductions and all our guests for being here.

Members’ Statements

Doctor shortage

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Perth-Wellington needs more family doctors. The government should be well aware of that fact; for the last three years, my constituents and I have told them so.

In July, I asked the minister for information on a number of my constituents registered with the government’s Health Care Connect program and how long they are expected to wait on that list to be matched with a new doctor. The numbers are staggering, and they support the point that my constituents and I have been making for years.

According to the minister, on average, individuals from Perth–Wellington who are currently registered with Health Care Connect have been waiting on the list for 309 days. As of March 31, 2014, there was an estimate of 927 individuals from Perth–Wellington registered with Health Care Connect. Since March 2014, another doctor in Perth–Wellington has closed his practice, so that number must be even higher today.

Many of my constituents would find it inexcusable that the government is aware of these facts but has offered no effective plan to address the issue. This morning, in a letter that I hand-delivered to the minister, I expressed my dissatisfaction with the government’s action to date. I also called on him to take the necessary steps to improve the situation. I hope the minister will listen. I hope he will ensure that everyone in Perth–Wellington has access to the medical care they deserve now, not 309 days down the road.

John McGivney Children’s Centre

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Last week, I had the opportunity to tour the John McGivney Children’s Centre in my riding of Windsor West. Since opening its doors in 1978, the centre continues to provide rehabilitative services and resources to children and youth with special needs and is one out of only 21 children’s treatment centres in Ontario.

While the centre offers a number of excellent programs off-site and at the JMCC school, their early childhood preschool program is second to none and a true asset to our community. This unique preschool provides students with a multidisciplinary atmosphere that incorporates therapy and family goals into a learning environment. The preschool specializes in dedicated programming designed to maximize a student’s development and functional communication, literacy, numeracy and social skills.

Ensuring that children with special needs understand their self-worth and realize their potential is at the core of this model. This exceptional programming, combined with the expert faculty and staff, allows the John McGivney Children’s Centre preschool to offer youth and their families a transformative experience that they would not receive in a less specialized setting. This is an excellent program, and its value to the development of children, families and our community as a whole cannot be understated.

I would like to thank CEO Elaine Whitmore, executive assistant Karen Mongeau and Anita Hayes, manager of the preschool program, for their tireless efforts in developing and administering this program, along with everyone at the John McGivney Children’s Centre for their hard work and dedication. I’ve risen many times in this chamber to boast of the sense of community and culture of acceptance in Windsor, and it is institutions like John McGivney Children’s Centre that prove my point.

Worlds AIDS Day

Ms. Indira Naidoo-Harris: I’m pleased to rise in the House today to mark World AIDS Day. This day gives us the opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come over the past 35 years and to reflect on the work that still must be done to put HIV/AIDS behind us forever. December 1 also marks the start of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. This year’s World AIDS Day theme is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: an AIDS-Free Generation.” These words summarize the goals of our HIV/AIDS programs in Ontario.

HIV/AIDS continues to be a serious concern. It is listed by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 leading causes of death worldwide. In Ontario alone, there were 843 newly diagnosed cases in 2012, but there is hope. Since 2004, the number of new HIV cases has been trending downward. This is due in large part to our government’s approach toward HIV/AIDS. Our strategy is focused on prevention but also on education, testing, treatment, support services, research and, most importantly, reducing the stigma towards those suffering from HIV/AIDS. Our achievements are also the result of strong partnerships and the hard work of our community partners.

I’m pleased to say that we are entering a very optimistic time in the history of our fight to end HIV/AIDS.

Majestic Women’s Institute

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I rise today to share in the celebration of the Majestic Women’s Institute’s 75th anniversary. On November 12, I had the pleasure of joining the celebrations in Brussels at the Melville Presbyterian Church, where I presented President Ruth Bauer a certificate of celebration in recognition of the group’s efforts since their establishment in 1939.

Women’s institutes across Ontario offer educational programming and community support for women in rural Ontario. Together, members identify needs in their community, advocate for social, environmental and economic change and work towards the personal growth of all women, for home and country. Over the last 75 years, women’s institutes have advocated for the many notable changes in their communities, ranging from the mandatory pasteurization of milk to promoting safe streets with crosswalks and flashing lights on school buses.

It’s important to recognize groups such as the women’s institute, who encourage women’s participation and leadership within their communities. As a member of the steering committee for the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, Canadian region, I recognize the value and strength that women can contribute to society when given the opportunity.

I tip my hat again to the Majestic Women’s Institute on their 75th anniversary. It’s a very special rural women’s organization. As they live by the Mary Stewart Collect, they never forget to be kind.

Events in New Liskeard

Mr. John Vanthof: This weekend, the sound of swords and musket volleys broke the silence of the usually peaceful streets in New Liskeard. No, it was not a local uprising but rather a re-enactment of life in a New France Christmas village. The actors were local volunteers who took part in the first annual Village Noël project in Temiskaming Shores. The main streets were cordoned off and cars were replaced with cedar kiosks with local crafts and foods. Carollers and voyageurs wandered among the fire pits. It was a beautiful scene and a worthy reminder of our French Canadian heritage.

Sadly, early Saturday morning, another sound woke residents: the wail of fire trucks and ambulances, as part of New Liskeard’s downtown core was on fire. Several people were taken to hospital. Six families lost their belongings and two businesses were destroyed. Glenn Walton Shoes was a landmark in our area. The shoe store was opened in 1953. Glenn took over in 1958 and sold the business to his daughter in 2013. Glenn and his family also lost a lifetime of memories in the fire, including his trophy fish and hunting pictures. Tammy Penner had operated Watch Me Grow for over eight years, and she is devastated by the loss of her business. In the end, the firemen at the scene had to destroy the building to get the fire completely under control.

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Because of the fire, a large portion of Village Noël was itself cordoned off. In a true show of voyageur resilience, the organizers regrouped, moved the entertainment venues and extended the hours on Sunday to accommodate the annual Santa Claus parade, which had to be moved from Saturday.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank not only the volunteers of Village Noël but the firefighters and other first responders who keep us safe and make our area such a great place to live.

York Memorial Collegiate Institute

Mrs. Laura Albanese: I rise today to speak about York Memorial Collegiate Institute, one of the oldest schools in Toronto, located in my riding of York South–Weston. York Memo, an institution of higher learning built in memory of the youth killed in the First World War, this year is celebrating its 85th anniversary.

The school has consistently provided the highest quality of education to each and every student who has entered its doors since the school’s inception in 1929. York Memorial has also developed one of the most impressive advancement placement programs in this province, offering more competitive AP courses than any other secondary school in Ontario. These challenging courses are recognized nationally, internationally and in many universities. In fact, four years ago York Memorial had eight national AP scholars. This was the highest number of any school in Ontario.

York Memorial Collegiate counts a number of notable alumni. One sits with us today in this Legislature, notably the member from Oakville, now Minister of Labour. The member for Scarborough–Agincourt also served there, as a public nurse.

I am very proud of this institution, Mr. Speaker. My sincerest congratulations go to the principal, Mrs. Suzanna Greenaway, the staff and all the students for celebrating this impressive milestone.

Secrétaire générale de la Francophonie / Secretary General of La Francophonie

Mme Gila Martow: En mon nom et au nom de tout le caucus conservateur de l’Ontario, je tiens à exprimer mes félicitations les plus sincères à l’ancienne gouverneure générale, Michaëlle Jean, qui, comme nous le savons, vient d’être choisie comme nouvelle Secrétaire générale de la Francophonie et la première secrétaire générale féminine.

Je suis convaincue que durant son mandat de quatre ans elle sera un ardent défenseur des questions de la langue française et de la culture française, afin de promouvoir la langue et de renforcer l’action économique dans le monde francophone.

En tant que femme dans la politique qui parle français et la porte-parole des affaires francophones de notre caucus, je suis, une fois de plus, ravie d’exprimer mes meilleurs voeux. Je sais que les quatre prochaines années seront un mandat difficile, mais elles seront très enrichissantes. J’ai hâte de travailler avec la Francophonie afin de renforcer les relations francophones de l’Ontario, du Canada et du monde entier. Encore une fois, félicitations.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of myself and the entire PC caucus, I would like to extend heartfelt congratulations to former Governor General Michaëlle Jean, who has just been chosen la francophonie’s newest secretary general and the first female.

Paralympic athletes

Mr. Bob Delaney: Speaker, I’d like to recognize some true Canadian role models today from the Canadian Paralympic Committee who focus on creating a province and indeed a nation where every person who lives and works among us can participate in sport, whether or not he or she is living with a disability. Roughly one in seven people in the province of Ontario have a disability. That’s more than a million Ontarians; and worldwide, that’s more than a billion people who live with a disability.

Earlier, I recognized Tyler Miller in the Speaker’s gallery, who is visiting Queen’s Park today, who is here in support of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and their efforts across Canada. In 2012, Tyler successfully took part in the Paralympic Games in London, England, where Team Canada captured a gold medal in his sport of basketball.

In addition to his success, Tyler received the 2012 Civitan Sports Award for top athlete of the year for Kitchener and Waterloo. In 2010, Tyler Miller was part of the team that played for 24 hours straight, breaking the record for the longest wheelchair basketball game ever played. Tyler will represent Team Canada at the Toronto Parapan Games in men’s wheelchair basketball.

This afternoon the Canadian Paralympic Committee is hosting a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in room 230. Let’s welcome the Canadian Paralympic Committee as they continue to grow the Paralympic movement leading up to the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Journée mondiale du SIDA

Mme Marie-France Lalonde: La Journée mondiale du SIDA, qui a lieu aujourd’hui le 1er décembre, offre une occasion importante de se souvenir de ceux et celles qui nous ont quittés, ainsi que de sensibiliser le public au SIDA et au virus du VIH. Cette année, la Journée mondiale du SIDA porte le thème « Objectif zéro ». C’est-à-dire zéro nouvelle infection au VIH, zéro discrimination, et zéro décès lié au SIDA.

La semaine passée, j’ai eu l’honneur de rencontrer Khaled Salam et Gord Asmus du comité du SIDA d’Ottawa. Le CSO est un organisme communautaire à but non lucratif offrant des services gratuits et confidentiels pour toutes les personnes vivant avec ou présentant un risque d’infection pour le VIH dans la région d’Ottawa.

À ses débuts, en 1985, le CSO était un petit groupe de personnes d’orientation homosexuelle, mais aujourd’hui il compte un grand nombre de bénévoles, de participants et de personnel. MM. Salam et Asmus m’ont présenté des données qui indiquent qu’il y a à peu près 900 nouveaux diagnostics du SIDA par année en Ontario, dont plus de 100 à Ottawa. Ils ont souligné que même en 2014 le contrôle de cette maladie exige, comme outil principal, la lutte contre la stigmatisation, la discrimination et l’homophobie. Aidons-les en nous informant davantage au sujet du SIDA et de l’infection VIH et en oubliant nos propres préjugés. Merci.

Le Président (L’hon. Dave Levac): Merci beaucoup.

Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A point of order from the member from Northumberland–Quinte West.

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Thank you, Speaker. I beg your indulgence. I know that it’s stepping out of bounds a little bit here, but I have two guests from the great riding of Northumberland–Quinte West: Jeff and Angela Hurst. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Estimates

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Pursuant to the order of the House dated July 24, 2014, the Standing Committee on Estimates shall present one report with respect to all of the estimates and the supplementary estimates considered pursuant to standing orders 60 and 62 no later than Thursday, November 27, 2014.

The House not having received a report from the Standing Committee on Estimates for certain ministries and offices on Thursday, November 27, 2014, as required by the order of the House dated July 24, 2014, and pursuant to standing order 63(b), the estimates before the committee of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, the Office of Francophone Affairs, and Ministry of Consumer Services are deemed to be passed by the committee and are deemed to be reported to and received by the House.

Accordingly, the estimates 2014-15 of these ministries and offices are deemed to be passed by the Standing Committee on Estimates and are deemed to be reported to and received by the House.

Report deemed received.

Introduction of Bills

Utility Task and All-Terrain Vehicles Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 sur les autoquads et les véhicules polyvalents

Mr. Norm Miller moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 51, An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act with respect to utility task and all-terrain vehicles / Projet de loi 51, Loi modifiant le Code de la route en ce qui concerne les autoquads et les véhicules polyvalents.

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.

Mr. Norm Miller: The Utility Task and All-Terrain Vehicles Act, 2014, amends the Highway Traffic Act to provide that no person shall drive an off-road vehicle on a highway except in accordance with the stated exceptions. One of the exceptions is that a utility task vehicle may be driven on any highway on which an all-terrain vehicle may be driven, and that any regulations or bylaws applicable to all-terrain vehicles also apply to utility task vehicles. A utility task vehicle is defined as an off-road vehicle meeting certain specifications, including the specification that the vehicle is designed to carry a driver and one or more passengers, so it applies to side-by-side ATVs.

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Protection of Public Participation Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 sur la protection du droit à la participation aux affaires publiques

Mme Meilleur moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 52, An Act to amend the Courts of Justice Act, the Libel and Slander Act and the Statutory Powers Procedure Act in order to protect expression on matters of public interest / Projet de loi 52, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les tribunaux judiciaires, la Loi sur la diffamation et la Loi sur l’exercice des compétences légales afin de protéger l’expression sur les affaires d’intérêt public.

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. Madeleine Meilleur: I rise in the House today to reintroduce legislation originally brought forward by my predecessor the Honourable John Gerretsen in 2013.

As members will recall, the proposed Protection of Public Participation Act seeks to balance the protection of public participation and freedom of expression and the protection of reputation and economic interests.

Je suis fière du projet de loi que nous présentons aujourd’hui, and I call upon all the members to support this bill.

Motions

House sittings

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Good afternoon. I move that, pursuant to standing order 6(c)(i), the House shall meet to 9:30 p.m. on Monday, December 1, 2014, for the purpose of considering government business.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The government House leader moves that, pursuant to standing order 6(c)(i), the House shall meet to 9:30 p.m. on Monday, December 1, 2014, for the purpose of considering government business. Do we agree? I heard a no.

All those in favour, say “aye.”

All those opposed, say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1323 to 1328.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Would all members please take their seats.

Mr. Naqvi moved that, pursuant to standing 6(c)(i), the House shall move to 9:30 p.m. on Monday, December 1, 2014, for the purpose of considering government business.

All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Albanese, Laura
  • Anderson, Granville
  • Baker, Yvan
  • Ballard, Chris
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • Dong, Han
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Fraser, John
  • Hoggarth, Ann
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Kiwala, Sophie
  • Kwinter, Monte
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Malhi, Harinder
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Martins, Cristina
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGarry, Kathryn
  • McMahon, Eleanor
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Milczyn, Peter Z.
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naidoo-Harris, Indira
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Orazietti, David
  • Potts, Arthur
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Sergio, Mario
  • Takhar, Harinder S.
  • Vernile, Daiene
  • Wong, Soo
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.
  • Zimmer, David

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): All those opposed, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Dunlop, Garfield
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Miller, Norm
  • Munro, Julia
  • Natyshak, Taras
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Smith, Todd
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Vanthof, John
  • Walker, Bill
  • Yakabuski, John

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 50; the nays are 23.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I declare the motion carried.

Motion agreed to.

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Petitions

Alzheimer’s disease

Mr. Bill Walker: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are progressive, degenerative diseases of the brain that cause thinking, memory and physical functioning to become seriously impaired;

“Whereas there is no known cause or cure for this devastating illness; and

“Whereas Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias also take their toll on hundreds of thousands of families and care partners; and

“Whereas Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias affect more than 200,000 Ontarians today, with an annual total economic burden rising to $15.7 billion by 2020; and

“Whereas the cost related to the health care system is in the billions and only going to increase, at a time when our health care system is already facing enormous financial challenges; and

“Whereas there is work under way to address the need, but no coordinated or comprehensive approach to tackling the issues; and

“Whereas there is an urgent need to plan and raise awareness and understanding about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias for the sake of improving the quality of life of the people it touches;

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

“To approve the development of a comprehensive Ontario dementia plan that would include the development of strategies in primary health care, in health promotion and prevention of illness, in community development, in building community capacity and care partner engagement, in caregiver support and investments in research.”

I fully support, will affix my name and send it with page Steven.

Ontario Drug Benefit Program

Mr. Peter Tabuns: “Whereas Health Canada has approved the use of Soliris for patients with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), an ultra-rare, chronic and life-threatening genetic condition that progressively damages vital organs, leading to heart attack, stroke and kidney failure; and

“Whereas Soliris, the first and only pharmaceutical treatment in Canada for the treatment of aHUS, has allowed patients to discontinue plasma and dialysis therapies, and has been shown to improve kidney function and enable successful kidney transplant; and

“Whereas the lack of public funding for Soliris is especially burdensome on the families of Ontario children and adults battling this catastrophic disease;

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

“Instruct the Ontario government to immediately provide Soliris as a choice to patients with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome and their health care providers in Ontario through public funding.”

I have signed this petition, and I give it to page Ethan for the Clerk.

Child care

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Liberal government introduced Bill 10—Child Care Modernization Act on July 10, 2014;

“Whereas the passage of the bill will result in the elimination of 140,000 child care spaces in Ontario and increase child care costs by 30-40%, especially in rural and suburban areas;

“Whereas Bill 10 could force licensed daycare providers to close, impacting religious day schools, private schools and Montessori schools as well;

“Whereas the Liberal government has asked for quick passage of the bill but has not properly considered these repercussions for all Ontario parents;

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

“That the Liberal government conduct province-wide consultation during the 2014-2015 legislative winter recess at which time the Minister of Education will travel across the province to Hamilton, Guelph, Ottawa, Kitchener, London, Windsor, Sudbury and Toronto to consult with parents and child care workers to understand how the bill will negatively affect Ontario children, parents and child care workers.”

I agree with this petition and send it with page Hannah.

Hospital parking fees

Miss Monique Taylor: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas accessibility to our public health care system is a foundational value of Ontario; and

“Whereas all individuals should have equal access to health care services regardless of their ability to pay; and

“Whereas patients requiring health care services often have to drive to a hospital to receive these services; and

“Whereas hospitals are increasingly using parking charges as an avenue for revenue generation thereby impacting some patients’ access based on their ability to pay; and

“Whereas the Liberal Party promised during the 2014 election campaign to cap hospital parking fees;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to demand that the government of Ontario follow through on their commitment to cap parking fees at Ontario’s hospitals at a level that ensures equitable access to health care.”

I couldn’t agree with this more. I’m going to give it to page Moiz to bring to the Clerk.

Credit unions

Mrs. Cristina Martins: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Credit Unions of Ontario support our 1.3 million members across Ontario through loans to small businesses to start up, grow and create jobs, help families to buy homes and assist their communities with charitable investments and volunteering; and

“Whereas Credit Unions of Ontario want a level playing field so they can provide the same service to our members as other financial institutions and promote economic growth without relying on taxpayers’ resources;

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

“Support the strength and growth of credit unions to support the strength and growth of Ontario’s economy and create jobs in three ways:

“—maintain current credit union provincial tax rates;

“—show confidence in Ontario credit unions by increasing credit union-funded deposit insurance limits to a minimum of $250,000;

“—allow credit unions to diversify by allowing Ontario credit unions to own 100% of subsidiaries.”

I couldn’t agree more with this petition. I’m going to affix my name and send it to the table with page Hannah.

Rural and northern Ontario transportation

Mr. Bill Walker: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario”—this is kind of a shout-out to our old colleague Johnny O’Toole. He used to do these fairly regularly, and I wanted to get it on the record for Johnny.

“Whereas the loss of transportation service will further destabilize rural economies and impede on residents’ ability to get to school, work, doctor or hospital appointments, or any other service unavailable locally;

“Whereas the prosperity, productivity and participation of all segments of society depends on a viable, accessible transportation network;

“Whereas the lack of a transportation service negatively impacts those people with special needs, accessibility challenges, seniors and those living below the poverty level;

“Whereas Greyhound Canada plans to cut bus service and Via Rail plans to cut train service in rural Ontario;

“Whereas there is no secondary carrier serving rural Ontario’s students, workers, volunteers, tourists, business travellers and any resident without a driver’s licence;

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

“To immediately strike an all-party committee at Queen’s Park to study transportation needs in rural and northern Ontario.”

I fully support this, will affix my name and send it with page Kate.

Lyme disease

Mr. Michael Mantha: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario does not have a strategy on Lyme disease; and

“Whereas the Public Health Agency of Canada is developing an Action Plan on Lyme Disease; and

“Whereas Toronto Public Health says that transmission of the disease requires the tick to be attached for 24 hours, so early intervention and diagnosis is of primary importance; and

“Whereas a motion was introduced to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario encouraging the government to adopt a strategy on Lyme disease, while taking into account the impact the disease has upon individuals and families in Ontario;

“We, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to develop an integrated strategy on Lyme disease consistent with the action plan of the Public Health Agency of Canada, taking into account available treatments, accessibility issues and the efficacy of the currently available diagnostic mechanisms. In doing so, it should consult with representatives of the health care community and patients’ groups within one year.”

I wholeheartedly support this petition and present it to page Maja to bring it down to the table and the Clerks.

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Legal aid

Mr. Bob Delaney: Speaker, I have a petition sent to me by a number of my constituents, actually, in Meadowvale and also in Erin Mills. It reads as follows:

“Whereas Mississauga Community Legal Services provides free legal services to legal aid clients within a community of nearly 800,000 population; and

“Whereas legal services in communities like Toronto and Hamilton serve, per capita, fewer people living in poverty, are better staffed and better funded; and

“Whereas Mississauga and Brampton have made progress in having Ontario provide funding for human services on a fair and equitable, population-based model;

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

“That the Ministry of the Attorney General revise the current distribution of allocated funds … and adopt a population-based model, factoring in population growth rates to ensure Ontario funds are allocated in an efficient, fair and effective manner.”

I’m pleased to sign and support this petition, and send it down with page Noah.

