L149 - Thu 10 Mar 2016 / Jeu 10 mar 2016

LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO

ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO

Thursday 10 March 2016 Jeudi 10 mars 2016

Orders of the Day

Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur l’atténuation du changement climatique et une économie sobre en carbone

Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 favorisant un Ontario sans déchets

Sign-language interpretation

Introduction of Visitors

Member’s birthday

Oral Questions

Pesticides

Ontario budget

Ontario Drug Benefit Program

Special-needs students

Public transit

Ontario budget

Climate change

Housing Services Corp.

Steel industry

Education

Ontario budget

Animal protection

Energy policies

Wind turbines

Legislative pages

Deferred Votes

Jobs for Today and Tomorrow Act (Budget Measures), 2016 / Loi de 2016 favorisant la création d’emplois pour aujourd’hui et demain (mesures budgétaires)

Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur l’atténuation du changement climatique et une économie sobre en carbone

Notice of dissatisfaction

Introduction of Visitors

Members’ Statements

DANI

Poverty

Sheila Ward

Leo McArthur

Pay equity

Hazel McCallion

Hospital funding

Mining industry convention

Fashion History Museum

Introduction of Bills

Smoke-Free Ontario Amendment Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 modifiant la Loi favorisant un Ontario sans fumée

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

Canadian Agricultural Safety Week

Petitions

Health care funding

Dog ownership

Public transit

Health care funding

Mental health and addiction services

Lung health

Health care

Ontario Northland Transportation Commission

Lung health

Hydro rates

Health care funding

Elder abuse

Health care funding

Private Members’ Public Business

Men’s Health Awareness Week Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur la Semaine de la sensibilisation à la santé des hommes

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur la Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale maternelle

Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur le congé et les mesures d’accommodement pour les employés victimes de violence familiale ou sexuelle et la formation dans le lieu de travail

Men’s Health Awareness Week Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur la Semaine de la sensibilisation à la santé des hommes

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur la Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale maternelle

Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur le congé et les mesures d’accommodement pour les employés victimes de violence familiale ou sexuelle et la formation dans le lieu de travail

The House met at 0900.

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

Prayers.

Orders of the Day

Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur l’atténuation du changement climatique et une économie sobre en carbone

Resuming the debate adjourned on March 9, 2016, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 172, An Act respecting greenhouse gas / Projet de loi 172, Loi concernant les gaz à effet de serre.

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

Ms. Peggy Sattler: It is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people I represent in London West. In particular today, I am honoured to join in this very critical debate about the government’s Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act. Certainly, this is an issue that is vital to my community. It’s vital to the 107 ridings that we represent in this chamber. It’s vital to Legislatures across this country and around the world.

In London, there was a city council report that looked at infrastructure needs and the vulnerability of infrastructure to climate change. That report noted that in the last 30 years London has had five severe flooding occurrences: in March 1977, September 1986, July 2000 and then twice in 2008, in April and December. The report said that climate modeling based on more up-to-date rainfall events and patterns suggests the city of London can expect to experience more frequent and severe precipitation events in the future which may seriously impact various public infrastructures.

So there are costs associated with not addressing climate change. The costs go beyond economic. They are, obviously, environmental; they’re also political. Speaker, the decisions that we make on this bill are going to be far-reaching in terms of their implication, so we need to get this bill right.

I want to state at the outset that New Democrats unequivocally support a cap-and-trade system. We recognize the urgency of taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the urgency of moving to a low-carbon economy. Climate change is real, Speaker, and the consequences of inaction are devastating. The stakes are too high to play around with half measures or to put a plan in place that doesn’t have the buy-in necessary to truly make a difference. We’ve already seen how this government’s failure to listen to expert advice, to heed the warnings that have been sounded, has undermined environmental initiatives in the past. We can’t afford another green energy debacle. It tainted the whole notion of green economy. It made people cynical about the government’s motivations in moving ahead. Instead of a collective commitment to promote sustainable development, to support environmental responsibility and ecological stewardship, people are starting to look at government legislation as simply greenwashing. That’s why New Democrats have been insisting that the cap-and-trade system that is established by this bill is fair, effective and transparent.

What do we mean by each of these tenets?

By fairness, we mean that we need legislation that will unify Ontarians, not divide them. There is nothing that divides people more than the feeling that some are being asked to contribute more than their fair share while others are getting a free ride. New Democrats want assurances that the cap-and-trade system will not disproportionately affect low-income Ontarians. They already pay a much greater share of their income in home heating and gas for their vehicles, so we want assurances that low-income Ontarians won’t be disadvantaged.

In addition, we don’t want to see people who live in remote and northern communities across the province disadvantaged by the system. Northerners and people who live in rural communities don’t have the same options as those of us who live in southern Ontario to reduce carbon emissions. They don’t have access to transit. They wish they had access to transit, but they don’t have any other choice but to use their vehicles to get around. So they are limited in their ability to reduce carbon emissions. The same thing goes for those who live in rental apartments. They don’t have the ability to turn down their thermostat or replace their windows with energy-efficient upgrades.

So the impact on renters, on low-income people, on northerners and on those who live in remote and rural communities will be much greater, and we need to ensure that there are some mitigation measures put in place so that these people don’t disproportionately carry the burden of moving to a low-carbon economy.

Does this mean that we shouldn’t increase costs for gas and heating? No, it doesn’t. But what we do need to do is look at ways to mitigate the impact of these costs. This is what is being done in BC, it is what has been done in California and it’s what is going to be done in Alberta. We know that in BC there is a special rebate for low-income families. California requires that at least 25% of cap-and-trade revenues are spent on programs that benefit disadvantaged communities, and Alberta’s new plan includes a consumer rebate that will offset the impact of carbon pricing on most households in the bottom 60% of income across that province.

New Democrats are not the only ones who are calling for measures to share the burden fairly to help low-income Ontarians be part of the solution. The Canadian Environmental Law Association and the Clean Economy Alliance have also urged the government to include requirements that revenue from the cap-and-trade program be used to counteract the impact of the program on low-income communities. In spite of what the government has heard from organizations like the Canadian Environmental Law Association and the Clean Economy Alliance, the Ontario government’s proposed system does not recognize fairness as one of the fundamental principles that need to be in place for an effective cap-and-trade system.

I now want to turn to transparency, which is the second key tenet of any effective program of cap-and-trade. The government says that the revenues that are generated by the cap-and-trade system will be dedicated to climate change action. However, we understand that the money is going to flow into general revenue. The greenhouse gas reduction account that the government is setting up is not a separate, special-purpose account at all; it is an accounting procedure. The rules are flexible, as the Financial Accountability Officer has pointed out. The government can basically spend the money that is put into the account on anything it wants, including deficit reduction. There’s no guarantee that cap-and-trade revenues are going to increase overall funding for climate change action, no commitment to record money in/money out. The balance of the account can be spent on programs that are either directly or indirectly related to greenhouse gas emissions, but there are no guidelines about what this actually means and no firm restrictions on how that money can be spent.

0910

New Democrats are calling for the money to flow into a separate account that is separately and transparently audited and directly connected to targeted, measurable and independently verifiable greenhouse gas reductions. We want to see the revenues that are generated used to actually help mitigate the effects of climate change and bring about some of that fairness I talked about earlier. This cannot be done if the government is unwilling to open the books and tie this funding to evidence and to require tangible results.

Finally, but of course most importantly, is the tenet of effectiveness. That is the third of what we see as the absolute fundamental preconditions for a cap-and-trade system. Because what good is the bill if it is not effective in actually reducing emissions? The way that the program is set up in this legislation is with as little oversight as possible. The system is delegated to an unaccountable private corporation that is not subject to public oversight. It’s not subject to the Auditor General or the Environmental Commissioner, which we, Speaker, see as unacceptable. The Financial Accountability Officer has said it is impossible to know if the revenues will actually be spent on new greenhouse gas emission reductions. The Environmental Commissioner is shut out of the legislation. She is not given access to the information and data that she would need to properly assess the system.

We need look no further than Quebec to see what can happen when a plan is announced but there is no effective oversight put in place. New Democrats want to see this system work and we are looking forward to amendments to make sure that it does.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I’m not sure how familiar the member is with the bill. First of all, yes, it’s separately accounted for; that’s a higher standard. Second, all money going in has to be recorded. All money has to be post 2014. Additional GHG reductions have to be estimated, they have to align with the action plan and they have to be specifically measurable.

No other jurisdiction in the world has that. Yes, the Auditor General will be tracking this. The Environmental Commissioner will be tracking this. Quebec just adopted our standards. Alberta and BC are planning increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Alberta is planning increases. Manitoba: The NDP government there is adopting a similar system, very similar, and we are working very closely with Premier Selinger’s government. California is still trying to get to 1990 levels, which we’re 6% below.

Mr. Speaker, this is a higher standard than anybody else, including New Democrats in Manitoba and Alberta. They have not had the standard. Quebec is now adapting the standards that we have. So if any member in this House has any difficulty understanding how the money is flowing, I would be glad to meet with them and take them through line by line exactly which programs are there. We are also a member of both WCI and the Compact of States and Regions, which require independent reporting, which is a higher standard than almost any other subnational government. If anyone in this House can find anyone who has a higher standard of transparency, please let me know.

As for low-income housing and low-income issues, I worked with Senator de León in California, I went down there; we’re looking at their programs. Part of the design of the social housing program, which is one of the advanced pilot projects, was designed very much along the lines of California. Mr. Speaker, we’ve been working with the Suzuki foundation, Environmental Defence, Sustainable Prosperity, large groups. We’ve had David Sawyer, who is one of the best economic modellers right now, do the work. I think we need to get this to committee soon, so we can actually hear from this expertise that the opposition would like us to involve.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mr. Jim McDonell: I’m proud to rise on behalf of my residents in Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry.

Interesting to hear the comments back and forth. I know the NDP, of course, on paper—this-cap-and-trade would set up a huge bureaucracy. Of course, huge bureaucracies are something the other two parties love. They chew up a lot of the scarce resources we have, taxpayers’ money. If we’re going to really share the burden fairly, this should be revenue-neutral, where the money comes back. Sure, we’re talking about a price on carbon, but this should not be a tax grab. We see, contrary to over here across the floor, that the budget is very clear: It’s $1.9 billion to pay off the deficit in 2018. We don’t think that’s fair; we think it will hurt the economy. If you really want to benefit the people of Ontario, give that money back.

I have a small oil company in my riding; it also serves Quebec. His plea was: Stay away from cap-and-trade. There’s a huge bureaucracy in his own company—lawyers, experts and consultants—and he said, “We paid a huge amount of money to California for offsets. That does not benefit anybody in Canada, when your money is leaving the country.” So on top of the fact that it’s not revenue-neutral—that’s very clear in their own documents and in the budget—we see a big export of our own scarce dollars, and we need to do something.

It may have been a Freudian slip, but the Premier called it “crap-and-trade,” and I think that’s not too far from the truth. We have to get away from something that just—they tried it in Europe, and it didn’t work. It was a huge bureaucracy that collapsed, with a lot of people getting into the market selling offsets that weren’t really beneficial to the system. It just hasn’t worked anywhere else.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: C’était très intéressant d’écouter ma collègue de London-Ouest présenter les bons côtés et les moins bons côtés du projet de loi. On est ici, vraiment, pour dire : « On appuie ce type de projet de loi. On est en faveur depuis des années, et on veut que ça vienne en Ontario. » Réduire les gaz à effet de serre, c’est un projet de société, c’est un projet de générations. Il faut prendre le premier pas. Je vous dirais que le premier pas aurait dû être pris il y a plusieurs années.

Mais, ça étant dit, il faut s’assurer que le projet de loi qu’on met de l’avant va donner des résultats. On voit, dans d’autres juridictions—puis elle a donné les exemples au Québec—où, bien qu’ils ont mis en place un système semblable au nôtre, on n’a pas vu de réduction dans les gaz à effet de serre. Donc, on veut que ça donne des résultats. Dans un deuxième temps, on veut que ça soit juste.

Moi et mon collègue devant moi, on représente des communautés du Nord. On sait tous que, dans les communautés du Nord, oui, on utilise plus d’essence parce que les distances sont plus grandes et les transports en commun n’existent pas. Dans un deuxième temps, oui, il faut chauffer nos maisons plus longtemps et un peu plus. Je suis à Toronto en ce moment. Il fait beau. Hier, les gens mangeaient dehors sur des patios. Chez nous, il y a quatre pieds de neige. Il n’y en a pas de patios ouverts. Ils n’ouvriront pas pour plusieurs mois. Il va falloir continuer à chauffer nos maisons.

Donc, vous pouvez voir que, quand on parle de justice, si les gens du Nord finissent par payer plus parce qu’ils n’ont pas le choix, les gens vont se révolter contre ça. Il faut prendre en compte l’aspect humain de nos projets de loi, et ça, ça veut dire justice.

Dans un dernier temps : la transparence. Quand il y a 1,9 milliard de dollars qui vont rentrer dans les coffres du gouvernement, il faut savoir où ça va aller.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mr. Arthur Potts: It gives me great pleasure to respond to the comments made by the member from London West. It’s not that we haven’t heard these comments before. The fairness, transparency and effectiveness approach is what I’ve heard from every member of that party. I know that deep down they support what we’re doing, and there may be little nooks and fixes they want to make.

I have to respond to the notion we’re hearing from the members of the official opposition that this is a tax, because it’s not; it’s a regulatory fee. We all know that regulatory fees have to be spent in a very narrow, specific way and, as we heard from the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, it’s all subject to the oversight of the public accounts committee and the Environmental Commissioner. So we know that we have the openness, we know that we have the transparency, and there will be fairness built into the system.

But you have to understand that the revenue-neutral concept—what BC has done—isn’t working. You don’t have the money to expend on targeted investments that will actually show real reductions in greenhouse gases. If you actually do the analysis of the emissions in BC, you’ll find that they are rising. Where in California and Quebec emissions are declining, in BC they are rising because that process isn’t working. You don’t get serious, good greenhouse gas emission reductions unless you target opportunities for common, regular people to invest in hybrid cars, to invest in ground-source heat pumps and a whole bunch of others. So, revenue-neutral? No. We believe this will be revenue-positive to people who take action on climate change.

0920

It may be time we just put this to committee. Let’s get the other stakeholders into the committee to start, and they can see through all the bafflegab we’re getting from the other side.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I now return to the member for London West. You have two minutes.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I want to thank the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the member for Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry, the member for Nickel Belt and the member for Beaches–East York for their comments on my remarks.

I just wanted to respond to the minister and point out that it is not just New Democrats who are talking about the lack of transparency. As I mentioned in my speech, the Financial Accountability Officer himself said—and I’m quoting here—“It is unclear to what extent these new revenues”—these new cap-and-trade revenues—“will be directly tied to new program spending or can be used to fund existing spending commitments.” There is nothing in this legislation that ties the revenues that are generated by the cap-and-trade system to actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The other big concern, when I talked about fairness, transparency and effectiveness, is that currently the bill before us includes this exemption so that all of the largest polluters in this province get a carbon tax holiday. They don’t have to pay for their carbon emissions until some undetermined date, whereas Ontario families—including those with the lowest income, including those from remote and rural communities, including those who rent apartments rather than own—all other Ontarians are being expected to start paying as early as January 1, 2017. This will be perceived as not being fair. It is a disproportionate sharing of the burden that will fall on the shoulders of Ontario families while large polluters are getting a bye because they get a carbon tax holiday.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. John Fraser: It’s a pleasure to stand and speak to Bill 172 on behalf of my constituents in Ottawa South. I want to start by congratulating the minister for bringing this bill forward, for his passion and his openness to all members of the Legislature. I am going to repeat something that he said—not quite as how he said it, because it was to respond to the member from Niagara Falls, who asked for this response yesterday. I appreciated what we thought was a compliment. I understood the spirit it was made in so I won’t be giving him a relative answer; I’ll be giving him an accurate answer of exactly what this bill is going to do.

The proposed Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act would ensure transparency and accountability by committing to invest into projects that reduce greenhouse gas pollution and establish a greenhouse gas reduction account with the funds. Mandatory climate change action plans would need to include details related to how proceeds would be used, the estimated amount for funding for each action, a timetable for implementation, an estimate of the emissions reductions, and the cost per tonne of those potential reductions. We heard, in the minister’s last two minutes, his response to how those funds are allocated and dedicated to those purposes. It’s a regulatory fee.

I do want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I believe that all members of this Legislature are concerned about the environment. It’s evident in this debate. If I listen to the members opposite, I hear support for the policy of cap-and-trade, that they have a favourable position towards that. The member from London West just said she unequivocally supports cap-and-trade. I heard member after member yesterday speak to their support for cap-and-trade.

Now, I know that the opposition party had a bit of a revelation. I don’t want to denigrate it and I want to believe the sincerity of it. The commitment would be better demonstrated if they had got their petitions down by yesterday afternoon.

What happened yesterday afternoon, for those of us who were here, was the debate kind of devolved into something that was not really great debate. It was probably entertaining for some of us in here. I participated in it. It probably contributed a lot to the greenhouse gas emissions from this particular building yesterday, and I don’t think it was particularly productive.

The member from Essex put it very clearly: This is far, far too serious an issue for us to devolve debate into what it devolved into yesterday. It’s picking up and starting to get to it today; you can hear it by some rhetoric coming out with regard to who said this, who said that and what people’s intentions are.

In China, I think it was in Beijing, they had their first red alert smog day, and what that means is: Don’t go outside; it will make you sick. Now, I remember watching movies of the dystopian future where we’re all walking around with gas—

Ms. Cindy Forster: The Fog.

Mr. John Fraser: That’s it, The Fog.

Maybe debate is devolving because we’ve had a lot of debate; we’ve had 10 hours of debate on this.

Here’s how I hear the positions: Over here, they support cap-and-trade; they’re concerned with transparency, and we are responding to that. I get that, I know where they are coming from. Conservatives are over here saying, “No, you’ve got it all wrong. Last weekend we decided we are in favour of putting a price on carbon.” Yesterday, I heard the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke say that Mike Harris and Ernie Eves closed the coal plants and that we just locked the gate.

That’s what makes me doubt the sincerity sometimes or the commitment to the new policy that they found last weekend. I’m going to accept their sincerity; I still have questions about their commitment.

It’s very clear where they stand and it’s becoming an opportunity to use highly inflamed rhetoric around the use of that money that I think is inappropriate rhetoric. It’s fine; we can use it in this House. What I think of it is maybe not what everybody else thinks of it. Using terms like “slush fund,” and rolling it all up—I think that when you’re starting to get to that point in the debate, you’re not actually debating the substance of what’s there.

Interjections.

Mr. John Fraser: Well, that’s exactly what I’m talking about, Mr. Speaker. This is far too serious for us to devolve down to this kind of rhetoric and debate.

I listened closely to the debate yesterday, even the stuff that I would say got a little out of hand. I participated in that. The positions are very clear. The positions are very clear about where everybody is coming from. I agree with the member from Timmins–James Bay when he said in yesterday’s afternoon debate, “I want this bill to go to committee, so that other people can look at it and tell us what they think.”

So given all those things, I move that the question now be put.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Fraser has moved that the question be now put.

I’m satisfied that there has been sufficient debate to allow this question to be put to the House, which was just under 11 hours.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion that the question be now put, please say “aye.”

All those opposed to the motion that the question be now put, please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote will be required. This vote will be deferred until after question period.

Vote deferred.

Waste-Free Ontario Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 favorisant un Ontario sans déchets

Resuming the debate adjourned on March 1, 2016, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 151, An Act to enact the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2016 and the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2016 and to repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002 / Projet de loi 151, Loi édictant la Loi de 2016 sur la récupération des ressources et l’économie circulaire et la Loi transitoire de 2016 sur le réacheminement des déchets et abrogeant la Loi de 2002 sur le réacheminement des déchets.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

0930

Mr. Gilles Bisson: This is not the first time that we’ve dealt with this particular issue. This bill, in a different machination, was before the House in the previous Parliament. There’s some good in what the government is trying to do, but I’m thinking it’s leaving a lot of municipalities scratching their heads and figuring out how they’re going to pay for this. The way the government has set this up is that rather than the people who cause the cost of having to pick up the large recycling of those items that are covered by this bill, boxes and other such things—rather than them paying, we’re essentially asking ratepayers to pay. And the municipalities are saying they’ve only got so much that they’re able to do when it comes to room with the budgets they’ve got, and where are they going to get the money to offset all of this? I think municipalities are willing to do their part, but we need to have some system by which the people who make the products also have to pay at the front end so that it’s not the ratepayer at the end of the taxes who ends up having to pay. It’s always the same story with these people. It seems that the government has a predilection for passing on the cost from industry and pushing it onto the consumer and, in this case, the ratepayers of our municipalities.

J’ai entendu, par exemple, de la ville de Hearst, qu’ils ont eu un débat assez animé sur cette question, justement, peut-être il y a un mois passé. Je sais que j’en ai parlé avec une couple de conseillers, dont André Rhéaume, et d’autres. Eux autres soulèvent la question et ils disent, « Écoute, on veut faire ce qui est bien et bon, puis on veut faire notre part. On comprend tous qu’à la fin de la journée, on a besoin d’avoir un système de recyclage qui marche, qui fait du bon sens et qui accomplit le but d’assurer qu’on recycle autant que possible plutôt que de mettre des affaires dans les dépotoirs. Mais, pourquoi est-ce que c’est la municipalité qui va devoir payer la majorité du coût pour être capable de mettre ce système-là en place? »

So, donc, les municipalités, telles que Hearst et telles que d’autres communautés qu’on a entendues à travers AMO, the Ontario municipal association, disent qu’il y a un vrai problème avec la manière que cette affaire-là est faite. Moi, je me demande pourquoi le gouvernement a fait la décision de changer un peu le concept du premier projet de loi, qui aurait vu une plus grosse responsabilité de la part de l’industrie que dans cette version de la loi—à cette heure qu’ils sont une majorité—où on va transférer le coût à ceux qui payent les taxes dans nos municipalités.