Hydro rates

Mr. Bill Walker: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Green Energy Act has driven up the cost of electricity in Ontario due to unrealistic subsidies for certain energy sources, including the world’s highest subsidies for solar power; and

“Whereas this cost is passed on to ratepayers through the global adjustment, which can account for almost half of a ratepayer’s hydro bill; and

“Whereas the high cost of energy is severely impacting the quality of life of Ontario’s residents, especially fixed-income seniors; and

“Whereas it is imperative to remedy Liberal mismanagement in the energy sector by implementing immediate reforms detailed in the Ontario PC white paper Paths to Prosperity—Affordable Energy;

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

“To immediately repeal the Green Energy Act, 2009, and all other statutes that artificially inflate the cost of electricity with the aim of bringing down electricity rates and abolishing expensive surcharges such as the global adjustment and debt retirement charges.”

I fully support it, will affix my signature and send it with page Ethan.

Correctional facilities

Miss Monique Taylor: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario’s youth justice facilities are run by two completely different sets of policy guidelines depending on whether they are part of the Ontario public service (OPS) and funded directly by the provincial government, or the broader public service (BPS) and funded indirectly; and

“Whereas OPS and BPS facilities serve the very same youth, and both receive their funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services; and

“Whereas unlike in similar OPS facilities, there is no provincial mandate for youth corrections community agencies to provide WSIB coverage, meaning many agencies have inadequate private insurance coverage; and

“Whereas youth corrections community agencies are struggling with chronic underfunding;

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

“We strongly urge the provision of a provincial mandate for all youth corrections agencies to provide WSIB coverage to their staff. We further urge the assembly to improve systemic inequities by ensuring that all youth corrections facilities receive proper funding.”

I couldn’t agree with this more. I’m going to sign my name to it and give it to page Hannah to bring to the Clerks’ table.

Credit unions

Ms. Daiene Vernile: Mr. Speaker, this concerns Credit Unions of Ontario.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Credit Unions of Ontario support our 1.3 million members across Ontario through loans to small businesses to start up, grow and create jobs, help families to buy homes and assist their communities with charitable investments and volunteering; and

“Whereas Credit Unions of Ontario want a level playing field so they can provide the same service to our members as other financial institutions and promote economic growth without relying on taxpayers’ resources;

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

“Support the strength and growth of credit unions to support the … growth of Ontario’s economy and create jobs in three ways:

“—maintain current credit union provincial tax rates;

“—show confidence in Ontario credit unions by increasing credit union-funded deposit insurance limits to a minimum of $250,000;

“—allow credit unions to diversify by allowing Ontario credit unions to own 100% of subsidiaries.”

I put my name to this and support it, and will give it to page Albany.

Wind turbines

Mr. Bill Walker: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas residents of Ontario, mayors and councillors from more than 80 municipalities and Ontario’s largest farm organizations and rural stakeholders, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, seek an immediate moratorium on wind development projects awaiting approval until an independent and comprehensive health study has determined that turbine noise is safe to human health; and

“Whereas the provincial Liberal government’s study back in 2011 failed to conclude anything more than it needed to continue to study the turbine sound impacts; and

“Whereas the federal government is launching, through Health Canada, the first comprehensive study of health impacts of wind turbines;

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

“That the Liberal government follow the federal lead, accept the objective of the federal wind study, agree and accept that until the study is finished it will not approve any new wind turbine projects in Ontario, effective immediately.”

I support this petition, will affix my name send it with page Ella.

Off-road vehicles

Mr. Michael Mantha: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas a motion was introduced at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads ‘that in the opinion of the House, the operation of off-road vehicles on highways under regulation 316/03 be changed to include side-by-side off-road vehicles, four-seat side-by-side vehicles, and two-up vehicles in order for them to be driven on highways under the same conditions as other off-road/all-terrain vehicles’;

“Whereas this motion was passed on November 7, 2013, to amend the Highway Traffic Act 316/03;

“Whereas the economic benefits will have positive impacts on ATV clubs, ATV manufacturers, dealers and rental shops, and will boost revenues to communities promoting this outdoor activity;

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

“We call on the Ministry of Transportation to implement this regulation immediately.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this petition and present it to page Elijah to bring it down to the Clerks.

Legal aid

Ms. Indira Naidoo-Harris: I have here with me a petition to the Ontario Legislative Assembly:

“Whereas Mississauga Community Legal Services provides free legal services to legal aid clients within a community of nearly 800,000 population; and

“Whereas legal services in communities like Toronto and Hamilton serve, per capita, fewer people living in poverty, are better staffed and better funded; and

“Whereas Mississauga and Brampton have made progress in having Ontario provide funding for human services on a fair and equitable, population-based model;

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

“That the Ministry of the Attorney General revise the current distribution of allocated funds in the 2012-13 budget, and adopt a population-based model, factoring in population growth rates to ensure Ontario funds are allocated in an efficient, fair and effective manner.”

I agree with this petition. I will be putting my signature on it and handing it to page Steven.

Orders of the Day

Child Care Modernization Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 sur la modernisation des services de garde d’enfants

Mrs. Sandals moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 10, An Act to enact the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, to repeal the Day Nurseries Act, to amend the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007, the Education Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 10, Loi édictant la Loi de 2014 sur la garde d’enfants et la petite enfance, abrogeant la Loi sur les garderies, modifiant la Loi de 2007 sur les éducatrices et les éducateurs de la petite enfance, la Loi sur l’éducation et la Loi sur le ministère de la Formation et des Collèges et Universités et apportant des modifications corrélatives et connexes à d’autres lois.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): I recognize the Minister of Education.

Hon. Liz Sandals: I seek unanimous consent that the rotation for debate on third reading of Bill 10 be such that the third party speak first, the government second and the official opposition third.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Education is seeking unanimous consent of the House to change the rotation for speaking, such that the third party speaks first, the government speaks second and the official opposition speaks third. Agreed? Agreed.

I recognize the member for Toronto–Danforth.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Thank you, Speaker. I want to start off by thanking the Minister of Education and the opposition critic for education for their courtesy in allowing me to speak first. I have limited time here, Speaker. I’m supposed to be going down to chair a committee very shortly, but I appreciate this opportunity, even in a truncated way, to make some commentary on this bill.

This bill is a response to a concern about legislation that is well over 40 years old and also a response to the deaths of a number of children in unlicensed care that have occurred here in Ontario over the last few years.

We support the introduction of stronger standards for all child care providers. That is a positive development.

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However, we are very concerned with what was left undone with this bill. An increase of inspection staff from 54 to 60 for services that look after hundreds of thousands of children does not strike us as an adequate response, an adequate investment in investigation and in enforcement. The absence of investment in new public and non-profit child care—in fact, the loss of child care centres in places like Sarnia—strikes us as retrograde. The most effective method of ensuring safe, high-quality, affordable child care is investment in non-profit and public child care. This bill is not being advanced as part of a larger program of investing in and reshaping the child care movement. That is a substantial omission.

No bill alone is enough to ensure that child care is safe, affordable, available and of high quality. As I said at the beginning, we need an investment in implementation of a larger program of non-profit care. This bill doesn’t do that.

The bill also leaves the power to set ratios of providers to children in centres, except for the limitations on home-based care addressed in the bill. However, the ratios previously set in legislation for centre-based care are now entirely in the hands of cabinet. An amendment to have any change in those ratios subject to public hearings and a vote in a legislative committee was rejected by the Liberal government.

Speaker, when the government introduced the change in ratios earlier this year, there was substantial concern in the child care community, in the education community and amongst parents. I understand the need, as time goes by, to reassess the appropriateness of any given ratio of caregivers to children. But in the end, this is a central concern. It bears directly on the quality of the care that is offered and, as such, is something most properly set in an open and public vote that takes place here in the Legislature. If it’s not to be in the legislation, then it should have been put forward in a forum that would allow debate and amendment in a committee of this Legislature, in full public view.

Speaker, this bill is an incomplete response to the child care crisis, but beyond that, I believe that the limitation of democratic rights in the passage of this bill was startling. Time was set in committee that would have allowed six hours or more for debate and votes on the substance of the bill. However, actual debate was only allowed in the first hour of committee time.

A critical part of any democratic process is debate. Governments propose, opposition parties propose, and in the course of debating a bill in committee, the public gets a fuller sense of what is meant by this or that action, and the potential is there, the ability is there to take apart proposals, to make it clearer to the public what is really happening here. If you want to have a democratic society in which legislators can be held to account, you also have to have a society in which legislators are required to defend the positions they take and the proposals they put forward. But when the committee is reduced to silence, when that one hour was up, the hour within which questions could be asked or arguments made, and we went solely to voting for or against amendments, then the responsibility for the government to defend its position was removed. The public was shortchanged.

Speaker, people in this province expect opposition parties to work with the government when it’s doing something that advances the interests of the public. They expect opposition parties to oppose the government when they believe what the government is doing is contrary to public interest. I believe this bill should be adopted, but I have to say, the throttling of democracy through time allocation was a huge mistake on the part of the government, and although I think it’s pretty much inside baseball—throughout most of Ontario, people didn’t pay much attention to how much time was allocated for this debate—in the long run, people will notice that debate is cut off and they will notice that government is less open, less accountable.

It’s on that note that I’ll wrap up my remarks. I would hope the government would change its ways when it comes to allowing democratic debate in this Legislature.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Hon. Liz Sandals: Speaker, I stand in the House today with great pride in support of the Child Care Modernization Act. Before I begin, I want to thank everyone for their hard work on this piece of legislation. I’d like to thank my parliamentary assistant, the member from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, and I’d also like to thank the members of the social policy committee. I would also like to thank everyone who participated in public hearings for your valuable input.

As you know, in July this year we reintroduced Bill 10 because this groundbreaking legislation has always been a top priority for our government. We want to build a child care system that is high-quality, seamless and more accessible for the province’s families, and we are committed to transforming Ontario’s child care and early years programs and services to give children in this great province the best possible start in life. That is why I’m so proud to rise in this House today to discuss this important legislation.

Bill 10, if passed, will modernize our child care and early years system and replace the outdated legislation governing child care in this province. It will make our system more responsive to parents’ and children’s needs and better reflect the realities of our modern world. It will ensure Ontario families have access to safe and high-quality care to give children the precious head start they need for lifelong success and, if passed, it will also strengthen oversight in the child care sector.

This is truly a transformative piece of legislation that will position Ontario as a leader in child care and early years programs and services. One way Bill 10 will modernize our early years system is by eliminating the patchwork of rules and regulations that govern child care. It will do this by repealing and replacing the Day Nurseries Act, the outdated legislation responsible for child care in Ontario. The DNA was originally legislated in the 1940s and hasn’t changed fundamentally since the 1980s.

Bill 10 will also amend the Education Act, the Early Childhood Educators Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act. Since the safety of our children is of paramount importance, this legislation will give the government a range of new enforcement tools to protect Ontario’s children and safeguard their well-being. Parents need to know that their children are in a safe, nurturing environment, and they need to know the government can step in if their children’s safety is at risk.

This proposed legislation also reflects valuable input from our stakeholders and from the public. In 2012, we received over 400 submissions from municipalities, licensed and unlicensed child care providers, First Nations, child care advocates, other child care and early years partners and, of course, parents. We also held public hearings at the Standing Committee on Social Policy, and after listening to comments from impacted stakeholders in the public hearings, our government has made several amendments to Bill 10, the Child Care Modernization Act.

Under Bill 10, licensed and unlicensed home providers would be required to count their own children under age six as part of the total number of children allowed.

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Our government heard from unlicensed child care providers who were concerned about how this would affect them and the children in their care. That’s why we’ve made an amendment for a provider to exclude counting their own children who are four and five years old if the provider’s children are enrolled in full-day kindergarten and if they care for fewer than two children under two and meet the other prescribed criteria. This change provides home-based child care providers with flexibility, and it acknowledges the full implementation of FDK.

We also heard concerns about joining licensed agencies, so another amendment allows the government to regulate the fees of licensed child care agencies. This directly addresses the concerns that independent child care providers who choose to be licensed would be subject to very high agency fees.

Under Bill 10, the ministry could also regulate how agencies operate. This could mean different service models, so licensed child care providers could, for example, pick and choose and only pay for agency services and supports they actually need.

We also heard concerns about providers turning away children and families who they’ve known and cared for in their neighbourhoods. An amendment has been made to clarify that the five-child maximum supports quality care but does not restrict providers from caring for different children at different times. This relates to concerns raised by providers who offer service 24 hours a day or seven days a week. Providers will be able to offer care to families with different work arrangements, such as evening and weekend shifts, or to families who need overnight care, provided that a maximum of five children are being cared for at any given time.

Another amendment allows existing unlicensed child care arrangements to continue until January 1, 2016—another full year—or another date prescribed by regulation if the proclamation is later than that. This would allow children in a legal unlicensed setting to stay with their current provider for at least one year, should the bill pass. This change addresses concerns that parents and children would be abruptly turned away by caregivers and left scrambling for child care with little or no notice.

That’s why, if passed, we want to ensure that changes to the child care sector can happen incrementally and gradually, to support a smooth transition and reduce disruptions for Ontario families.

Some important amendments were also made in response to the Ombudsman’s recent report on unlicensed child care, and to more effectively support enforcement and compliance under the proposed act. This includes closing loopholes allowing illegal child care providers to call themselves camps and avoid enforcement and prosecution, and also strengthening the ability to collect video and photographic evidence to support more effective enforcement of the act.

All along, our government has remained committed to ensuring that families have access to safe, modern child care. As part of this commitment, our government supported a number of amendments to reinforce and strengthen the enforcement measures in this bill. Our government acknowledges that several constructive motions were presented by the third party’s critic, the member from Toronto–Danforth, and I want to thank him for his input. We accepted these changes in order to strengthen the bill even further. This includes clarifying that the role of the minister includes enforcement of the proposed legislation.

However, Speaker, our government also rejected a number of proposed amendments from the official opposition. These would have restricted and weakened the available range of enforcement tools. We believe that robust enforcement measures are necessary to protect the province’s children and to safeguard their well-being.

Therefore, when we look at Ontario’s child care and early years system, we can honestly say it has served us well and we have made some truly great strides with our ambitious plans for modernizing the system.

Although we made changes to strengthen the bill, I feel it is important to stress that further details for a number of matters need to be established by regulation. For example, licensing standards, including age groupings and staff-to-child ratios in centre-based care; setting the administrative penalty for violations under the act and/or its regulations; and additional details clarifying what programs and services are exempt from child care or are not required to be licensed must all be specified by regulation.

We will work closely with all partners in the child care sector on the development of these regulations, and they will all be posted for public comment. Further, if Bill 10 passes, changes to the child care sector will be implemented in an incremental and gradual process, to support a smooth transition and reduce disruptions to services for families.

Our system is governed by a mix of rules and regulations, and it no longer reflects the realities of our modern world. That is why I’m encouraging all members of this House to rise in support of Bill 10 and improve the lives of children across this great province. With this bill, Ontario will be a leader, and we will solve the problems caused by the outdated legislation governing this sector. That’s why it’s critical that we pass this bill, so I am looking to all members in this House for their firm support on this important legislation. By passing Bill 10, everyone in this House will deliver on benefits that contribute to our future prosperity.

We all want to make Ontario a better place. That is why, in the spirit of true partnership and bipartisan goodwill, I urge all members to stand up and think about our children. Ontario needs a child care and early years system that gives children the best possible start in life, a system that puts each and every one of our youngest and brightest on a firm path to lifelong success. I’m confident that the Child Care Modernization Act will help us do just that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Garfield Dunlop: I’m pleased to rise today and speak on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus on Bill 10. I can tell you right up front, Mr. Speaker, in spite of what the minister said, that there is absolutely no way that the Progressive Conservative caucus can support this bill. There are so many things wrong with the bill, and what’s more important: I hear the minister talking about slow transition and consultation, and then I think that we put this bill through the Legislature basically at rocket speed.

I became the critic of education back in June, and I immediately started to get letters of concern from people all across the province, particularly the independent child care providers who have been completely left out of the consultation—completely. I immediately came to my House leader, the member from Leeds–Grenville, and gave him a letter to take to the House leaders’ meeting. I felt that this bill was so important, because it includes communities from right across our province. Whether it’s aboriginal daycare, francophone daycare, rural or urban, it included children from all across the province of Ontario, and I felt that there should be travel on this bill.

What we got was just the opposite. We got a time allocation motion to limit debate to six hours in the House for second reading. That led to a total of 10 hours of hearings, two hours of clause-by-clause—although there were actually 12 or 14 hours allocated, but because of the motions, there was absolutely no debate on the 93 motions. We had no opportunity to even speak on anything that came up in the committee, even to make a comment on it. It was yes or no, so we asked for recorded votes. You may recall that we voted against all of the motions on it, because it was actually disgraceful how it was put through—so, no debate on that.

What gets me is that, at the same time, we’re time-allocating a bill here in the House on transparency in government. We’re actually talking about a transparent government at the same time we’re time-allocating a bill for children.

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About 800,000 children in the province of Ontario are cared for by independent child care providers. They are not licensed but they are not illegal, and they were branded as almost criminals by this government. They were not allowed to speak. In fact, we held rallies across the province, including one in the minister’s home riding, where she never appeared. When we asked for one in Ottawa—we had a rally in Ottawa, and a few people came out. But when the minister came to Ottawa, she came in the quiet of the night, and she met with only the Liberal members. If the people in the Ottawa area had known the minister was there, we would have had 500 or 600 people at that rally. That is absolutely for sure. It was kept quiet by the House leader, who is also the Minister of Community Safety.

They can heckle; they can do whatever they want. But this bill is a disgrace to the young people, the young men and women who are raising their families in the province of Ontario, who have children, that this bill would be time-allocated, that it would be pushed through this House at a high rate of speed.

She just mentioned a slow transition a couple of minutes ago. Why couldn’t we take a little more time with the bill to begin with? I would have loved to have travelled out, say, to Sudbury or to Windsor or to Kitchener or London. These people needed an opportunity. Most of them could not afford to come to these hearings.

Another thing that bothers me is that some of the people who appeared at the hearings, some of the agency people who helped draft the original bill, are also the people who made comment at the hearings. I think, in a way, those people kind of threw a lot of the members of the independent child care providers under the bus on this bill. That’s very disturbing as well, because I know they’re very fond of the government, and they think it’s wonderful and all this sort of thing.

In the end, there are going to be thousands and thousands—we calculated a minimum of 140,000 daycare spaces lost in the province by the independent child care providers. Those that are not going to be shutting their doors will have to go underground. That’s what’s going to happen.

People with two and three little kids—someone in a house who has traditionally had daycare for a couple of children, and they have two children of their own, can only have—it’s limited to two under two. There are all kinds of examples of unlicensed daycare where they have been perfectly handled for many, many years, working under those programs. Over those years, there have been no accidents; there have been no complaints. As a result of that, the government just said, “To heck with those people. They’re going to be out of business.” There are going to be about 140,000 daycare spaces lost for sure.

We know there’s going to be no more money in education, because they’ve just cut $500 million out of the budget.

Who is going to enforce this? Six more people are going to be hired to enforce Bill 10 in the province of Ontario, and that’s going to work? Six more people? How many people have they hired for the Ontario College of Trades? Have you ever thought of that? There are 70 or so right now, running around the province, doing nothing except harassing businesses that are following the rules.

But instead, because there’s no money in this—with the College of Trades, of course, the tradespeople are paying for those 60 people with their membership fees. However, with daycare, that’s supposed to be paid for by the Ministry of Education. We’ve gone from 54 to 60 enforcement officers for the Ministry of Education, and we’re still trying to figure out where that will be paid.

I find that this bill has been a disaster. Mr. Speaker, I just want you to know also that I’ve been to see the Ombudsman. I know that my colleague from Nepean–Carleton has also been to see the Ombudsman as well. We’ve voiced our concerns, because the Liberal government of Ontario and the Minister of Education were leaning on the back of—they were trying to get support of the Ombudsman to say they were wonderfully perfect people. The Ombudsman has no intentions of trying to put people out of business, but this bill will do that.

In fact, because of that, every time a business goes down now, or they’re going to be shut down, those people will be reporting that back to the Ombudsman, because he specifically asked to keep a report card on what was happening with the independent child care providers.

Obviously, the biggest problem here was the all-day kindergarten, because it took a lot more children out of the daycare system and put them into the hands of the Ministry of Education at the elementary school level, which freed up a lot of spaces in the agency areas. Of course, now the agency areas want any kids they can possibly get to go into their school system.

There are three other members of our caucus who want to speak to this today, Mr. Speaker. I just want to say that through this whole thing—in fact, one day the minister, on a question, actually accused us of playing games. Imagine calling the official opposition—mentioning that we were playing games with this bill. Now, if you call time allocation by the government playing games; if you call a meeting with the Ombudsman playing games; if you call having rallies to protect the people who have asked you to get their support; if you call answering emails and answering letters from members of the government that they refused to answer—if those are playing games, I like being the official opposition. I’m very proud of my caucus, I’m very proud of our team, because we’re standing up for the independent child care providers of the province of Ontario, and we’re very proud of that.

I know the government is not doing that, although they say in a couple of motions that they are actually trying to help it. That was different than the phone calls I received this weekend—I was on the phone almost all day yesterday with independent child care providers. They’re not very happy with the Liberal government of Ontario, and they’re certainly not happy with the Minister of Education.

We have a lot of other problems with it as well: the independent schools, the Montessori people, are not happy. If you were actually at the hearings, Mr. Speaker, it was like nine-to-one beating up the government—there were a few groups in there who supported the government. But then the minister came back a day later and said, “Oh, look at all the wonderful support we have got from the committee,” and mentioned two or three examples. She didn’t mention the other 40 examples, where people were very, very upset.

I want to thank a lot of people. I can’t go into all their names right now, but I want to thank the people who very quickly organized against this bill, and I want to thank my members, particularly Ms. MacLeod and Ms. Martow, for their work on the bill. They did an excellent job in committee trying to get the government to listen.

I also want to thank the parliamentary assistant from Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, because he actually promised us during the hearings that we would be getting minister’s round tables for all people who were active stakeholders as we develop regulations. I hope that’s not going to go away, and maybe the minister can clarify that at some point. But he did, in fact, mention that the minister would hold round tables on the regulations, and all the people who were interested stakeholders would have an opportunity to take part in those meetings. Now, I have never heard that happen before, but the parliamentary assistant actually promised that.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the time today, and I thank my caucus members. Again, I want to say, on behalf of the PC caucus and on behalf of the children of Ontario, that there is absolutely no way we will support this bill. It is only a part bill—it’s partially complete—and it does hurt a lot of young families, because they won’t be able to have spaces now. It takes away a minimum of 140,000 day care spaces, and it has bad economic policies for the province of Ontario.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Miss Monique Taylor: I’m pleased to rise today to speak to third reading of Bill 10, the Child Care Modernization Act.

I’ve said all along that child care in Ontario was badly in need of modernization, and our party has advocated for action on child care. There has been a growing need for child care for decades, and there has been legislation on the books since the Day Nurseries Act was first enacted way back in 1946.

This bill repeals the Day Nurseries Act and enacts the Child Care and Early Years Act, as well as making amendments to other acts.

The need for child care, as I say, has been growing for decades, to the extent it is today, and quite literally, it’s in crisis. We simply do not have enough licensed, non-profit, subsidized child care spaces to meet the needs of families in 2014.

Faced with the high cost of child care, long wait-lists for spaces—in particular, subsidized spaces—and concerns about the safety of their children, parents are worried and deeply concerned about how the patchwork system we have will meet their needs.

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While there is a lot of good stuff in this bill, I’m not quite sure it adequately addresses the fears of today’s families. The most glaring problem is the fact that this Liberal government has been underfunding child care for years, and municipalities have been left to pay the costs just to maintain the services that are there. New Democrats believe that every family, no matter their income, deserves the opportunity to get high-quality child care. We believe that all children deserve programs in their early years so that they may develop in an environment that ensures their health and safety. We know that the only way to deliver that is by investing in a comprehensive, licensed, not-for-profit, affordable child care system that is accessible to all young families wherever they may live in Ontario and pays proper wages to early childhood educators and daycare providers. With the introduction of full-day kindergarten, our child care sector has become unstable, and it is hard to see how it can stabilize when it remains so desperately underfunded.

The fact is that Ontario does not have a child care system that works for all families. Let’s remember that Ontario has the highest child care fees in the country. In Quebec, families pay $152 per child regardless of their age. In Manitoba, they pay $631 a month for infants and $431 a month for toddlers. In Nova Scotia, they pay $825 a month for infants and $694 a month for toddlers. In Alberta, they pay $900 a month for infants and $825 a month for toddlers. Meanwhile, in Ontario, families are paying way more than that. They’re paying over $1,000 each a month per child, and it can run to as high as $2,000 a month. Unlike other provinces such as Manitoba, Quebec and PEI, Ontario sets no maximum fees. Here, every centre and home-based child care provider is responsible for setting their own fees.

Let’s also remember that these exorbitant fees are hitting families at a time in their lives when they can least afford it—a time when they’re still paying off their student loans, a time when they are on the low rungs of their career ladder, a time in the early years of their mortgage, of buying their new homes.

The wait-list information shows, from my hometown of Hamilton, that there are 950 children waiting for a subsidized spot, and that’s an increase of 100 just from August to September of this last year.

Speaker, there are some serious outstanding concerns regarding the accessibility and affordability of child care in Ontario.

Another major concern has been the safety of our children in child care settings, and I’ve raised this issue more than a number of times in this House. We put forward some amendments to this bill at the committee, and I was pleased that some of them were adopted. These included amendments mandating the appointment of child care inspectors and enshrining the dedicated enforcement unit into legislation, but the fact remains that they’re only hiring six inspectors to take care of the entire province. This is when the Ministry of Education was seen to be totally inadequate in their lack of response to complaints about home-based child care in Vaughan. In the Ombudsman’s report of its investigation into unlicensed child care in Ontario, it was pointed out that the ministry had failed to respond to complaints against this operator in the months leading up to the death of Eva Ravikovich. She was in their care, along with 34 other children, in a grossly illegal setting. Those serious problems have been very well documented, and we have serious concerns about the lack of enforcement and the basic care standards by this government.

As the Ombudsman found in his report, the Liberals have consistently failed to enforce the legislation and keep kids safe in child care settings, and there is still no mechanism for knowing just how many unlicensed child care providers there are in Ontario and how many children are in their care, or who those providers actually are.

As I said, a few of our amendments were successfully passed at committee but the Liberals rejected what we considered to be the most important amendments we put forward. In particular, we put forward amendments reflecting our belief that not-for-profit and public child care centres need to be the basis of our child care system. Under this Liberal government, for-profit child care spaces have gone from approximately 17% of spaces in 2001 to 25% of the spaces today.

In December 2011, the Liberals allowed the Edleun Group, Canada’s first publicly traded child care corporation, to buy seven Ontario child care centres. The growth of private child care is bad for Ontario families, and it’s particularly bad for families who most desperately need child care. They cater to the affluent elite. They charge high fees and create a two-tier child care system, one for the wealthy and one for the rest. These large companies see our current child care crisis as an investment opportunity, and history should warn us that the profit motive results in a lower quality of care for our children.

Way back in the 1970s, Ontario faced a major lobby campaign by the Alabama-based KinderCare—

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I heard “Obama.”

Miss Monique Taylor: —the Alabama-based KinderCare with the aim of reducing staff-to-child ratios, and in the 1980s, workers at the Mini-Skool chain went on strike because of the terribly low wages and were on strike for at least five months.

Lower wages are certainly not a thing of the past. The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care reports that the average wage of a child care worker is $16 an hour. These workers are in effect providing a substantial subsidy to child care in Ontario simply by working for substandard pay. They can’t continue to do that. Low wages mean we have significant challenges for recruitment and retention of qualified, educated and experienced staff. Again, if we want to stabilize the child care sector, it cannot be done as long as wages remain this low.

This bill is far from perfect, and that situation was not helped by this government’s insistence on limiting debate and, more importantly, on limiting public input. There are few people in Ontario unaffected by this bill in some way. Even if many of them are not fully aware of it yet, they will feel that impact, and many of those people wanted to speak to it and how it would affect them and their families.

In particular, I recognize that some people have concerns about the impact of Bill 10 on independent child care providers. Those people wanted to put their case forward, and that is why we moved an amendment to the time allocation motion that would have taken the committee outside of Toronto and across Ontario for extra days of hearings. But the government voted that down. They voted it down because they always think that they know best, that they don’t need input from families, or even the experts at times.

Interjection.

Miss Monique Taylor: A majority doesn’t give them all the best solutions; let’s just say that.

Let’s take, for example, their response last week to a submission in the Standing Committee on General Government by the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Irwin Elman. Bill 8, the Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act, proposed to extend the advocate’s mandate by giving him oversight responsibilities similar to those of the Ombudsman. Mr. Elman, a highly respected individual, pointed out that although the legislation gave him certain responsibilities, it did not give him the tools he would need to perform those duties. He pointed out that he was being denied investigative powers that are granted to the six other independent officers of the Legislature and being denied authority that was enjoyed by all other provincial children and youth advocates in the country.

He offered solutions by way of amendments to the legislation. How did the government respond to his comments? Basically, they ignored him. Yes, they accepted a couple of his amendments, but when it came to the fundamental changes he felt were necessary to make this bill work, they said no. This is a very qualified individual appointed by this government and reappointed by them recently, yet they felt no need to listen to him or to take his advice.

Child care is badly in need of modernization, and although this is an extensive bill that makes many changes, it fails to address the fundamental problems faced by families when it comes to child care in Ontario. That is why our leader, Andrea Horwath, introduced an opposition day motion in this House a couple of weeks ago, on November 8. Let me read it:

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“Whereas the government of Canada has failed to provide predictable funding to develop and deliver affordable, accessible and high-quality early childhood education and child care programs in Ontario;

“Whereas families pay monthly fees of $1,152 on average for one child care spot in Ontario, compared to $152 per month in the province of Quebec;

“Whereas investing in high-quality child care will reduce the stress on families; benefit children’s development and future academic success; allow more parents to re-enter the workforce, retrain or go to school; reduce dependence on social assistance; reduce poverty; and will bring $1.75 in return for every $1 invested by our government;

“Whereas families, businesses and the economy at large will benefit from investing in our early childhood education and child care programs;

“Therefore, in the opinion of this House, this province should partner with the federal government to ensure that every parent in Ontario has access to child care at a cost of no more than $15 a day per child.” Addressed to the Premier, to be debated November 18, 2014.

This motion responds to what we have been hearing all across Ontario, and when it comes to dealing with important issues like this, people don’t care if it’s the federal government or the provincial government that solves the problem. In fact, what they expect is for those governments to work together in their interests, and that is what this motion aims to do.

On October 14, 2014, Tom Mulcair and Canada’s New Democrats announced that a federal NDP government would create a Canadian early childhood education and child care program, with the goal that parents won’t pay more than $15 a day per child. This program will be phased in over eight years and will create one million new child care spaces.

The motion introduced by Andrea Horwath calls on the provincial government to commit to working with the federal government, led by Tom Mulcair and Canada’s NDP, to deliver universal child care to every family that needs it and to do so at a manageable cost of $15 per day.

We in Ontario had to lead the way and sign on to that plan. We had to let them know that we are a willing partner. We have an opportunity to build the type of child care system our families deserve, and we must take it.

Frankly, Speaker, we know that this bill is going to pass. We know that the Liberals have a majority, because we’re reminded quite often. We know that families across this province wished that they had a say when it came to this bill. Instead, the Liberals decided to time-allocate the bill, as they have all legislation that has come before us since we sat after the election. People just haven’t had a chance to use their voice.

We think it’s a serious problem that’s happening here. It’s time-allocated; there are night sittings. The Liberals are trying to jam everything through as quickly as they can.

I think that with a bill as important as our child care modernization act in this province, families and children deserve better. We need to ensure that we’re putting in a safe environment for children.

The new bill that comes forward does nothing to ensure that when we drop children off in the morning, we’re going to be able to pick them up safely at the end of the night.

We’ve seen how many deaths within seven months? We’ve seen four children die. That wasn’t because the legislation wasn’t in place; that was because this government failed to do its job. That’s the end of the story. They failed to move on investigation of complaints that were made. They had one rule that they had to follow through with: making sure that providers only had five children in their care. When they had complaints that there were 27 or 30 children in completely dirty, dark, damp, unclean environments, and they didn’t act on them—and we’ve seen children die.

They did nothing to make sure that the investigation powers are going to have enough power. They only put in place six new investigators. How are six new investigators possibly going to clean up the mess that has been left from the last legislation?

If the Liberals really wanted to do something, they could have done a lot. I think that including all people in this province, to make sure that they were there to listen, to make a good, rounded decision—we know that when we come to this House, we debate issues. Why do we debate issues? We debate issues because collective arguments come together to make good decisions. That is what our legislation, that is what this House is built on: collective agreements and collective voices.

This government thinks that they have the only voice for the entire province, so that is seriously a problem. Hopefully, after the Christmas break they’ll come back with some Christmas cheer and they will find a different way to work together with all members of this House, making sure that legislation like this is done properly and that we know that our children are in a safe environment.

Thank you very much for your time, Speaker. I appreciate the fact that I was able to have my say on this bill. I know that many in this House won’t have time to speak on this because, like everything else, it’s time-allocated.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It’s a pleasure to rise to debate Bill 10, the Child Care Modernization Act, today, and to bring to the floor of the assembly so many disaffected, disappointed and disillusioned parents and child care operators across the province, who feel that they have not only been inadequately informed about this bill and had not had the opportunity to present their views and ideas in their hometowns, but are also lamenting the fact that we will lose a number of child care spaces in this province.

So I rise today not only to lament the loss of child care spaces, but also to lament the loss of public consultation as we once knew it in the province of Ontario, where we did two things here: (1) We stood on the floor of this assembly to debate the issues of the day, which Bill 10 certainly is and child care is; and (2) we opened up our assembly, particularly our committee rooms, but we also travelled the province to engage Ontarians.

Unfortunately, this didn’t happen in this situation. In fact, what has happened here is that we’ve seen a closure of debate, we’ve seen a limited amount of public consultation and, on a bill as important as our children’s child care, this government refused to go into the communities who will be most affected. When I say that, I believe that suburban communities which are high-growth and rural communities that rely on independent child care will be threatened the most.

What concerns me when I talk about Bill 10 is a couple of things, predominantly the fact that the minister cannot directly answer a simple question with respect to the expected 140,000 child care spaces that will be lost in the province of Ontario. Earlier today, I had asked her in the House if she could directly tell us what her estimates were, and she wasn’t able to do that, but we know from the Coalition of Independent Childcare Providers of Ontario that we are expecting to lose about 140,000 child care spaces.

If you look at the Ombudsman of Ontario’s number, it’s about 178,000 child care spaces that would be lost—close to, in my view, 180,000. That is quite significant, because here is the problem: In Ontario we already have among the highest child care costs in the country, and that is going to increase by another 30% to 40% as we encounter a shortage of child care spaces.

For those in urban settings, it’s going to be very difficult, because we know that there will be an increased reliance on institutional care, which right now isn’t every mom and dad’s choice. It’s also very expensive. It’s an expensive option, and it is one that I think that this government wants to cater to, but the problem for the government is that, when they shut down these 140,000 to 180,000 spaces, they won’t be able to keep up with capacity right away, and you’ll see an increase in costs.

When you look at, for example, high-growth areas, or in rural communities, sometimes the best, most affordable and accessible child care available is by the neighbour down the street, the person you’ve known your entire life who is prepared to look after your child. I believe that parents should have that choice, by the way, Speaker. I’ve spoken about this many times, that I believe that there is a parental choice that should happen with respect to child care, and that there is also a parental responsibility about making sure that your children are in safe locations.

I’m concerned, as well, that an unintended consequence of this legislation will mean changes to the pedagogy of Montessori schools, as well as private religious institutions, particularly private religious schools, whether evangelical, a Christian school or a Jewish day school. They will be impacted by this legislation. Their pedagogy may be watered down. It may be altogether changed, and I think that that’s a significant concern I bring to the floor of the assembly. It’s one that we heard time and time again when we spoke with the Montessori schools.

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But, again, I lament the fact that there wasn’t sufficient public consultation. If there was, people from the independent school system would have been able to provide their advice—those from private schools, whether they were religious or not, in addition to Montessori schools. One of the associations, with respect to the Montessori schools, was left out completely, as was the Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario, who are, by the way, licensed child care operators who also oppose this piece of legislation.

The government, from time to time, will talk about Bill 10 being about safety and security and quality, but if you’re watering down pedagogy, how does that improve quality? If you’re increasing ratios to some extent in other settings, how does that improve quality?

Speaker, I have three fundamental questions when we speak about security. This bill does not deal with increased inspectors. If you want to talk about safety and security, you must increase the inspectors. This bill does not talk about an independent registry for unlicensed child care providers, which is, by the way, what they want. If the government was worried about increasing safety and the protection of children, they would allow them to have an independent registry so that we could assess CPR, police checks—all of those sorts of things. Finally, Speaker, where are the tougher regulations? There aren’t any; they’re just closing down a number of spaces. They are not increasing regulations. They’re not making anything more difficult. They’re just closing them out entirely. If this government actually was concerned about the regulatory environment, or regulatory changes, they would have enforced the regulations in the first place. This was why we ended up having this bill to begin with.

But this has little to do with improving quality. It has little to do with improving safety. It has everything to do with moving this province toward institutionalized universal child care, which right now Quebec is wondering if they’re even going to continue to do. If you look at who’s doing it in the nation at the moment, it is our neighbours to the east: Quebec. They are right now contemplating getting rid of their $15-a-day child care.

But this is what this bill’s intent is, in my view: a move toward universal child care at the expense of the parental choice, at the expense of quality of child care and at the expense of affordable child care in the province of Ontario. I do not agree with Bill 10. I will continue to stand up against this government as long as I stand in this Legislature when it pertains to child care, because I believe fundamentally they have gotten it wrong.

I’d like to read into the record—I spent the weekend, actually, speaking with a lot of independent child care operators and those who operate Montessori schools who are very concerned with the catastrophic effects that this legislation will have. I asked a number of them to send me emails. I won’t get to them all, Speaker, because there were so many of them, but I want everyone at home—and I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of parents and child care operators watching these debates today. They are wondering why there aren’t more people in the assembly to listen to this, to be part of the debate. They are wondering why they were shut out of public consultations.

As I have to close, because I do know there are other members in our caucus who would like to speak, I wanted to bring the perspective of the Child Care Providers Resource Network of Ottawa-Carleton. I met with this group over a year and a half ago when I was the then education critic for the official opposition. I told them I would stand up for them, and I have followed through with that.

They talk about universal quality standards: “Bill 10 lacks sufficient emphasis on universal child care quality standards. Health, safety and welfare standards need to be established and promoted across all child care sectors and for all caregivers (affiliated with a licensed agency or not), enabling parents to confidently choose from a broad range of child care options.” I agree with that.

They further say, “Parents need assurance that the standards of quality in a home setting, once established, are available in every setting, regardless of their caregiver’s affiliation with a licensed agency.”

Second, they talk about “Skills building and quality enhancement measures: Individual licensing or registry.

“At a minimum,” they say, “Bill 10 should establish a voluntary provincial child care registry, which would serve to unite and connect child care professionals and parents to existing provincial and community supports and resources....

“A registry could be established through the local consolidated municipal service manager.... The following requirements could be required to join:

“—Register annually with the local CMSC….

“—Obtain a police records check.

“—Complete first aid/CPR.

“—Pass an annual safety inspection by local CMSM staff.

“—Participate in annual professional development.”

It seems reasonable to me, Speaker. These are people who simply want to care for other people’s children.

Yet because of this legislation, two things will happen. The first is that they’re likely to go out of business. The second is that they’re guilty until proven innocent. The minister herself has called these people illegal. The Ombudsman never called them—he assured me in a meeting I had in my constituency office in Nepean. He never said they should be put out of business. That’s why the Ombudsman is now looking into this issue, because the government is about to eliminate 140,000 child care spaces.

The Child Care Providers Resource Network also talks about accessible and affordable child care for all. That’s something I have talked about in the four mandates that the residents of Nepean–Carleton sent me here. I’ve talked about this issue. The CCPRN says: “In its current form, Bill 10 reduces access to child care in Ontario. The bill’s proposed ratios and quotas of children to be allowed in home child care effectively reduce the overall number of child care spaces available in the independent care sector, and by doing so will increase the cost of child care provided by independent professional caregivers….”

This is quite significant. With over 350,000 children currently cared for by independent child care providers, the impact is going to be widespread. There will be more children requiring child care, fewer spaces are going to be available and there will be fewer and fewer options.

Speaker, as I conclude, because I do recognize the time on the clock, I know there are a lot of parents watching today, concerned about the passage of Bill 10. I want to assure them that the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus will continue to fight this legislation. I plan on bringing forward private member’s legislation to bring back choice in child care so that we can continue the debate.

I want to say thank you to those who have contacted my office or our education critic, Garfield Dunlop, asking him for his help. He has obviously been there for you. We’re going to continue to do that, we’re going to continue to stand up for you and we’re going to try to encourage this Liberal government to understand the implications of the legislation before us. Thank you all very much, and please be assured that the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus will stand up for parental choice, parental responsibility, choice in child care, absolutely, and we’re going to continue to defend you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m really pleased to join the debate today on Bill 10, the Child Care Modernization Act. I’m particularly happy to join the debate because I haven’t really had an opportunity to debate this bill because you shut it down. It’s time-allocated. I guess that is by design, of course.

This is a government that has decided that because they are now in a majority position in this Legislature, as of the last election results, they believe they have been fully and completely exonerated from any of their previous transgressions. We can bring up eHealth, we can bring up Ornge air ambulance, we should bring up the gas plant cancellations: things that certainly left a terrible mark on the virtues of this place, on what we should be doing. Instead, it was all about what the Liberals have been doing. I would submit to the government at this point that although you may be in majority territory, it isn’t because you deserve to be; it’s because the PC Party, under Tim Hudak, lost. You didn’t really win; the PCs lost—nine seats. That’s exactly what has happened here.

Here is where you’ll prove again your inability to govern in a balanced way—

Interjections.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The mike’s not on for you. The member for Essex has the floor.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thank you very much, Speaker.

Before I was interrupted there, I think the debate crossed over into the realm of arrogance. I’ll let you, there is nothing more arrogant than a government that time-allocates every bill and doesn’t give the public the ability to comment, to provide their public insight on really important bills, none more important than the care of our children in our province. They’ve obviously shown their disregard for the input of the public. They know best. We’re seeing it very clearly. They know best that whatever position they take on any bill on any given day will be the position that is right for the majority of the people of the province.

By goodness, Speaker, that can’t be the right approach. We are hearing it quite clearly as a result on Bill 10. We know that child care in this province of Ontario is in chaos. There are far too few child care spaces for the number of children who require child care. We know that the cost of providing child care or accessing child care in this province is skyrocketing. Parents are finding it very difficult to find affordable, accessible, quality child care, and it’s a position that this government and the federal government certainly have made no attempt to remedy—absolutely no movement on making sure that we have enough qualified, affordable child care spaces.

That’s why I’m certainly proud to be a New Democrat. Even though we are in the third position, at some point, those good ideas come about. We’ve propositioned the government to take our initiative on making child care affordable by enacting a $15-a-day threshold for public child care in this province.