Je pense que le gouvernement a manqué un peu son coup. Possiblement, si on est bien chanceux, quand ce projet de loi arrive au comité, il va y avoir une chance pour les communautés, telles que Hearst et d’autres, d’arriver devant le gouvernement et de leur poser cette question-là.

Je vais vous dire à ce point-ci, monsieur le Président, que je ne sais pas si vous le savez, mais la province de l’Ontario est plus grande que Toronto. Il y a d’autres municipalités. Il y a des municipalités comme Hearst, des municipalités comme Ottawa, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Cornwall, Sarnia—il y a bien des municipalités dans la province. Mais ce gouvernement, quand ça vient à l’habileté du public de venir présenter devant un comité, ils disent, « Oh! On va aller à Toronto. On va rester ici, et tout le monde a besoin de venir à Toronto pour présenter à ces comités. »

Dans le cas de ce projet de loi, je pense qu’on serait très bien servi si le comité embarquait dans un autobus—ou dans l’avion, dépendamment d’où on s’en va—et puis s’en allait à quatre, cinq ou six communautés à travers la province et parlait à des municipalités moyennes, plus grandes et plus petites pour savoir ce que veut dire ce projet de loi-là, comment ça va marcher pour eux autres et comment on peut améliorer le projet de loi pour faire ce qui est bien et bon quand ça vient à l’environnement.

I don’t know anybody, Mr. Speaker, who doesn’t want to do what’s right for the environment. We are all living on this very small planet, and we all want to do our thing to make sure that we don’t pollute our planet and leave the planet in worse condition than when we were born on it. So we have to do our bit, and recycling is a big part of that.

As I was saying—it’s a big surprise. I know that the government thinks that there’s no other place but Toronto. I love Toronto; Toronto is a beautiful city. It’s got a lot to offer—great people. But you know what? There’s more to Ontario than just the city of Toronto, and that’s why committees, when it comes to hearing from the public, shouldn’t just stay here in Toronto in the Legislature. We should actually do what this Legislature did for over 100 years until these guys came along, and that is to travel committees out into the community.

When I got here in the 1990s, almost every controversial bill got to travel, and they would travel at least two to three weeks. If a government was doing a bill that affected northern Ontario, guess where that bill went? If the bill affected eastern Ontario, guess where that bill went? There was a sufficient amount of hearings that the public and those people affected were able to come forward.

In this case, we know that especially small communities across Ontario have an issue with this bill. Sitting on councils in municipalities across Ontario, from Welland to Port Colborne to Hearst to Chapleau and to other communities, those aldermen and councillors that sit at those council tables want to do what is right. They’re green in their own right. They want to do their bit in order to make sure that we leave for our children a planet that is livable and not polluted. Part of doing that is making sure we have good recycling programs. But they want to do that in a way that makes sense for their communities.

So I would argue, let’s travel this bill. Let’s allow this bill to go to some of the communities that are going to be affected by it so that we can hear from residents, councillors and various people that are interested in this, so that we can actually get it right and actually finish amending this legislation in a way that people will say, “You know what? I can stand behind this. This is a really good bill.”

Is this a good idea? Absolutely. Nobody is going to argue this is a bad bill. But I think it can be made a lot better, and I think one of the ways that we do that is that we go out and travel.

So, donc, avec les couples de minutes qu’il me reste, je ne veux que répéter que ce qui est important dans une démocratie, c’est de donner l’habileté au public d’avoir la chance de connecter avec leurs politiciens et d’être capable de connecter avec cette Assemblée. La manière qu’on fait ça, c’est à travers nos comités législatifs.

Comme j’ai dit tout à l’heure, non seulement les francophones mais la population ont toujours eu la chance dans le passé de venir présenter. Je demanderais au gouvernement, quand ils envoient ce projet de loi au comité, qu’ils s’assurent en effet qu’on ne fasse pas d’audiences publiques seulement ici à Toronto, mais qu’on fasse des audiences publiques dans d’autres communautés qui vont être affectées par le projet de loi.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

L’hon. Glen R. Murray: Merci pour l’intervention du membre de Timmins–James Bay.

Nous avons beaucoup de discussions avec l’organisation des municipalités de l’Ontario, avec ROMA, et j’ai reçu la semaine passée une soumission de l’association municipale qui inclut des révisions de la loi. En général, je suis très d’accord avec ça.

We’re working very closely, as a matter of fact—the discussions we’ve had with AMO, ROMA, NOMA and FONOM, from the member’s area. I’m glad he’s advocating for this. I think it’s important, and I hope people continue to. I have confidence that he does—few people understand the north as much as the member, who’s a well-known pilot and has probably seen more of the north than others. My family is in Sudbury and the Nickel Belt, and I am about as un-Toronto as a Toronto Centre MPP can be, having been mayor of a capital city where we’d call people like Gilles almost a southerner. So I understand the weather, the challenges, and we’re being very sensitive.

We’ve actually set standards which are quite interesting, and I credit northern municipalities and rural municipalities. We’ve put service standards in that no one else in Canada has. It’s interesting, because I immediately got a call from municipalities in northern and remote British Columbia, and it looks like the BC government is moving there. So there is a strong consensus amongst the environmental groups and the municipalities.

There is still some more work to do, to do some of these issues, but since this bill has gone through three debates now, people are anxious to get onto it. This is the third introduction of the bill. What’s different, and I just want to take a moment, because I think from this Parliament—there’s ideas from all parties. You’ll see a lot of people’s fingerprints in here on both sides of the House. There are many good ideas that have been offered over the years that we have tried to incorporate here.

0940

This is actually called the “circular economy” bill, not just the “waste-free” bill. The other bill that we debated earlier today is actually the “low-carbon economy.” I think, as members look at it, we are trying to get to a zero-waste economy by 2050, and a zero-carbon economy. The implementation of these two bills will be some of the biggest challenges we’ve ever had in Ontario because this is really economic legislation more than it is environmental legislation.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mrs. Gila Martow: I’m a little sad that the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change had to end there because I was very interested in hearing what else he has to say about a zero-carbon economy. I think that we are all concerned about climate change in the House. We all want to see less waste. But we want to see it done in a fiscally responsible, transparent manner that doesn’t rob people of their future through increased taxes. Our party is supporting, obviously, a revenue-neutral plan for taxing carbon.

That’s not what we’re seeing from the government at all. We’re seeing a slush fund being set up to fund their projects, which they are not able to fund even though they are collecting revenue. Why? Because of mismanagement.

I am very concerned about northern communities. The member from Timmins–James Bay brings up a lot of excellent points that a lot of times, here in the south, here in the GTA, we don’t think about: the difficulties in the northern communities. They don’t have transit and then they’re supposed to pay an extra 4.5 cents a litre in taxes to offset carbon. They have no other options. What are they supposed to do, Mr. Speaker?

A main train line to take people up to northern communities was—

Mr. Jim McDonell: They cancelled that.

Mrs. Gila Martow: —cancelled, and people are sort of trapped.

Yes, there’s a lot more we can do to reduce waste, but people don’t want to see neighbours pitted against neighbours, going through each other’s garbage. They don’t want police coming and looking through their garbage. The government doesn’t necessarily know how many people live in a household.

I think that there are a lot of topics that really need to be discussed before we ram through legislation that can hurt our communities.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Ms. Cindy Forster: It’s a pleasure to get up and do two minutes on Bill 151, on waste reduction and resource recovery. I can tell you that for probably eight or nine years as a regional councillor, I sat on waste management’s planning, steering and—there were two or three committees in the region of Niagara at that time. It is a real struggle for municipalities to get their minds around this. They try many different things. They do all kinds of pilots.

I know that in my own riding, we used to have two small contractors, Burger and Protz. For many years, they were the waste management people. When the region took over waste management from municipalities, there was this promise that waste management costs were going to go down. Well, in fact, they didn’t go down, because after the first contract with waste management, which was a lowball, it edged out all the small contractors. It took lots of people who were making $18, $20, $24 an hour at that time—I’m talking more than 10 years ago—out, to waste management which now has one guy on a truck making just over minimum wage, driving, jumping out, emptying the recycling and emptying the garbage.

Bigger isn’t always better in the world of waste management. I think that there are jurisdictions that we can learn from that have simplified it. I often hear from seniors—older seniors who are still in their homes—about the difficulty they have with cutting the cardboard, tying the string around it, having three or four different boxes and trying to deal with their organics.

We also have young families who are trying to work two and three jobs who just don’t have time to follow all these rules. I think that we need to find simpler ways for people to actually try and reduce waste, in their own ways.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member from Mississauga–Streetsville.

Mr. Bob Delaney: What is this bill all about? This bill can be summed up in a few, fairly simple descriptors. Some $1 billion worth of recoverable material each and every year is lost to landfills. How much goes into landfills? This bill is about trying to find $1 billion a year in something like eight million tonnes of waste that gets sent to landfills. If you really want to find an issue in your community, propose building a new dump; propose transporting waste through your community. This bill is all about, how do we reduce that?

What’s the benefit of this bill? The benefit of this bill is that by recovering resources from waste, you can create something in the neighbourhood of 13,000 new jobs in the province of Ontario and contribute something like $1.5 billion to Ontario’s GDP. This is important. Just look at what a great recovery that Ontario has had in manufacturing, a subject I’ve spoken about particularly in our riding, where manufacturing has been one of the real drivers of Mississauga’s economy coming out of the recession.

The green economy is going to be one of the major drivers of the first half of the 21st century, and Ontario has got a lot of raw material that, at the moment, is locked in landfills. What this bill is all about is opening up that industry and enabling the recovery of glass, metal, plastic and organic waste, and by reprocessing that and repurposing it—particularly such multiple-use materials as metals, for example; separating out iron, copper, lead and all other metals—you can recirculate them and put them right back into new construction.

That’s what this bill is about, Speaker. It’s about jobs, it’s about investment and it’s about moving forward in the 21st century.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Timmins–James Bay.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I want to thank the members for their comments.

In the two minutes that I’ve got left, I want to congratulate a municipality that is actually getting it right, and that’s my home town, the city of Timmins. We have a really excellent garbage and recycling system where it’s all done at the same time. They’re dual-combination trucks. What you have is a grey bin and green bin. They are quite large: A green bin is as big as this—pretty large—and the grey is a little bit smaller. You do your separation of garbage at your home and put your recycling, obviously, in the blue bin, I should say, and you put your garbage in the grey bin.

I’ve got to tell you that at our house and at the cottage, where we have that system, it is unbelievable the amount of garbage that we actually put into the landfill now as compared to before. You can go an entire week and cook for your family and have the grandkids over and do all the stuff you got to do, and you’re lucky if you put out a garbage bag. I’m not talking a big green one, but one of those kitchen catchers of garbage into the grey bin, because everything, once you start separating it out, is pretty recyclable.

It’s kind of funny. Imagine little old me, Gilles from northern Ontario, with my family—I’ve become the recycle czar. I’m the guy who opens up the garbage at the cottage and goes, “Hey, you guys put Kleenex in there. What’s that doing in there?” My family gets a big joke out of that because they’ve never seen me as that type of guy. But I see the value of it because it has really meant that we are not putting into our landfill a whole bunch of recyclables that have some value, that we can bring back into the economy, and, more importantly, that we are able to have a green environment.

I’ve only got a few seconds. The other side thing: We had a huge bear problem in the area where I’m out at, Kamiskotia. One of the things that helped is that they reopened the dump. But this whole system about how we deal with our garbage at our own properties through this system has also assisted in diminishing the amount of bears that wander on to our property.

So to the city of Timmins, a shout-out. I think they’re doing a great job.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate? The member for Parry Sound–Muskoka.

Mr. Norm Miller: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to Bill 151 this morning. I thought I might be speaking to a different bill this morning, but I’m looking forward to having a few comments on Bill 151 anyway.

Bill 151, An Act to enact the Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act, 2015 and the Waste Diversion Transition Act, 2015 and to repeal the Waste Diversion Act, 2002, is a government bill put forward by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. Mr. Speaker, our party has said we support this bill, although we are advocating for some changes. It is a topic that I’ve talked about before. In fact, when I learned in the last few minutes that I would be speaking to this, I went back in history to see one of the first times I was talking about the general concept of the bill.

0950

It turns out—time flies—it was Thursday, May 19, 2005, when I had the opportunity to put forward a private member’s bill. At that time, I was debating my own private member’s bill, which was Bill 195, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act with respect to the stewardship of products and of the packages or containers used for products. That really was the same general idea of what this bill is trying to do.

Initially, when I was going to do the private member’s bill, I was just looking into deposit-return systems, which I thought worked quite effectively to recycle materials and reuse materials, particularly the system The Beer Store in Ontario uses, which has been so effective. But after meeting with constituents in my riding, in particular Dr. Jim McTaggart-Cowan—he had been out in British Columbia, where they had a product stewardship system, and he brought that to my attention, so I decided to expand my private member’s bill to be more about product stewardship. I want to quote from that, from 11 years ago, to talk about what product stewardship is.

“So what is product stewardship? It’s a management system based on industry and consumers taking full responsibility for the products they produce and use, from their inception through to their final reuse or recycle state. It’s cradle-to-cradle management. The way it works is that government, on behalf of consumers, has three supportive roles.

“First, it identifies which products it wants embraced, establishes targets for product capture and charges industry with the responsibility of forming a management board and preparing stewardship plans. Second, it assists industry by putting in place regulations to support the collective industry approach and ensures a level playing field for all corporations involved in the relevant sector. Third, it approves stewardship plans, monitors industry progress and ensures that plans are altered to achieve overall objectives.

“Through this product stewardship approach, government moves away from funding, at taxpayers’ expense, waste management. Instead, it holds industry responsible for the full life cycle of a product but leaves it to industry to find the most cost-effective and efficient way to achieve it, assisting where necessary and desired.”

I went on to illustrate, using the deposit-returns example, how that would work. In the case of beverage containers, “First, government designates beverage containers. Then government establishes a recovery rate of, say, 85% in three years. It charges industry with the responsibility of forming a management board, which prepares a stewardship plan. Government approves and monitors the stewardship plan, which, in this case, includes a deposit-return system. If industry doesn’t meet the target of 85% recovery, it must make changes to the plan. In the case of a deposit-return system,” the simple way you change the plan, the most likely thing you would do, is increase the deposit, which would then incent people to return the beverage containers.

“Product stewardship works because industry comes up with the solutions. They know their business best, and they will come up with solutions that are both cost-effective”—because they’re responsible for a lot of the costs—“and that get the job done.”

I went on to talk a bit about BC, because at that point—and now here we are 11 years later—BC was so much ahead of us here in Ontario.

“In the year 2000, BC recovered 61% of glass bottles, compared to 45% in Ontario, 73% of PET, compared to 16% in Ontario—that’s probably why we have so much plastic in our ditches—and 84% of aluminum cans, compared to 50% in Ontario.”

They had a system for paint, which we just don’t have in Ontario, under their product stewardship system. In BC, where paint is a designated product, it has changed the way they sell paint. Here in Ontario, our system is biased towards larger containers. Most of us have garages or basements full of partly filled containers of paint which, hopefully, eventually get disposed of in the proper way at one of the centres, where they can at least keep it out of drains and sewers. When you buy the four-litre container, it’s cheaper than if you buy one litre, so we usually buy four litres. Who doesn’t have a garage—and this is me, 11 years ago—full of partly filled paint cans? Where does the paint end up?

In BC, product stewardship has changed the way they sell paint. There are more water-based paints. In some cases, you can bring your own container and have it filled. A 2003 BC government summary report looked at the paint stewardship program, which covers paints, solvents, flammable liquids, pesticides and gasoline. It is run by Product Care, a national, non-profit stewardship association made up of 100 brand owners. Product Care’s membership includes manufacturers, distributors and retailers. In 2003, they collected 5,683,000 equivalent litre containers of paint and gave away 107,000 litres in a paint exchange program. Flammable liquids collected were 121,000 litres, and pesticides collected were 31,000 litres. The way they used that was that 4.6% of paint was given back to consumers; 66% was recycled/reprocessed as paint and used in concrete manufacturing; 29% was used for energy recovery through fuel blending; and 0.2% was incinerated; 0% was landfill.

You can see that product stewardship—this is way back in 2003—in BC was working. I’m proud to have brought this up in the Legislature back in 2005, with that private member’s bill that I’m very proud of. That’s an approach that our party, in later years, has adopted, and I’m happy about that, because I think it makes sense. I’m happy to see that the government is implementing a system that picks up some of those ideas.

I’m sure there are still some concerns, particularly in the municipal area and what happens with the funding of the blue box system to do with this, and we’ll be watching that very, very carefully.

The Ontario PCs certainly have long championed a plan to increase recycling and reduce waste through innovation and competition among businesses in the private sector. That’s exactly what I was talking about in my private member’s bill.

Under the PC plan that we put forward, we would set measureable and achievable recycling targets for businesses, establish environmental standards and enforce the rules. Instead of government being in the business of trying to run these systems—which governments generally are pretty inefficient at doing, and usually make lots of mistakes—you have governments do what they should do, which is set the targets, be the enforcer and make sure the rules and the targets are met. If they aren’t met, then there are ways of achieving that, by fines or other means the government has. It’s certainly an approach that I’m pleased to see, in this bill, Bill 151, that the government is moving towards. We will certainly be very interested to see, in the way that it’s implemented, that it’s done in a way that benefits the province.

We want to see a legislated timeline to eliminate some of the existing programs the government has, some of the eco tax programs. We want to see the waste cops that police recycling bins and garbage cans around the province dropped, and we want to see a reduction in the red tape and the costs in the current program.

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to have had a few minutes to talk about this important bill. Certainly, our party will be looking forward to it and following it closely. We support in principle the bill, but there are lots of details that we will need to follow as it moves into committee etc.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments? The member for Nickel Belt.

Mme France Gélinas: Thank you so much, Speaker, for allowing me to put a few words on the record.

It was very interesting to listen to the member from Parry Sound–Muskoka, especially when he was talking about paint. I agree. I’m as guilty as everybody else. An entire wall of my garage is full of quarter- and half-empty paint cans, and I have some more in the basement. I’m guessing that I’m sort of average in that category.

1000

The paint cans are really just an example as to why it is so important to travel with this bill, because life is different in the different parts of this beautiful province that we represent, and there are great ideas throughout. Wanting to recycle, wanting to recirculate, wanting to be green, is something that is shared throughout Ontario. You can travel to big areas, small areas, rural or remote. We all share the same thing: Nobody likes garbage. If it can be reduced, reused, recycled, we’re all for it. Sometimes there are some pretty nifty ideas that have been put forward. Let’s travel this bill. Let’s bring it to the different areas.

I can tell you that garbage pickup and recycling in my riding is very different than in Toronto. I represent 30 little villages; none of them are big enough to be a municipality. None of them have mayors or councillors or anything like that, but everybody wants to recycle. What happens in my neck of the woods is that you usually have a neighbour with a pickup who will come around, you give him or her your garbage and they bring it to the dump for you. What happens at the dump is very different than what happens at the curbs for most of you. Come and see how it’s done.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mr. Chris Ballard: This is one of those debates that I like to participate in, because I think we’re all on the same page when it comes to recycling and the impact that waste diversion has on our environment, and especially, as well—something that we forget about—the impact it has on our economy.

As a town councillor in Aurora, I know that we struggled with waste diversion costs and blue box costs, but we knew that we had to provide this service. This is a much-needed service that our residents were demanding and our residents used. I know, at the same time, our municipal partners have struggled with those costs, so it’s a good thing to see these recommendations put forward.

Just flipping to the economic argument for recycling, we’re stuck at about 25% of waste diversion, we’re told, which I think is appallingly low. I know that people want to do more. I know that my neighbours, friends and family want to do more. We need to help them to do more. This bill will help them do just that.

Things that leap out at me when you look at waste diversion in Ontario: For example, there is right now about $1 billion worth of recoverable materials lost to landfills across Canada each year. I find that mind-boggling, that we would be throwing away valuable material. I heard the member from Timmins–James Bay talk about going through the household waste to make sure not an ounce of metal went out. He should meet my wife; she is unbelievable. Not a bag leaves the house, not a garbage can goes out of our house, without my wife going through it and pulling out everything that can be recycled. Heaven forbid if she catches you throwing something out that can be recycled.

This bill is going in the right direction, and I’m so delighted to see the support thus far.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Questions and comments?

Mrs. Julia Munro: Actually, I would like to follow on the pattern that has been created by the member for Newmarket–Aurora. On the issue of personal responsibility, I think that this bill missed a huge opportunity not to reference the fact that it all begins with individuals who make choices. We need to have a better understanding of those choices.

On the one hand, packaging has advanced tremendously in terms of its ability to bring an apple in its own little cradle from Chile, South America or South Africa, anywhere in the world, and all those individually wrapped fruits are there. But they also come with their waste and the question of the appropriate diversion for the packaging that’s used. I think that this bill needs to also provide people with an understanding. When we go to the grocery store, we want our food to be in bags or containers or things like that that are hygienic. We don’t want outbreaks of diseases, but there’s a price to pay, and that price to pay is the kind of packaging that we have today.

I would just want to remind people that, as a consumer, you also have a responsibility for the products you buy and the manner in which you dispose of their packaging.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Welland.