Now we hear, in contrast, from the PCs that they don’t believe in subsidized child care. They don’t believe in any role for the state. You heard that from the member from Nepean–Carleton, unfortunately. I think she’s passionate and she’s accurate on some points on this bill, but when she immediately focuses on the fact that the state should have no role in providing and promoting non-profit child care, I think she’s completely wrong.

I, as a parent, have used many types of child care. I’ve used friends and family, I’ve used unlicensed facilities or unlicensed caregivers and I’ve used licensed caregivers. All three provide wonderful service. There’s no question. But there aren’t enough of them. There aren’t enough, especially outside of the GTA, a geographic location and reference that the government refused to interact with. They refused to take the show on the road to speak to those people in northern Ontario or in the northwest or in the south or in central Ontario. They didn’t want to hear from them. Maybe that’s reflective in their electoral results. Maybe they don’t want to burst the bubble of Toronto and get out and actually hear from people. I would expect that that will probably be the case for the remainder of their four-year majority government, but we will continue to listen to people in rural Ontario, in the north and in central Ontario when they say, “This government isn’t doing enough. They’re not providing us with the assurance that we’re going to be able to access child care spaces at an affordable price.”

Not only that, but this bill pays a small, cursory glance at the need for enforcement and inspection. As I understand it, we’re going from a number of 54 inspectors for the over 100,000 children that are in child care in various forms around the province—so we’ve got, currently, 54. The bill will increase that to a grand total of around 60. That’s six more inspectors. If any member of the government believes that that’s going to be an adequate resource, I beg you, please stand up and tell us how six more inspectors who are already burdened by the workload, who have already told this government, “There are too many incidences for us to even track down”—

Interjection: Please don’t look for more.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: “Don’t look for more work for us, because we don’t have the resources.” If you believe that six more are going to provide you the adequate oversight and protection for our children, please stand up and let us hear from the horses’ mouths.

These unlicensed child care providers that I believe are the targets—certainly there are some unscrupulous ones that we’ve heard of, and unfortunately they are now notorious in that they failed to provide the adequate measures of protection. They fell through the cracks of the system for one reason or another, and tragically, children were harmed and some died. But there are a large majority of unlicensed providers who do their very best each and every day, that try—that love the kids who are in their care just as the parents do, as they should. That’s what you hope for when you drop off your kid at your child care provider’s home or business. You hope that they love them and care for them, as they are your own, and I believe that’s the case.

But this government has not acknowledged that and has made no effort to fill in that gap and to assist this transition. What you’re doing is creating an incredible burden on these people who simply want to provide care. New Democrats have voiced that and would have loved to have worked towards a compromise on that front, but we hear none, we see none from a bill that’s being rammed through by a government that, frankly, doesn’t want to listen and thinks that, again, they’ve been exonerated and they can do what they see fit.

It’s not going to work, Speaker. We know that. We are hearing from experts in the field that this is going to create logjams in the system, that parents will not be able to find adequate child care and that potentially, ultimately, child care safety will be compromised. It’s an abdication of the responsibility of the government to actually have full and complete information and knowledge of the impact of their bill.

We’ll continue to fight it, Speaker, alongside those who are advocating for compromise and measures that make sense in this regard. With a government that I guess is bent on not listening and just simply insulating themselves from the realities that exist outside of the bubble of Queen’s Park, at least, and their own special interests or private interests, it’s going to be a difficult task to achieve. But we certainly believe that our kids deserve our complete effort and our complete attention when it comes to ensuring that they are as safe as they can be and that parents can afford quality and accessible child care in the province of Ontario. It’s the very least we can do in a modern country, in a modern province.

We have examples in Quebec—and again, my colleague from Nepean–Carleton, I believe, was mistaken when she said Quebec was trying to get rid of their $15-a-day daycare, subsidized publicly delivered daycare. She is mistaken in the sense that, first of all, it’s not $15 a day, it’s $7 a day, and what they’re discussing is whether it should be $8 a day. And they are fighting over it because they value the fact that child care should be affordable and it’s a public asset. It’s a public good that allows young parents to actually enter into the workforce, knowing that there are qualified child care services provided and subsidized by the state, and that they can be relied on, and they can enter the workforce and be productive members of their communities, and hold careers. They understand the value of that system.

This government certainly has made no effort towards that type of a model. I don’t think they have it in their ideological bent. You can see that they’ve shifted gears more towards increasing private space, for-profit spaces that are unaffordable. If you haven’t noticed yet, in this province, the province of which you are governing as a majority government, people are having a hard time making ends meet. You don’t get it, because you all make a huge amount of money. Each one of you makes a minimum of $116,000 a year—

Interjection: More than that.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: More than that, because most of you are cabinet ministers and, if not, you’re parliamentary secretaries, which bumps you up again. That puts you out of the realm, if you do require child care, of understanding what the difference between $7-a-day child care is or $15-a-day child care is or $25- or $35-a-day child care is. You don’t get it, because you make too much money, frankly.

But for the real, average people, the middle class Ontarians out there, who are having a harder and harder time, finding it more difficult to live in your Ontario, to afford health care, to find a decent job, this means the difference between keeping a roof over their heads or not. This means the difference between finding or accessing qualified, affordable child care or having to leverage your house, or making the payments on your car. This is the difference, and you don’t seem to understand that or acknowledge it.

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Potentially, again, it’s because you haven’t burst the bubble of this place. Had we gone out and listened to people in places like Sarnia, where they’ve just closed a facility—just this past weekend, our leader Andrea Horwath visited a nursery, a daycare facility in Sarnia, where those parents are distraught at the fact that there will no longer be an affordable solution for their child care, and the gap that will be filled there is in the realm of private industry, to come in for profit. Sure, if you can afford it, you’ll access child care, but where is this government’s interest in those who absolutely cannot find it? We see no measure of work on that, not an incident where they’re showing any care or concern.

Speaker, it’s been a pleasure to add some debate to this. I’m sure that there are other members who would have loved to have spoken about their own ideas and what they’re hearing in their communities from parents and families that see this bill as detrimental and maybe not even a half-measure towards providing security and assurance when it comes to child care.

But I can tell you that New Democrats, again, believe that the system should be safe and should be regulated, and that all children and all parents should have access to quality, affordable child care in the province of Ontario. It is the very least that we can do. We have a plan; we’ve put it forward. It’s up to the majority government, in your wisdom, to provide that and to take that up. We hope that they do.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate? The member for Dufferin–Caledon.

Ms. Sylvia Jones: Thank you very much, Speaker; it’s good to see you in the chair again.

I’m pleased to rise today to speak on third reading of the Child Care Modernization Act. I should start by saying that I don’t think it’s any big surprise that I am the mother of two—I keep them on my desk to remind me of why I’m here. I have actually used pretty much all forms of child care. When our first son was born, I was back to work within six months, and when our daughter was born I was actually back to work within a month, so I have used in-home daycare. My children and I, and my husband, still fondly talk and keep in touch with that dear friend. She’s an important part of my children’s development at a very critical stage.

I’ve used municipally run child care. Dufferin county’s Jean Hamlyn Day Care Centre has an incredible staff of very caring, very giving individuals who really went above and beyond.

Finally, I’ve used private operators. Sandbox Tech has operated in my riding for 20-plus years. The staff were unbelievable, and Debbie, the owner/manager/operator, really understood the needs of the children in her care and provided that.

So, depending on the age of the children, their development and their needs, I’ve pretty much used it all. That is one of the reasons why I very much wanted to participate in the Bill 10 debate: because what I have noticed with Bill 10 is that this bill is being fast-tracked from the get-go. My Progressive Conservative Party colleagues have continually warned this government about fast-tracking what is essentially an omnibus bill.

This bill has far-reaching implications, and it will hamper the already challenged child care system in our province. Even in my own riding of Dufferin–Caledon, there are a number of private daycare operators who have reached out to me and tried to explain and advocate on why they have concerns with Bill 10 and how it’s going to implicate them and their business.

Unfortunately, it’s too late for us to resolve these with any amendments, because, of course, in third reading, if we’re not in Committee of the Whole, we can’t bring forward amendments on Bill 10. I want to stress that fact: that my party, especially my colleague from Simcoe North, has asked this government to hold province-wide public hearings when this bill was at committee. We didn’t do that, and I think that we did a real disservice to the people of Ontario and to the individuals who work in the industry and could have actually brought forward some very positive suggestions on how to, yes, improve the child care options that are currently available in Ontario but also ensure that the good operators, the individuals who are doing a positive thing, can continue. Of course, we didn’t get that. This government brought forward a time allocation motion ending second reading debate after a mere six hours was spent discussing the issues with Bill 10. Now this government has pushed it through committee, again without proper consultation.

I want to stress the importance of public consultation. We need to open up the doors of Queen’s Park, open up the committee and actually hear from the people impacted. Unfortunately, this government is acting like they don’t care about that important and vital process. This government has decided to push through this legislation as fast as possible without really taking into consideration whom it will impact.

As my party has consistently warned, this bill will affect 70,000 child care providers and roughly 350,000 Ontarians. It will limit the number of available spaces for care for children less than two years of age and will make child care more expensive. Parents will face hikes of 30% to 40% in child care costs to make up for the shortfall in income to providers. Daycare providers will lose an average of $12,000 to $20,000 of family income per year through the involuntary reduction of spaces or by being coerced to work for a licensed agency. In addition, due to the potential for being fined up to $100,000, many providers will simply go underground in order to continue to support their families. This, of course, will result in zero oversight. In addition, many small daycare providers would be shut down, which will deprive parents of a place for their child to be looked after.

I think this particularly impacts the smaller communities and the rural communities. When you live in a rural subdivision that has 40 homes, there may be one at-home child care provider in that community. If Bill 10 shuts down those providers, then we’re actually making it more challenging for those individuals who are living in those small urban centres and rural centres.

It’s important to talk and remind people that 80% of the child care that is currently on offer in Ontario is actually unlicensed, not unlawful, okay? We are throwing around this word, “unlawful,” and it’s a disservice to the people who have been providing excellent care.

This bill’s intention is to foster the learning, development, health and well-being of children and to enhance their safety, but in fact, it does the exact opposite. We actually can’t say whether this bill will improve child safety. If we’re trying to improve child care in Ontario, then we should be trying to reduce the cost of child care for families and make sure that options are available.

I want to reiterate the fact that this government has decided to not hold proper public consultations so that concerns like the ones I’ve mentioned can be addressed. I want to mention again that my fellow Progressive Conservative colleagues and I have been very clear from the beginning that there should be open and accessible public consultation on Bill 10. I understand the impact of Bill 10, and we’ve advocated that the committee have public hearings across the province and that the committee hearings be available live on the Internet. Once again, I’d like to stress that this government has decided to do the complete opposite.

I’ve receive numerous complaints from concerned individuals and groups. I’d like to take the rest of my time to read out their concerns.

One individual emailed me, stating, “As a parent of a five-year-old child now attending a private Montessori institution, I would like to state that I disagree with the aspects of proposed Bill 10 that affect my choice of alternative education. I believe a healthy education system provides alternatives to the public education system. Our child did spend two months in a public school full-day kindergarten program. However, the class size of 26 four-year-olds and five-year-olds made this an untenable situation for our child. We decided to move our child to a private Montessori school as her best education option at this time. I disagree with any bill that would change our ability to make this choice at a reasonable cost.”

Another individual emailed me, saying, “The Liberal government has gone too far with this bill. The ministry has never contacted or issued notice of such a bill to private schools.” I will have to paraphrase the rest so as not to mention names. The rest goes to say that this is the way that the former Premier ran the province. What a shame. It seems that this current Premier is the same type of leader.

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There are many more examples. Basically, we allow people to make a decision about where their children can go to school—private school or publicly funded through a municipality—yet now we’re putting all these parameters on it that essentially are shutting down those options. So which is it? Are we going to allow parents to have an active participatory role in where their children need to be, depending on their development and their education and their societal needs, or are we going to arbitrarily say, “Premier Dad and Premier Mom are in charge, and we’re just going to have the children and then turn over all future responsibilities”?

I know that’s not the Ontario I want to live in. Those were not my expectations when I chose to become a parent, and I don’t think that’s where we want to go with Bill 10. I will close with that. Thank you for allowing me to participate in the third reading debate. As I said from the beginning, it’s unfortunate that in a bill where we could have actually made some positive changes, instead we’re ramming it through.

Here’s my prediction, for what it’s worth: In three or four years, we will be back in this Legislature trying to fix what Bill 10 is about to do, and it will be doubly hard, because then we have operators who have walked away and said, “I’m not doing this anymore. Government is too intrusive, too involved, and I can’t make a living at it.”

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Michael Mantha: I’m glad that I can bring my voice to this debate, on behalf of the good people of Algoma–Manitoulin, on Bill 10, An Act to enact the Child Care and Early Years Act.

I have a very short period of time to give my comments, so I want to talk to you in regard to the personal situation that a colleague of mine has. You know what? She is a fantastic mother of a wonderful, young, vibrant little boy. He is so well mannered. She has done such a wonderful job. Just for the sake of putting a name, let’s say her name is Claire. I’ve seen this young woman blossom and use every tool in her war chest in making the right decisions so that her son has all that he needs and all that he requires in his everyday life.

The other thing is that I’m very thankful that this lady actually has a very good job that provides her with a decent wage. I do know her employer, and he’s apparently a decent person as well, and she’s very fortunate to work in a union environment where she is provided with a good salary and good benefits. But you know what? She struggles to make ends meet because over half of her paycheque is going towards child care. Sometimes I have an opportunity to sit down with her and have a coffee, to sit down and understand some of the challenges that she, as a young mother, faces every single day, every single payday, every single month, because she looks at the hydro bill, she looks at the payments that have to come out at the end of the month—her car and insurance, and rent—and it’s tough as heck for her making that decision.

So making the true, right decision of having real affordable child care is something that she is so much looking forward to from her government. She is so much wanting to move on that and have her views respected and to recognize herself in this government’s policies, but it’s not happening, and she continues to be frustrated. You know what? I’ll sit down with her at every opportunity that I have, and I will continue having that coffee with her until we get something done for her.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Norm Miller: I’m pleased to have the opportunity to speak today to Bill 10, An Act to enact the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, to repeal the Day Nurseries Act, to amend the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007, the Education Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts.

Just to provide a little background, Mr. Speaker, my wife and I have four kids. They’re all grown now, but we made use primarily of what was described as being 80% of child care, which is unlicensed; as the member from, I believe, Nepean–Carleton said, unlicensed, not unlawful, child care. The results were very good, and we were very satisfied with the choice we had.

I’m concerned—as our critic the member for Simcoe North, who has done a great job, has said—that there may be as many as 140,000 spots that are unavailable if this bill passes, that we’ll lose 140,000 spots. That could have the effect, as the member from Dufferin–Caledon said, of driving child care costs up some 30% to 40%. That is certainly a big concern.

In the limited amount of time I have to speak to this bill, I want to talk about the effect on independent schools. Last April, when Bill 143, which was a similar bill, was being debated in the spring session, I was called up by Muskoka Montessori School principal Timo Bijl, and invited to spend a morning in their class for very young children there, what they call Casa.

I took them up on the opportunity and spent a morning sitting quietly in a little chair in the midst of the Casa, just to experience and see what it was like. There are younger kids in the Casa—a range of about three or four years, I think—and the older kids sort of look out for the younger kids, to a certain extent.

I can tell you that I was really impressed. I would, without any qualm, send my kids at any age to that school, and I think they would have done very well from it. I was very impressed with all the life skills they try to teach—to be polite, to look you in the eye—and skills like ironing and various things we all need to know how to do.

I think it would be a shame if that was lost. It’s a choice for families that want to make use of it, and it’s a good choice. I could certainly see my daughter Abigail, her husband, Mike, our one grandchild, Beatrice, and another one on the way—I’m sure that when they return from Shanghai, that would be the sort of school they would love to be able to take advantage of. I just think it would be too bad if this bill negatively affects that choice.

I did receive a number of letters from the school, after being there, and in the limited time I have available, I’d like to get a couple of them on the record.

This was written to me back in the spring, and it says:

“Dear Mr. Miller,

“This is a letter from three Muskoka Montessori … kids. Our names are Ava, Jamie, and Keenan. We are from upper elementary, which is grade 4, 5 and 6 in one class. We are writing this letter to discuss Bill 143. If this bill does go through, the Montessori schools around Ontario will be just the same as public schools, and they might even shut down the Montessori schools.

“This will affect the Casa kids. The Casa is preschool and kindergarten. Casa means ‘children’s house.’ We want to keep Casa the same because all the Casa kids enjoy Casa. The kids get reading buddies. They get individual lessons or lessons in a small group. They learn manners and household chores. They learn to read. They use materials to learn. They learn subtraction, addition and sometimes easy multiplication. They learn to use patience, and they learn how to prepare their own snack and how to eat with their mouths closed. They learn to clean up after themselves. They have a washroom and library in class. They learn to buckle, zip, braid and many more fasteners. They have circle, which is time to read, sing and share their thoughts. They raise their hands quietly and patiently when the teacher calls them. They have quiet and kind teachers. They learn cursive. They pick their own work and materials. They can also choose their own spots around the room. These are some of the reasons we think that Bill 143 should not go on.”

The signatures of many of the kids are on that letter.

I have many letters, but I’ll get through one or two more.

Another one:

“Dear Mr. Miller,

“If this bill is approved, some of the cool things that we do at this school will be gone, or the school will be shut down.

“This Bill 143 is all because of safety. We disagree. This letter is to explain that this school is perfectly safe. Here are the reasons:

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“(1) The teachers are always looking out for us. This means that the teachers help to prevent bullying in the school and in the playground, which helps create a peaceful environment, which keeps the students safe.

“(2) We all keep a healthy environment in our school. We all respect each other’s allergies, which keeps people happy and healthy. We always wash our hands before we cook, after we go to the washroom etc.

“(3) Our actions keep us safe. We carefully plan our fire drills and complete them in an orderly manner and make sure no one is left behind. We don’t climb trees so that we don’t get hurt. We have fences to keep our playground perimeter secure. And we are always ready to help in case of an accident.

“Yes, our school is safe and we hope you’ll help decline Bill 143.” It’s signed by a number of the students.

And a very nice letter written in cursive:

“Dear Mr. Miller,

“Thank you for coming to our school to learn about why it is such a special place for us. We think we are getting a great education here. We love our hamster named Teddy. We love our French lessons. We love the work we learn. We love the materials we have so we can learn cool things like decimals. We like how we can learn cursive. We love how we can choose our spots and move around our classroom. We love math and doing big huge questions. We love long division. We like how we have thousands of books. We love our big projects like our geography fair. This year we are learning about Australia and Oceania. We love our teachers. They are very kind and they teach us lots of cool stuff. They teach us awesome lessons with materials and they read us stories. Our Great Lessons are fun and they teach us about cool stuff like the universe and history. We learn how people evolved on Earth. We love language and we know all the parts of speech. We love learning Roman numerals. We put on plays.

“If we had to learn in the same way as all the public schools, we would not be able to have all our wonderful Montessori lessons. We love our school!” It’s signed by the lower elementary class, grades 1 to 3.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill 10 in the limited time that I had available.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate? Further debate?

Pursuant to the order of the House dated November 5, 2014, I am now required to put the question.

Ms. Sandals has moved third reading of Bill 10. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): I have received an official deferral notice from the chief government whip. The vote will take place tomorrow at the time of deferred votes.

Third reading vote deferred.

Better Business Climate Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 visant à instaurer un climat plus propice aux affaires

Resuming the debate adjourned on November 25, 2014, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 7, An Act to enact the Burden Reduction Reporting Act, 2014 and the Partnerships for Jobs and Growth Act, 2014 / Projet de loi 7, Loi édictant la Loi de 2014 sur l’obligation de faire rapport concernant la réduction des fardeaux administratifs et la Loi de 2014 sur les partenariats pour la création d’emplois et la croissance.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to the order of the House dated November 27, 2014, I am now required to put the question.

Mr. Duguid has moved second reading of Bill 7. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

Interjection.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): I wish to inform the House that I’ve received a deferral notice on this vote from the chief government whip. It will be deferred until tomorrow at the time of deferred votes.

Second reading vote deferred.

Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, 2014 / Loi de 2014 sur la sécurité des tribunaux, des centrales électriques et des installations nucléaires

Resuming the debate adjourned on November 27, 2014, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 35, An Act to repeal the Public Works Protection Act, amend the Police Services Act with respect to court security and enact the Security for Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, 2014 / Projet de loi 35, Loi abrogeant la Loi sur la protection des ouvrages publics, modifiant la Loi sur les services policiers en ce qui concerne la sécurité des tribunaux et édictant la Loi de 2014 sur la sécurité des centrales électriques et des installations nucléaires.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): When this House last debated Bill 35, we had heard from the member from Oshawa and the member for Niagara Falls in combined remarks.

Further debate?

Ms. Sylvia Jones: It has been so long.

For a government that has decided they need to have an evening session, I find it more than passing strange that we’re now into our second debate on a piece of legislation, a government bill, and yet the government members have chosen not to participate. If they are interested in defending their proposed legislation, you would think it would be incumbent upon them to actually participate in the debate. The idea of debate is a back-and-forth and switching of ideas, and when the government side chooses not to participate in the debate, it begs the question whether in fact they are going through the motions.

Having said that, we are here to debate Bill 35, Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act—again, something that I would think the government would be interested in, in ensuring the safety of all Ontario residents.

Bill 35 will repeal the Public Works Protection Act. Bill 35 will amend the Police Services Act. It will also amend the Police Services Act to address court security.

The proposed changes would ensure court security guards have the powers to require all those entering a courthouse to show identification and provide a reason for being there; to subject them to a search; and, if deemed necessary, would allow security officers to search the vehicle they arrived in without a warrant.

Anyone refusing to identify themselves or failing to leave on demand would face fines of up to $2,000 or imprisonment for up to 60 days.

Besides amending the Police Services Act, Bill 35 will also enact the Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act. This provides for the appointment of security personnel as peace officers and sets out security regulations for electricity generating and nuclear facilities that are similar to those set out for courthouses.

Speaker, I’d first like to discuss why Bill 35 came forward in the first place. This bill first came about in 2012 as a result of the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto. This government declared the G20 zone a public work, as stipulated in regulation 233/10 of the Public Works Protection Act.

Prior to the G20 summit, there were media reports circulating that the police were granted special powers to arrest individuals who were up to five metres on either side of the security fence of the G20 zone. There was widespread uncertainty before and during the G20 summit about exactly what the special powers to arrest were.

Speaker, it was only after the summit was over that the government publicly disclosed that the police were never granted powers to arrest individuals who were five metres outside of the designated public work zone.

There were many people who believed that this government had deliberately misled the public, to scare off protestors from occupying the area surrounding the G20 zone.

This government—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): I have to ask the member for Dufferin–Caledon to withdraw that remark.

Ms. Sylvia Jones: I withdraw, Speaker.

As we all know with the gas plant scandal, eHealth, Ornge and many others, this government never likes to tell the full story. Even with this province’s finances, this government likes to spin the truth so it favours them. So we should expect nothing less.

In April 2011, an independent inquiry led by Ontario’s former Chief Justice, Roy McMurtry, found the Public Works Protection Act to be “beyond troubling” and recommended that it be repealed. Bill 35 addresses the recommendations made by former Chief Justice McMurtry as a result of the G20. It is unfortunate that this has taken so long to get to this point, to replace these archaic powers.

Bill 35 was first brought forward in February 2012. Several amendments were made after the bill was reviewed by the Standing Committee on Justice Policy, but the bill died on the order paper.

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It was reintroduced in April 2013, but again died on the order paper when this government called the spring election. Now we have its third iteration. Hopefully, the third time will be a charm for Bill 35.

Speaker, I want to spend the rest of my time discussing the implications of this bill. Bill 35 would repeal, as I said, the Public Works Protection Act. I would like to take a moment discussing the Public Works Protection Act. The Public Works Protection Act came about during World War II, actually, to protect the province’s public works from war-time enemies. It also seeks to clarify security measures dealing with courthouses, electricity generating facilities and nuclear facilities. These are all considered public works and are protected under the act.

The circumstances for such legislation do not really exist in present-day Ontario. As such, we must ask why we would need to have such legislation in present-day Ontario. Ontario and Canada are not in a global war, like the one that existed when this law was initially created. The situation of the past does not exist in present-day Ontario. It’s also important to mention that the Public Works Protection Act was rarely, if ever, amended. Former Chief Justice Roy McMurtry’s report provided a detailed history of the Public Works Protection Act. In the report, McMurtry stated, as the Public Works Protection Act “was enacted in 1939 as an emergency wartime statute, it is perhaps not surprising that it is relied upon today in only limited circumstances.”

I want to highlight how an archaic piece of legislation that was specifically created as an emergency wartime response has been used and abused in present-day Ontario. On June 3, 2010, regulation 233/10 was issued under the Public Works Protection Act. The regulation had the effect of designating areas of the downtown core of Toronto as public works. The regulation was passed, of course, in secret without being disclosed to any of us in this chamber and was certainly not debated in this chamber. I want to stress how this wartime legislation was used or abused by the Liberals in 2010 during peacetime.

The act’s key provision in section 3, which states that a guard appointed under the act or a police officer may “require any person entering or attempting to enter any public work or any approach thereto to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work.” In addition to these identification requirements, section 3 permits a warrantless search of any person entering or attempting to enter a public work, as well as any vehicle. If there is a refusal to comply with a direction made under the act, that person may be subject to a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment of up to two months. This is the section of the act that gave police the ability to detain people without any crime taking place.

The definition of “public work” in section 1 of the act is very broad and includes “any railway, canal, highway, bridge, power works” and “any provincial and any municipal public building.” It also includes “any other building, place or work designated a public work.” As a result, a large portion of downtown Toronto was designated as a public work during the summit. It is sad that this government did not publicly disclose this regulation when it had such broad-sweeping reach to all those who were here during the summit. This government seems to believe that openness and transparency is only appropriate when they deem it necessary. What is also unfortunate is that this government did not clarify the application of the law to police, which resulted in mass arrests.

A Globe and Mail article from last June reported: “Police, however, misinterpreted the law to mean they could stop, search and arrest anyone who came within five metres of the outside of the fence. Officers even cited the law blocks away from the summit site as justification for arbitrarily detaining and searching people. The province allowed this misunderstanding to continue throughout the summit, which saw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.”

It’s quite disturbing to hear it. This government allowed the largest mass arrests in Canada’s history to occur, and the most damning part is it occurred during peacetime. I just want to stress the fact that this government allowed this confusion to continue. The government only cared about themselves and protecting themselves from criticism for not clarifying the law. Instead of admitting what they had done, the Liberals stayed quiet and allowed innocent people to be detained. Ontario’s Ombudsman summed it up best when he said, “Responsible protesters and civil rights groups who took the trouble to educate themselves about their rights prior to the G20 had no way of knowing they were” literally “walking into a trap.”

Speaker, we cannot continue down this road the government is taking us on. If this government wants to tout themselves as advocates for government transparency and openness, then incidents like this should not occur. A regulation like this should have never come into place without public disclosure and a proper debate. If this government did the right thing, then we wouldn’t even be here right now discussing the disturbing events that took place in 2010.

I’d like to spend a moment discussing the criticism levied by Ontario’s Ombudsman. In his report, titled Caught in the Act, Ombudsman André Marin, said, “Regulation 233/10, passed to enhance security during the G20 summit, should never have been enacted…. Specifically, the passage of the regulation triggered the extravagant police authority found in the Public Works Protection Act, including the power to arbitrarily arrest and detain people and to engage in unreasonable searches and seizures…. The Public Works Protection Act under which it was proclaimed authorizes regulations to be created to protect infrastructure, not to provide security to people during events. Regulation 233/10 was therefore probably invalid for having exceeded the authority of the enactment under which it was passed. These problems should have been apparent…. The decision of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to sponsor the regulation was unreasonable.” That, of course, came from André Marin.

This decision was made behind closed doors by this government. This is the type of decision that we have come to expect under regulations. Decisions like this threaten our democratic process. There was no discussion with stakeholders, locals or anyone for that matter who had a concern with this destructive regulation. Even if this regulation was brought forward to the Legislature to be debated by all of us, which it wasn’t, that would have been the minimum this government could have done. Instead, they chose to do nothing and decided to create it behind closed doors and irresponsibly allowed the regulation to go unnoticed.

We are all here to protect the people of Ontario and to put their interests ahead of our own. We are not doing our job properly when we are allowing regulations like this to exist and to not be debated.

Now we have Bill 35 before us. Speaker, I have applauded this government—I will applaud this government—for trying to repeal this archaic legislation that they used against the public. As we’ve seen, old and publicly overlooked legislation can be used as a tool by governments to suppress people’s fundamental rights and freedom. It’s worth mentioning again that Bill 35 was first brought forward to us as Bill 34 in 2012. Bill 34 was the Liberal government’s first attempt to make amends after they oversaw the largest mass arrests in Canadian history. While it incorporated many of the recommendations of the McMurtry report, there were still many issues with it that were raised by various stakeholders such as the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the County and District Law Presidents’ Association and the Ontario Bar Association.

No bill is ever perfect in its first iteration. This government actually took the criticisms into consideration when drafting Bill 51 and subsequently today, here, Bill 35. I only wish they could have done the same for many other bills this government brings forward that are far from perfect and may have negative and, to be fair, unintended consequences.

Just look at what this government has done with Bill 10, which earlier today I was speaking on. This government may have all the right intentions, but Bill 10 will cause many parents across the province to be left to the wayside by depriving them of a place for their children to be looked after.

As I mentioned, there were a considerable number of concerns that stakeholders had with Bill 34. Our party carefully considered the recommendations of experts and concerned associations and introduced several amendments to strengthen the bill. They were carried at standing committee and incorporated into Bill 34, and I am happy to see that the government has put them into the newest iteration, Bill 35.

Now, Speaker, these changes were all adopted and put into the reintroduced Bill 51 of the last session earlier this year. But it died on the order paper when this government called a snap election this spring.

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So here we are with Bill 35 before us. It’s an attempt by the government to rectify a problem that never should have happened in the first place. Those who made the decision to put in place regulation 233/10 made a clear and deliberate choice. They decided to impose it secretly, and at no point did they feel like they had a responsibility to the people of Ontario to forewarn them of such a damning law, or to at least clarify the powers given to the police at the time.

This government has always needed to rectify problems that they created in the first place, but that is not what government should be about. We shouldn’t be creating problems and then trying to fix them later on. We are here to solve problems, not to create them, but this government does not know how to do it. It may very well be their intention to solve problems, but they end up creating a bigger mess than the problem they were trying to fix in the first place.

Speaker, that is why we are here now debating Bill 35: to fix a problem that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. In addition, this is why this government brought forward Bill 8, which is their way of addressing their lack of a history of transparency and openness. This government has one of the worst records of transparency and openness, and that is part of the reason why we have Bill 35 before us.

Time and time again we hear of scandals that have plagued this Liberal government since 2003, so I just find it odd that this government is trying to promote themselves as activists of transparency and accountability but don’t seem interested in following it themselves. When this government talks about improving and promoting transparency and accountability, we must be suspect of them.

Speaker, I’m happy to see Bill 35 come about, and I will be supporting it, but that does not mean that we forget this government’s history of selfishness and lack of respect for the people of Ontario with this regulation. This bill is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the events of the 2010 G20 summit took place, and we will always remember them. I hope for their sake that this government will start being responsible and put in place good laws that promote and protect our society, not damage it. Our forefathers worked so hard to create a society that we’ve come to love and care for; we should not tarnish it with terrible decisions like the one made in 2010.

I’ve spoken a lot about the regulatory change. For people who are listening to this debate, to put this in context, a regulatory change can come about with three people. They all have to be members of cabinet. There does not have to be a cabinet discussion when a regulatory change is being proposed or signed off. Of course, because it only involves three people, it can happen very quickly.

What we had, whether it was intended or unintended—what we’re dealing with with Bill 35 is the unintended consequences of three people thinking that they knew better—they knew best—than the 107 members of the elected chamber and the people of Ontario. They chose to make the regulation, pass the regulation, put it in place, and then, most disturbing of all, were not willing to publicly explain it, defend it and ensure that people who wanted to legally, with every right and intention, participate in the G20 through education, demonstrations—call it what you may, but they have a legal right to participate in that. The government chose not to ensure that they understood what the regulatory change meant to them and their freedoms.

I’d just like to finish my time with a passage from the Ombudsman’s report: “All of this makes for a sorry legacy. The value in hosting international summits is that it permits the host nation to primp and pose before the eyes of the world. Ordinarily Ontario and Canada could proudly showcase the majesty of a free and democratic society. The legacy of the passage and administration of regulation 233/10 is that we failed to do that well.”

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Now we’ll move to questions and comments.

Mr. Michael Mantha: It’s always a privilege and an honour to rise on behalf of the good people of Algoma–Manitoulin.

The member from Dufferin–Caledon spoke very, very well on issues in regard to the government not telling the whole story. I think I agree with some of what she’s saying, and I think that’s the first step that this government needs to do: to take responsibility for what happened at the G20. There’s a big reason why they need to take responsibility. That accountability and owning up to the decisions that were made, good or bad—and there were a lot of bad decisions that were made—is the first step to initializing back the trust and the accountability that so many are looking for in this government, making sure that our judicial system and our facilities are very well taken care of and that these individuals have all the rights and privileges that they are enshrined with, not just as Ontario citizens but as Canadian citizens, and that they have the ability to uphold.

Now, let’s not kid ourselves. Repealing the Public Works Protection Act is an absolute must that we need to do. One of the very important things is that replacing this with legislation that is actually flawed is not something that we here in the NDP are going to be wanting to pursue. We need to learn from what has happened and learn from the errors that were there, but let’s not repeat them over again by introducing another piece of flawed legislation.

Again, I thank the member from Dufferin–Caledon for bringing her comments, and I will sit here for the rest of the afternoon listening to the debate.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Arthur Potts: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member from Dufferin–Caledon for her remarks.

Her remarks sort of speak to two different directions, one in which you hear so clearly her bemoaning how long it has taken for this legislation that I think we all agree needs to be replaced. She bemoans the fact that it was introduced in 2012 following the Marin and McMurtry reports, but then goes as a result of dying on the order paper. But she doesn’t take responsibility for the fact that the members opposite actually held a majority in the House but they saw fit not to support the direction of the government, so we had to call the election that did delay this piece of legislation.

I am, however, encouraged that her remarks portend a very positive future for this piece of legislation. It is an important direction for our government to take, and I will have a chance and hope to speak at greater length about why I believe this is a right bill.

She notes, quite correctly, that we did listen very carefully during committee, and notwithstanding the way the House divided last time, we incorporated some amendments at the time, in the last session of the Legislature, and we’ve re-incorporated them in the bill that’s back in front of us today. The member correctly identifies that we were listening, that there were changes, and so we’re now in a situation where I believe that we should probably just unanimously consent and go right to third reading. I can’t imagine the members opposite being concerned about time limitations on this bill. Let’s move it forward as quickly as possible, because it is the right thing to do, and there will be—

Mr. John Yakabuski: So you’re not speaking to it, or you are speaking to it?

Mr. Arthur Potts: We’ll be speaking to it. We’ll all be speaking to it in good time. But in the 20 seconds left to me, I just want to say—I hear about this revisionist history, which I hope to be able to expand on—that this legislation has been around since the Second World War. It’s been around when the parties of every member in the House opposite were in power, and they didn’t see to repeal it then. We’re taking that action because it’s the right thing to do.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: It’s an honour to stand in this House and address the comments of the member from Dufferin–Caledon.

It’s interesting to me when I see this bill—and I certainly agree with some of the changes that are going to be made with the bill. I think it needed to be changed. We all saw the fiasco of the G20 summit, what happened here in town, and certainly we know that who was in responsible for a lot of it was this current government.

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If I was a police officer in Ontario—and some of these police officers do it voluntarily when they come to these types of events; sometimes they make a little extra money, but mostly it’s for their interest in the event—I would question my sanity if I got involved in something with this government again, because of what has happened in the past. We’ve seen the way they have run this government for the past, I think, 12 years: the money they’ve spent, the money they’ve wasted, all the scandals they went through. And then they pull this stunt at the G20, with mass arrests and very few people charged out of it. I certainly think the bill has to be changed—this should have been brought forward a long time ago. However, like I say, why would I want to be a security person in this province, working for this government, when these things happen? They have an issue with running the government. They certainly can’t run security in this province.

I do applaud what the security officials did under the limitations they had. They did the best job they thought they could. Certainly they shouldn’t be criticized for what happened under this government’s leadership.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Percy Hatfield: It’s always an honour to stand on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Windsor–Tecumseh to speak to an issue about which my friend from Beaches–East York says why, when other governments were in power, didn’t they repeal the bill and improve on the bill? The easy answer, of course, is that it wasn’t abused during the time when other parties were in power; it was abused during the McGuinty years, during the G20, and you guys are finally getting to it. You say, “We would have had it there if it wasn’t for the election.” I can count six members on the backbench today, yourself included, who wouldn’t be—

Interjection.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Yes, you’re happy we had an election, because you wouldn’t be here otherwise.

It’s interesting that here we are trying to improve something, and you should be thankful that the opposition—if you’re listening to the opposition, we’re trying to work together to improve something that needs fixing, and hasn’t been fixed in a while.

I wasn’t at the G20. I watched it on television. I hearkened back to when we had a similar demonstration, but much smaller in size, in Windsor, years ago—so long ago that my friend Herb Gray was still a very powerful federal Liberal cabinet minister. We had the demonstration. We had the pepper spray. I was still reporting, lugging around a TV camera as a video journalist, being pepper-sprayed—all very exciting. But we didn’t kettle. We didn’t arrest hundreds and hundreds of citizens who were only there to see what was going on, innocent civilians who had their civil rights trampled on.

That’s what we want to improve: We want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We want to work with you on that to improve the bill. You should be saying, “Let’s talk about it some more and get the best bill we can out of it.” That’s what you should be saying.

Thank you very much, Speaker, for your time this afternoon.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): That concludes our time for questions and comments. I return to the member for Dufferin–Caledon for her reply.

Ms. Sylvia Jones: Thank you to the members from Algoma–Manitoulin, Beaches–East York, Perth–Wellington and Windsor–Tecumseh.

As I said, I do intend to support Bill 35. It doesn’t mean it’s flawless. It doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. I’ve spoken many times in this chamber about my concerns with regulations. I’ve spoken about why I am concerned with how regulations magically appear in this place, and Bill 35 is no exception.

Section 142: “The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations governing the exercise of the powers conferred by section 138, including,

“(a) regulations imposing restrictions, limitations and conditions on the exercise of those powers;.…

“(2) A regulation made under subsection (1) may be general or particular in its application.”

There is still the need for oversight, and that oversight must go beyond three members who happen to be part of a cabinet and want to change a regulation and can do so with less than a day’s notice. So we all still have a responsibility to be vigilant, if Bill 35 does actually pass in its current iteration and turns into law, because there are still opportunities for it to be abused. We need to make sure, when those regulations are happening, when those changes are occurring, that first, the cabinet and the government in power notifies the public, and second, we have an opportunity as opposition members and members of the public to participate in what changes they are intending to make from a regulatory standpoint.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate. I’m pleased to recognize the member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Thank you for the opportunity to join my honourable colleagues in the debate on Bill 35, the Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, 2014. This is my first opportunity to speak to this particular bill, although I have been reminded by several of my colleagues that earlier versions of this bill were before the Legislature under consequent sessions when I did not yet hold a seat in this chamber.

I’d like to thank the member from Dufferin–Caledon for her comments. She spoke to the history of the Public Works Protection Act, and I found that there was a lot of useful information in the comments that she shared.

First and foremost, this bill repeals the Public Works Protection Act. It has been stated several times throughout the debates of this bill at second reading that the PWPA is an outdated law that gives sweeping powers to the government. On this, I agree with those who have risen before me, and I too believe that repealing the PWPA is a good thing. It needs to be done, and I’m satisfied that the bill before the Legislature does this. However, I do think it’s important to be mindful of what we’re replacing it with. If that was all that this bill did—if it only repealed the PWPA—I would have much less to say as I stand before you today. However, this is not the case. I want to assure you that New Democrats are committed to studying and analyzing every aspect of this bill to ensure that the public, our constituents, are informed of all the aspects of this bill so that we can debate the nuances of the bill and know that the public will have access to these debates.

Ensuring that citizens in Ontario see democracy in action and, by extension, the justice system in action is foundational to the functioning of this province, a point I will return to throughout my remarks this afternoon.

Before I enter into a debate on the particulars of this bill, I think it’s worthwhile to call attention once more to the history of the PWPA, the piece of legislation that this bill repeals and, to some extent, replaces. The Public Works Protection Act was enacted at the onset of the Second World War and provided sweeping powers to the government to protect vital infrastructure projects. While this type of legislation may have seemed reasonable at the time to protect Ontario against possible enemy saboteurs, its usefulness in 2014 is questionable.

What’s worse is that the sweeping powers outlined in the legislation make it prone to government abuse. We saw this type of abuse during the mass arrests of protesters and bystanders at the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto. That’s when this Liberal government, the very government touting the repeal of the PWPA today, used that act to pass sweeping reforms in the days leading up to the summit. These reforms severely limited the civil liberties of individuals in the streets of Toronto. The result was that over 1,000 people, including protesters, sympathizers and bystanders, were rounded up and kept in steel pens for the duration of the summit. There were over 20,000 police officers patrolling the street. There is no way to undo this. There is no easy remedy to ensure that those who had their civil liberties stripped away can ever have their faith in our justice system restored. The only thing we can do is make certain that nothing like this happens again. This is something that I hope we can achieve.

I don’t want to dwell on the events of the G20 summit too much, but this context is important to remember as the debate on Bill 35 advances. The PWPA is prone to abuse and should be removed. It was this government that abused this legislation, which is why I will take every opportunity to scrutinize the bill before us today in order to ensure that proper checks and balances exist on any laws that will be enforced and administered by this government.

As I stated at the outset, if the bill simply repealed the PWPA, I’d be making very different comments before this chamber.

I should clarify that I do not take issue with the fact that this bill goes further than simply just repealing the PWPA, but I feel that the amendments to the Police Services Act warrant further examination and further questions—questions I hope will be answered throughout the course of the debate on this bill.

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A second function of the legislation we are debating today is to amend the Police Services Act with respect to courts, and its third function is to enact security for electricity generating facilities and nuclear facilities. I’m going to focus most of my time and attention on speaking to the elements of the bill that deal with courts.

As my colleague from Bramalea–Gore-Malton put so eloquently during his debate on the bill last month, we expect a different level of openness and accessibility to our courts as they compare to public infrastructure and facilities like electricity generating stations.

But before I get ahead of myself, I will say a few words on the infrastructure components of this bill. This bill provides some important clarification on what categories of infrastructure will be governed by this bill when compared to the outdated Public Works Protection Act, which gave sweeping powers to the government and could manifest in a number of applications.

If enacted, this bill would ensure that if the government wanted to extend the application of this legislation to facilities that are not currently specified, an amendment to the act would be required rather than simply a regulatory change. This is important because an amendment to the act requires it to be debated publicly and passed in this chamber—a welcome measure, I’m sure.

However, given what we’ve seen from this government so far, with their excessive use of time allocation to limit debate among democratically elected officials, I’m not confident that any debate on an amendment tabled by this government would be free from similar abuses of our Legislature. They have already moved to time allocation six times this session. I wonder if we will see this number balloon to as high as 70 or 80, which is more in the range we expect from federal Conservatives in their use of time allocation to force closure on debates.