Ms. Cindy Forster: The NDP, for many, many years, has pushed to have producers pay more of the freight around the packaging they produce. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but anything bought in recent years is packed mostly with Styrofoam, something that does not degrade in any way. I know just recently, having bought a new printer for my home last week, there were probably 10 pieces of Styrofoam. Inside the box, there were four more boxes. Each cord was in a box instead of perhaps being wrapped in a piece of paper—newspaper or some kind of paper. It filled my grey box when I did my recycling on Sunday afternoon.

I know that the Niagara region, where I live, is certainly weighing in and having a look at this bill, as well as the waste-free bill. They are concerned—I was reading an article in the local newspaper—and at this point, they don’t know what it’s going to mean to municipalities because there’s not a lot of detail in the bill. It’s really enabling legislation, so they don’t know what role municipalities are going to play at the end of the day. They wonder whether or not blue boxing will actually move to the private sector and what role they’ll play in that.

But what they did say was—and we’ve heard it here this morning from several people—that when they open garbage bags in the Niagara region, 50% of it still should be in a green bin, a grey bin or a blue bin, and that diversion rates have really stagnated. So whatever we can do to improve that certainly will help in my riding, where we still have a landfill site.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member for Parry Sound–Muskoka, you have two minutes.

Mr. Norm Miller: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to Bill 151, particularly from the riding I represent, Parry Sound–Muskoka. The environment is certainly one of our top concerns, so any bills that are relevant to the environment, including how we deal with waste, are very important to my riding.

Waste diversion in Ontario has been stalled at 25% for many years, so I think we need to look at systems that work better. That’s why I was very proud, back in May 2005, to put forward a product stewardship bill where industry is responsible for the full life cycle of products, so that they look at things, as was mentioned in some of the comments from other members, like packaging and whether you can recycle or how you deal with the packaging and how you minimize packaging as part of selling products, because the producer of that packaging is responsible for it and has the cost of dealing with it.

I would like to thank the member from Nickel Belt, who suggested that we should be travelling with this; I agree. That’s where we get good ideas. It was a constituent of mine, a scientist, Jim McTaggart-Cowan, who had spent a lot of time in BC, who was the reason I did a product stewardship bill. I was initially just going to do a deposit-return bill. I learned from his knowledge that it made a lot more sense to talk about not just deposit-return but more about full life cycle and product stewardship.

The member from Newmarket–Aurora was talking about cost; the member from York–Simcoe was talking about personal responsibility; and I thank the member from Welland for her comments as well. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity this morning to speak to this bill.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Thank you very much. Seeing the time on the clock, this House stands recessed until 10:30 a.m.

The House recessed from 10:10 to 10:30 a.m.

Sign-language interpretation

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for Timmins–James Bay on a point of order.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Mr. Speaker, we had a discussion amongst the House leaders this morning. I’m seeking unanimous consent to allow a sign-language interpreter to be present on the floor of the chamber to interpret the second question and supplementary of the third party, and the minister’s response.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Timmins–James Bay is seeking unanimous consent to have an interpreter on the floor for a question. Do we agree? Agreed.

Introduction of Visitors

Mr. Bill Walker: I’d like to introduce Dick Hibma. He’s in the audience today. He is the chair of the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. He’s a great community supporter, and we welcome him to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Eleanor McMahon: I’d like to join the member opposite and welcome Dick Hibma to Queen’s Park, along with his colleagues in the conservation movement: Lin Gibson, the vice-chair of Conservation Ontario; Mark Burnham, vice-chair and treasurer of Conservation Ontario; Kim Gavine, general manager of Conservation Ontario; and representatives from many of Ontario’s conservation authorities in the public gallery. I invite all members to attend their reception at noon. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Victor Fedeli: I’d like to welcome Brian Tayler, Sue Buckle and Dave Mendicino to the Legislature. They’re here with the conservation authorities today.

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: I want all members to welcome Tony Saliba. Tony is a dedicated public servant of over 25 years. He has been with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services for all of his tenure, working in our correctional institutions and regional and corporate offices in various roles.

Tony’s commitment is unparalleled. Most recently, he worked tirelessly to help construct and commission the new South West Detention Centre in Windsor and the Toronto South Detention Centre. Tony’s retirement at the end of this month is well earned. We thank him for his service and wish him all the best. Thank you, Tony.

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I am so proud today to introduce three very special students who have been able to attend Queen’s Park today. Omar Elchami, Hannah MacLean and Becca Haggith are here today for question period. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

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

Mr. Bill Walker: I don’t believe he’s in this room, but he is in the building. John Cottrill is the CAO of Grey Sauble Conservation Authority. I welcome him to Queen’s Park and thank him for all his work on behalf of our nature conservancies.

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: I’d like to introduce Joe Garro, who is the father of page captain Andrew Garro.

Member’s birthday

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Point of order: The member from Oxford.

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Mr. Speaker, early this morning I got an email from my wife, who said I was to let the assembly know that the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane will be celebrating his birthday next Monday, and that we wouldn’t be here next Monday so I should do it today.

Hon. Liz Sandals: He isn’t even listening.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m going to take the liberty of making sure that the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane—

Interjection: He’s still not listening.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m going to take a moment—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I understand the nuances of the House. Please, forgive me. I don’t want to chastise anybody on this one.

I just wanted to make sure that the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane heard that Uncle Ernie said “Happy birthday.”

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Don’t mess with somebody’s birthday. That’s all I’ve got to say.

Oral Questions

Pesticides

Mr. Patrick Brown: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. We know this Liberal government can’t get anything right with the neonics ban. The Liberals are telling farmers they can no longer use this pesticide. Yet in the next breath, they’re telling farmers that they must protect their crops from the corn flea beetle. Well, guess what, Mr. Speaker? The only possible treatment for this pest that has been approved in Canada is—you guessed it—neonics.

Does the Premier agree with the principle that agricultural policy should be based on science, not emotion? And can the Premier name one single grain farmer in the province of Ontario who supports their reckless policy?

Interjections.

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

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: On this side of the House we believe that pollinator health is very, very important to the ecology of our planet. Over the last few years, overwinter honeybee mortality rates have exceeded what is normally expected.

I understand that this is a huge concern. It’s not just a concern among beekeepers. This should be a concern for all of us, that we have strong pollinator health, because really, that is how the ecosystem works.

We’ve experienced in Ontario—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): My intent is to remain consistent with my expectations from both sides: questions put, answers put. I need to hear.

Please.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: —a large number of acute bee deaths, spring, summer and fall months. We’re taking a precautionary approach—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Immediately after I asked for attention, the minister from Prince Edward–Hastings decides to tell—

Interjections: Minister?

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

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I don’t have a crystal ball.

Member, come to order.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: We’re taking a precautionary approach, and Ontario farmers who can demonstrate the need will continue to have access to neonicotinoid-treated seeds.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary? The member for Huron–Bruce.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: To the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change: Speaker, I know how much the minister is on Twitter, and I can tell you, if he cared to know what farmers think, he wouldn’t be blocking some grain farmers from his personal account. The truth is, I worry that the Liberals don’t care what farmers think.

Farmers continue to ask this government for clarification on how to protect their crops this season from the corn flea beetle, since the only treatment available is a seed treatment, but the minister won’t say. In fact, government officials have admitted to farmers that the minister has the power to fix this mistake and allow Ontario farmers to protect their crop this year against the corn flea beetle. So why won’t the minister act? The minister has the power to work with farmers and prevent the loss of crops this season.

Speaker, will the minister put politics aside today and actually work with grain farmers to develop this solution?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. The original question was directed to the Premier. It will be directed to the Premier, and it will be the Premier’s choice as to who answers the question.

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I will just say to the leader and to the member opposite that this actually was an issue when I was the Minister of Agriculture and Food. We were working with beekeepers, we were working with grain and oilseed farmers, and the current minister—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Leeds–Grenville.

Carry on.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: The current Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change have worked very closely together, because this is such an important issue. Of course it’s an important issue to grain farmers, but this is an important issue across the agriculture sector, and it’s important across our society that we have strong pollinator health.

Farmers who can demonstrate the need still can use neonicotinoid-treated seeds, but the fact is, we have to make sure that we have strong bees in this province.

1040

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

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Back to the Premier: The facts speak for themselves. The Liberals have botched the rollout of their neonics plan so badly that they are now facing lawsuits from farmers. In fact, five busloads of grain farmers attended a hearing yesterday in Toronto to get the courts to clean up the Liberals’ mess. How many farmers will face financial hardship if changes aren’t made to the ban? You know what? Sadly, the Liberals refuse to listen.

Speaker, does the Premier not understand the concerns of Ontario farmers? Or is this the Liberals’ new agricultural policy: “Do what we say, or we’ll see you in court”?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I will just say that there has been an enormous amount of pressure from other jurisdictions, in Europe and so on, to actually put a ban in place on neonics. We didn’t do that.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: You have government officials saying—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member asked the question.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: We said, and I said, and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has said that putting a ban in place was not based in science. That wasn’t what we were going to do—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): That’s the second time. The member asked the question, and heckling is not really logical to me.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): No, no. It’s not a debate.

Carry on.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: We didn’t leap to that conclusion. We’ve taken a precautionary approach. Quebec has adopted and supports the same policy.

As I have said, Ontario farmers who demonstrate the need—because there are different conditions in different parts of the province—can still use neonicotinoids.

Ontario budget

Mr. Patrick Brown: My question is for the Premier. This is my last question in the Legislature this week, and I wanted to remind everyone how much more expensive—

Interjections.

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

Interjection: You guys need a break.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Somebody might be looking for an early one.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): No, no. Let’s not use this to get the last shot in, please.

Leader.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the government may be averse to tough public policy questions, but I wanted to remind everyone, during this last question, how much more expensive life will be in Ontario after this budget.

According to the CBC report on February 26, this budget increases virtually every other government service fee. At the same time, it cuts popular middle-class tax credits for education and active children. Life is just more expensive for the average family.

Mr. Speaker, my question is, how out of touch is our Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I’m going to go over what our budget does. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition might see that there are some elements of this budget that he actually should support.

For example, taking action on climate change, and investing cap-and-trade proceeds transparently into green projects that reduce pollution, might be something he’d like to support.

Transforming student assistance, actually providing free tuition for low-income families and more affordable—this is important, Mr. Speaker, because the Leader of the Opposition talked about the middle class. In fact, what our budget does is provide more affordable tuition for middle-income families. I would think he would support that.

I was at the ground-breaking of a station on the Eglinton Crosstown today—

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

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I’ll come back to that in the supplementary.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Absolutely.

Supplementary.

Mr. Patrick Brown: Back to the Premier: The Minister of Natural Resources said I was wrong when I called out the government for raising fees connected to his ministry. It appears that the minister did not read pages 190 and 191 of the budget. Those pages explicitly state that fees will be going up. Page 190 specifically lists which fees are going up: fees charged for driver and vehicle licensing, camping in Ontario parks, fishing and hunting licences, just to name a few.

I assume the Premier has a better grasp of what’s in the budget than her ministers do. Will the Premier apologize for making the lives of those in rural Ontario so much more expensive?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, let me just continue. I was talking about the infrastructure investment that we were making. I was at the ground-breaking of a station on the Eglinton line today.

Also in our budget, and just to speak to the fee issue: the lowering of hospital fees, making the shingles vaccine free for eligible seniors, and the elimination of the Drive Clean emissions fee. In addition to that, we are helping families with the cost of electricity—residential electricity users—saving them about $70 a year with the removal of the debt retirement charge. And we are improving services for children and youth with autism, a $333-million investment that will help hundreds of families around this province, middle-income and otherwise.

Interjections.

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

Final supplementary?

Mr. Patrick Brown: That answer wasn’t even remotely connected to the question—not even remotely.

If you have a child playing sports, the Liberals took that help away. Do you like the great outdoors? That costs you more now. Getting a degree? The Premier took those tax credits away. Have to renew your driver’s licence? Well, those fees are going up. Seniors needing medication? Sorry, the Liberals are making that more expensive.

Can the Premier tell this House which one of her billion-dollar scandals she’s using all these fee increases to pay for? Is it eHealth? Is it Ornge? Is it the gas plants? Which one of this government’s scandals is this budget paying for?

Interjections.

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

I’m going to take a moment to ask the deputy House leader to check his comments, please.

Premier?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to talk to the 173,000 seniors who will no longer pay any deductible, whose medication will be free in Ontario because of the changes that we’re making.

I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to talk to the thousands of young people from low- and middle-income families who are no longer going to have to pay tuition at all or not as much tuition. They are going to have access to post-secondary education and therefore access to a better job that will help them in their lives, but that will also help our economy to grow. I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to talk to those families.

I would also ask the Leader of the Opposition to talk to the families of children with autism who have not been able to get service who are going to receive service, and support and resources in order to get their children service. I’d ask him to talk to those families and see what they think about the support that they’re getting.

Ontario Drug Benefit Program

Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour la première ministre.

Speaker, I live in beautiful northern Ontario, and I can assure you that things cost more in northern Ontario than they do down here. Seniors across northern and rural Ontario also live with higher costs.

Does the Premier think that it is fair to nearly double the drug costs for most seniors living in northern and rural Ontario?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I think that what is fair is that low-income seniors who are not able to pay the deductible for their medication—that we would remove that cost from them, and that 173,000 more seniors would pay no deductible and would receive their medications without any payment. I think that’s what is fair.

In terms of the second part of that initiative, I have said over and over in this House that we have a regulation that has been posted. We are hearing from folks in the process of that consultation. If that threshold is not right, then we will, in response to what we hear, make a change.

But 173,000 more seniors in the north, in rural communities and in our urban and suburban centres will no longer have to pay a deductible.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mme France Gélinas: Well, I and New Democrats believe that the strength of our health care system comes from universality. It is there for all of us. In public the Premier certainly talks about universality in health care, but right now her actions are speaking louder than her words.

Most seniors will see their medication costs get more expensive. Can the Premier tell us how many seniors will end up paying more for their medication?

1050

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I would have assumed, but I don’t know if the member opposite understands that everyone who we’re talking about in terms of the 173,000—

Mr. Paul Miller: Oh, no, no one else understands but you.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): What I understand is that the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek is coming closer to the Speaker and I am hearing him again.

Mr. Mike Colle: He’s in the wrong seat.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Nor do I want to hear someone else armchair-quarterbacking my rules.

Please finish.

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Those 173,000 seniors, Mr. Speaker, have been paying a $100 deductible for their medications. They will no longer have to pay that. I actually would have thought that would have been a policy that the NDP would support: removing a cost for seniors that has been there for many years and that they will no longer have to pay. We are removing that, and 173,000 more seniors will not have to pay a deductible that they have been paying for many years.

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

Mme France Gélinas: I am worried about the one million seniors who will have to pay more. Most seniors in northern Ontario can’t afford to see their medication costs double. When the camera is on, the Premier is all about universal health care based on need, not on ability to pay, and that we need more drug coverage. But the Liberal government is moving in the complete opposite direction. It is a plan that is bad for one million Ontario seniors and doubly hard for the struggling seniors of the north. Does the Premier really think that another 20 days is needed to realize that her plans move Ontario in the wrong direction?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Hon. Eric Hoskins: Mr. Speaker, it is really disheartening to hear the third party talk about this program in this fashion when 173,000 new seniors will go from paying a $100 deductible each year to paying zero dollars deductible.

I know the leader of the party is in the north today and tomorrow, having consultations. I think it’s her responsibility not just to talk about the increase that was conceived of and considered in the budget that we’re going to consult on, but to also talk about the 173,000 individuals who will no longer pay any annual deductible. Because to do otherwise is not doing the right thing for the people of Ontario. Many of those people reside in the north. They will benefit from this change. We’re consulting on the rest of it. It’s a figure that’s important, 173,000, so nearly half a million Ontario seniors will pay no deductible whatsoever.

Special-needs students

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: My question is to the Premier. This morning, I was joined by students, parents and advocates in calling on the government to ensure that specialized provincial and demonstration schools that support deaf, blind, deaf-blind and/or other severely learning disabled students in Ontario will remain open.

Provincial and demonstration schools play an important role in helping kids with exceptional needs to succeed. Parents, students and community organizations are very concerned with the so-called consultations currently under way. If this government was truly consulting, they would not have stopped enrolment into these specialized schools. Speaker, my question is simple: Will the Premier guarantee that no provincial or demonstration school will be closed as a result of consultations? Yes or no?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Education.

Hon. Liz Sandals: I’d like to begin by welcoming to the Legislature this morning students from the Robarts provincial school for the deaf and also, I believe, from the Amethyst Demonstration School in London. I’m not sure if there are people from other locations, but I think Robarts and Amethyst families and students are here. Welcome to the Legislature.

I do want to say that we’re committed to the success and well-being of every child and student, including students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, who are blind and have low vision, deaf-blind or those with severe learning disabilities. Just like the member opposite, we do care about that.

I want to assure not just you, Speaker, but also the families and students who are here today, that we have made no—

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

Supplementary?

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I would like to go back to the Premier. Kids who currently attend Amethyst Demonstration School in my community of London are here with us today, students like Becca Haggith and Omar Elchami.

Becca Haggith is also a pupil at the provincially run Amethyst Demonstration School. She has jumped seven reading levels in less than two years. Omar has gone from a grade 2 reading level to a grade 7 reading level, thanks to specialized programming and supports offered by Amethyst school. We have heard from many other students across the province that these programs have the ability to truly change lives.

In my community of London, both Amethyst and the Robarts School for the Deaf are on the chopping block. Can the government please explain to these kids here today and across the province why they are stopping enrolment at such schools if they are really, truly only consulting?

Hon. Liz Sandals: I’ve actually had the opportunity to visit with parents and visit with students, not just at Amethyst but also at the Trillium Demonstration School in Milton and the demonstration school at Centre Jules-Léger in Ottawa, which is the French-language demonstration school. We are just sorting out the scheduling for Sagonaska in Belleville.

I would like to agree with the member. It is very clear that the focused programming that is provided at the demonstration schools—the focus on reading—is absolutely, transformingly effective for the students who talk about being able to enter the school with a kindergarten or grade 1 level and leave the program a year or two later at a grade 9 reading level. That’s totally transformational.

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

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Speaker, I would really like to hear from the Premier on this. The Minister of Education herself continually stands in the House and talks about how great provincial and demonstration schools are for our communities, the important role they play and the life-changing experience students are able to have. As such, it truly boggles the mind to think that this government is considering closing these programs, leaving our most vulnerable kids behind.

I will ask again: Will the Premier admit her mistake and guarantee that all provincial and demonstration schools, including the ones in my community of London, will stay open?

Interjections.

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

Minister?

Hon. Liz Sandals: What I want to reflect on is that the four demonstration schools serve about 155 children right now. We know that there are thousands of children in Ontario who are struggling to learn to read, and we want to make sure that we can learn from the programs in the demonstration schools. How do we deliver those focused programs that can help children catch up in their reading skills so that they can thrive in programs? We need to figure out how to learn from the demonstration schools and to be able to do that all over the province, not just in four locations. We need to understand how we can help more children benefit from these wonderful programs which target children who are at average or above intelligence but who just haven’t been able to—

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

New question.

Public transit

Mr. Michael Harris: My question is to the Premier. Today marks the third time in three weeks that I have had to question the Premier and the minister about their lack of oversight of what many are calling the “rogue” Liberal transit planning agency, Metrolinx.

Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie is calling Metrolinx’s behaviour appalling, saying, “They operate within their own set of rules,” after inspecting yet another botched development for a simple bus station.

Councillor Carolyn Parrish says that she thinks “it’s appalling.... This is disgusting,” and she adds that she doesn’t even trust them.

1100

Speaker, if our municipal colleagues don’t trust them, how can the people of Ontario trust the Premier to oversee Metrolinx’s spending of billions for transit expansion across the province?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Transportation.

Hon. Steven Del Duca: I thank the member for his question. I actually had the chance to speak—or converse or communicate—last night with Mayor Bonnie Crombie from Mississauga, I had the chance to speak with a couple of our caucus members from Peel region from Mississauga today, and I also have spoken to Metrolinx board chair Rob Prichard just this morning as well. I understand that there are some concerns that have been expressed by residents in Mississauga as well as by municipal councillors. The commitment that I conveyed to the mayor was that we would continue to work with her and her council and her staff and her residents to make sure that we can get this right.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Harris: Busy night there.

Speaker, in the last month, we’ve continued to hear stories of the Liberal transit planning agency wasting taxpayers’ money, from the UP Express planning to a train shed too small to fit the trains. Now we have a bus station in Mississauga where bathroom ventilation exhaust is aimed at a swimming pool—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, second time.

Mr. Michael Harris: —where bus passengers can peer over backyard fences into homes and lights are shining all night. Mayor Crombie says, “There were design changes after the (public) consultation,” leaving the neighbourhood to pay the price. If Metrolinx is “rogue,” as the mayor indicates, then it’s this government that has allowed it to go that way. It’s their responsibility.

Interjection.

Mr. Michael Harris: Yes, it is.

Speaker, will the Premier please explain to Ontarians how they can trust her with the billions of dollars she’s overseeing to build, operate and manage transit in Ontario?

Hon. Steven Del Duca: As I mentioned in my original answer to the first question, I’ve had a chance to speak to the mayor. We will, on a going-forward basis on this particular issue, continue to work with her, her council and people who live in her community.

But I have to point out that this is a government, thanks to the leadership of our Premier and our Mississauga MPPs on this side of the House, that is investing billions of dollars, including in Mississauga: the Hurontario LRT, in addition to more GO service on the Lakeshore West line and ultimately on the Milton line that runs through Mississauga.

I know that Mayor Crombie and her council and, most importantly, the residents of Mississauga understand that, unlike the last time, when that party—the Conservatives—were in power, we’re building transit, we’re not killing it. As the Premier mentioned, we were at an LRT station this morning. We’re building along Eglinton. We’re building in Mississauga. It’s about time you recognized our progress.

Ontario budget

Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Minister of Finance. Last week, the Financial Accountability Office released its commentary on the budget’s fiscal plan. The FAO says that this budget continues to rely on “aggressive plans to limit the growth in program spending.” The Liberal government likes to congratulate itself on the fact that Ontario already has the lowest program spending per person in the entire country, but New Democrats know that it’s Ontarians who feel the impact day in and day out. The 2016 budget already doesn’t keep up with inflation to meet the educational and the health care needs of Ontarians, building on years of cuts.

My question to the minister is simple. This year’s budget cuts almost $1.5 billion to the public service. What other program cuts are in store for Ontarians next year and the year after that?

Hon. Charles Sousa: I appreciate the question. It gives me the opportunity to express once again the tremendous amounts of investment that we’re making in our economy, in our programs, in the programs that are essential and valuable to families across Ontario, like health care and education. Over $1 billion more is being invested in our education system and in our health care system.

We’re being very progressive in this budget while still balancing the books by 2017-18 and thereafter. This is done in consultation with, and with the work of, many across Ontario. Our economy is growing. Our businesses are growing. Employment is growing. We are actually outpacing the United States in growth. Our debt-to-GDP is strong relative to what it was expected to be. Mr. Speaker, we’re heading forward and progressing forward because of the work we’re doing in conjunction with businesses and the people of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Speaker, the minister should read his own budget. On page 256, it’s almost $1.5 billion in cuts to education and even post-secondary education—in-year cuts.

Again to the minister: The FAO also highlighted that this government’s fiscal plan depends on “optimistic” assumptions for revenue growth, pointing to more than half a billion dollars year after year from more asset sales.

The budget, however, isn’t transparent. It doesn’t tell Ontarians exactly what assets will be sold. Speaker, they can’t blame us for questioning them. No one thought this government would sell off Hydro One. Some 80% of Ontarians have been loud and clear about stopping the sale of Hydro One, but this government refuses to listen to anyone, not even the citizens who took the time to come and speak to the finance committee directly through the budget process.

Can the minister tell Ontarians exactly where that money is coming from, or is that a secret too?

Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, as finance minister, I did, in fact, invite the finance committee to meet and to discuss some of the consultation on the work that was being done. They instead asked me to go to them, and I did. I shared with them some of the work that had been going on and in recognizing how important it is for us to continue investing.

Let me clarify: We’re investing more in health care. We’re investing more in education. We’re investing more in post-secondary. We’re investing more in children’s and social services, like autism and special needs. What we are doing is to provide more for cancer treatment, for hospitals, for home care, for long-term care, and for hospices and palliative care—the very things that were consulted in the consultations. That’s what people were asking for; that’s what we’re delivering. And, Mr. Speaker, we’re balancing the books at the same time.

Climate change

Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde: My question is for the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. Like everyone in this House and also within the PC Party, I was genuinely surprised when the Leader of the Opposition proclaimed over the weekend that his party now supports carbon pricing. I was surprised given that the PC Party of Ontario has bitterly resisted, at every turn, every single environmental initiative that our government has taken, from closing coal plants to investing in green energy.

I also know that the minister has legislation before this House to combat climate change through cap-and-trade; however, despite flip-flops by the Leader of the Opposition, I have continued to hear members of his own party oppose our plan.

My question to the minister: Can he inform the House on why Ontario’s proposed plan to combat climate change is the best to reduce emissions while also growing our economy?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: I think we recognize that to reduce emissions, people need help. So we have a fund coming from a polluter-pay principle that puts money back.

Many members over here are running online petitions. We have carbon calculators and we have links to the programs of our province and municipalities. It’s interesting, Mr. Speaker, because the members opposite—Nipissing, Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington, Perth–Wellington, Sarnia–Lambton, and Haldimand–Norfolk—are all running online petitions against carbon taxes, against their own party’s position.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Focus.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

It was really wild for me because the member for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke was demanding that we spend more money on home retrofits—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Answer.

Hon. Glen R. Murray: —on propane and oil; at the same time, they’re running petitions against any revenue, and the balance of the caucus thinks it should be revenue-neutral so there will be no money for carbon reduction programs.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): A reminder to stay focused on government policy, please.

Supplementary?

Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde: Thank you to the minister for that response. It is indeed confusing where exactly the Leader of the Opposition stands and what the rest of his party actually believes.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. I’m going to ask: If members already have been instructed to stay on government policy, just ask the question in a different manner, please.

1110

Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde: I believe that our Premier said it best: It’s better late than never. So our government has taken significant action to fight climate change and is presenting a credible path forward with our cap-and-trade program. All proceeds from the cap-and-trade program must be reinvested in green projects that reduce or support the reduction of greenhouse gas. Can the minister please inform all three parties on the strict rules and regulations that we have put forward about reinvesting our proceeds?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: As I’ve said in the House before, we have some of the highest standards. We have an action plan. We can only spend this on GHG reductions. It’s separately accounted for. It’s reviewed. The greenhouse gas reduction account manages it. We can only spend it on investments post-2014 that add net new greenhouse gas emission reductions.

We’re very clear, and I’m very proud to be part of a government that is providing global leadership right now on climate change. All of our members support our policy. None of our members on this side are running rogue websites attacking their own party policies, and we believe it has to be revenue-positive for people who are reducing their emissions, for the same reason that the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke raised in the House.

Every building has to be retrofitted. Every northerner has to have access to a low-carbon vehicle. Every farmer has to have offsets in their fields to get money and to put greenhouse gas emissions—

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. Over the last two years, I’ve asked the minister about outrageous expenses at the Housing Services Corp. He says the problem is solved, because he hired Weiler and Co. to do an independent review, but the review appears to be a long way from independent.

Could the minister tell us whether Dennis Weiler, who made multiple donations to the Liberal Party, is the same Dennis Weiler of Weiler and Co. that did the review, and if Daniel Waterston, who was a senior partner of Weiler and Co., is the same Daniel Waterston who donated thousands to the Liberal Party, was the Minister of Education’s CFO in two elections and is married to someone who works in the minister’s office?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: Well, with all due respect, that’s probably the strangest question I’ve ever received in the Legislative Assembly. I’ll admit quite openly that I don’t know any of the people that he mentioned. I don’t know what their giving pattern is, and frankly I don’t care, as long as they do what they do within the rules. That’s their democratic right as an Ontario citizen.

As for the Housing Services Corp. itself, the honourable member has asked me on, I think, 35 different occasions for a substantive answer, and on all those occasions I have, so I don’t have anything more to say.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Weiler and Co. did a review of expenses and didn’t even notice the fact that people were using their corporate credit cards to pay for personal expenses, something that has cost many other people in government their jobs. They failed to find the problematic spending that we’ve raised right here in the Legislature, and they didn’t talk to a single housing provider.

How can people have any confidence that the waste and mismanagement of the housing money that has been going on at Housing Services Corp. is solved, Minister, if the Liberal-friendly firm that did the review failed to find even the problems that we knew about already? Is this just another Liberal cover-up?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member will withdraw.

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. Before I go to the minister, I’m a little concerned of a pattern that seems to be being created, and that is that you know you’re going to be asked to withdraw, but you say it anyway. Get in front of it. Don’t say it. It’s not acceptable.

Minister?

Hon. Ted McMeekin: I spent a good portion of my time as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing trying to put out the fires that the honourable member’s party started when they created the Housing Services Corp.

By the way, you had some good ideas when you set it up, and we want to hold onto those good ideas. The concept of the needs of everyone superseding the needs of the one—that’s the principle that this was based on. It’s a good principle. It was solid then, and it’s solid now. We’ll continue to walk through whatever little rubble is still there to pick up the pieces and make sure it works even better.

Steel industry

Mr. Michael Mantha: Good morning to you, Speaker. My question is to the Premier.

Ontario’s steel communities are in crisis, Premier. We know this. These communities are seeing massive financial losses, job losses and mill closures as foreign countries flood the markets. People in Sault Ste. Marie and Hamilton are being faced with layoffs and uncertainty. Workers and their families need an economic development plan that works for them.

It seems as though the member from Sault Ste. Marie would rather deflect any demands to his federal cousins in order to address the issue.

Are the Premier and her minister prepared to come to Sault Ste. Marie and Hamilton to meet with municipal leaders, steel unions and creditors and work together to determine what measures this government—not the federal one, but this government—should be taking to assist these communities, and put pressure on the federal government to impose tariffs?

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

Hon. Brad Duguid: The issue that the member talks about is a very, very important issue. It takes the NDP to take an important issue like the challenge facing our steel industry in Ontario and across North America and try to turn it into a partisan issue.

Mr. Speaker, let me say this: There is not a member in this House who has gone to bat for the steel industry any harder than the member behind me, the member for Sault Ste. Marie. He talks about it every single day. He talks to me every day about this issue. He knows it’s important for the Soo, and he is working with us and our government to encourage the federal government to put in place the measures they need to be able to respond to these dumping challenges in a more effective way. I thank him for his leadership.

Interjections.

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

Supplementary?

Mr. Michael Mantha: Maybe I was in high school, but I remember an NDP government that rolled up their sleeves and got involved with Sault Ste. Marie when it needed help in the past.

By the end of August, the money will run out. Workers’ pensions are not secured, and they have already had parts of their benefits cut. Steel communities’ cries for help have been falling on the deaf ears of this government. We need action now. We need to work with all stakeholders to ensure that steel communities are not completely devastated.

Will the Premier and her minister stop grandstanding and deflecting to the feds and take action immediately for the people in the steel industry?

Interjections.

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

Minister?

Hon. Brad Duguid: The member obviously isn’t aware, but there’s a federal act in this country called the Special Import Measures Act. That’s the act under which parties can make applications to the federal government when there are dumping issues happening.

There is no question that there is dumping going on—whether it be from China, India, Russia or other countries—that is severely hurting our steel industry here in Ontario and across North America.

The federal government is aware that there are challenges with the current act. The previous government was—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We’ll try again.

Hon. Brad Duguid: The previous government was aware of this, planned to take action and were too slow to do so. So we’re counting on the new government in Ottawa to take the action they need to take in order to respond effectively to these dumping issues.

Education

Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: My question is for the Minister of Education. One of our top priorities is to support our children with the best possible start in life through our publicly funded education and early-years systems such as full-day kindergarten, which is of great benefit to my daughter and to tens of thousands of other young students.

Our government has made significant gains in all four publicly funded education systems, to provide a strong foundation for our students. This year’s budget will focus on getting Ontario on track to a balanced budget in 2017-18.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister: This year’s 2016 budget includes key components for education. Can the minister share what things she’s doing to continue to improve education for our children?

1120

Hon. Liz Sandals: Thank you to the member for the question. I’m so glad his daughter enjoyed FDK.

We believe that every child in Ontario deserves access to a world-class education and has the right to a supportive learning environment.

This year, in the 2016 budget, we’re addressing the recommendations put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We believe that all students, both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, are enriched by learning about the histories, cultures and perspectives of First Nation, Métis and Inuit people. As part of the 2016 budget, we’re investing $15 million over three years to develop additional teaching resources, build capacity and provide professional learning for our educators so that they can teach every student about residential schools, treaties and the role of indigenous people in Canada.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Z. Milczyn: Mr. Speaker, through you, I want to thank the minister for the answer.

We’re very proud of the accomplishments and investments we’ve made in education. In my own riding of Etobicoke–Lakeshore, I was pleased to find out about the funding to expand Norseman Junior Middle School.

I’m also looking forward to hearing about the Grants for Student Needs, which is going to be released at the end of March. This is going to better support students in the classroom.

I was also pleased to hear our government’s commitment to ensure that school boards have the support required to successfully integrate Syrian newcomers into Ontario’s education system and to make their transition as seamless as possible.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister please share with us what is being done to support our Syrian newcomers?

Hon. Liz Sandals: As part of our 2016 budget, we are also updating our enrolment forecast to expand the enrolment, to allow for the children who will be coming from Syria—approximately 4,000 Syrian newcomer children, we think. We’re committed to ensuring that school boards have the resources required to support our Syrian newcomers as they enter our education system. We’ve begun by providing support for detailed initial assessments, to determine our new students’ needs. Some of them have come from very challenging situations. We’re supporting language and mental health services, to make sure that their transition to our education system is as seamless as possible.

We continue to invest in the well-being of all our students, so that they can all become actively engaged and well-educated citizens.

Ontario budget

Mr. Victor Fedeli: My question is for the Premier. In a few minutes, we’re going to be voting on the government’s budget bill. It will make life in Ontario far more expensive and unaffordable. Tax credits that help children, families and seniors are being eliminated. In fact, 92% of seniors will now pay almost double for their prescription drugs. The price of gasoline; home heating fuel; fees for drivers and vehicles; camping in provincial parks; fishing and hunting licences; event permits—all going up.

But job forecasts are going down. Last year, the government projected that 93,000 jobs would be created this year. Now they’re cutting their forecast by 15,000 jobs.

Does the Premier realize that all of the added costs in this budget will reduce disposable income, depress spending and cut jobs?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Finance.

Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, we are going to be doing a vote on the budget bill—a budget that is the most progressive we’ve had in so many years, that invests in our economy, an economy that is now outpacing and growing and leading Canada, an economy that’s creating more jobs than ever before. We have lower unemployment than the national average.

This is a budget that invests in infrastructure, that invests and participates with business to maintain a very dynamic and competitive climate, that invests in our young people. We’re providing a tuition that’s going to enable more young people to access post-secondary for free, Mr. Speaker. This is a budget that provides social security, retirement security—

Mr. Paul Miller: Thirteen million people.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek can hide his voice, but I still hear it.

Please.

Hon. Charles Sousa: This is a budget that enables Ontarians to be more competitive, and it’s a long-term vision. The people opposite—

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

Supplementary?

Mr. Victor Fedeli: Back to the Premier: The Liberals have made Ontario the most indebted subnational government on the planet. It took 137 years for this province to reach a debt of $139 billion when this government took office, but it only took them a dozen years to double that debt and now send it to $308 billion this year. That means we will be paying almost $1 billion every month just in interest.

Their waste, mismanagement and scandals are behind every decision they made. It was never what’s good for the people; it’s always what’s good for the Liberal Party. That’s why they cut programs for children and seniors, why they doubled the price of drugs and why they’re raising the cost of everything.

Speaker, my question is, when is the Premier going to put the people ahead of herself?

Hon. Charles Sousa: As I was saying, the members opposite are not being progressive at all. What they are showing right now by their very actions is short-term thinking, and they want to go back in time when we had worse conditions and less competitiveness.

Mr. Speaker, our net-debt-to-GDP ratio, which is an important measure of our ability to service debt, is actually lower than anticipated—

Mr. Randy Hillier: Before the MaRS scandal, before the Ornge scandal, before the gas plants scandal—

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

Hon. Charles Sousa: Mr. Speaker, our accumulated deficit to GDP is the same today as it was 12 years ago. Our interest on debt today, which the member opposite just made reference to, is at just about 8.9%. When they were in power, it was 15%. It was much higher than it is today.

We are managing our debt. We’re investing in infrastructure. We’re investing in our communities to make us more competitive, and our economy is growing.

Animal protection

Ms. Jennifer K. French: My question is to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. Speaker, as we know, in October, 31 dogs were rescued from a horrible dogfighting ring in Tilbury, where they had been subjected to years of cruel and barbaric treatment. Since their rescue, the OSPCA has filed a court application to have 21 of these dogs euthanized, even though organizations have been lining up with offers to rehabilitate them, in or outside the province.

These dogs have suffered at the hands of humans, yet this government feels the only humane decision is to put them to death. You can stop this. All dogs deserve to be protected.

Will the government grant a special designation and commit to protecting these dogs, instead of condemning them to die?

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Speaker, I will remind the member again, as I did yesterday, that she’s asking about a court process which is underway right now involving the OSPCA. We do understand that this is a challenging issue, and many individuals and organizations are concerned across the province.

But as the member knows, there is currently an application to the court by the OSPCA for permission to euthanize 21 of the 31 pit bull dogs seized from an alleged dogfighting operation, citing risks to public safety. However, the remaining dogs are being rehabilitated for relocation outside the process.

OSPCA, Speaker, as you are well aware and the members are aware, is the organization that is responsible for animal welfare. They have significant expertise in matters relating to animals and their welfare and rehabilitation. They’re pursuing a court process. We should respect that process.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: These dogs can be rehabilitated. There are experienced and caring organizations lining up for the opportunity, and loving homes to adopt them. Your instinct is that killing these dogs is a better option. At no point should killing these dogs even be an option.

We’ve had this conversation before. This is the same government that nearly allowed 99 animals to be put down after a ringworm outbreak. Minister, this is the wrong decision again. As long as this government continues to support breed-specific legislation, these dogs will always be at risk.

Will the government do the right thing and work with organizations that actually want to rescue these animals, or is putting them to death your final answer?

1130

Hon. Yasir Naqvi: Our government takes the care and protection of animals in Ontario very, very seriously. We are proud to have some of the highest standards for animal welfare in Canada. The OSPCA is an independent charitable organization that provides a number of services, such as animal shelters, veterinary and spay/neuter clinics, and public education about animal welfare.

Additionally, the OSPCA act, which is legislation of this House, authorizes OSPCA inspectors and agents to enforce any law pertaining to the welfare of animals. Police may also enforce those laws.

Contrary to the public reports—I want to repeat this again—the government of Ontario does not currently have legislative authority or regulatory authority to direct the OSPCA to take or not to take any particular action. This matter is before the courts. A judge will make a determination. The OSPCA is seeking that approval. We should let the court proceed, based on the law.

Energy policies

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: My question is to the Minister of Energy. As a proud representative of Northumberland–Quinte West, I know very well that we are blessed with many advantages, living in beautiful rural Ontario. However, there are also some additional challenges.

In rural areas, residents face fewer options when it comes to their energy supply and costs, specifically with heating their homes. Many rural areas do not have access to natural gas and must use alternative methods to heat during cold periods. Many rural residents ask for better alternative options for heating, including extending access to natural gas for rural communities.

Mr. Speaker, I know this government is listening to rural Ontarians and building a plan to help make life easier. Through you to the minister, what action is being taken to benefit rural Ontarians and their energy needs?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: I thank the member from Northumberland–Quinte West for the question. Our government is taking major steps towards providing less expensive home heating for rural communities.

Last year, I wrote to the Ontario Energy Board, asking them to explore opportunities to facilitate access to natural gas. Now the OEB is holding public hearings on how best to recover the costs associated with providing gas to communities that currently do not have access. In fact, Union Gas has already applied for approval to extend natural gas into five rural communities, and they are working with a large number of others.

Also, as mentioned in the 2016 budget, which we’re voting on today, our government is developing a $200-million natural gas access loan program and a $30-million Natural Gas Economic Development Grant to help communities accelerate their access to natural gas. We’re listening to the rural communities.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Lou Rinaldi: Thank you, Minister. This government’s commitment to expanding access to natural gas in rural communities is incredibly important to rural energy customers.

However, this government is very aware of the current pressures of living in rural communities, and has a number of programs to assist rural customers with the cost of electricity, including the rural and remote electricity rate protection program.

When you look at the proposals in the 2016 budget, the priority to build a smarter, more sustainable and efficient energy system is very clear. Last month, this government introduced investments in measures that will help rural Ontarians save money on their energy bills if they heat through natural gas, oil or propane. The efficiency savings that can come from new technologies and equipment are surprising.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, what initiatives are designed to help rural customers afford their daily energy costs?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: Last month, we announced an additional investment of $100 million through the Green Investment Fund, to help homeowners reduce their energy bills and cut greenhouse gas emissions. We’re working with Enbridge and Union Gas to offer the program outside of their service territories and to homeowners who heat their homes with natural gas, oil and propane. This will help about 37,000 more homeowners conduct audits to identify energy-saving opportunities and then take actions, such as replacing furnaces or water heaters and upgrading insulation.

Secondly, Hydro One has launched a heat pump pilot program to help customers with electric space heating and water heating. If you heat your home by electricity, Hydro One will pay 50% of the cost for an industry-leading air source heat pump, reducing space heating costs by 50%, with savings of $750 to $1,500 per year. Hydro One will also pay up to $800 for a water-heating air source heat pump, reducing water heating costs—

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

New question.

Wind turbines

Mr. Jim McDonell: To the Minister of Energy: The Independent Electricity System Operator just approved a massive wind project in North Stormont, an unwilling host township where the population came together to oppose the wind farm. You just said a few minutes ago that you’re listening to rural communities, so why do you allow your agencies to ignore municipal decisions?

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: The successes today with respect to these announcements is that five wind contracts with an average price of 8.59 cents per kilowatt hour significantly lessen the average price of 2009 for a large feed-in tariff; seven solar contracts with an average price of 15.67 cents per kilowatt hour, 28 cents less—

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): If you can look directly at me and start the heckling, you should have stopped. The member from Leeds–Grenville, second time.

Carry on.

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: —28 cents less per kilowatt hour. But most importantly, in addition to these successes of lower prices, there are great achievements and support for these projects. More than 80% of the projects include participation from one or more aboriginal communities—five projects with 50%. More than 75% of successful proposals receive support from local municipalities, and more than 60%—

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

Supplementary?

Mr. Jim McDonell: Back to the minister: The community took you at your word. They turned down $650,000 a year, a bribe by the company if they would become a willing host. Now they have the project and they don’t have the money. How do you explain that to them, somebody that trusted this government and somebody that just got burned?

Interjections.

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

Hon. Bob Chiarelli: I heard that there were negotiations between the municipality and the proponent. Ontario is securing a future in clean, reliable and affordable electricity. We already benefit from 90% emissions-free electricity generated by a diverse supply of generation sources, including wind, solar, nuclear, hydroelectricity and bioenergy.