Moving to the provisions of this bill as they relate to courthouses, it’s important to reiterate that we have a different threshold for the accessibility of courthouses as compared to infrastructure projects—we hold them to a different standard. My New Democratic colleagues have stated throughout this debate that people need open access to courthouses because they need to see that justice is being done. This is foundational for our system of justice, and public access to our courthouses is an important check and balance of this system.

As I understand it, this bill outlines various criteria for entering a courthouse. A person may be subject to a warrantless search upon entering. I’ve been told that this person would be required to identify themselves before entering a courthouse and be subject to a search. The purpose of this, we are told, is to assess whether or not they are a security risk. What are the constraints placed on what can be asked to assess if someone is a security risk? Would political affiliation be considered appropriate?

If someone shows up to a courthouse and walks through the door, I believe they are acting on their intention to enter the courthouse. An overly burdensome process of warrantless search and seizure of their person and vehicle or the vehicle that they arrived at the courthouse in is, in fact, a barrier to their original intention of entering the courthouse and restricts the openness of our courthouses.

We must ensure that the proper balance is struck between reducing barriers to entering courthouses and ensuring that these institutions are protected from threats, and that the protections in place are proactive. I do believe that some form of protection ought to be in place, but we must also acknowledge that this can manifest in many ways. For instance, Manitoba has a very progressive legislative regime governing access to courthouses. In that province, they focus on screening rather than searching and seizing property. This is just one example, but it’s worth taking note of their emphasis on screening measures. In this context, it’s used as a less intrusive way to assess threats to courthouses.

What we’re discovering about Bill 35 as the debate unfolds is that the powers of warrantless search offered to court security officers are not limited to the person entering the court, but extend to their vehicle or the vehicle in which they were a passenger. This is troubling for a number of reasons. We must remember—and I welcome the opportunity to remind my colleagues across the floor—that not everyone in this province owns a vehicle. Indeed, many people in Ontario, and in my riding of Windsor West, rely either on public transportation or their support network to get to and from work, school and, from time to time, court. I also know a number of families that share one vehicle among two working adults and two teens who are of driving age. What about ride-sharing programs where the passenger knows very little about the driver outside of their Kijiji ad? How would the provisions outlined in this bill manifest in these situations?

I am also curious as to what level of oversight Bill 35 will have, if enacted. That is to say, what can I expect if I walk into a Toronto courthouse, if I walk into a Windsor courthouse or if I walk into a courthouse in Sault Ste. Marie? I believe the level of security at each facility is administered individually by each institution, but what checks and balances has this government developed to ensure that the proper level of security is administered at the many diverse institutions across the province?

This becomes exceptionally challenging when we move from a discussion of police or peace officers to a discussion of privately sourced security officers. This is not to imply that private security guards are inadequate to enforce the provisions of Bill 35, but what specialized training will they be required to receive? Has the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services been in discussions with his colleagues in cabinet on the topic of training? These are questions that I hope to receive answers to as the debate continues on the bill.

During the debates on this bill, we’ve heard several times about how much consultation has gone into this process. I must admit that some New Democratic amendments to previous versions of this bill did make it into the version of the bill being debated today, and I’m happy to see this. This includes reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities and those wearing articles of faith.

The section reads as follows: “When a person who is authorized by a board or by the commissioner as described in subsection (1) exercises powers under this section with respect to other persons, he or she shall ensure that those persons are accommodated in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Code, and this includes accommodation in connection with creed or disability.”

Like I said, we are glad to see that this was included. It’s important that we accommodate people and it’s particularly important to constituents in my riding of Windsor West, where we embrace and celebrate diversity. It’s important that our laws reflect this.

That being said, I am hearing from my colleagues on the other side of the floor about the level of consultation with human rights organizations like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. What I have not heard, however, is why some of their recommended amendments did not make it into this bill. This is not to say the government did not have their reasons, but in order to assess these reasons we need to know what they were.

Even OPSEU president Smokey Thomas, who was welcomed to the Legislature today, presented a survey for his members around court security which rejected limits placed on public access to courts as proposed in Bill 35.

Consultation involves compromise. It is not enough to list off a number of stakeholders that were consulted, but I hope that some level of debate will be allotted to understand why certain provisions were included and some were not.

Some of the powers allotted for the purpose of court security might be justified with the individual functions of the building, but not all courthouses need the same level of security. Moreover, this legislation should strive to identify and distinguish between the different powers given to courthouse staff. I would note that this provision remains unchanged from previous bills.

Again, Speaker, I thank you for recognizing me today and giving me the opportunity to debate this bill. To conclude, I am pleased that the Public Works Protection Act will be repealed. We must ensure that all legislation is clear, concise and easily interpreted. We must also ensure that it is not prone to abuse by this government or any government hereafter and that the citizens of this province are well informed. This is why my New Democrat colleagues and I would like to see written notices at the entrance of courthouses and nuclear facilities, listing the possible requirements for entry and the consequences of disobeying those requirements.

Again, people need to be informed. Security guards and police forces need to fully understand what they can and cannot do. They must be adequately trained to apply the powers allotted to them in this bill. They also need to know the consequences that their actions could elicit.

I look forward to the continuing debate on this bill, the interjections from my fellow members and public opinion on this matter moving forward. I think it’s important to note the last line, which is the public opinion on this matter, and I would hope that there will not be a time-allocated motion and that there will be further debate.

Interjection: You’re going to share your time.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: I’m going to share my time with the member from Windsor–Tecumseh.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The member for Windsor–Tecumseh has the floor.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: It’s a great pleasure for me, on behalf of my constituents in Windsor–Tecumseh, especially to stand today and make comments to echo what has already been said by the great member from Windsor West, who, I must say, is doing a tremendous job since she was elected a few short months ago, coming to this chamber and holding the government to account.

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I find interesting some of the points that she raised, especially around training, when you talk about the training of the courthouse security officers in various parts of the province. What is not being addressed in this bill is how that training will be given and how consistent it will be region to region. That’s troubling because, as we all know, people that come to the courthouses on a regular basis aren’t always the same in different parts of the province. So in order to deal with different populations, there has to be more sophisticated training, I would argue, in order to deal with persons in the north, persons in the south, or in the Brampton area or downtown Toronto.

I know when I was covering the courts as a reporter, we’d often have a series of regulars that would always show up. That was their way of passing the time, I guess. After they went to Tim Hortons, they’d come to the courthouse and they would spend their day there chatting with the prosecutors and the lawyers and some of the people on trial, and with the reporters. When I was covering more serious trials up around London, I know there were people up there even considering writing a book on the trials that they had sat in on and what they had seen unfold.

But what troubles me, I guess, more than anything is that when you come to a courthouse, you expect it’s like coming to Queen’s Park. I don’t believe you should have to answer and prove your identity just to walk in the doors of Queen’s Park. I believe that as an open institution and as an institution that we value, we want to be seen as having an open-door policy. We want to be able to come to Queen’s Park and, sure, you say who you are and get your visitor’s pass, but then you’re not asked why you’re here, necessarily. “I want to come and watch question period” is all it takes.

But if you’re standing in line at a courthouse—say you’re a woman who has been assaulted. We know that within the courthouse system your identity is protected. Yet if you come in line and a security officer says, “What’s your name? Why are you here? Where are you going?”, you may feel obligated to reveal your name and to say you’re one of the victims in an assault case and you’re here. Your identity is protected in the courthouse, in the courtroom where the trial is being held, but the people standing behind you in line to get the clearance to come into the courthouse are all of a sudden knowing your identity, knowing who you are and why you’re there. That’s not part of our system. We should not have to reveal that kind of information in order to gain access to a courthouse where we’ve been summoned to appear.

What troubles me as well is the fact, and it has been raised by the great member from Windsor West, that if I borrow a ride to get to the courthouse and for whatever reason—you know, I get a friend of mine or some guy who I think is a friend of mine to drop me off. If unbeknownst to him or her I run into some kind of trouble at the screening area and all of a sudden I’m being taken aside for more examination, this new act gives the courthouse security people the right to ask me how I got there, who drove me there, and to go out and do a search on the vehicle that I arrived in. To me, that goes a bit beyond what I believe are my civil rights—my rights as a Canadian, my rights as a proud citizen of Ontario—and the rights of the person that drove me there. If you gave me a ride to the courthouse in your vehicle because mine broke down, the courthouse screening officer should not have the ability, which he or she does under this act, to tell you to open your trunk and to tell you, “I’m looking under your seats because the guy you drove here just gave me a problem in screening.”

I think that’s wrong. You don’t have to let a security officer open your trunk because you drove me to a courthouse. It just doesn’t make any sense. That’s one of the things in this bill that we really have to spend more attention on.

I know that some members of the government want us to sit down, be quiet and not interfere with what they see as a good piece of legislation. I don’t happen to see this as a good piece of legislation. I can support the intent of it; I would like to see it improved. I would hope that, by listening to the opposition, the government will say, “They did raise a couple of valid points, and we will improve this bill.”

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments.

Hon. Bill Mauro: I’m pleased to have a couple of minutes this afternoon to respond to the comments from the members from Windsor West and Windsor–Tecumseh. I thank them for their remarks.

For those watching on television, this is Bill 35, second reading. The bill is entitled Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act. It will repeal the outdated PWPA, the Public Works Protection Act—I think people have heard a bit about that—it will amend the Police Services Act to address court security, and it will set out stand-alone legislation respecting security at electricity generating facilities and other defined critical infrastructure.

I think it’s important for people, as well, to be aware—because I have heard some mention of the fact that this bill has been time-allocated—that this is indeed the third time that the bill has been introduced. There has been, as I’m told, over 19 hours of debate on this particular piece of legislation already over nine days. It has been debated, as I’ve said, in the Legislature and through committee, as well, and as I understand it, the bill is reflective of the feedback that has been provided through the committee process. It seems to me like it has had a pretty thorough vetting already.

I would say that today we in fact moved a motion to have night sittings—that was voted against by both of the opposition parties—so that we can in fact get this legislation as well as other legislation dealt with before the Legislature rises within a couple of weeks.

I would mention, as well, that the member from Windsor–Tecumseh mentioned an open-door policy. I think that most people understand that the world has changed. I think that most people understand that we need to, as best as we possibly can, maintain an open-door policy. But I always like to remind people that when we make decisions on issues like this, we are making decisions not only on our own behalf, but on behalf of the people who work in this precinct and in the province of Ontario as well.

I thank you very much for your time.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments.

Mr. Robert Bailey: It’s a pleasure to rise to respond to Bill 35 today, in a couple of moments.

I’d like to commend the member from Windsor–Tecumseh on his remarks today.

Yes, this bill has been debated at length, for sure. We all remember the events of the inquiry after the G20, when there were a number of incidents that took place. The act was brought in in the 1930s sometime, under the Hepburn government, to do with issues about security, with hydroelectric facilities and other facilities.

Even in my own city, in my riding of Sarnia–Lambton, during the war they were building a facility there for—Polymer, at the time—Polysar. They were building that, and that was to provide rubber for the war industry, for the tires. The rubber plantations had been taken over by the Axis powers, so to build that rubber plant at that time, the military—the United States army—along with the Canadian government and the United States government, came in. They put in a lot of rules and they built that plant. You probably couldn’t do that today. It was in a time of war. There were armed guards. They were ex-military; a lot of them were drafted, brought over or seconded from the US military, as well, because it was for the US war effort as well as the Canadian war effort.

Acts like this were implemented to guard Niagara Falls, because of power generation, as well. But I’m sure that, over 70 years, times have changed. There’s still that threat out there, maybe more prevalent today than it was 70 years ago, but it’s certainly time to take another look at it.

I look forward to the rest of the debate on this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments.

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Mr. Wayne Gates: I want to comment on one of my colleagues from across the way talking about how the world has changed. I agree with that. The world has changed.

This bill would repeal the Public Works Protection Act, the legislation that was used to search citizens near the security fence during the G20. The second part of that is probably the most interesting. It would amend the Police Services Act, granting powers to court security guards—untrained private security officers. Now, think about that—untrained.

How would we like to have that right here at Queen’s Park? Instead, what do we have here at Queen’s Park? We have people who are highly trained, highly skilled, doing their job, protecting us every day. Yet I could go to court not knowing who the individual is, male or female, and what they could do is search me. Does that make sense to anybody? Put your hand up on the other side if you think it makes sense that somebody is untrained—you don’t know who they are; they’re a private company—and they’re going to search you.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: No hands went up.

Mr. Wayne Gates: Not one hand from your side wanted to go through that.

You know, I fly out of Toronto and expect to have some form of security. What they have there is a machine I can walk through. Doesn’t that make sense? But to have somebody who is untrained just drives me nuts. I can’t believe they’re thinking of doing it.

This means that if you show up at court to defend yourself—just show up to defend yourself, which is one of our fundamental rights in this province—before you even enter the courthouse, you could have your car searched without any good reason. Before you walk through the court doors, someone is already presuming you are guilty of something.

This has to be taken right out of this bill. If you’re going to have security officers, they have to be trained.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde: I am very pleased to rise today; this is something that’s fairly new for me. It actually gives me great pleasure to talk about the Security for Courts, Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, and I thank the members for their comments.

I want to talk about the reason we are reintroducing this bill. As mentioned, this is an act that dates from 1939. It is time, I agree—it is time more than ever—to bring in an act that will be modern, transparent and focused on what today’s world is all about, which is making sure we are protecting the people who are at the courthouse, in nuclear facilities and in large electricity-generating facilities.

When you look at what happened at the G20, maybe I was not part of it as a new member, but I know that all levels of government have realized that there were some situations where we could have done better. This is why we are moving forward on reintroducing this bill.

There were two reports—I’ll need the notes here—one by former Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry and the other by the Ombudsman, Mr. Marin, who recommended that the PWPA be repealed and replaced with “more modern, focused legislation.”

The G20 summit was an unprecedented event, and this bill will help us deal with what could potentially happen and have everyone ready for the Pan Am Games.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): One of the third party members can respond. The member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Thank you, Speaker.

I would like to talk about a comment that the member from Ottawa–Orléans made. She spoke about being transparent. We, as New Democrats, have mentioned our concern that there is definitely the opportunity for abuse by the government with this bill. When we talk about transparency, we are now looking at having this bill time-allocated. This means that discussion is cut off, which shows, in my opinion, a lack of transparency and a great disrespect to the people of my riding of Windsor West and every riding in Ontario that is represented by this side of the House.

I think that this bill also deters people from wanting to assist or support a friend or a family member who has to appear before a court. I personally would be very hesitant to assist a family member or a friend by driving them to the courthouse or stepping foot into the courthouse if I knew that, because somebody doesn’t like the way that I look or the way that I’m dressed or they suspect I might be up to something, I could then be subjected to a search, and that if they have an issue with the person that I’m coming to court with, they then can search my property.

So there are great concerns about just how open this bill is and how transparent the act to move to time allocation is. Again, I just reiterate that we want our courts to be safe, we want our courthouses to be safe, but we also want them to be accessible. I believe this bill will deter people from attending courthouses.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate? Further debate?

The member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you very much, Speaker. I’ve been here 11 years now. This is the first time I got a Liberal speaking slot. I guess they’re not going to speak to it this afternoon, but I’m glad to be up and ready at the crack of a whip, if necessary, to fill in a spot for my caucus here.

Bill 35 is the third time around for essentially the same bill. I know when I was the critic back in 2012, it was Bill 34, ironically; just one bill away numerically. It was the 34th bill brought forward by the government after the election of 2011. I had the opportunity to speak to it as the critic for community safety and correctional services. I opened up my statement that day by indicating to the government that we would be supporting the bill. We supported it back then, and I’m indicating to the government that we’ll be supporting it again in the third time around. Maybe the third time’s the charm; I don’t know.

But as I indicated to the government back then, that might be the last good thing I have to say in my—it was an hour speech then, as I was the lead for the opposition, and it’s only going to be 20 minutes. So I don’t know if I can get everything in, but if they want to give me more time, I’ll be pleased to accept it. The reason I said that was because I had some criticisms of the government with respect to this bill and why we were there at all.

I think that everybody understands and accepts that the Public Works Protection Act—it’s time for a redo. It’s time to repeal it and bring in a new piece of more progressive legislation that more speaks to the time we live in now. The Public Works Protection Act was a bill that was brought in at the time of the Second World War. Now—

Hon. Steven Del Duca: The good old days.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Yes, the good old days, the Minister of Transportation says. Well, there aren’t that many people in this House who were even alive at the time of the Second World War, so a lot of things have changed since then. You have to think of the mindset of the world at the time. The world was at war. We were very concerned about our own safety and that kind of thing. The government of Canada brought in the War Measures Act at that time, and the provincial government brought in the Public Works Protection Act at that time.

I believe it was around—I can’t think of the date now, but back in Winnipeg, they actually had a “what if” day.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: A “what if” day?

Mr. John Yakabuski: A “what if” day. The story was, what if the Nazis attacked here? It was like a mock exercise to determine how they would react if they would have been attacked during the war. So it speaks to the mindset of where people were at that time.

The world was at war, and at that time, it was not certain that we were going to be the side winning that war. When Hitler attacked Poland to start the war, he was at a distinct advantage, because he had been preparing for that war for some time, when a lot of the rest of the world was just hoping that it wouldn’t happen.

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So there’s no question that the act itself is in need of some updating. But the reason the legislation ever got here in the first place, back in 2012—I think it was introduced in early 2012. On February 29, 2012, in fact, I spoke to this bill as the lead for the opposition. I think it was appropriate that it was a leap year, because it’s like it never happened. Here we are in 2014, going through the same exercise in December 2014 as in February 2012.

Some people will question, “Where have you been? What has been happening? Why haven’t we moved on from this? Why haven’t we brought this piece of legislation forward sooner?” Well, for various reasons. The Parliament—you’ll recall that we had prorogation as well. You remember that prorogation? That kind of put the kibosh on that bill. Then it came back again. The government called an election. It was up in front of the House again, and then earlier this year Premier Wynne called an election. Here we are, bringing this bill forward in front of the House again.

But one thing hasn’t changed, and that is the reason the bill ever came forward in the first place. That was because the government had egg all over its face about the way that it handled security for the G20 summit in Toronto in 2010. We all remember this. You remember this? I want the members of the government to have a look at this. They probably remember it very well, and even those who weren’t there heard about it. This was the Ombudsman report on the G20 summit, called Caught in the Act. It was a scathing indictment of the Liberal government and their behaviour during that time.

Unbeknownst to the members of this Legislature—I remember the Attorney General at the time saying that the police asked for this. No, not quite true. What the police asked for was, “We’re going to need some additional tools in order to provide security for what is a huge undertaking that we’re having in the city of Toronto, a complicated place at the best of times. We’re going to have this G20 summit here in Toronto. We’re going to need some tools to ensure the safety not only of the general population, but certainly all of the delegates to the convention and their staff as well.”

They presumably approached the government and said, “Is there anything in legislation that we can do?” Well, they talked about the Public Works Protection Act. But then, behind closed doors, away from the scrutiny of this Parliament—and you’ve got to remember that Parliament was sitting at the time. This was not during a time of recess; it was not during a prorogation or anything else. This was during a time when the Parliament was sitting. Then the government, behind closed doors, without talking to any of the people on this side of the House, without sitting down even with House leaders and saying, “This is what we’d like to do,” passed the now infamous regulation 233/10. That is the regulation that, unfortunately, the police misinterpreted. They didn’t properly understand it and were never properly briefed by the government on their powers and the restrictions on their powers that were actually granted to them in order to police and provide security to the summit at that time.

What happened was certainly a period of embarrassment here in the city of Toronto and for us as members of the Legislature in Ontario. The number of arrests for ostensibly no reason whatsoever, just because the police felt they had to act in that way to provide the security, without due process—and I’m not going to go over and over and over again about each and every case that we talked about. But the Ombudsman, in his report, did speak extensively about the challenges that this regulation brought in by the government posed for the police. He didn’t just gloss over the role of the police as well. We’ve known since then that the police have certainly apologized for some of their actions during the G20 as well.

But you have to ask yourself what precipitated it. Did the police act independently and without the belief that they had been granted the authority? Or did they act because they believed that the province of Ontario—let me take that back—that the cabinet, the Liberal cabinet, passed a regulation that implied to the police that they had all of these sweeping powers?

Had this been taken before the Legislature, where members of all parties had an opportunity to speak to it, where members of all parties had an opportunity to offer their views and perhaps go back to their own stakeholders and say, “What do you think of this? Do you think that this is a necessary change? Do you think that it goes too far?” we would have had that feedback. But how could you get the feedback when you didn’t even know it was happening? We weren’t even aware, as legislators, that it was happening. It was all done under the cover of darkness, behind closed doors, in a clandestine way, you would have to think, because the government didn’t want us to know what was going on.

That’s what we found so insulting as members of this Legislature, each and every one of us elected by our constituents to speak individually on their behalf but, collectively, to speak on behalf of all Ontarians, all 13-and-some-odd million Ontarians. Collectively, we speak for them; we represent them.

We felt like we were shunted to the sidelines as legislators, and the cabinet, in their great wisdom, were going to do what was necessary to ensure that the 2010 G20 summit was a safe place to be.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: How did that work out for them?

Mr. John Yakabuski: I say to my friend from Windsor–Tecumseh that I would ask you the same question: How did that work out for them? Well, if you want to talk about something that backfired in spades, it would be the passing of that legislation.

On August 18, I believe it was, of the same year—I think of that date because it’s my daughter’s birthday. I believe that on that date, the community safety and correctional services minister, who was responsible for this, was suddenly shifted into another cabinet portfolio—yes, another one, in the summer, when nobody was paying attention. There was a cabinet shuffle, because they knew the heat was on, as they say. The heat is on.

They didn’t want to have anything more to do with that. So what do you do when somebody’s under the gun? Shift him into another portfolio. They brought in Jim Bradley, the most experienced member of this Legislature, and gave him the portfolio and said, “She’s your baby now. You deal with it.”