Today’s results and these contracts confirm that wind and solar power are now on a level playing field with other forms of generation. By putting emphasis on price and the support of host communities, today’s results put further downward pressure on electricity price projections in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan. Today builds on our success over the past 10 years and moving forward to a greener energy system.

Legislative pages

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Before we move to the deferred votes, I have an announcement: This is the last day for our pages. I want to say to them, on your behalf, thank you for a job well done. We appreciate it very much.

Deferred Votes

Jobs for Today and Tomorrow Act (Budget Measures), 2016 / Loi de 2016 favorisant la création d’emplois pour aujourd’hui et demain (mesures budgétaires)

Deferred vote on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 173, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact or amend various statutes / Projet de loi 173, Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre les mesures budgétaires et à édicter ou à modifier diverses lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1139 to 1144.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): On February 29, 2016, Mr. Sousa moved second of Bill 173. All those in favour, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

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

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

Nays

  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Arnott, Ted
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • DiNovo, Cheri
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Forster, Cindy
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gélinas, France
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • Miller, Norm
  • Miller, Paul
  • Munro, Julia
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Smith, Todd
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Vanthof, John
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 53; the nays are 33.

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

Second reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Pursuant to the order of the House dated March 9, 2016, the bill is ordered referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur l’atténuation du changement climatique et une économie sobre en carbone

Deferred vote on the motion that the question now be put on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 172, An Act respecting greenhouse gas / Projet de loi 172, Loi concernant les gaz à effet de serre.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Call in the members. This will be a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1148 to 1149.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): On March 1, 2016, Mr. Gravelle moved second reading of Bill 172, An Act respecting greenhouse gas.

Mr. Fraser has moved that the question be now put. All those in favour of Mr. Fraser’s motion, please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Ayes

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

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

Nays

  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Arnott, Ted
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • DiNovo, Cheri
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Forster, Cindy
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gélinas, France
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • Miller, Norm
  • Miller, Paul
  • Munro, Julia
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Smith, Todd
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Vanthof, John
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 52; the nays are 33.

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

Mr. Gravelle has moved second reading of Bill 172, An Act respecting greenhouse gas. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

All those in favour, please say “aye.”

All those opposed, please 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 1152 to 1153.

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

Ayes

  • Anderson, Granville
  • Armstrong, Teresa J.
  • Baker, Yvan
  • Balkissoon, Bas
  • Ballard, Chris
  • Berardinetti, Lorenzo
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Bradley, James J.
  • Chan, Michael
  • Chiarelli, Bob
  • Colle, Mike
  • Coteau, Michael
  • Crack, Grant
  • Damerla, Dipika
  • Del Duca, Steven
  • Delaney, Bob
  • Dhillon, Vic
  • Dickson, Joe
  • DiNovo, Cheri
  • Dong, Han
  • Duguid, Brad
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Flynn, Kevin Daniel
  • Forster, Cindy
  • Fraser, John
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gélinas, France
  • Gravelle, Michael
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Hoggarth, Ann
  • Hoskins, Eric
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Jaczek, Helena
  • Kiwala, Sophie
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • Leal, Jeff
  • MacCharles, Tracy
  • Malhi, Harinder
  • Mangat, Amrit
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Martins, Cristina
  • Matthews, Deborah
  • Mauro, Bill
  • McGarry, Kathryn
  • McMahon, Eleanor
  • McMeekin, Ted
  • Meilleur, Madeleine
  • Milczyn, Peter Z.
  • Miller, Paul
  • Moridi, Reza
  • Murray, Glen R.
  • Naidoo-Harris, Indira
  • Naqvi, Yasir
  • Potts, Arthur
  • Qaadri, Shafiq
  • Rinaldi, Lou
  • Sandals, Liz
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Sergio, Mario
  • Sousa, Charles
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • Vernile, Daiene
  • Wong, Soo
  • Wynne, Kathleen O.

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

Nays

  • Arnott, Ted
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Brown, Patrick
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Hillier, Randy
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • Miller, Norm
  • Munro, Julia
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Smith, Todd
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Walker, Bill
  • Wilson, Jim

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 66; the nays are 19.

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

Second reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Shall the bill be ordered for third reading?

Hon. Glen R. Murray: To general government, please.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): General government. So ordered.

Notice of dissatisfaction

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Pursuant to standing order 38(a), the member from Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Energy concerning a North Stormont wind farm. The matter will be debated Tuesday, March 22, at 6 p.m.

There are no further deferred votes. I offer my best wishes to all members to enjoy themselves, get a chance to be with their families and also do the constituency work that they always do.

This House stands recessed until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 11:56 to 1300.

Introduction of Visitors

Ms. Soo Wong: I have two very important guests visiting Queen’s Park today: Janice Barr and her daughter Emma Barr. Welcome to Queen’s Park. Thank you for being here today.

Mrs. Julia Munro: I’m pleased to welcome the arrival of the grade 5 students at R.L. Graham, which is in my riding in Keswick, soon to arrive under the leadership of teachers Margaret DaCosta and Jane Mundy.

A further person who needs an introduction, in my opinion, is a former student of mine who was here with her son.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: I’d like to introduce a friend of mine who is visiting us this afternoon. Richard Wyma is the general manager and the CEO at ERCA, the Essex Region Conservation Authority. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Arthur Potts: I have a number of guests here today. They’re here in support of my private member’s bill coming up a little later on. I have, from the Canadian Cancer Society, Zachary Nichols; from Prostate Cancer Canada, Rocco Rossi; from the Ontario Lung Association, Chris Yaccato; from Global Public Affairs on behalf of the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, Rod Elliot; and, representing the Canadian Centre for Men and Families, Justin Trottier, David Cunningham, Karen Glen, Robert Samery, Eleanor Levine, Geoff Stone and Denise Fong. Welcome, all, to Queen’s Park.

Mrs. Julia Munro: I’m pleased, also, to ask for everyone’s warm welcome to Mike Walters, the CAO of Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority. Thank you.

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I would like to introduce today, in the members’ east gallery, three people from the Grand River Conservation Authority: Chair Helen Jowett, Lisa Stocco and Keith Murch. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Members’ Statements

DANI

Mrs. Gila Martow: I’m here today to talk about a wonderful organization called DANI. Originally, I thought, like many of you are going to think, that it’s about somebody named Dani, but it isn’t. It stands for Developing and Nurturing Independence. Their mission statement says, “To create opportunities for young adults with physical and/or cognitive challenges so that they can participate fully as valued members of the community and enjoy a meaningful and dignified quality of life.”

DANI was created in 2006 by parents of children with disabilities, co-founded by Susie Sokol and Kathy Laszlo. It started as a parent-to-parent advocacy group and became an incorporated, not-for-profit organization. Their core beliefs are that it is parent-driven and dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities, and families and caregivers. They strive to enhance the skills and knowledge of young adults with challenges and establish and maintain partnerships. They’re inclusive, meaning everybody is welcome to participate, but they do observe kashrut—which means kosher—food, Shabbat and holidays.

I just want to mention that this Monday, March 14, we’re going to have a walk from my constituency to DANI’s facility at a local community centre, the Garnet on Clark Avenue. We’re going to have lunch there, served by the participants of DANI. I’m really looking forward to it. Everybody can join. I hope to see you all there. It’s just going to be $15 a person—I should mention that—but it will be well worth your time and effort.

Poverty

Mr. Percy Hatfield: The Liberals say they’re starting to chart a path towards a comprehensive reform plan designed to reduce poverty. During his budget presentation, the minister said they would be joining with researchers and select communities to develop a basic income pilot project.

Speaker, I want to offer the Windsor and Essex county region as an ideal site for such an experiment. The cold, hard facts to justify this offer are these: One third of our single mums live in poverty; one out of every 10 people you pass on the streets in Windsor and Essex county lives in poverty; one out of every six children lives in poverty; our multiple food banks serve about one third of their meals to children; more than a third of our seniors are living on less than $20,000 a year; 70,000 people in our area who do have jobs are earning less than $20,000, and more than 30,000 of those folks are college or university graduates; we have suffered with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country for the past 10 years; we’ve lost 10,000 young people who have left for jobs in other parts of the country; 24% of our population identify themselves as immigrants, yet many of our newcomers face economic challenges; we have as many as 9,500 people on social assistance and 2,600 on the waiting list for subsidized housing, and we need as much help as we can get.

There is no better place in Ontario to test this new method of a basic income allowance.

Sheila Ward

Ms. Soo Wong: I rise today to recognize and remember a former colleague, trustee and chair of the Toronto District School Board, Sheila Ward.

Sheila represented Toronto Centre-Rosedale since 1991. She was elected trustee again after the Mike Harris government amalgamated six education boards in Toronto to create the TDSB in 1997. She had either been re-elected or acclaimed since then. Sheila was the chair of the TDSB from 2003 to 2007.

Throughout Sheila’s tenure as a public school trustee, she championed equity, including the creation of a senior position at the TDSB focusing on student and community equity.

I fondly remember Sheila’s courage and determination in the establishment of the Triangle Program, an alternative education program in the former Toronto Board of Education. This 20-year-old alternative program, located in east Chinatown, is the only program of its kind in Canada. It is designed for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students who are at risk of dropping out or committing suicide because of homophobic and transphobic harassment in regular schools.

Inside and outside the boardroom, Sheila used her wit, sharp tongue, analytical skills and determination to champion the youngest citizens in her community. This included pressuring staff to redesign for more green spaces for students, or expanding the libraries and science and technology classrooms in her diverse, inner-city schools.

Sheila is also remembered for being a kind, caring and committed friend and mentor to many, including our Premier, Minister Coteau and Toronto budget chief Councillor Crawford.

Many of us who knew Sheila will remember her passion and feistiness, never backing down on important issues affecting her students, and bringing multiple bottles of Coke to every board or committee meeting.

Mr. Speaker, as I conclude my remarks, I want to share Sheila’s own words on education: “I am glad that others are willing to spend their time looking after potholes, sewers and snow plowing. Those are essential and important tasks but for me education is where I want to serve my community....”

Thank you, Sheila, for your contributions to public education. You have touched many lives, including mine, and you will be missed. Here’s to you, Sheila.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): You did that nicely enough so that the Sergeant-at-Arms didn’t steal your prop. Thank you.

Leo McArthur

Mr. Bill Walker: I rise to pay tribute to a courageous entrepreneur, a generous philanthropist and a great visionary who personified the very best of Canadian values. Leo McArthur, who rose to prominence as president, CEO and chairman of the board of the Miller Group and was among the first rank of entrepreneurs of his generation, sadly, passed away on January 11 after a long illness.

Leo and his partner, John Carrick, started out with nothing but an idea, a strong work ethic, a belief in private business and a friendship. Over many years, they led the Miller Group and McAsphalt Industries, and expanded into an international group of companies that employed more than 4,000 people. Leo was one of the most successful businessmen to ever have come out of the Owen Sound area.

Nothing was more important to Leo than family and his employees, who were indeed an important part of the McArthur family. As such, his legacy was not measured by the fact that he built one of the largest waste management companies in Canada; it was that throughout his life, Leo was an influential ambassador and a major contributor to the communities where he lived and worked.

1310

Most recently, Leo and his family-owned company contributed in excess of $1 million to the new Owen Sound YMCA and community recreation centre in honour of Leo and Helen McArthur’s daughter, Julie McArthur, who died in 2007.

Leo came from a very loving family but also from very poor beginnings. His dad ran a lumber mill in Owen Sound and died in an industrial accident when Leo was only nine years old, leaving behind eight children. Fortunately, the McArthur children inherited the belief that integrity, hard work and loyalty mattered in life. It was these qualities that helped them build an entrepreneurial family. His brother J.D. owned McArthur Tire and the Owen Sound Greys hockey team, Johnny owned McArthur Construction, and Timber McArthur and his brother-in-law Al Reilly owned McArthur and Reilly, a home decorating business.

I know the Legislature will join me in acknowledging the great contribution that Leo McArthur has made to Ontario and to Canada and extend our condolences to his family.

Thank you for the difference you have made in so many lives, Leo. You will be truly missed.

Pay equity

Ms. Catherine Fife: On April 5, 1951, Ontario’s first equal-pay legislation became law. In spite of the fact that it was a male-dominated House, the Legislature had a champion for this bill: Agnes Macphail, one of Ontario’s first two female MPPs, who was a driving force behind the creation of the Female Employees Fair Remuneration Act, which became the first step towards correcting the pay gap. Far ahead of a time when it was a popular topic, she had a strong sense of what the female workforce deserved. She said, “I want for myself what I want for other women: absolute equality.”

I rise today during Women’s History Month to acknowledge the work done by women like Agnes Macphail who have come before us in this House, but much more needs to be done to honour their legacy. It has been 65 years since this province’s first equal-pay legislation and almost 30 years since Ontario’s current Pay Equity Act was introduced. Yet today, in 2016, we are still working to close the gender wage gap. There is a 31.5% pay difference between men and women, and it has barely changed in the last decade. It affects all women at every age of every profession. Not only that; Canadian women earn on average $8,000 less than their male counterparts who are doing the exact same jobs. This is twice the global average of a wage gap for equivalent work.

As an assembly with 37 talented, hard-working female MPPs, we can and we need to do better to support the women of Ontario.

Hazel McCallion

Mrs. Amrit Mangat: This afternoon, I rise to honour a leading woman from Mississauga, former mayor Hazel McCallion. Even after her retirement from political life, Hazel, whom we affectionately call Hurricane Hazel, continues to tirelessly serve the public.

On February 23, I was pleased to attend the announcement of Ms. McCallion’s appointment as Sheridan College’s inaugural chancellor. Sheridan College is an important symbol of what the cities of Mississauga and Brampton are today: excellent places to live, work, play, raise families, study, and invest. The college brings with it the promise of an even brighter future. In Ms. McCallion’s own words, the college is “part of the community,” including from “an economic point of view.” It is an incubator for young minds, talents and ideas. It is a private sector partner in research and development.

As chancellor, Ms. McCallion will preside over convocation and also serve as an ambassador for Sheridan locally, nationally and internationally. Congratulations, Chancellor McCallion.

Hospital funding

Mrs. Julia Munro: I rise today to draw attention to the cuts that are occurring at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. While this hospital is in Barrie, it serves many of my constituents, and these cuts impact people from both Simcoe and Muskoka.

As a result of an $8-million shortfall, RVH will be eliminating 24 vacant positions as well as 32 full-time positions. Cuts like these are a direct result of the Liberal government’s track record of scandal, waste and economic mismanagement.

Health care has always been the provincial government’s most important responsibility. Consistently, it has been the most important issue for my constituents. RVH is one of many hospitals in Ontario who are faced with the growing challenge of how to do more with less, how to better serve patients with fewer staff, how to better serve families with less resources.

This government has never demonstrated serious leadership on improvements to health care. Photo ops and reannouncements don’t measure up.

RVH’s wait times for MRI and CT scans are both higher than the provincial average. It’s inevitable that wait times will increase and patients will languish on wait-lists for important tests and surgeries. This is unacceptable for my constituents and it’s unacceptable for the province.

Mining industry convention

Ms. Sophie Kiwala: Earlier this week, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada hosted a major four-day conference in Toronto. The annual PDAC International Convention, Trade Show and Investors Exchange is the world’s leading convention for people, companies and organizations in, or connected with, mineral exploration. The convention provides an excellent opportunity to meet and attend technical sessions, short courses and various networking events for the mining community.

This year, the convention welcomed over 20,000 delegates and 1,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries to downtown Toronto.

Every year, PDAC provides us with an opportunity to showcase mining exploration and development in Ontario to the rest of the world. For Ontario, it means promoting our province as a global leader and the most attractive jurisdiction for mineral investment in Canada.

For another year, Ontario’s Ministry of Northern Development and Mines was the largest exhibitor at PDAC. We welcomed guests to our annual reception and met hundreds of delegates from around the world at our Ontario pavilion on the trade floor.

We have over 40 mines operating in the province, making us Canada’s largest producer of non-fuel minerals. And last year, we saw the value of mineral production reach $10.8 billion in Ontario. That’s almost double the amount in 2003.

PDAC provided an excellent platform for our government to share our success story when it comes to mining in Ontario.

We look forward to next year’s convention, and I hope to see you all there.

Fashion History Museum

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: The Fashion History Museum grand opening ceremony is this evening in Cambridge, to celebrate their new premises in the old 1929 Galt post office building.

The Fashion History Museum has become a destination for tourists, both local as well as from across Ontario.

Founded in 2004 by chair and CEO Kenn Norman and curator Jonathan Walford, the museum has gained an international reputation. As a matter of fact, they have showcased collections in Bahrain, Hong Kong and across North America. Their adapted heritage building is a permanent home for a fabulous collection of over 12,000 garments and 3,000 titles in the library and archives, featuring shoes, hats, accessories, vintage clothing, rare pieces, and includes some from Canadian designers. This collection has pieces from the mid-1700s to the present day, and the displays are constantly changing.

Recently, the museum held their Chapeaux et Champagne fundraiser, which featured a fine collection of unique hats, both old and new.

Next February, at their fundraiser, you’ll see a one-day exhibit of Dior pieces. As a matter of fact, they were included in the 2017 special anniversary publication from the house of Dior in Paris.

At last year’s Politics of Fashion, Fashion of Politics event, they featured a rare paper Pierre Trudeau dress made for the 1968 campaign.

Speaker, this is a fabulous exhibit. It’s a truly inspired museum. I want to congratulate Kenn and Jonathan for their huge success, and I also want to thank the city of Cambridge for helping to support this incredible destination.

Introduction of Bills

Smoke-Free Ontario Amendment Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 modifiant la Loi favorisant un Ontario sans fumée

Ms. Damerla moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 178, An Act to amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act / Projet de loi 178, Loi modifiant la Loi favorisant un Ontario sans fumée.

1320

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. Dipika Damerla: I’m pleased to rise today to introduce the Smoke-Free Ontario Act as amended to provide for prescribed products and substances, in addition to tobacco, to enable us to regulate the smoking of medical marijuana.

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

Canadian Agricultural Safety Week

Hon. Jeff Leal: I rise in the House today in recognition of Canadian Agricultural Safety Week, which takes place next week, from March 13 to 19.

This annual week-long public education campaign focuses on the importance of safety practices on Canadian farms. It encourages and reminds individuals, organizations and communities to do their part to ensure that Ontario’s farms are safe places to live, work and, indeed, raise a family.

I’m proud to stand with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in recognizing important on-farm safety programming. Additionally, we’re pleased to support Workplace Safety and Prevention Services of Ontario in their delivery of farm education programs across this province. These important organizations seek to empower producers and their families with the information resources they need to make their farms safe.

This is the first year of a three-year program with the theme Be an AgSafe Family. This year, our theme is Keeping Kids Safe, focusing on encouraging children and young adults to remember to stay safe while helping out with chores or responsibilities on their respective farms. In 2017, the spotlight will shift to adult safety and, in 2018, the theme will be seniors on the farm.

Organizers have put together a kickoff event at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre on Tuesday, March 15. This event will have fun and education activities for kids aged eight to 12 and for the whole family.

It’s a sad reality that fatal accidents happen on Ontario farms every day, devastating families and businesses. Most of these accidents are preventable, and the responsibility for making Ontario farms safe lies with all of us: individuals, organizations and communities. Producers, farm managers and farm workers have to understand the hazards on their farms and how to mitigate and manage them.

Mr. Speaker, a short time ago I paid a visit to Classy Lane Stables, which suffered a devastating fire a short time ago, to meet with the individuals there, to see how their lives have changed forever due to a barn fire.

Our primary agricultural sector in Ontario employs more than 86,000 people, and all of us in this House have a solemn duty to ensure that each and every one of them works in a safe environment.

I’d like to thank the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services and every organization that supports this initiative for their tireless efforts to improve safety on Canadian and Ontarian farms.

Canadian Agricultural Safety Week is about doing the right thing to protect our farm workers and our farm families so they can continue their excellent work to produce the good things that are grown, harvested and made right here in Ontario.

I encourage all of Ontario’s farm businesses, workers and communities to embrace the spirit of this year’s campaign, Be an AgSafe Family, and make our farms a safe place to work, live and, indeed, raise a family.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Responses?

Mr. Toby Barrett: I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this very important subject.

Another year has passed, and we’ve had more farm tragedies, despite the heightened awareness programs and safety messaging. Regrettably, Ontario has the unfortunate designation of having the most farm accidents in Canada. To be fair, we have the largest number of farmers as well.

One of the real dangers for many is that the farm is also the home, so not only are people working on the farm in danger, but also other family members and, in particular, children. Last year was no exception to the sad trend of deaths of farmers’ children. This is the largest tragedy, and we must do whatever is possible to deal with this.

Every year—and it doesn’t seem to change—we hear of tractor rollovers, entrapment in flowing grain, death from silo gas or manure gas, and PTO accidents. I was speaking with the member for Perth–Wellington. He grew up on an Essex county fruit and vegetable operation. This is really scary: Randy Pettapiece was caught in a PTO—power take-off shaft—twice. That’s 540 rpm, and the newer equipment is like double that. His foot got caught once, and he ended up losing his boot and his sock. He was fortunate.

Another time, he was on top of the other end of a grain auger—a grain elevator—trying to unplug, and his shirt got caught. His dad didn’t see it in time to shut down the equipment, and it ripped his shirt off. This equipment is really scary. There’s much more regulation and requirement for cover shields—safety shields.

I will mention—as with Randy when he’s working on the farm—that I don’t wear rings. I’ve never worn rings. They get caught in things. Believe it or not, when I work on the farm, especially in the spring and fall, my partner and I wear very, very old clothing. It’s clothing that’s almost rags, almost rotten—it’s an odd thing to say this—because if something gets caught, it rips off. The sleeve will rip off instead of your arm ripping off.