Anyway, it was a black day—a black eye on Ontario—when they passed that regulation. But we do want to move on. We do want to move on.

On the bill itself, I do say that it’s a pretty good piece of legislation. I know my friends in the NDP have some misgivings on some of the courthouse security. We’ll get to that if I have time. If they give me extra time, we’ll get to it for sure. I know the House leader is considering it.

Let’s talk about security at nuclear plants first. After 9/11, the world did change. Our ability or our comfort level in feeling safe all over the free world was changed forever. When those planes struck the twin towers, life as we knew it would never be the same. We had to recognize that in the way that we protected our facilities. Some of our most vulnerable would be our nuclear facilities.

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We all saw what happened when a natural disaster struck the nuclear plants at Fukushima in Japan. That was a natural disaster emanating from an earthquake and then a tidal wave or tsunami. Again, I don’t have time to go into all the details. Basically, it pretty well took the nuclear reactors out of business and caused tremendous damage to the Japanese infrastructure and the economy as a result of that, and they’re still recovering from it. I do believe that the power is on again at some of those plants, but it’s been an expensive and time-consuming go and plenty of stress for the people of Japan.

But the terrorist attack is something that we have to be always mindful of. I live in Renfrew county, home to Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories, the birthplace of nuclear here in Canada. Since 9/11, it has been a complete sea change about how they conduct security at those plants. They must. It’s a federal facility and security has changed. Security has changed at our nuclear power plants. That’s a research facility in Chalk River. We have power-producing plants here in Ontario and security has changed at them, and rightfully so. We’ve had to make those upgrades, those changes.

I had the opportunity as the critic at the time to have some pretty good back and forth with the government. Some amendments were made to the bill at the time. I do believe that the bill we’re getting back today is essentially what we had back then. I haven’t read it over verbatim, but I believe essentially it is the same, with the changes incorporated that we had through hearings at that time.

Now, in those days we were actually having hearings on legislation. We were having good, fulsome committee hearings on legislation. So it’s not just the security around power plants that has changed. Apparently, in this Legislature things have changed too, because we don’t seem to have those hearings for legislation any more. The government just comes in with a time allocation motion and, zap, there you go: one day, two hours, Bob’s your uncle, and the thing’s law. That’s the way it goes now.

It seems that the government House leader doesn’t like committee hearings. I don’t want to fault the government House leader—he’s a nice fella—but he takes his orders from that office over there, right about there—just right over there, that office over there. If you just go in a straight line, you’ll go right into the office of where the decisions are made, and all of the minions on this side of the House just have to do as they’re told. They just have to do as they’re told. I don’t fault him directly, but he is part of the plan. He is part of the plan and he is carrying out the directive of the master.

But I do agree that the changes that are in this legislation are necessary, so I am supporting the government for that reason. I want them to record this and keep it in mind that I’m on the record as saying I’m supporting the government on this piece of legislation. I likely won’t be supporting them when they bring in time allocation because I cannot support time allocation. It’s just not something that is in my DNA at this time.

So, lots of changes in the bill as a result of the bill about security at nuclear power plants, and I’m all for that, because you know that nuclear produces about 60% of our electricity here in the province of Ontario. It provides good jobs to a high number of people all across Ontario. Directly and indirectly, we’re probably talking about 40,000 high-paying jobs in the province of Ontario as a result of our nuclear industry. And where would we be without that 60% of our power? I wouldn’t be speaking in here because the lights would be off. Nobody would be picking it up on a microphone, and that would really trouble me because I want you all to hear this.

Nuclear power is the backbone of our system here in Ontario at this time, and I support the government on the refurbishment of our nuclear reactors as well, because that’s going to be an important component as we move forward in the electricity sector. I don’t agree with a lot of their energy policy, but I think we’re in pretty close step on how we view the need to support our nuclear industry here in the province of Ontario. Although I have a different view about new build than they have, because I want to make sure that 40 years from now we’re still getting a reliable portion of our power from the best source that we have out there right now, which is nuclear, the one that we can depend on, because we don’t have a lot of ability to grow our hydroelectric system in the province of Ontario. We don’t have the reservoir systems that they have in Manitoba and Quebec, for example. We have to play with the hand that we’re dealt, and nuclear is a big part of that.

I don’t have a lot of time left, but on the courts as well, we have to make sure that our courts are safe. Whenever you have a situation like that, there are going to be some people who think that measures that are taken are going too far in infringing upon individuals’ rights. But once you get into that court system, I think you have to relinquish some of your privacy for the safety of the general public as a whole and also the people who work within the court system. The changes that have been made, I’m satisfied with them. I know my friends in the NDP would like to see some changes there. But at the end of the day, I think this is a pretty good bill, and we’ll make it even better if we get it to committee, if the House leader allows it to happen. But the way things are going, we never know. Thank you very much.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Wayne Gates: I’d like to talk to my colleague here who talked about the election. This has been coming up a lot in the last few days here in the House, which is kind of surprising to me. But once again—I can’t say this too often—the PCs are right: It was the Liberals that called the election. I just want to make sure, because today in this very House it was mentioned again that the NDP called the election. So we’re clear on that, I wanted to make sure—

Interjections.

Mr. Wayne Gates: I didn’t want to start a cross-debate, Mr. Speaker. But I just wanted to make sure there’s no confusion, and my colleague from the PCs is absolutely right: It was the Liberals that called the election.

I wanted to say, quickly, that we were here last week debating a bill, Bill 24, and one of the arguments around the unlawful handgun bill was that we should be listening to the experts on what we’re doing. I think that’s fair. The police are saying, “You’ve got to give us tools. We’re risking our lives every day. You’ve got to make sure that you support the handgun bill.” Yet on the very same issue here, we have experts like the Canadian Civil Liberties Association that do not support the provisions in schedule 2 of Bill 35. One of the reasons why they’re not doing it is what I raised about 20 minutes ago.

Again, my colleague from the PC Party talked about how he wanted to make sure that our courts are secure. The question becomes, how do we secure our courts? I’m agreeing that we should make sure they’re safe and make sure they’re secure. But, to my colleagues here in all three parties, would it not make sense that if we’re going to have security officers who are going to have the right to search us, search our cars, that they would be trained? Thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Hon. Steven Del Duca: I was looking forward to having the opportunity, after listening to the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke speak, to talk about the bill and also acknowledge, as always, the very eloquent contribution that that member provided to those of us in the Legislature this afternoon and to thank him for expressing support for the bill, a bill that of course deserves support because, as many will know, this is the third time that our government has introduced this kind of important legislation. Nineteen hours of debate had already taken place on this bill in the Legislature during nine days of debate in a previous session, and 15 MPPs from all three parties had already had the opportunity to speak on this proposed legislation when the bill had previously come forward in the House. So, lots of tremendous reasons, lots of strong reasons to acknowledge that the member who spoke initially in debate this afternoon is exactly on the right page with respect to supporting the content and the thrust of this legislation.

Not for the first time today, unfortunately, I was struck when the member from Niagara Falls spoke, as the member from Essex spoke earlier today in this Legislature. There seems to be this very bizarre thing that has occurred to the members of the NDP caucus, Speaker, both in question period today and many times in this House since we’ve come back post the June 12 election. Members from that caucus, members from the NDP, seem to have forgotten, or seem to have revised history repeatedly, with respect to what actually took place.

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Here’s the great news, Speaker: Regardless of their attempts to forget—and I can understand, given the results of June 12, why they’d want to forget. But given the results of June 12, and given the opportunity that we have been given, the mandate that Premier Wynne and this government have been given, we will continue to focus on bringing forward legislation like the one that we are discussing here today. We will continue to make the investments that are needed to build the province up, and we will continue to provide progress.

Ultimately, Speaker, the people of Ontario spoke loudly and clearly on June 12. They gave us a mandate to build the province up. With legislation like this one, that’s exactly what we will continue to do.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: It gives me great pleasure to rise to speak to the comments from the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

The clock isn’t going, Speaker. I just thought I’d remind you of that up there.

Interjection.

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: I can keep speaking for how long?

Interjection.

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: All right. Sorry; I wasn’t aware of the rules around here.

I was quite taken aback about his knowledge of the previous bill and certainly about why it came into effect dating back to the days of World War II. That was a different time than it is now, when the legislators had to take some pretty severe action, because, as we all know—or should know—the enemy was in our waters around Canada. They came up the St. Lawrence, and they landed agents in the United States. So those were times when we had to take strong action. Certainly, this legislation should have been introduced sooner at some point, because we have haven’t been in those trying times since then.

We have voiced our support for this bill, but we see this government time and time again talk about transparency. The member brought that up: How many bills have we had time-allocated in this Legislature?

I look back to the Child Care Modernization Act. It is so flawed, and yet there is time allocation on it, and the government is going to pass it. They haven’t even talked to a lot of the other experts who wanted to speak to it.

Now I’m sure they’re going to do that with this one. They will probably time-allocate it, so a lot of the people who want to speak to this bill in committee aren’t going to be permitted that right, and that’s really too bad. As legislators, we should take all the information we can gather in order to form good legislation.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): The member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek.

Mr. Paul Miller: Speaker, I sit in this House and I watch the government on more than one occasion minimize the concerns of the third party and the official opposition when it comes to things. They think that they have got a handle on everything that should be in a bill and ignore some of the things we do well in committee. Have we not learned our lesson, Speaker?

I was around—I don’t know if some of them were—for the FLQ crisis. I remember the riots in Seattle. I remember—I wasn’t around—the Winnipeg strike. I remember the 1946 strike of the Steelworkers in Hamilton. I remember the strikes in Sudbury. I remember the strikes and struggles of the people of this country. Have we learned nothing, Speaker?

Let’s talk about the Quebec Legislature. What happened there? The papers are announcing that some of the officers here don’t carry weapons. What are we doing? Have we learned nothing from all the things that have gone on?

The member mentioned the twin towers. He’s mentioned other things. Times have changed, Speaker, but we have to change with the times. If there are things that other opposition parties bring forward that are important about shoring up a bill that has weak points—and being ignored by the government really hurts, because we are elected from the people of our areas. We bring things to the table that are important. They seem to dismiss some of the things that we feel are important. When they stand up and say, “Well, the NDP had some concerns”—you’re darn right we had some concerns, and some good ones. Maybe once in a while you should listen to those concerns of ours and bring them forward to committee instead of being so arrogant all the time that we know nothing and you know what’s best. Mother knows best over there. It’s really irritating, because I’ve lived through these things. I’ve seen changes.

Security must change. This bill is long overdue, and they blame us for dragging our feet on it. This should have been brought forward 30 years ago, not last month or last week; 30 or 40 years ago. We could have maybe eliminated some of these problems.

These people have been in government too long—they’ve been there too long. That’s it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): That concludes questions and comments. I return to the member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke for his reply.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I want to thank the member from Niagara Falls, the Minister of Transportation, the member for Perth–Wellington and the member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, who is proudly wearing his Ticats hat today after their very, very excellent showing in the Grey Cup. Unfortunately, they didn’t bring the cup home to Ontario, but they did us proud anyway.

Look, a lot of the points that have been made on my address—I support some of the things that have been said. I appreciate what the member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek is saying about the need to change legislation with the times. I think he pointed out very, very vividly that for this Legislature, or any other legislative body, to work, the government must respect the view of the other side. No one has a monopoly on wisdom, the truth or all the best ideas. When the government thinks about operating independently and freezing out the opposition, which is happening a lot in this session, then it does itself a disservice. It doesn’t just do a disservice to democracy; it does itself a disservice, because it is denying itself the experience that sits on this other side. We’ve all been elected as well by the people in our respective constituencies. There must be a reason we got here. We must be doing something right.

So I would implore the government, as I finish up here in my last few seconds, to change its attitude about the way that it is ramming legislation through so that you can take advantage of the experience and wisdom on this side, and we would be able to then much more greatly appreciate the experience and wisdom on your side. I think we need to work more collectively.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s always an honour to be able to stand in this House and speak on the various bills that are presented here, and equally to this one: Bill 35, Loi abrogeant la Loi sur la protection des ouvrages publics, modifiant la Loi sur les services policiers en ce qui concerne la sécurité des tribunaux et édictant la Loi de 2014 sur la sécurité des centrales électriques et des installations nucléaires. I can read French not too badly. I can’t speak it too well yet, but I’m working on it.

This is an important bill we’re discussing: An Act to repeal the Public Works Protection Act, amend the Police Services Act with respect to court security and enact the Security for Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, 2014. It’s basically three pieces of legislation put into one. The first piece of legislation repeals the Public Works Protection Act. It’s been on the books for a long time, since 1939. That’s been said here quite a few times. It’s like a lot of legislation that is sitting on the books; it was created for a purpose, and it isn’t really removed because the purpose disappears. World War II is over, and the purpose disappeared.

But where this legislation reappeared was when it was misused by the Liberal cabinet. While this House was sitting—and I’m taking this on advisement from people who have been here a lot longer that I have been here—the Liberal cabinet at the time used this legislation to abuse people’s rights.

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It was interesting. I really enjoy sitting in the House and listening to these debates, because I learn things. The Minister of Transportation just said that this bill has been debated for 19 hours, and that that should be sufficient. In the G20, some people spent longer than 19 hours in a cage because of what the Liberal government did at the time, so 19 hours to debate a bill isn’t that long, because the abuse of regulations has much bigger consequences.

One of the things when I was watching this on TV, because I wasn’t here at the time, is, “How can this be happening in Ontario?” Because no one in Ontario, deep down, believes that things like that could happen. I was in the House when this bill was being discussed another time, and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change brought up a point: that one of the things that precipitated this was that where this G20 was held was an extremely bad place for security. It’s not all the Liberal government’s fault, or the Liberal cabinet at the time; it was an extremely bad choice for security. There were other places that were suggested that would have been much easier to provide security to.

It started out badly, and that was the feds, but what the Libs did, what the cabinet did—because it wasn’t this House, it was the cabinet, and now they’re repealing this act. That’s a good thing. I don’t think anyone here is against repealing the Public Works Protection Act, but some of the powers that they’re giving for courthouses—courthouses are a different thing, and I’m going to talk about generating facilities in a little while. We don’t have any nuclear facilities in my riding, but we have some very big hydroelectric facilities. They also need to be protected. They’re in this act.

But for courthouses, the powers they’re giving for basically warrantless search—maybe things in the big city work differently than back home in Timiskaming–Cochrane, but in the Haileybury courthouse, if somebody walks in and all of a sudden a security guard has the right to search the neighbour’s car—that’s just something that doesn’t happen in our Ontario, because our Ontario just isn’t like that. It doesn’t happen when people come into our gallery, and this is as much a courthouse as anything else in this province. So does that really make sense?

I’m asking, as an Ontarian, do those searching powers, those warrantless powers, make sense? Do we need security in courthouses—strong security? Very much so. Do we need security here? Of course, but there’s a fine balance between security and democracy, because I know some very secure places where you’re not allowed to express your views like we are in this place. There’s a very fine line between true democracy and what I sometimes think this government, with what it’s doing right now with time-allocating, saying it’s going to negotiate, but not negotiating, just time-allocating—I think they’re also treading a fine line. I really do.

But in the courthouses, to make courthouses be secure—of course. But should people be frightened to enter a courthouse?

Interjection: No.

Mr. John Vanthof: No, not in a democracy. Then we’ve lost something.

You have to understand that there are courthouses all over this province, and if you’re going to give the same powers all over this province—I’ve got another courthouse in a college. It’s part of Northern College in Kirkland Lake. So where are these search and seizure powers? Are they at the front doors of the college?

Really, think about that. What you’re doing with this part of the act is basically giving the same powers, on a smaller scale, that were abused at the G20. We have to really think about that. I think we have to take the time to talk about that and really think about it, because we’re going to come to the day—like I said, this is as much a court, and I’ve spent a lot more time in here than I’ve spent in the court in Haileybury, and I’ve spent a few days in the court in Haileybury.

Interjections.

Mr. John Vanthof: No, no. I got married in the court in Haileybury, and I’m still married, very happily.

But under the present—if this passes, some of my guests might have been searched.

Interjections.

Mr. John Vanthof: No, really. That’s an issue. That’s something you really have to think about, especially when we’re saying you have to identify yourself and we have the right to search the vehicle you came in. You’re going a bit too far. That’s one of the things we have said repeatedly, because to us, when you’re creating legislation, you have to look at how this legislation could be used and how this legislation could be abused.

The Public Works Protection Act was created for something in wartime, and it was abused at the G20, and this, as far as courthouses, has the same potential.

The member from Windsor West brought up a very good point in her discussion—

Interjection: As she always does.

Mr. John Vanthof: —as she always does. But this was a really good point, and I didn’t hear it too many other times: If you’re going to do something like this, you don’t post it on a piece of paper this big; you’d better put it on a big billboard in front of the Haileybury courthouse and in front of Northern College and all the other little courthouses. People would read it and see, you know, that they have the right to search, they have the right to search the car you came in, and people would say, “Really, in our Ontario? Really?” That’s a question you have to ask.

Going back to the third part, security for electricity-generating facilities and nuclear facilities, that’s a whole different issue. Most of us have probably had opportunities—as an MPP, you have some incredible opportunities, because to truly understand your riding and understand the people who work there, you get to tour facilities. I recently toured the Lower Notch power dam at the bottom end of Montreal River, which dumps into Lake Timiskaming. They’re rebuilding the thing. I think it’s costing $70 million; OPG is rebuilding it.

I learned something: The biggest turbines in Ontario are in my riding, at the Lower Notch power dam. Is that the biggest power producer? No. But the two biggest turbines are there. There are more in Niagara Falls, but the two biggest ones are right there. They were pulling one out, and we went right to the bottom where that turbine was. It was an incredible tour. I thank OPG for allowing us to see that. It really increased my understanding of hydroelectric power.

I fully appreciate that you shouldn’t be able to walk in there off the street, because you could create a lot of damage. No one is expecting to have the same access to a nuclear station or a hydro generation station. It’s a whole different issue, and yes, you need strong security measures there, very strong security measures, but a different type of security than you need at a courthouse, because access to justice, the ability to voice your opinion are two of the pillars on which our society is built. During the G20, when this government—the Liberal government previous—arrested 1,100 people without a warrant, they abused the Public Works Protection Act. In this new bill, there is still that ability to be abused. It’s there. The members across the aisle can smile and tell us how this is so much more efficient to time-allocate everything, but the fact is that the ability to abuse is there.

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One thing I’ve learned in my fairly various capacities and in what I’ve done is that most of the time you make legislation or regulation not for the majority of people; you make it for a few people. You make it for some of the people who want to break the laws, but in this case you also have to make it for the people who enforce the laws.

This legislation leaves a lot to be desired in that case. Because when you are going into a courthouse—you know what, a lot of people who go to courthouses have problems. Some of them are their own, some of them are not their own, but a lot of them have issues. They already, obviously, feel persecuted. If this legislation is fully applied in courthouses in my rural riding—I like to focus on where I come from, because I know the people where I come from—to the letter of the law, it would deny some people justice because there are people who, if they knew what the law actually said, would be very leery about coming into a courthouse.

That is our one big problem. There are other issues with this legislation, but the one big problem is that it denies or has the possibility to deny—if it’s applied evenly, accurately and if everything is perfect, this legislation will work, but it leaves room to be abused.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: It’s open to interpretation.

Mr. John Vanthof: That’s right. My colleague from—which riding are you from, Percy?

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Windsor–Tecumseh.

Mr. John Vanthof: Windsor–Tecumseh.

Interjection: We’re going to make you Speaker, John.

Mr. John Vanthof: Oh, I’d be a terrible Speaker.

Interjection: Telling people to sit down all the time.

Mr. John Vanthof: I’m still waiting for the Speaker to tell me to sit down.

It leaves a lot to interpretation; that’s the problem. Because bills like this, why they make us a bit uneasy—or a lot uneasy—is we see what happened. This didn’t happen in 1939. During the G20, when those people were put basically in cages for longer than 19 hours, longer than this bill has been debated, that didn’t happen in another country on TV—it happened for me on TV, but it happened in my Ontario. This bill still leaves that issue open for courthouses. You’re still, on the courthouse part, giving them just as much power as the PWPA had over the G20. That’s a big issue.

I think I’ve about covered it. I could read a bit more French, and fill up my three minutes. But I think lots of times with legislation—and specifically with this bill, but it shows up with lots of bills. I fully appreciate that we have to make legislation that works in cities like the GTA. I fully, fully appreciate that, but the legislation that we pass here also has to work in small town Ontario; it has to work in northern Ontario; it has to work in remote northern Ontario, where there are also court facilities.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: It has to be consistent.

Mr. John Vanthof: It has to be consistent—a great comment from the member from Windsor–Tecumseh; he’s helping me fill my minutes.

That’s something that this government hasn’t demonstrated, specifically with time-allocating and specifically holding committee meetings in Toronto. We appreciate that there’s a lot of people in Toronto. We fully understand that. I’ve said it before in this House: Now that I’ve had the opportunity to live in Toronto part-time, I have a much better appreciation of the struggles that people living in Toronto face. They are fully understood. But I question whether some of the members in this House who are on the other side, pushing, pushing, pushing—and no time for hearings anywhere else or anything—I question if they truly understand what happens in the Northern College courthouse or what happens in the Haileybury Courthouse. I really question if they understand that, and it’s an issue. It’s a big issue.

Many things in this bill are passable. The government has made some change in this bill that we actually advocated for. That’s a good thing. But this bill still leaves room for abuse, and that’s something that I really wanted to put on the record: that this bill, if it’s used to the full impact of its ability by people with either uninformed intentions—that was part of the problem with the G20. The police weren’t out to hurt people; they didn’t understand what their powers were and weren’t. With this bill, with court security, they might not understand either. That’s a big issue.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Hon. Liz Sandals: I’m very pleased to be able to comment on the bill. There has been a fair bit of discussion about process, so I think it might be worthwhile to actually go back and talk about the actual content of the bill.