When I say that, I think of a gentleman—I’m one of the past presidents of our local Norfolk Farm Safety Association. I attended a presentation by a farmer named Ken Kelly, upcountry from here, and he has a steel claw. He talked about how prices were very bad back then in the 1970s. He talked about the stress. He had to lay off his hired man. He was working twice as long, working at night, working in the rain, working in the mud. He got his arm caught in a power take-off. He explained to us, after that happened, “You think you have problems with your farm and with farm labour and dealing with prices and dealing with stress”—stress is a big factor because of overwork and exhaustion. “Once that happens to you, all those problems disappear. You’ve just got one problem: You’ve lost your arm, and you’re dealing with that.”

On top of these traditional dangers on the farm—it’s probably one of the most dangerous occupations—new threats are developing, and the book put out by the Farm Safety Association contains the fact sheets. They’ve also identified the danger of West Nile virus, one of the new, emerging vector-borne infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. This particular disease, like Lyme disease, was not prevalent back when I was involved with farm safety. I give the association credit for addressing this threat as well.

Farmers, like outdoors people, hunters, fishermen and people who work outside in the forest industry and construction, are oftentimes in a low, wet area. You’re exposed to not only mosquitos for West Nile; you’re exposed to the ticks that have moved into this area, which carry with them Lyme disease.

1330

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Further responses?

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s always an honour to be able to stand in this House and today to recognize farm safety week, which is next week.

Farm safety is a pretty personal matter to a lot of farmers. One of the inherent great things about family farms is that the family is involved. That’s also one of the inherent dangers. It’s a hard balance. I know that on our farm, we took all kinds of steps to make sure that it was as safe as possible. But still, there were close calls. I’m not going to go into a litany of what happens on farms all the time.

Also, the thing about farm work that’s different than almost every other occupation is that it doesn’t go by a rhythm. Not only is it not 9 to 5, but there are times when you have to work all night. I can tell you a personal story. I had a very serious farm accident, but I’m not going to talk about that one. I almost had a second one after I was an MPP. I got home at 11 o’clock in the morning on a Friday, and we were putting in straw. Everything was going well, and at about 10 or 11 o’clock that night, there was no dew. You don’t need the weather channel: A farmer knows that if there’s no dew, it’s going to rain. So we were going. And at about 1 o’clock in the morning—I had a serious accident years ago and I spent a long time in the hospital. It’s because I grabbed the PTO shaft when I shouldn’t have. At about 1 o’clock in the morning—the way it works is that you shut the PTO off, you take the shaft off the tractor and hook it on the wagon. But you’re tired at 1 o’clock in the morning, and I thought I shut the PTO off; I didn’t, and I grabbed that shaft again. I told my staff and my son, “That’s it. We’re shutting it down.”

And do you know what? We lost a lot of straw the next day, because it rained and it rained and it rained. But those are the things that make farming different. For many, especially when you’re young, it’s not a case of just hiring extra staff, because you don’t have the money to hire the extra staff. That’s why I had the accident in the first place. We rebuilt the barn. We killed ourselves working. We had a party the night before I had my accident. We had a party to thank all the neighbours who had helped us. The party went late because these people helped us build the barn. The next morning, I went to the barn to milk the cows at 6 o’clock, and at 9 o’clock I walked back to the house and said, “You’d better call an ambulance.” I wasn’t seen in the barn again for three months. Should I have had somebody else to milk the cows the next day? Sure. But there was no money to do that. We risked everything to go ahead.

My last point—and this is going to sound like we’re a very accident-prone family. My dad died in a farm accident. He did something wrong: He got onto a tractor when it was running. The gearshift was here, and he hit the gearshift—I saw it happen; in the distance, I saw it happen—and the tractor hit him and I saw him die. My dad made a mistake, but if that gearshift had been locked, it wouldn’t have happened. I went to the tractor company, I went to the farm implements board, and they all said the same thing: “Well, your dad made a mistake.” I wasn’t arguing that.

They sent me a letter that said, “Your dad made a mistake.” It was a farmer who sent me the letter that said, “You should never go onto a running”—I might take a couple of seconds more. “You should never get onto a tractor that’s operating.” I said, “You’re a farmer, right? A dairy farmer?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Okay, so when you’re blowing your silo full, do you have somebody sitting on the blower?” He said, “Hell, no.” I said, “Well, how did the guy get on and off that tractor? When you’re running a grain auger, do you have somebody sitting on that tractor?” “Of course not.” “Well, how did he get off? How did he get on? When you’re running a generator, do you have somebody”—and he said no. That’s as far as it went.

I was young; I was busy. A couple of years later, because I’d written to the farm implements board, I got a call from a lawyer in Texas, and I made a deposition. A 12-year-old kid had gone to shut off the grain auger, and what they figured was that as he was getting on, he hit that gearshift and it killed him. And then the company changed the tractors.

So it’s not just farmers and it’s not just nature, and it’s not just enough to say, “You can’t get on a running tractor,” because there are times—I’m really glad the minister is here—when it’s unavoidable, and the rules and regulations have to reflect that.

Thank you very much for this opportunity.

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

Petitions

Health care funding

Mr. Norm Miller: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It’s a health care petition, and it reads:

“Whereas Ontario’s growing and aging population is putting an increasing strain on our publicly funded health care system; and

“Whereas since February 2015, the Ontario government has made an almost 7% unilateral cut to physician services expenditures which cover all the care doctors provide to patients; and

“Whereas the decisions Ontario makes today will impact patients’ access to quality care in the years to come and these cuts will threaten access to the quality, patient-focused care Ontarians need and expect;

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

“The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care return to the table with Ontario’s doctors and work together through mediation-arbitration to reach a fair deal that protects the quality, patient-focused care Ontario’s families deserve.”

I sign this petition and support it.

Dog ownership

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas aggressive dogs are found among all breeds and mixed breeds; and

“Whereas breed-specific legislation has been shown to be an expensive and ineffective approach to dog bite prevention; and

“Whereas problem dog owners are best dealt with through education, training and legislation encouraging responsible behaviour;

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

“To repeal the breed-specific sections of the Dog Owners’ Liability Act (2005) and any related acts, and to instead implement legislation that encourages responsible ownership of all dog breeds and types.”

In honour of the 21 dogs that face death at the OSPCA, I sign this and give it to Richard to be delivered to the table.

Public transit

Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas there are critical transportation infrastructure needs for the province;

“Whereas giving people multiple avenues for their transportation needs takes cars off the road;

“Whereas public transit increases the quality of life for Ontarians and helps the environment;

“Whereas the constituents of Orléans and east Ottawa are in need of greater transportation infrastructure;

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

“Support the Moving Ontario Forward plan and the Ottawa LRT phase II construction, which will help address the critical transportation infrastructure needs of Orléans, east Ottawa and the province of Ontario.”

I affix my name to this petition and I give it to page Suzanne.

Health care funding

Mr. Lorne Coe: “Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario’s growing and aging population is putting an increasing strain on our publicly funded health care system; and

“Whereas since February 2015, the Ontario government has made an almost 7% unilateral cut to physician services expenditures which cover all the care doctors provide to patients; and

“Whereas the decisions Ontario makes today will impact patients’ access to quality care in the years to come and these cuts will threaten access to the quality, patient-focused care Ontarians need and expect;

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

“The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care return to the table with Ontario’s doctors and work together through mediation-arbitration to reach a fair deal that protects the quality, patient-focused care Ontario’s families deserve.”

I agree with the contents. I’ll affix my signature and hand it to the page.

Mental health and addiction services

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: “Better Mental Health Services.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures; and

1340

“Whereas one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime and only one third of those who need mental health services in Canada actually receive them; and

“Whereas mental illness is the second leading cause of human disability and premature death in Canada; and

“Whereas the cost of mental health and addictions to the Ontario economy is $34 billion; and

“Whereas the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions made 22 recommendations in their final report; and

“Whereas the Improving Mental Health and Addictions Services in Ontario Act, 2015, seeks to implement all 22 ... recommendations;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to pass the Improving Mental Health and Addictions Services in Ontario Act, 2015, which:

“(1) Brings all mental health services in the province under one ministry, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care;

“(2) Establishes a single body to design, manage and coordinate all mental health and addictions systems throughout the province;

“(3) Ensures that programs and services are delivered consistently and comprehensively across Ontario;

“(4) Grants the Ombudsman full powers to audit or investigate providers of mental health and addictions services in Ontario.”

Speaker, I wholeheartedly support this petition and sign it and give it to page Micah to deliver.

Lung health

Ms. Soo Wong: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly.

“Whereas lung disease affects more than 2.4 million people in the province of Ontario, more than 570,000 of whom are children;

“Of the four chronic diseases responsible for 79% of deaths (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, lung disease and diabetes) lung disease is the only one without a dedicated province-wide strategy;

“In the Ontario Lung Association report, Your Lungs, Your Life, it is estimated that lung disease currently costs the Ontario taxpayers more than $4 billion a year in direct and indirect health care costs, and that this figure is estimated to rise to more than $80 billion seven short years from now;

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

“To allow for deputations on MPP Kathryn McGarry’s private member’s bill, Bill 41, Lung Health Act, 2014, which establishes a Lung Health Advisory Council to make recommendations to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on lung health issues and requires the minister to develop and implement an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan with respect to research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung disease; and

“Once debated at committee, to expedite Bill 41, Lung Health Act, 2014, through the committee stage and back to the Legislature for third and final reading; and to immediately call for a vote on Bill 41 and to seek royal assent immediately upon its passage.”

I support the petition and give my petition to page Ryan.

Health care

Mrs. Gila Martow: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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

“(1) Reverse the cuts to health care;

“(2) Return to the bargaining table with the OMA (Ontario Medical Association) to resume negotiations for a fair physician services agreement;

“(3) Work with all front-line health care provider groups to develop plans to create a sustainable health care system for the people of Ontario.”

I affix my signature and give it to page Richard from my riding. Yay, Richard.

Ontario Northland Transportation Commission

Mr. John Vanthof: I have a petition from the good people of my riding.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the provincial government has cancelled the Northlander passenger train which served the residents of northeastern Ontario; and

“Whereas the provincial government has closed bus stations and is cancelling bus routes despite promising enhanced bus services to replace the train; and

“Whereas the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission ... has been given a mandate that its motor coach division must be self-sustaining; and

“Whereas Metrolinx, the crown corporation that provides train and bus service in the GTA ... is subsidized by more than $100 million annually”—much more; “and

“Whereas the subsidy to Metrolinx has increased annually for the last seven years;

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

“To direct the Minister of Northern Development and Mines to reverse the decision to cancel bus routes immediately and to treat northerners equitably in decisions regarding public transportation.”

I wholeheartedly agree and send it down with page Sarah.

Lung health

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: I have a petition here addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from residents in Toronto.

“Whereas lung disease affects more than 2.4 million people in the province of Ontario, more than 570,000 of whom are children;

“Of the four chronic diseases responsible for 79% of deaths (cancers, cardiovascular diseases, lung disease and diabetes) lung disease is the only one without a dedicated province-wide strategy;

“In the Ontario Lung Association report, Your Lungs, Your Life, it is estimated that lung disease currently costs the Ontario taxpayers more than $4 billion a year in direct and indirect health care costs, and that this figure is estimated to rise to more than $80 billion seven short years from now;

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

“To allow for deputations on ... private member’s bill, Bill 41, Lung Health Act, 2014, which establishes a Lung Health Advisory Council to make recommendations to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care on lung health issues and requires the minister to develop and implement an Ontario Lung Health Action Plan with respect to research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung disease; and

“Once debated at committee, to expedite Bill 41 ... through ... to third and final reading; and ... to seek royal assent immediately upon its passage.”

I agree with this, affix my signature and send it down to the table with Suzanne.

Hydro rates

Mr. Jim McDonell: I have a petition 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 those on fixed incomes; and

“Whereas it is imperative to remedy Liberal mismanagement in the energy sector by implementing immediate reforms....;

“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 agree with this petition and will be passing it on to page Bianca.

Health care funding

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario that reads as follows:

“Whereas Ontario’s growing and aging population is putting an increasing strain on our publicly funded health care system; and

“Whereas since February 2015, the Ontario government has made an almost 7% unilateral cut to physician services expenditures which cover all the care doctors provide to patients; and

“Whereas the decisions Ontario makes today will impact patients’ access to quality care in the years to come and these cuts will threaten access to the quality, patient-focused care Ontarians need and expect;

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

“The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care return to the table with Ontario’s doctors and work together through mediation-arbitration to reach a fair deal that protects the quality, patient-focused care Ontario’s families deserve.”

I support this petition, affix my name and will give it to page Andrew to take to the table.

Elder abuse

Ms. Ann Hoggarth: “Whereas today, there are more seniors 65 and over than children under the age of 15, both in Ontario and across Canada;

“Whereas there are currently more than two million seniors aged 65 and over—approximately 15% of the population and this number is expected to double in the next 25 years;

“Whereas Elder Abuse Ontario stated that between 40,000 and 200,000 seniors living in Ontario experienced or are experiencing elder abuse;

“Whereas research showed that abuse against seniors takes many forms and is often perpetrated by family members;

“Whereas financial and emotional abuse are the most frequently reported elder abuse cases;

“Whereas current Ontario legislation incorporates the Residents’ Bill of Rights, mandates abuse prevention, investigation and reporting of seniors living in either long-term-care facilities or retirement homes;

“Whereas the majority of the seniors currently and in the future live in the community;

“Whereas Bill 148, if passed, will ensure seniors living in the community have the same protection and support as those seniors living in long-term-care facilities and retirement homes;

“Whereas Bill 148, if passed, will require regulated health professionals to report elder abuse or neglect to the public guardian and trustee office;

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

“That the members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly pass Bill 148, An Act to amend the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, requiring health professionals to report any reasonable suspicion that a senior living in the community is being abused or neglected to the public guardian and trustee office.”

I agree with this petition, affix my name and give it to page Luke from Barrie.

1350

Health care funding

Mrs. Julia Munro: My petition is to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas Ontario’s growing and aging population is putting an increasing strain on our publicly funded health care system; and

“Whereas since February 2015, the Ontario government has made an almost 7% unilateral cut to physician services expenditures which cover all the care doctors provide to patients; and

“Whereas the decisions Ontario makes today will impact patients’ access to quality care in the years to come and these cuts will threaten access to the quality, patient-focused care Ontarians need and expect;

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

“The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care return to the table with Ontario’s doctors and work together through mediation-arbitration to reach a fair deal that protects the quality, patient-focused care Ontario’s families deserve.”

I have affixed my signature as I am in agreement and give it to page Charlotte.

Private Members’ Public Business

Men’s Health Awareness Week Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur la Semaine de la sensibilisation à la santé des hommes

Mr. Potts moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 170, An Act to proclaim the week immediately preceding the third Sunday in June as Men’s Health Awareness Week / Projet de loi 170, Loi proclamant la semaine précédant le troisième dimanche de juin Semaine de la sensibilisation à la santé des hommes.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Arthur Potts: Thank you, Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to be able to rise in the House to speak to Bill 170 today. It seems only about a year and a half ago that I had the chance to speak to second reading of my first private member’s bill, the tipping bill. I’d like to remind members that we were able to get it to committee, the social policy committee, with unanimous consent. We made a few adjustments and it came back to the House for third reading and was approved by the House in the middle of December, just before we rose. That bill will go into effect on June 15, 2016. I was delighted at the fact that we had the unanimous support of the House on my first private member’s bill, and I was delighted that the House leaders were able to get together and find a way to move the bill forward.

I think I’ve found another bill here that will also encourage the unanimous support of this House so that we can see it be proclaimed in due time, hopefully, in time for the week following the third week in June, because the third Sunday in June, as you all know, is Father’s Day. What I’m hoping to do with this bill—it’s a very simple bill—is that that week prior to Father’s Day we would recognize as Men’s Health Awareness Week.

It takes a lot of work, as I know all members know, to bring a bill like this together, to reach out to stakeholders and pull together the information that people want to use for the debate, and so I wanted to say thank you to my staff. My staff, I’m sure, are watching on various closed-circuit TVs here or back in the constituency office: David Bellmore, who has done fantastic work in bringing this forward, as have Tom McGee and Kimberly Aherne, to make sure that the bill was able to move forward as speedily as possible. Thanks also to the member who’s immediately in front of me—Glengarry–Prescott–Russell—who swapped his ballot item with me in order for me to do this now.

This new bill will deserve the unanimous support of the House because what it seeks to address is a chronic failing in men to look after themselves. When I first mentioned the idea to the Premier—I was sitting down beside her during a break in proceedings—her first response was, “Yes, men don’t really go to see the doctor very often, do they?” There’s a universal truth in that, it seems. It seems to be a proclivity that men have that we’re brought up thinking we don’t need the help of others. As a result, we don’t see the doctor as often as we should. Maybe this will be an opportunity during this week where men will take that time to look after their own personal health.

The idea to do this bill first came to me from the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation. I met with Wayne Hartrick, who unfortunately can’t be here. The foundation is based in Vancouver, and he has been in a couple of times with the founder, Dr. Larry Goldenberg. They couldn’t be here today for the second reading, but they were here for the first reading and we had a media conference beforehand.

When they introduced to me what they were hoping to see happen, I felt as if they were speaking to me directly. I felt that maybe I’m one of those guys who should probably take a little time out once in a while to think about their own personal health, how they’re running their life and what they’re doing to make sure that they have healthy outcomes.

What it really reminded me of was what I hear from my mother so very, very often. My mother, Dawn Potts—I have mentioned her here before; she’s 87 years of age—says to me repeatedly, and to the other members of my family, “I wish your father had taken better care of himself.”

I know what she means by that. Dad died when he was about 81, almost 10 years ago. He lived large. He was a very active man—a judge, lawyer, socialite and member of the bar association—and he lived long and hard. But my mother wishes that he had taken better care of himself. When I mentioned that to her, she said, “Well, you should take the same advice,” encouraging me to also take a look at how I’m living and see if I can’t do it better.

Dr. Larry Goldenberg, a urologist out of Vancouver—just imagine the scenario: you’re a urologist and you’re dealing with men’s prostate cancer on a regular basis, and you know in your heart that this is a very preventable disease, with the right kinds of diet and exercise and other things. It must be extraordinarily frustrating to a doctor to be in that circumstance and to be practising his craft, knowing that it’s a preventable disease, so he invented the foundation. He founded this organization, the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, in order to have men take a better look at what they’re doing.

It reminds me somewhat of a conversation I overheard in the Calgary airport many years ago when smoking was permitted in airports. I was sitting at a bar, having a beer between flights, and a gentleman two over from me started up a cigarette and immediately turned to the gentleman sitting between us and said, “Is it okay if I smoke?” He was being considerate. I thought that was quite nice. The gentleman between us said, “Yes, go ahead. It’s good for business.” The man looked at him and said, “Do you work for Rothmans or something?” He said, “No, I’m an oncologist.”

It’s a bit of black humour, of course, Speaker, but it speaks to the fact that, yes, it would be good for business if people didn’t look after themselves.

I think Dr. Goldenberg understands that that’s not his focus. He founded this association in order to get to the heart of what it is that causes men’s bodies to decay in a way that they shouldn’t.

I also mentioned the opportunity of this bill to my daughter Robin. Robin is a very intelligent woman in her late twenties who now works for OCAD University. Her first response was, “Wow, Dad, do you really want to be a middle-aged male standing up and looking for men to get special treatment? You should really test this idea with others, particularly in the women’s advocacy area, to see if this is going to ruffle feathers and be of concern.”

I took her advice. I’ve spoken with a number of health care providers, people at women’s agencies, people in public health and, quite happily, to my surprise and hers, this was a recognition that men should spend a little extra time looking after their own health because, in doing so, they become better fathers; they become better husbands, spouses and partners; they become better sons. It’s really about family health, not necessarily just men’s health but family health. Healthy men help lead to healthier families.

The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation is championing this. I’m delighted to see that they have a number of really high-profile champions assisting them as they move this forward. We have Brendan Shanahan, who is the president and alternate governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s putting his name, reputation and energy behind this project.

Adam Kreek—Adam was here when I did my first reading presser. He’s an Olympic gold medallist in rowing and an incredibly inspirational public speaker. He came. Here’s a guy who understands health, healthy eating and healthy activity, and he is bringing that message to men across Canada.

And then there’s Simon Whitfield, a four-time Olympian gold medallist, probably the highest-decorated Canadian triathlete, and he’s bringing his reputation—as well as Dr. Tony Finelli, who is an associate professor of urology at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

This is the kind of group that they’re pulling together in order to assist in bringing this message home about men’s health.

They’ve also got partners. The British Columbia government has made a very generous grant to the organization. They’re seeking additional supporting money from the province of Ontario, and I will support them in that effort as best as I can. Sun Life Financial has put significant funds into this, the Canadian Urological Association and Sportsnet. The Public Health Agency of Canada has invested in the program, as has the Canadian Mental Health Association. So it’s a widespread group of people who are recognizing the importance of men taking a step out and looking after their health.

1400

The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation has an app where you can go on your smart phone and answer a bunch of questions, and it will do a metric of what kind of lifestyle they think you’re leading and what your risks are. It can be done confidentially. I did it, and there were some warning signs there that I might want to take to heart. They have determined that something in the order of 70% of people who use this app make changes in their life—not significant changes, just a little change. That’s part of their model for their big campaign that they want to roll out during that week before Father’s Day: for men to make small changes. I was at a hockey game recently and there, on the big screen at the MLSE, was an ad that they’ve done about men making small changes. A man opens a fridge door, reaches in to get a beer and says, “Maybe I’ll have a bottle of water instead.” It’s sort of a sense that we just want to step back and make small changes in our lives for healthier outcomes.

I have a constituent named Dr. Nigel Turner. He’s a psychologist who specializes in men’s issues. He wished he could be here, but he wrote in and I want to read into the record his comments: “This is a wonderful idea for men to move off that men should know better, to a more realistic and humane perception that men don’t know enough about their health, which they take for granted, and as a result they die sooner than they need to.” Dr. Turner runs an organization called Just for Today, and he has an alternative therapy program for men who are coming out of domestic abuse situations. Let’s be clear: There’s never any justification for domestic abuse, but sometimes men who find themselves in those situations are suffering from addictions or anger management issues. His program tries to step back with men, that before making men in that situation plead guilty to a charge, to make it conditional to go through his program, rather than the Partner Assault Response Program, in order to help them make changes in their lives which will make them be better partners.

I’m delighted that we have Rocco Rossi in the crowd today, Speaker. I’ve known Rocco a long time. I know him as the “wise guy” who ran for mayor of Toronto not too long ago. He was executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation back when, and currently is the executive director of Prostate Cancer Canada. A good friend of mine, Al Stuart, was involved with Rocco back when he tried to establish a new program for fundraising. He was going to call it “Prostrate for Prostate,” the idea being that men should just go to sleep on the couch and people should sign up to pay for them to do that. That campaign didn’t quite take off, but the latest campaign that Rocco did, Plaid for Dad, was far more successful.

We also have the Canadian Centre for Men and Families with us. There are a number of individuals here from that organization. It’s a group out of the city of Toronto who are active with male abuse issues: male-on-male abuse, spousal abuse, but also helping with the kinds of issues men face in divorce: separation from kids—those anxieties—giving them a better sense of how they can live more productive lives post-divorce. They’re doing great work in the community. I’m delighted that they will be here to join us today.

What I would like to encourage in the House is that we get that same level of unanimous support I saw last night. If we are able to get this bill passed in time for this year, we will be celebrating Men’s Health Awareness Week the same week that my tipping bill comes into effect.

On that note, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to leave the debate, and I hope I get all-party support.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Lorne Coe: I’m pleased to rise in the Legislature to lend my voice in support of Bill 170, An Act to proclaim the week immediately preceding the third Sunday in June as Men’s Health Awareness Week.

What’s clear here is that not one of us in this chamber has managed to escape the impact of a beloved family member or close male friend who has fallen ill with a preventable disease. One of the most tragic responses to preventable disease states is, “If only he had had an examination a year ago, this could have all been prevented.”

Mr. Speaker, the health of all Ontarians is important. When a negative diagnosis is given, the impact on a patient and his family is catastrophic. It’s truly a family issue. And of course, there’s a significant cost to the health care system itself.

The purpose of Men’s Health Awareness Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and to encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This week will give health care providers, the media, public policy-makers and individuals the opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.

As a society, we’re now doing more to stay healthy for a longer period. More of us than ever are investing in things to keep us healthier: gym memberships, wellness programs, vitamin supplements and appropriate diets. It seems so fitting, at this time, that we also stress the importance of medical examinations that can prevent disease in males.

We have more information than ever before about disease prevention, so let’s take that week and turn our minds to male health. At the end of the day, it will help direct all of us to live a better and more balanced life.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Paul Miller: First of all, I’d like to thank the member from Beaches–East York for bringing this important bill, the Men’s Health Awareness Week Act, forward today. I would also like to commend the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation for their support and advocacy of this bill.

I’m very strongly in favour of this bill on a personal level. My family always competed at high levels of sports, including myself, and exercise has always been an important part of our lives. Fortunately, we’ve had some longevity because of it. I think the combination of diet, exercise and—unfortunately, I worked in an environment that wasn’t too healthy, a steel plant, but thank God I didn’t smoke, which might have helped a bit—is very important. Exercise, good health and competition build a really good foundation for building health in men and women as well.

This bill puts Ontario in line with many jurisdictions around the world that have also proclaimed the third week of June as Men’s Health Awareness Week. In 1994, Senator Bob Dole, a Republican, and Congressman Bill Richardson, a Democrat, sponsored a successful bill that proclaimed the third week of June as National Men’s Health Week. It has been followed by the governments of many US states and by the mayors of several large US cities.

We’re all aware that many men are inhibited from looking after their health and well-being to the extent they should. In particular, many men have a reluctance to seek primary care which, among other things, can lead to early diagnosis of medical conditions. Sometimes men don’t put a high priority on their own health, and the tragedy of this is that the majority of premature deaths among men are preventable. The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation tells us that 70% of men’s health problems can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles, and that men are 40% more likely to die of cancer and 70% more likely to die of heart disease.

Men are much more likely to die prematurely than women. Men are at greater risk of suicide than women in all age groups. Men tend to have a less healthy lifestyle than women: They’re more likely to drink alcohol to excess; they are more likely to smoke; they have poorer diets; and they usually have more accidents.

Most critically, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service found that men are 70% more likely to die from cancers that are not specific to males or females—70%, Speaker; that’s pretty high. One side of that is the higher incidence of these cancers, again, partly caused by poorer lifestyles, but the other side is that men are far less likely to undergo screenings and more likely to delay a visit to a doctor to report troubling symptoms. Thus, their cancers are less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage when survival rates are magnitudes higher.

I can’t emphasize enough, Speaker: We all—men and women—need to see a doctor at least once a year for a checkup. Even if you don’t have a family doctor, which is so important for continuity of care, make an appointment at a clinic if necessary. It’s free. There are many gaps and problems in our not-quite-universal health care system, but free access to a doctor for an annual checkup is not one of those. But we desperately need to address the continuing shortage of family doctors in the province, and I hope that the member from Beaches–East York, who sponsored this bill, is advocating just as strongly with his own colleagues in cabinet for expanded access to family physicians.

1410

We know that the health of men and women is profoundly determined by the conditions in which they live their lives. Unless we start to reverse the growing inequality in the province, the health of many lower-income Ontarians is only going to decline further. The government needs to do so much more to tackle inequality and stop the growing gaps in the health of Ontarians. We need universal access to a family doctor, and we need what the NDP has been calling for for decades, which is to ensure that no person in this province goes without their much-needed prescription drugs because of cost. But what has this government just done? It has asked nearly every senior in this province to pay up to 70% more for their prescription drugs. Speaker, what do you think that will do for the quality of seniors’ health?

I have spoken many times before about the brutal fact that poverty breeds poor health. I read a very disturbing article in the Hamilton Spectator last week that spelled out in great detail the link between poverty and late-stage cancer diagnoses in Hamilton. In the old city of Hamilton, and particularly in the poorer parts of the lower city, the rate of stage 3 and stage 4 cancer diagnoses is extremely high—many times higher than in the wealthier, more suburban areas. These parts of the old city have low incomes, poor educational outcomes, high rates of poverty and the highest rates of late-stage cancer diagnosis. What does this mean? It means that high poverty is literally killing people in the lower city in Hamilton and in parts of my riding.

For example, when colorectal cancer is diagnosed at stage 1, the five-year survival rate is 93%. If it is not diagnosed until stage 4, the survival rate drops to 10%. People who live in poverty have not had the same access to education that most of us take for granted, and have delayed access to their health care. They often don’t have a family doctor, they tend to delay seeing a doctor, they don’t necessarily understand some of the symptoms they are experiencing and they are less likely to undergo screening. It’s awful; really bad.

Many parts of my own riding and the riding of my colleague from Hamilton Centre suffer from appalling rates of cancer and late-stage diagnosis. There are thousands of preventable deaths each year in Hamilton and across the province that may not have to happen in a fairer, more equitable society.

To close, my NDP colleagues and I support this bill as an opportunity to raise much-needed awareness about men’s health, but it is critical that the government actually takes advantage of this opportunity. And it is equally critical that the government starts to get health care right, to make it a real priority and ensure that everyone in this province has equal access to a family doctor and to the prescription drugs they need.

The Liberal government has spent the last year spinning a bit and talking about what they call “broadening” the ownership of Hydro One. It’s about time they stopped the spin and started thinking and talking seriously about broadening access to health care in this province.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Hon. Dipika Damerla: Speaker, as the minister responsible for health promotion, I’m really pleased to rise and speak to Bill 170, being brought forward by MPP Potts, An Act to proclaim the week immediately preceding the third Sunday in June as Men’s Health Awareness Week.

I also want to recognize my good friend Chris Yaccato, who is here in the members’ gallery. Chris was here earlier for the introduction of the amendments we are proposing to Smoke-Free Ontario. I forgot to recognize him then, but thank you for all your support.

As the minister responsible for long-term care, I have visited long-term-care homes across Ontario. One of the things that struck me early on—I’m sure there are a number of us here who have probably noticed this as well—is that in long-term-care homes, where the average age is about 85 years, women outnumber men not just two to one, not just three to one, but I’m going to say five to one or six to one. Where are all the men? There are no surprises when I read that women quite simply outnumber men after a certain age, and that women outlive men by six years globally. So, across the world, women are living longer than men.

In comparison to women, men are 79% more likely to die from heart disease and 40% more likely to die from cancer. I know that the MPP from Hamilton had 70% more likely to die from cancer and I have 40%, but the point is that they’re more likely to die of cancer than women are. Men are 57% more likely to die from type 2 diabetes compared to women, and four times more likely to commit suicide.

Interjection.

Hon. Dipika Damerla: There is some good news, though, and the good news is that many of these diseases that men die from prematurely are actually preventable by making small changes.

I know MPP Potts alluded to it, but I think all of us women can agree that the reluctance of men to go and see a doctor is probably only matched by their reluctance to ask for directions when they’re lost. I think we can all speak to that. I think we all have men in our lives—fathers, husbands, boyfriends, sons, sons-in-law, colleagues, friends—who are reluctant to even admit they’re not feeling well, never mind actually going to see a doctor. So I really applaud this initiative by MPP Potts to have an entire week dedicated to raising awareness of men’s health.

I do want to take a minute here to recognize MPP Potts’s consistent advocacy on health promotion issues, whether it’s fighting obesity—he is very, very passionate about that. He is also very knowledgeable on e-cigarettes, electronic cigarettes. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him, as the minister responsible for health promotion, very closely on a number of health promotion initiatives, and I can tell you that he is really passionate about this particular topic, so it’s no surprise that he is introducing this bill.

I can also say that I think the timing is perfect. In June every year, on the third Sunday of June, we celebrate Father’s Day, so to have the week before that designated as Men’s Health Awareness Week, I think, is a fabulous idea. I think we can find all-party support on an issue such as this, particularly since the men do still outnumber the women in this Legislature. I think the men ought to be voting for this, in their own self-interest if nothing else, and we women will definitely support you, because women care about the men in their lives.

Mr. Speaker, absolutely, as the minister responsible for health promotion, this bill has my full support, and I certainly hope that members from all sides will support it.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Jim McDonell: I’m proud to rise on behalf of my residents of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry to talk about this important bill.

I think it does say a lot. The member from Beaches–East York—the timing is maybe a little off, but with Father’s Day, it’s probably a good idea, just the bill working through. Of course, getting the government to pull up is a bit of a challenge as well.

It speaks loudly to how sometimes we just forget our own health. We heard just a little while ago about farm safety. I look back at my own family, and some of the serious and fatal accidents, actually, on the farm. It all spoke about not looking after yourself.

In my dad’s case, I think the stress of being responsible for a large family—if I go back into the early 1960s, there were no farms that were very affluent. Most farmers had more than one job. We had dairy cows. We planted crops. My dad sold seed in the wintertime when it was not planting season. We made maple syrup when it got a little warmer. Of course, when we got into the busy seasons, we worked long hours. We spent most of our time trying to get out of those long hours, being younger, but it was always his job to pull us back and make sure things got done.

That stress plays on you after a while. I think that it might have been prevalent, as farmers, but I guess it was right across society, especially at that time, when there generally was only the one breadwinner in the family. As they aged, the fact that you might admit that you had a health issue—especially because for most of his life, health care was not free, so there would be the indication that if you went, it was going to cost money. We were lucky enough that I had an uncle that was a doctor, but many families didn’t have that. That added to the problems and the stress we have today. Little problems didn’t get looked after, and they became big problems.

1420

As you look through, there are so many examples, even in people of my generation, friends I had. I had a classmate in school who collapsed on the ice in Maxville. He had just retired, not a worry in his life, and all of a sudden everything changed for him. Luckily, one of the players on the ice was a volunteer fireman. They were able to use a defibrillator and resuscitate him. He had the necessary medical treatment and he’s still around today. But that was a lucky situation, because if he had been anywhere but at the arena, the outcome likely wouldn’t have been so successful.

With a defibrillator program that we have in most of our public buildings, it really—just in Glengarry county, I wouldn’t even say in my riding, I think I know of three cases where somebody was saved by a defibrillator. Each case was a young man—a parent, most times—who had no idea there was an issue, but it turned out they had a serious heart issue. It just speaks of people not looking after themselves.

I’m glad to see—I saw him today, too—a great champion for this cause and the community in general. We see him in so many areas where he’s involved and this is just another sector he is in.

I was looking through the website—Don’t Change Anything, I think it was—and I see—

Mr. Arthur Potts: Don’t Change Much.

Mr. Jim McDonell: Don’t Change Much, thanks; Brendan Shanahan. Being a big Detroit Red Wings fan, I can remember—it may be more memorable to Detroit fans—certainly the Colorado-Detroit fights and the rivalries between the two teams. He was front and centre in that. I remember a couple of series-winning goals and the big fight they had that captured most of the hockey world for about 10 years. At that time, he was fighting for something else, but it’s a cause that he sees today as worth fighting. I know people he was acquainted with, Bob Probert being one, somebody who didn’t look after his heath. He was taken at a very young age. That’s just another example. Jiří was another one from Detroit, the defence man who had a heart attack under the age of 30.

These are things people have. You don’t expect it and certainly you don’t get tested. In cases where you’re under 30 or 40, I guess you can see that. But certainly, I know as you get older, the idea of having a medical where you might check your heart is probably quite rare in society today. People generally go when there’s a problem, and when you’re talking heart, it’s generally a very serious problem.

I know we don’t look after ourselves. One of the pages they had on the website was “Sweat is just fat crying.” I think it speaks loudly because nobody takes the time to exercise. If I look around this building, I would think that probably most of us enjoy the exercise, enjoy the time, but probably most of us don’t take the time, as well. We all know that’s not good. We probably hear that every day. If you take the time to do some exercising—actually, I did some this morning, but that was the first time this week, which is not acceptable.

One problem I have is that if you do exercise in the morning, when you get to this building it’s so darn hot it takes you so long to cool off. It’s an issue. This building seems to be always 10 degrees too warm. You almost attempt not to move in this building because if you do—you know, the perspiration and all the other things go along with that. I know we had an energy bill today but maybe we can spend some of that money on fixing the heating system in this building, maybe put a window in the cafeteria or something downstairs. It just generally is way too hot.

In my own family, my brother-in-law died of skin cancer at a young age, an issue that he became aware of, but he was too busy to look after it and by the time he got in to look after it, of course—it’s one of these silent killers. You have a little mark on your skin, and I guess in our family maybe it’s a little more—we’ve had a fair number of people pass away with skin-cancer-type diseases. It should be a wake-up call for us to look at.

In the end, my dad died of colon cancer. Again, it was something that, if you get the testing done today, your chances of not getting cancer are almost 100%. It’s the old story about not taking the time or getting advice to get some of these tests done, and of course, it’s fatal. I look back at him. He was semi-retired and starting to enjoy his time. We were a little older, so we can look after things around the farm. It was a hard life for them, coming through the Depression and coming through the war. To have something that really is preventable just when things are getting better is the unfortunate part. It goes back to talk about people not looking after themselves.

On a bit of a lighter note, I was at a seniors’ building in Chesterville, probably a year and a half ago. I think it was a protest against the physiotherapy cuts. Anyway, we were there, and there was a table where two men were sitting. I went over to talk to them for a few minutes, and one of them made a joke that when they have a dance or something, they are in quite a bit of demand. He said, “When you look around, we’re the only two guys in this place.” There were 70 or 80 people in the seniors’ residence, and there were only two men in the whole building. It just talks about the numbers. Again, it’s kind of funny, but when you look at the issue, it’s not all that funny.

It’s just something that I think a day like today will do a lot to bring attention to, and it’s something that’s well overdue. We may be talking about men’s health, but when it comes to exercise and looking after yourself, I wouldn’t think that either sex in this building would be any different. Here, like in many places, we’re working seven days a week, and we tend to throw these things to the back and wait until something happens.

I think it’s a clear reminder that everybody should be looking after themselves. It ends up being cheaper in the end, so don’t think of it as a money issue. If you can take care of something before it’s an issue, hopefully, you’ll stay out of the operating room or worse.

Anyway, we will be supporting this bill and look forward to its passage.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate? The member for Timmins–James Bay.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Mr. Speaker, I’m speaking on this bill? That’s funny.

I speak from personal experience that a whole bunch of people may relate to. I grew up at a time—I think a lot of people in this chamber are the same way—when men measured their success by how tough they were: if you were able to cut an extra cord of wood, if you happened to work in the bush, or muck an extra car underground or whatever it was that you did for a living. The generation of my grandfather, my dad and even my generation, to a certain extent, when we were younger measured our success by how strong you were and how much you could take to show how tough a worker you were. Nobody ever really thought about having to take care of themselves, because everything was a measure of having to show just how manly you were and how tough you were.

It wasn’t just at work, where a lot of people would measure how much they could do: how many cords of wood and how many mine cars they could fill by hand. Once they finished, they ended up at the bar, and they would show just how tough they were by how many beers they can drink and how much food they could eat. I remember, as a kid growing up, that these men, who were probably a little bit bigger than I was and sort of larger than life, all ended up dying in their fifties or early sixties. Why? Because the lifestyle they led couldn’t sustain their life for as long as it needed to.

I think what has happened over the years is that the generations coming up are a little smarter about what they do as far as choices, and how they measure success. Back in the day, we measured our success by the output of our work and our standing within the workplace. It was a different sort of ethic that existed at the time—excuse me, I have a cold; this darn cold has been running around.

I look at the younger generation: My son-in-law Shane runs triathlons and watches what he eats and trains on a spin bike and runs outside. When it’s snowing and miserably cold, he will take off for a so-many-kilometre run, a so-many-kilometre swim in the summer, and a so-many-kilometre ride on his bike in order to be able to stay at that level. I remember talking to him at the very beginning when he started doing this. It wasn’t to compete; it was just something for himself.

1430

I think what we’re starting to learn is that if you don’t take care of it, you ain’t going to have it forever, so you better learn to take care of your body. It’s something that’s like saving up for retirement for a lot of people my age. Nobody really saves up for retirement until they’re about to retire; and a lot of people don’t start thinking about taking care of their health until they get into their fifties or sixties, and it’s a little bit too late and you’ve had a couple of scares.

I’m the guy whose blood pressure went through the roof last September. That’s why I was off from this place for two or three weeks. I started checking my blood pressure and it was going nuts, and it took a while to regulate. That was a sign something was going on. So it took a while, and since then I still have a lot of bad habits. I still like my beer every now and then, and I certainly love pasta. You can’t get away from pasta; I don’t care how hard you try. But you walk more; you watch what you eat. As you were saying earlier—and I appreciate that—you grab a glass of water instead of a glass of wine. I’ve done silly things. Like, I don’t keep any alcohol in my apartment because I don’t have to drink it. I’m at the point where I don’t do a lot of that at home either. It’s choices that we make.

I want to say another thing because it really is important. This Legislature treats its members poorly. The member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek sort of heckled it, but there’s no shower in this building for members who want to bike into work, who want to jog into work or walk at a brisk walk, to be able to get out of their jogging clothes and go to a place and have a shower and then get dressed up in our monkey suits that we wear when we come to this place. I used to bike to work and I stopped doing it because the only shower in this building—and a lot of people don’t know that—is downstairs in the north wing, below the Liberal caucus services. There’s a place down there that looks like a dungeon. That is the shower. I wouldn’t suggest that women go there because there are no curtains, there are no doors, so there’s no privacy. That’s the best that we can do for the members of this assembly.

We treat ourselves shabbily because our lifestyle stinks. Really. We don’t eat well. We work long hours. We’re constantly under stress. We choose to do these jobs but we don’t make it easy for members to be able to come to this place and to exercise.

I would just close on this one point in regard to how maybe the House leaders can get together and make this thing pass quickly. I’m a House leader and I’ll just say this: Just so people understand, the Liberal caucus will have to decide which bills it wants to move on at the end of the session when it comes to the deal we make with private members’ bills. So if the Liberals choose Mr. Potts’s bill and say, “This is a bill that we would like as part of the package at the end of the session,” I don’t think we’re going to have an objection on this side of the House, but you have work to do on your side. I’m pretty sure that, in fact, it is supported by your caucus.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Joe Dickson: I’m pleased to support Men’s Health Awareness Week here in Ontario. This bill will proclaim the week preceding the third Sunday in June in each year. I also congratulate the member from Beaches–East York for bringing forth the Men’s Health Awareness Week Act, 2016.

Supporting men’s awareness week, some of my colleagues have mentioned some of the numbers where men are slow learners in taking care of their own health. But one of the dominant ones that struck me was that men are 79% more prone than women—and likely to die—from heart disease. There is a pretty clear message there.

Supporting men’s awareness week is special for all men to care for your loved ones, your spouse, your children and your grandchildren. I’ve spoken in this House previously on this item, in the days of our retired minister and past MPP George Smitherman, who spoke so eloquently.

Good health means so much to men and is led by good physical conditioning, an example that should be continued and expanded with this week.