The bill proposes to repeal the outdated Public Works Protection Act. I think there has been a fair bit of consensus here that we need to do that. It then goes on to set out stand-alone legislation respecting security at electricity generating facilities and other defined critical infrastructure. In particular, with respect to electricity generating and nuclear facilities, the bill would require any person who wishes to enter or is on the premises to produce identification and provide information for the purpose of assessing the person’s security risk.

The member spoke about having the opportunity to tour various facilities as an MPP. I’ve had an opportunity to tour a nuclear plant. What strikes me about this bill is that, in fact, the process that seems to be laid out in the bill actually isn’t any different from the current process, that everybody, including an MPP, who is going into a nuclear generating facility goes through extensive screening—as it well should be—before you’re allowed into a nuclear facility. I haven’t been in, necessarily, any of the big hydroelectric generators, but quite frankly, from a point of security of generation, I would hope that we also have similar security there if the facility is of any size.

So I think that there’s a lot of consensus that those requirements are actually quite reasonable and that we actually do need to get on with passing this act.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: It’s an honor to stand in my place and make a few comments on the speech that the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane just delivered. I share some of your views. Certainly, you went on at length about security in courtrooms. It is different in rural Ontario. I certainly can understand that. The member and I come from the same background in the farming community. Our towns are small and most everybody knows everybody.

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He asked the question: How could this happen in Ontario, the G20 fiasco? One of the reasons it could happen in Ontario is because nobody knew what this government was doing at the time. They talk about open and transparent governments. We haven’t seen that yet in my time here, and certainly not in the last few weeks that we’ve been here, because of closure rules and the way the committees are structured, where our voice is not heard the way we would like it to be heard.

The member brought up the issue about security guards at our courts and had issue with the training of these guards, if they’re properly trained, and what may happen that could infringe upon our rights as citizens in Ontario.

I would hope that the government would make sure that these security guards are properly trained and knew what they could do before they did anything wrong. But then, how do we know this? How are we going to know this? Because this government doesn’t tell us anything. It’s just done, it’s whisked through Parliament here, and unfortunately, our say is not heard the way we would like it to be heard.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Percy Hatfield: It’s a pleasure to stand on behalf of the constituents in my riding of Windsor–Tecumseh and make comments to the very passionate member from Timiskaming–Cochrane, who spoke with a lot of vim and vigour about some of the things that have gone on that have led to this bill.

I think it’s good to be reminded, when he talks about the people who spent 19 hours or longer in a metal cage during the G20, that no charges were ever brought against them. They were just kettled, brought in, handcuffed, held—no charges; no apologies ever offered, either; no phone call. They were made to feel like criminals. Why did it happen? Because the Liberal cabinet said it could.

Prime Minister Harper said, “I’m going to host a summit and instead of doing it on the CNE grounds, we’re going to do it in downtown Toronto. The Liberal cabinet is going to help us out. Police officers from around the province are going to come in and lend a hand.” Well, it didn’t work out the way they wanted it to, and that’s very unfortunate.

Ontario: “a place to stand, a place to grow”; “yours to discover”—it’s almost like we’re discovering new ways to screw up the system. Why would you want to go to a courthouse and be subject to all this search and seizure? It’s like we’re making a make-work project for lawyers to go out and revise this legislation afterwards, because it just won’t stand up.

For me to go to a courthouse and have somebody go out and look inside the trunk of the car that drove me there—what are we doing to our civil rights? What are we doing? There are changes that have to be made to make this bill more acceptable to the greater population, and as it stands right now, that part of the legislation really needs to be changed.

Thank you for your time.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: I’m happy to stand in this place and make some comments from the 20 minutes or so when the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane brought to our attention the bill that’s before us.

In a way, it’s sad to hear that it hasn’t been paid much attention. It’s been in this House three times. We got some pretty good comments from Mr. Marin. We engaged the retired Chief Justice McMurtry to give us some advice.

Interjection: McMurtry, a Liberal?

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Where have you been? They bring some very good comments in. Yes, there were some issues in the G20; I think we all agree to that. I think you heard in the past that there were some previous governments that had the same opportunity of doing what we’re doing right now, or their way, and they totally ignored it. Nothing had changed that was there. Nothing has changed.

I believe, in a previous incarnation of this bill, the NDP made some good comments about the amendments. I believe they were taken to heart and they were incorporated in the revised legislation in front of us now; the same with the members of the opposition, the Conservative Party.

I just fail to understand. This bill should have passed a long time ago, so if another incident were to happen, we’d be ready for it. You know what? I’m not going to blame the former governments that didn’t act on this. Frankly, there was no reason to act because it didn’t surface. Like many other things we do here, under all different stripes, we tend to react when something out of the ordinary happens. I agree that the G20 should have been somewhere else besides downtown, 100%. But the fact is, it happened there, and we’re acting.

Speaker, I urge everybody: Let’s get on with this and get it passed.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): We return to the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane for his reply.

Mr. John Vanthof: Thank you, Speaker. I’d also like to thank the Minister of Education, the member from Perth–Wellington, my colleague from Windsor–Tecumseh and the member from Northumberland–Quinte West.

For the Minister of Education, I agree with what she said. But she wasn’t talking about courthouses; she was talking about electrical energy facilities, nuclear facilities. I fully agree that they have to be secured. I agree with the member for Perth–Wellington, who said that some things in the country are different. They are, and we have to recognize that. I agree with what the member for Windsor–Tecumseh said. I have a bit of a problem with what the member for Northumberland–Quinte West—

Hon. Steven Del Duca: He won’t take it personally. Don’t worry.

Mr. John Vanthof: I don’t take anything in this House personally, and I really enjoy debate and I enjoy listening. When the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change says something about where the G20 was placed, I listen to that. I agree with that. When the Minister of Transportation said that it’s been debated for 19 hours and that’s enough, that hurt me a bit because people spent longer than that in cages because of ministers in previous Liberal administrations. That hurt me a bit.

Standing here is a whole different feeling than if you’re in this province put in a jail, and then when you—the member from Windsor–Tecumseh, when he brought up—and I’d forgotten about that. They were never charged, and never an apology was made to those people. That’s why we have to be very careful, and that’s why I concentrated on the part about the courthouse security, because that part hasn’t changed that much.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Norm Miller: It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to Bill 35—it seems like the government is kind of quiet this afternoon—An Act to repeal the Public Works Protection Act, amend the Police Services Act with respect to court security and enact the Security for Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act, 2014.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve been enjoying the debate this afternoon on this bill, and as I understand, there is some history with it in that it was initially introduced back in February 2012. I believe it was Bill 34 back then. There were some amendments made to it back then at justice policy committee. But then the bill died on the order paper at third reading. I think that was because of the prorogation that happened, if I recall, back at that time. Then, in April 2013, the bill was introduced again. It was Bill 51. And then, of course, that died on the order of paper as well when the election was called by the government. I believe that through the process the opposition has made a number of amendments to the bill, and we’re generally supportive of the bill.

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So now it’s back; it’s Bill 35. As you’ll recall, Mr. Speaker, it does a few different things, but the bill was originally introduced due to the events that followed the McGuinty cabinet’s decision made in the lead-up to the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto to invoke that famous regulation 233/10 under the Public Works Protection Act.

Essentially, what that regulation did was that it designated parts of downtown Toronto as a public work. This was done pretty much in secret. I think the police didn’t understand what their powers were. It certainly wasn’t communicated to the general public. As a result of the way things unfolded, there were a lot of people who were arrested and charged. Generally, it was a bad situation. There was a full report by Ontario’s Ombudsman, which was really quite scathing, called Caught in the Act, that came out in December 2010 on that particular episode.

But I do believe that this original bill, the Public Works Protection Act—as has been mentioned by some other speakers, it was passed in wartime, back in 1939, World War II. Times have changed. Certainly it’s time to revamp the act.

However, this bill also does a few other things. So it does away with the Public Works Protection Act. Unlike the sweeping powers of the Public Works Protection Act, this new act, Bill 35, is narrower in scope and covers only limited categories of public infrastructure.

The legislation would do, really, three things: repeal the World War II era Public Works Protection Act, set out a legislative amendment to the Police Services Act to address court security, and set out stand-alone legislation with respect to security at prescribed electricity generating and nuclear facilities.

Mr. Speaker, I would just make the point that security is important, and, as the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke pointed out, post-9/11, the world did change. Even if we look at recent events, just in the last couple of months we had the shooting of Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the war memorial in Ottawa and then the gunman, subsequent to that, going into our nation’s Parliament buildings and basically going on a rampage there. Amazingly, the Sergeant-at-Arms at our national Parliament was able to, with his one pistol—I think it’s locked up somewhere—get it out and actually shoot the intruder.

I would say, in this general talk about security, that certainly security is something that needs to be addressed here at Queen’s Park as well. I saw a media interview or an interview comment from our Sergeant-at-Arms, Dennis Clark, where I think he was asked whether he has a gun or not, and he basically said, “I have a sword.” So I think that’s something that—I know there are some members from all parties here at the Legislature looking at it. I think that’s something that needs to change here at Queen’s Park, frankly, looking at situations like the one that happened in Ottawa so that we are prepared for the worst-case scenario and what could happen there.

This bill deals with, as we’ve heard, courthouses, and I’ll go through some of the specific requirements.

There’s a requirement, I believe, that you have to show ID, that you could be searched. Frankly, I think that’s not an unreasonable requirement. We’re pretty used to it, especially post-9/11, when we go to airports and fly just about anywhere. There’s all kinds of security nowadays that we just are kind of used to and we take for granted.

I think courthouses are places where there is increased risk—the nature of the business that’s going on there—and I think we have to do what we can to keep the people who work in the courts safe and also keep the people who are attending court safe.

I think we also have to be aware that we don’t overstep the bounds of the measures that need to be taken to keep people safe.

I think the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane made some good points, that it is different in different regions of the province, in the rural and northern areas. I know court happens in some pretty small places in Parry Sound–Muskoka. It happens in the community rooms upstairs in hockey arenas. So I think there probably are different sets of challenges there that we need to take into account. I hope that the government is open to listening to reasonable amendments that might still come forward, even this third time through for the bill, when it does go to committee.

We’ve seen, with most bills that have been before the Legislature recently, that we reach six and half hours’ time of debate here, and then they bring in a time allocation motion and have a very prescriptive time frame and very limited opportunity at committee to have the public make comments and also to make amendments to bills.

I hope they don’t rush it too much on this one—whether they’ll be bringing time allocation in for that or not—because I think there have been some good points made. I know the third party has some concerns, and I think those concerns should be listened to, so that the government gets this right.

Certainly, we’ve seen that when it comes to security, they don’t always get it right. We just had the recent report done by Ontario’s Auditor General on the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games security. From that report, we see that the Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, states: “A key lesson learned from the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games is the need to carefully plan for and acquire security services as far in advance of the event as possible. As of October 2014, with only nine months remaining before the games begin, TO2015 had only just issued a request for proposals for contract asset protection security services. Nor had TO2015 completed all procurements for security equipment.”

She goes on to point out that, as seems to be the case often with this government, the costs went way higher than they budgeted for. The result was that security budget increases are the result of “more in-depth planning” and “increased security requirements.”

“The total security budget for the games being funded by Ontario, including both OPP/ISU and TO2015 budget allocations, has increased from $121.9 million in the 2009 bid budget to $247.4 million as of September 2014.”

As is so often the case with estimates by this government of what things will cost, the security budget for the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games has more than doubled. As we’ve seen with estimates for costs of things like gas plants that the government has made, they are also way, way off. Cost, and the way that government implements things, is certainly a concern.

Getting back to the bill, it came in large part from the activities at the G20. Of course, just before the G20 was going on—I have to get a mention of the riding of Parry Sound–Muskoka in. We had the G8 happening in Huntsville and Muskoka just before that, and I’m happy to say that all the protests in Huntsville were peaceful. Really, there were very few problems that happened. Of course, Muskoka has been named one of the most—I think it was named the best place in the world to go to vacation, and, I’m sure, Parry Sound along with it.

There was a lot of publicity that came out of the G8 that was certainly focused on and highlighted Muskoka and Huntsville—all very positive—

Hon. Jeff Leal: What about the gazebo? Tell us about the gazebo.

Mr. Norm Miller: —and, yes, there was some excellent infrastructure that was built in Huntsville as a result of the G8.

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Speaking of Huntsville—I’m going to be here until 9:30 this evening—I was kindly invited to go to the inaugural meeting of the new Huntsville council, but as we’re sitting till 9:30 this evening, I will unfortunately not be able to attend. I’m sure the Speaker will give me a little leeway here: I just want to congratulate the newly elected mayor of Huntsville, Scott Aitchison. He had a tough race. There were some very good competitors. He was just sworn in today, and tonight is the first council meeting in Huntsville, which I was invited to. I’m hoping that in the intersession I’ll be able to get around to some of the council meetings around Parry Sound–Muskoka: Graydon Smith, the existing mayor of Bracebridge; Bob Young, who was acclaimed in Lake of Bays; Don Furnis, the newly elected mayor of the township of Muskoka Lakes; Paisley Donaldson in Gravenhurst; Larry Braid, who was re-elected in Georgian Bay township in Muskoka; and on the Parry Sound side of the riding, a huge change in the elected municipal representatives. I’m looking forward, in the intersession, to getting to as many of those council meetings as possible.

As I mentioned, in terms of court security, especially in Parry Sound, it is very different, where you have small arenas with just a community room. As the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane pointed out, it is very different, so in this bill, there might need to be some considerations made for that type of courthouse. It’s not your traditional courthouse; it’s an arena that’s used as a courthouse.

Getting back to the part of this bill that deals with electricity generating stations and nuclear generating stations, looking at the recent activities in Ottawa that I’ve already talked about, post-9/11, the era we now live in, a nuclear generating station is certainly a likely target of a terrorist attack. I think we should be doing what we can to provide security at a nuclear generating station.

On the topic of nuclear, I would like to say that I think our party, in the last election, was the only complete supporter of nuclear generation in the province. As Mr. Yakabuski, the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke and the former energy critic, pointed out, if you look at what is actually generated, last year I think pretty much 60% of the energy in the province was generated by nuclear power. I sometimes see the opposition to nuclear power and wonder why there is so much opposition when we’ve had a terrific safety record in the province of Ontario.

In a day when we are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, I would have thought we should all be very supportive of nuclear power. Other than the building of the facilities, there are really no greenhouse gases once it is operating. It has proven to be very reliable, and it provides the sort of baseload power that is so critical. Mind you, we have all had briefings from nuclear operators talking to us about how, in the world of the Green Energy Act, they have had to do things they never dreamed of doing with nuclear generating stations: trying to reduce capacity when wind power comes on or when solar power is being generated and trying to manage the power that’s being generated in ways that they’re not designed to do.

I think, in our province, we could be making much better use and looking to the future, and nuclear energy should be a big part of it. Of course, we heard from the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke; he may be a little biased because he has Chalk River in his riding. But I think he certainly recognizes just how important nuclear generation is as well.

In wrapping up, in summarizing this bill, essentially we have the three parts of the bill: the repeal of the Public Works Protection Act, amendments to the Police Services Act, and then also the Security for Electricity Generating Facilities and Nuclear Facilities Act.

We’ve been supportive of this. I think I missed the point that this is straightforward legislation that addresses the recommendations by former Chief Justice Roy McMurtry. That was, of course, in the wake of the G20 fiasco.

I do think, though, that the third party has raised some reasonable concerns, and I hope that the government takes the time at committee to be open to suggestions to maybe how you address those small rural courtrooms, for example, and others that I may not have thought about. It has been pointed out that there are good ideas on all sides of this Legislature. It’s my hope that the government actually listens to members from all parties.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will wrap up and thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill 35.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Once again, it’s a great honour to be able to stand in this chamber and speak on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Windsor–Tecumseh and to make comments on the comments made just now by the member from Parry Sound–Muskoka. The member spoke about the Auditor General’s report and the cost of security at the Pan/Parapan Games that we’re all looking forward to next year in Toronto.

It reminded me about last year’s Auditor General’s report, when she talked about the issues at Ontario’s nuclear power plants. One of the findings of the Auditor General last year was that, despite the need for security at nuclear power facilities in Ontario, very few of the senior administrators who required a security clearance had ever even applied for one, and very few of the people who did apply for security clearance at Ontario’s nuclear facilities bothered to renew it once it had expired. I find that interesting because there’s nothing in this bill that would say, “Let’s do something about it.”

Even more surprising to me in the Auditor General’s report of last year was that, in case of a meltdown at an Ontario nuclear facility, there aren’t enough people who know what to do in the case of an emergency. Yet there’s nothing in this bill that says, “Let’s spend some more money and let’s boost the number of people who know exactly what to do in case of an emergency at a nuclear power facility in the province of Ontario.”

There are things in this bill that could be improved, Speaker, and I know members of this government are looking forward to enhancing it after listening to the members of the opposition.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Our government is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Ontarians, and this legislation is a vital step in that direction.

On October 30, the minister of public safety reintroduced this bill. Mr. Speaker, this bill has been introduced three times. This bill has been debated. This bill has been consulted on. Many, many people gave their opinion on the bill. I know that the MPP for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke would like this bill to be passed. We know that we had a lot of input from the MPP from Bramalea–Gore–Malton.

We know that we have two reports. We have a report from the Ombudsman in December 2010. The Ombudsman produced a report that raised important questions about the PWPA. This bill was passed in 1939 in the context of World War II. So it’s about time that we modify and modernize this bill.

In response to the Ombudsman, we asked the Honourable Roy McMurtry, former chief justice, to review the legislation. The former chief justice gave us very good recommendations—not just why we need to amend the bill, but good recommendations to modernize this bill.

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We have already had more than 19 hours of debate. More than 15 MPPs have spoken on the bill. It’s about time that this bill goes for third reading, and the bill should be passed.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Toby Barrett: It was a valuable presentation by the member from Parry Sound–Muskoka.

It has been said that this bill has been debated several times over as Bill 35, aka Bill 51, aka Bill 34, and I still don’t think we have it right.

André Marin indicated that the intent of the legislation was to protect infrastructure, not to provide security to people during events. My question: Are we working on a way to provide security for people who attend these kinds of events? What were those 1,000 people doing there? Should they have been there? Were they putting themselves at risk? There have been so many instances that I have personally observed, here and elsewhere, where people, including myself, probably should have been detained for our own health and safety, when I think about it.

So my question is, what is the alternative when things really get out of control, when there are thousands and thousands of people at an event that’s late at night, with younger people?

Infrastructure: We focus on courthouses and electrical generating stations, as we should. What about oil refineries? What about oil pipelines? What about natural gas pipelines? What about water pipelines? What about our banking system—electronic sabotage that could occur, not necessarily back in 1939, but during times of war, to really do damage to a country, if you disrupt their banking system, their system of money, their stock market?

I really wish we could get up to date with some of this legislation. It’s almost like we’re still stuck in 1939.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Questions and comments?

Mr. Wayne Gates: I think this is the fourth or fifth time I’ve had the privilege to speak today on this particular bill.

I want to talk to the last speaker from the opposition, when they talked about the 19 hours that they had to debate the bill. Well, one of the fundamental rights that we have in this province and this country is that we have the right to protest. You can imagine: Just for protesting, you’re thrown in jail for a lot longer than 19 hours—not charged, nothing; just thrown in a cell.

This past week, with my colleague from Windsor West—we toured a jail in Niagara. I can tell you, it’s not a place that I think anybody in this room would want to go. I’m sure that, on that particular day, none of those young people who ended up in jail for a number of hours—and some for days—wanted to spend it in jail. I think that goes without saying. Because I protest, I end up in jail.

What this bill does—it talks about the very thing that I’m talking about again. Bill 35 repeals the Public Works Protection Act and it amends the Police Services Act. It would repeal the Public Works Protection Act, the legislation that was used to search citizens near the security fence during the G20.

Again, I’ve talked about it with untrained private security officers, but one of the things that I find—I like to read language—is “search, without warrant” and “use reasonable force if necessary”. Maybe somebody in this House can explain what reasonable force is. Is reasonable force punching somebody in the head, kicking them in the groin? Is it grabbing them by the arm? Just exactly what is “reasonable force” in that language?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Well, that concludes our time for questions and comments. But before I go back to the member for Parry Sound–Muskoka, I want to remind all members that questions and comments are intended to relate back to the member who has given the speech. The questions and comments are to relate to the member’s speech, not to just generalize the debate and continue it in two-minute segments. So I’ll remind the members of the House of that.

I’ll return to the member for Parry Sound–Muskoka, who has two minutes to reply.

Mr. Norm Miller: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you to the member from Windsor–Tecumseh, who talked about the Pan/Parapan Am Games and the report done by the Auditor General, which of course demonstrated how the security cost of the Pan/Parapan games is going from $121.9 million to $247.4 million, and who knows? It may be higher than that. I’m just amazed that the budget could be so far off. But we’ve certainly seen that in the past as well.

And the Attorney General, who had some suggestions for improvement and actually talked a bit about the Ombudsman report. Of course, the Ombudsman report was called Caught in the Act. It had to do with the Public Works Protection Act and the G20. He stated that “Regulation 233/10, passed to enhance security during the G20 summit, should never have been enacted. It was likely unconstitutional. The effect of regulation 233/10, now expired, was to infringe on freedom of expression in ways that do not seem justifiable in a free and democratic society.” It was, of course, the cabinet of the government that enacted that regulation.

The member from Haldimand–Norfolk raised questions of security, many other different questions about security, pipelines, etc.

And the member from Niagara Falls, again talked about the G20 and just tried to bring the perspective of the people who actually were directly affected by this regulation and what they had to deal with.

So I thank all members for their comments and for the opportunity to speak today to Bill 35.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ted Arnott): Thank you. It being close to 6 of the clock, this House stands in recess until 6:45 p.m.

The House recessed from 1757 to 1845.

Evening meeting reported in volume B.