My late father, Lou Dickson, had the introductory line in his eulogy that said, “A world-class athlete has passed away December 10, 2011.” I’ll do a very brief story. He was part of the Canadian Olympic team in 1936; he sprained his ankle and couldn’t go. In 1940, four years later, of course, was World War II, and the Olympics were cancelled. In 1944, four years later again, the Olympics were cancelled. By the time the 1948 Olympics came along, my father was married and already had three children, and that pretty much put an end to that part of his life.

He was an entrepreneur. He walked everywhere, as a business person, because we never had a car. We wouldn’t have had a car, except my mother won $1,100 in the Irish Sweepstakes just before 1960. We had a late-model 1950s car, so we didn’t have to use two taxis to take all of the children to mass every Sunday.

I have to tell you—and I’m going to be very brief—that my father was a special example. He was my mother’s partner, and all of her life, particularly for the last two years of her life, he was her personal caregiver.

Dad was not a smoker, drank very rarely, and continued to walk, day in and day out, running his businesses right until the very end. Finally, he died on December 11, with a cyst on his brain. The doctor said to a number of us children who were standing around, “That’s something I’ve never seen. There’s a 95-year-old man, who has just died, and he was a man with a body somewhere between the ages of 60 and 65.”

He took care of himself, to help our mother and to help care for his 10 children. I want to repeat that: He took care of himself all his life, to help my mother and to help care for all 10 children. I have to ask the question: Why aren’t we? Maybe we will, with this annual reminder of Men’s Health Awareness Week in Ontario.

Thank you again to our member from Beaches–East York, and I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. John Fraser: It’s a pleasure to speak to this bill. I want to congratulate the member from Beaches–East York for bringing it forward.

We’ve heard, as we’ve gone through some debate this afternoon, about how we don’t take care of ourselves. I’m the son of a nurse, so I actually have my own primary care provider at home. But I’ll say that between the ages of 35 and 50, I did not visit any practitioner. I have a family doctor now, who I don’t visit as often as I should. We all need to be reminded of this.

I want to say a few words about a person in my community, Jean-François Claude, who I’ve known for a long time. He’s involved in politics; he’s a public servant. He was honored at the Royal Ottawa Inspiration Awards Gala last week. He suffered from mental illness, which had a profound effect on his family. He has become a champion for men’s health and men’s mental health.

One of the things that really jumps out at you in the statistics—we can see that cancer is more likely; type 2 diabetes; heart disease—is suicide. Men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide. That’s incredible, when you think about it.

As men, we have to overcome this idea that we can do it all on our own, that we don’t need help, that we can somehow just continue on and not require the support of the people who can help us, the support of the people who can diagnose what we have and can treat us. What this does is, it has a profound effect on our families and the people close to us.

Again, I commend the member, because it has a broader impact than just on the men who are here. I can’t agree more than with the member from Timmins–James Bay. We could do a better job in this Legislature of making sure that not just the members, but the people we work with here, the people who work in this Legislature, have an opportunity to be able to exercise. The sedentary lifestyle is the new cancer. It’s the thing that’s creating disease in all of us. I have to say that I agree with him.

1440

I do want to say to the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, whom I have a great deal of respect for: I do want to assure him that we’re doing a lot in primary care and that 94% of the people who want a family doctor have one. There’s still a lot more work to do, and we all take that very seriously. I just wanted to express that to him, that that’s something that we all share here. There’s still a lot of work to do, because people have to know that they need to get a family doctor.

Again, I congratulate the member from Beaches–East York. I fully support this and appreciate the opportunity to speak to it.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I now return to the member for Beaches–East York.

Mr. Arthur Potts: Thank you to all the members who have given comment today: the member from Whitby–Oshawa, the member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, the Associate Minister of Health, the member for Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry, the member for Timmins–James Bay, the member for Ajax–Pickering and my colleague from Ottawa South.

Dr. Turner, who I talked of earlier in my remarks, also spoke of a documentary called The Mask You Live In. It’s an American documentary which highlights the kinds of pressure we put male children under: “Don’t be a crybaby. Step up. Act like a man.” It’s that kind of societal pressure early on that puts us in a situation where we think we have to succeed. Because of this notion that men have to be successful and have to look after—when things don’t go so well and they become depressed, this leads to this statistic: three or four times more likely to die of suicide.

My friend Patrick Dion, who is Ontario’s representative and the vice-chair of the board of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, says that suicide is not just a health issue but a public health issue, and action must be taken to develop preventive strategies to support the general improvement of men’s health in Canada.

Also, representatives are here from the lung association: George Habib has written in to tell me that among the specific health challenges facing the men of our province is their persistently high incidence of continuing tobacco use. Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable illness and death in our province, and so the lung association seeks improved access to free smoking cessation programs for all Ontarians.

That’s the kind of message that we want to be getting through, through Men’s Health Awareness Week. It is significant, the third Sunday being Father’s Day, that it is that preceding week.

I do appreciate very much the support I’ve heard in the House for moving forward with this bill. I look forward to seeing it in committee shortly and seeing if we can’t get, at the end of session, all-party approval to move this forward as one of the bills so that we can proclaim that week in June 2016. Ontario will be the leader across Canada in doing so, and joining some states in the US.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We’ll take the vote on this item at the end of private members’ public business.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur la Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale maternelle

Mr. Anderson moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 176, An Act to proclaim Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day / Projet de loi 176, Loi proclamant la Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale maternelle.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.

Mr. Granville Anderson: I want to start by first thanking a few people who have lent their expertise to this bill. I would like to thank Dr. Van Lieshout, who is here today from the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph’s hospital in Hamilton. I would also like to thank Dr. Vivian Polak of the Wellington Reproductive Psychiatry Telemedicine Program, as well as Sharon Brooks from Brant. They have all been integral in bringing this issue to our attention, and were extremely helpful in aiding my team to bring this bill to the House in a very timely fashion. I would like to thank their network for bringing this issue to the forefront, and I hope we have their—and their colleagues’—support while we move forward with this bill and with maternal mental health awareness. Thank you all.

Speaker, we all too often take our health for granted until it changes, until we become ill. Changes in our mental health are perhaps the most immediately worrisome and frustrating, because our mental state can shift quickly, sometimes unpredictably, and we can be annoyed by mild anxieties and debilitated by complex psychoses.

But imagine for a second that you’re pregnant, carrying your child, or perhaps have recently given birth to your child, and your mental state of being changes. It could be a minor change, like exhaustion or trouble sleeping, or it could be a more significant change, like an obsessive need to check on your child, a deep and sustained feeling of sadness or a confusing loss of a sense of self. Who do you worry for now? Where do you turn? To whom do you feel more responsible, and is there anyone who can help you? The reality is that these types of questions cross the mind of anyone with a mental illness, but they can be especially troubling and have larger implications for a new or expecting mother.

It is common knowledge that almost one in five women who go through pregnancy experience mental illness. Imagine, Mr. Speaker: one in five. That’s an astronomical amount of women who go through this illness. Do Ontarians know that 85% of those cases go untreated? Postpartum depression alone affects 15% of women worldwide, and the World Health Organization considers depression to be the most common cause of disability for women in their potential child-bearing years.

That is the context of this bill, which aims to proclaim the first Wednesday in May of every year as Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day.

The importance of this day is to raise the profile of maternal mental illness so that new and expecting mothers know they are not alone if mental illness befalls them, that there are safe treatments and strategies, and that we, as a province, remain aware of the importance of these women to their families and their communities.

Maternal mental illnesses are broadly considered to be mood or anxiety disorders that occur during pregnancy or up to one year after giving birth. This includes depression, anxiety, mania, psychosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, co-occurring substance use disorders and more. Left untreated during pregnancy, these can lead to feelings of isolation, premature delivery or fetal growth delay.

Left untreated after birth, maternal mental illness can put children at a higher risk for social and behavioural problems, including anti-social behaviours, ADHD, decreased IQ and language delays. They’re also more susceptible to developing an insecure attachment style, which can impair their abilities to form relationships later in life.

Partners of these women are also at an increased risk of depression and anxiety.

In the most severe of cases, these illnesses can lead to suicide and infanticide.

The complexity of this issue was expressed to me this past summer when I had the opportunity to travel throughout our province to collect Ontarians’ input and experiences to work towards a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder strategy.

1450

This past fall, I released my report on what we heard at those round tables. Among the things that stuck out to me were claims that FASD is preventable. It seems simple when you think about it: If you don’t drink, your child will not have FASD.

But there were voices that challenged that, and I’m very glad that they did. They asked us to consider the women who had no choice but to drink. They ask us to remember that there are mothers who are addicted to substances like drugs and alcohol. They reminded us that there are mothers who feel they have few choices but to cope with their mental illness with alcohol.

Yes, FASD is preventable, but prevention means more than simply not drinking. Among other things, it means that mothers have the resources, tools and supports they need to manage mental illness in a healthy way.

There was another common thread from the FASD round tables that carries over to maternal mental illness that I want to highlight, and that is the presence of stigma. Mental illnesses carry their own stigma in our society as it is, whether it’s due to lack of understanding, a fear of some sort or an overemphasis on what it means to be “normal.” There’s a tendency for mental illness to force individuals to deal with it on their own. Luckily, we’re moving towards a culture of mental health maintenance in which we consider our mental well-being to require as much routine maintenance as our physical health.

We should know that women are not simply mothers-in-waiting for society to prescribe upon, but we have a tendency to heap the pressure on women as keepers of not only their own health but the health of their children. That is not an easy stress to deal with, and it does not create the sort of environment where a woman feels safe to come out as mentally ill during their pregnancy. This creates a significant barrier to their willingness to seek medical attention and to receive a diagnosis and treatment.

Although a significant barrier is a lack of awareness about what treatments are available, many women fear that mental illnesses are predominantly treated with medication, and they worry what sort of impact that will have on their fetus or nursing child. Most women are not aware that treatments include non-medical behavioural changes or that some prescription medications are safe to take during pregnancy. Proclaiming this day will provide organizations an occasion to highlight these options so that women feel more comfortable to come forward with their concerns and illnesses when they most need help.

Our government is moving forward with a mental health and addictions strategy. Since 2003, funding for mental health has increased by over $506 million, to a total of $3 billion. Phase 2 of that plan will provide further funding to community partners for service delivery and fill the gaps in our system.

Of course, the ministry’s best practices for health care professionals include health promotion initiatives that encourage parenting skills and healthy-development knowledge of newborns and their families, into which mental health promotion and parental self-care promotion are integrated. But knowledge of what constitutes maternal mental illness, how common it is and what can be done to manage it deserves an opportunity to be highlighted so that women feel comfortable coming forward can find the services they need and can ultimately live safe and happy lives.

Speaker, thank you for the time. I look forward to further debate.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mrs. Gila Martow: I’m very pleased to rise and speak on Bill 176, the Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day Act. Full disclosure: I have four children. I did not suffer, I would say, mood swings or anxiety. Actually, I felt better when I was pregnant than when I wasn’t pregnant, which is probably why I had four children—because my blood pressure, I guess, is normally a little low, and it was probably normal.

But I was hit very hard when my mother passed away about seven years ago. That was the first time in my life where I felt what you would really call clinical depression. You wake up in the morning and you feel like you have weights on your arms and legs, and you have to really push yourself to get out of bed. That lasted for me for about a month or two, and then it just went away. But I have a vast support network and I’m very comfortable telling people how I’m feeling and asking people for advice, and even going and speaking to my doctor and seeing if I should be going for counselling or anything like that.

I can’t imagine, though, how a woman would feel, giving birth, which—you know what?—can be physically painful, not just the delivery but even after the delivery. It’s okay to say some medical terms here, I think, but a lot of women—not myself but a lot of my friends had pretty difficult episiotomies. They had trouble healing. Women have Caesarean sections—a lot of complications we all know where pieces of the uterus are left inside and horrific infections.

To have to give birth and then not be feeling well afterwards and then, on top of that, feel the way that I felt after my mother passed away—I just can’t imagine having the responsibility of caring for an infant who is so in need of comfort. An infant is not just about providing food and changing a diaper. It’s about smiles, it’s about warmth, it’s about cuddling. How difficult that must be not just for the mothers but for the rest of the family members—there are often other children involved—and for the infants. This can hit every culture and anybody from any socio-economic background.

We rely so heavily on women to support families and to support elderly parents. We really need to offer women the support they need because when the women collapse, we all know that the families can’t continue and cannot function.

The member from Eglinton–Lawrence—and I’m glad he’s in the House today because I was really moved by some of the stories about women who lost their child. We’re talking about postpartum depression, but that’s not just for women who’ve delivered a healthy child. There are also women who, unfortunately, have given birth to a stillborn child or a child who passes away soon after delivery. Obviously, that’s going to create a significant amount of difficulty in terms of the mood for the woman and the family around the woman. We need to offer far more support for women when they give birth to healthy children, but even more for women who have children who have health challenges of all types and maybe don’t survive into toddlerhood and beyond.

We need to focus on what our priorities are here in the Legislature. We hear that all the time. Maybe we get tired of hearing it, but I want to repeat it. The priority has to be what we’re collecting taxes for. That tax revenue is to go—it’s not our money; it’s to go to support health care, education and social programs that every Ontarian deserves and needs. Yes, it’s important for us to talk about these things, to talk about mental health awareness and talk about supports, but without the funding properly directed and going to front-line care—not just to another administration and another bureaucracy and another special day commemorating, but to actually go and do some good. That’s what we need to get done here. That’s what we need to focus on.

I want to say that my hat’s off to all those in our communities who are out there helping people, and I would advocate that anybody who has free time on their hands to, please, volunteer, be a support. You can even do it from the comfort of your own home. If you know somebody who’s given birth or is about to give birth, offer your support. People are very shy to reach out, but they do need a helping hand and just sometimes a friendly phone call.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to hearing all the comments on this bill.

1500

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill 176, the Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day Act. I want to both congratulate and thank the member for Durham for bringing this bill forward.

New Democrats certainly support this bill. I know I myself, at the birth of my first child, had that experience. The first night, all the new mothers were called into a room. There was a photographer and we could get pictures of ourselves with our new infant, and I experienced this sudden moment of panic: How could I possibly care for this tiny, fragile infant? I actually fled that room. I could not stay. I went back and I cried. I sobbed, because the physiological changes that were going through my body had a really powerful impact on how I felt.

This just touches the surface of what many women in this province and in this country can experience after they have a pregnancy. Some members in this House may recall that in 2000 there was the story of a 37-year-old family physician who threw herself under the subway with her six-month-old son. She was my family doctor, and that experience, having been so close to somebody who entered into the grip of a terrible, powerful illness that she could not control—she was a family physician as well as a psychotherapist, so she was helping other people work through their own mental health issues, but she was unable to help herself because of this terrible postpartum psychosis.

That postpartum psychosis, those extreme kinds of events, are rare, fortunately, Speaker, but they are a reality. We know that less-severe forms of postpartum depression and anxiety affect about 20% of women in this province.

I applaud the member for bringing this bill forward, for proposing to create a maternal mental health awareness day. Education is one of the first steps.

In the example that I provided of the family physician, there was talk, initially, of laying charges against her. The infant died immediately. She survived about a week or so afterwards. There was talk that if she did recover, charges would be laid against her, which I think really shows a fundamental misunderstanding of postpartum psychosis as a very real illness. She was caught in the throes of something that she could not control, and it would be unreasonable to expect her to be able to.

Education and awareness are critically important but, really, Speaker, they are only the first step. I found a very useful document from Public Health Ontario called Scan of Parental Mental Health Best Practice Documents. Certainly, yes, education regarding mental health in the perinatal period is identified as a best practice guideline, but there are many, many other practices that are recommended as being important to help women deal with parental mental health issues.

This report found that women who received psychosocial or psychological interventions were significantly less likely to develop postpartum depression. What that means is intensive, individualized postpartum home visits provided by public health nurses or midwives. It means peer-based telephone support systems. It means interpersonal psychotherapy. It means facilitated self-help.

There are recommendations around intensive screening for all women in the antenatal period, and also screening for depression during the postnatal period. It means assessing the interaction between mothers and infants in the immediate postnatal period, with careful observation and documentation.

We need resources to be able to carry out these best practices. We’ve seen a government that has laid off thousands of nurses across this province. We cannot move forward and address some of these issues if we do not have health care professionals in place to provide the kinds of services and supports that are needed.

In my own community of London, there is an organization called Mother Reach London and Middlesex. This is a coalition of over 20 community members and professionals. It was established in 2003 with a three-year provincial government grant, but since that time, it has had to rely on Trillium funding and attempts to cobble together some resources through fundraising events.

I don’t think this is a sustainable way to ensure that these services are going to be available to women in our province. It’s not an appropriate way to deliver services to women in our province.

Again, I appreciate this bill coming forward. I view it as the first step in a longer-term strategy to address maternal mental health and really deal with ensuring that the supports and services that women need are there.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Hon. Tracy MacCharles: I’m very pleased to speak to this bill, Bill 176, An Act to proclaim Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day, brought forward by the MPP for Durham. It’s my pleasure to speak to it as the minister responsible for women’s issues, and I want to talk a bit about some programs we offer at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. The one I want to talk about specifically is the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program.

First, I just want to say that I think it is really important, when we look at the intent of this bill, to raise awareness of the broader mental health issues that affect women during and after pregnancy. We know there’s still so much stigma associated with mental illness. I know, from my own experience and from the experiences of some of my friends, that it’s extra difficult to deal with that stigma, especially around all the excitement of being pregnant and giving birth. It’s such a celebratory time in so many phases of the pregnancy, birth and beyond, but if you are challenged from a mental health point of view, I think the stigma can be just so great.

A lot of women I know had high-risk pregnancies, and I had one, too, so I was part of a support group for mothers who were high-risk. I was carrying twins—I think it was triplets, but I lost one of them. Anyway, I got engaged in this group. I never thought I would give birth to premature infants, but I did. My twins came about six weeks early. It can be so hard when you’re trying to be excited about what’s before you, especially as a new mother, and then to deal with the risks of pregnancy and the challenges of giving birth to premature infants, who often go on to have challenges, whether they’re physical challenges or other developmental challenges.

If passed, the bill would heighten awareness of the broader mental health issues that affect women, and it would certainly be in line with what many other jurisdictions do. So I congratulate the member for Durham for raising the conversation around this issue.

As the MPP mentioned when he introduced the bill, there are some great programs. I just want to give a shout-out to the one at my ministry, the children and youth services ministry, called Healthy Babies Healthy Children, to support vulnerable women and children from the prenatal period until children reach school age. After a baby is born, all new families are offered the Healthy Babies Healthy Children screening program to determine if they would benefit from further services to support healthy child development. That could include home visiting and referrals to community resources and coordination of other services. It’s a great program. I know we are getting stretched with our resources with that, so it’s an area that I’m looking at specifically, to make sure we can help all new babies and their families be well supported.

Again, congrats to the member from Durham for bringing this forward.

1510

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Lorne Coe: It’s a pleasure to speak on this important bill, and I thank the member opposite for bringing it forward.

In the extreme, we’ve all witnessed the terrible, tragic stories that have resulted from postpartum depression in women. Many, unfortunately, suffer in silence, almost invisible to their families and friends.

I’m proud of Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences and the programs they’ve created and the treatment they give, especially to so many women requiring care. This incredibly valuable facility, located in my riding of Whitby–Oshawa, has an outpatient women’s consultation service with an interprofessional health care team providing flexible, individualized treatment to patients.

In 2010, Ontario Shores opened the first clinic in Durham region that provides specialized consultation and treatment to women who suffer from a combination of mental health and women’s health issues. These issues include postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.

As a patient named Dorothy said, “I liked the holistic approach to care with the nurse, social worker and psychiatrist. Everything was explained thoroughly and I was reassured I would be taken care of. If something happened, I had their help and support.”

It’s challenging, though, Speaker, when a facility of this quality has not had an increase in funding for so many years. Instead, what has occurred is layoffs of 25 staff. In my view, Ontario Shores should be given the financial capability to perform to an even higher level than it is today. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and governments need to treat it that way.

This legislation, in my view, is just a start. I’m looking forward to further discussion on women’s maternal mental health and some of the broad issues associated with it going forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s always an honour to stand and speak, particularly so close to International Women’s Day, about a women’s issue. I thank the member for bringing this bill forward.

It doesn’t only take a village to raise a child, as has been said a million times. It takes a country, it takes a province and it takes a city to raise a child. Although this bill is well-meaning, and of course we’re going to support it, when you’re talking about maternal health, both mental and physical, you’re talking within the context of a province that really hasn’t spent a lot of time focusing on this.

We didn’t see a lot for children in this budget, and a budget is a moral document. For women who are raising children in this province, they are facing the highest child care costs in the country. They are facing a child care crisis, I would say, where only one in 10 children actually has a space in child care.

I can tell you that, as a new mother, one of the social determinants of health is housing, as well. We have over 70,000 people in the GTA waiting 10 to 12 years on affordable housing lists. So picture it: The face of poverty in Toronto is a woman and child’s face. The face of poverty in Toronto is a woman, the single head of a family, and her child’s face. That is the face of our poverty.

We know that at least one in six children live in poverty, that they go to sleep at night without enough to eat. We know you cannot support a child on what the government pays you if you are on social assistance as a woman. You can’t do it without visiting a food bank. That’s the simple reality. And you can’t get a space for child care so that you can get a job. It catapults, Mr. Speaker.

I remember extremely well having my first child. I didn’t have parents to help; they had passed on long ago. My in-laws were in Chicago, a long way away. I was completely unprepared for what I was about to experience: a colicky baby—and if anybody has lived through a colicky baby, you know what I’m talking about—who screamed six to seven hours a day, and I didn’t know why, and we couldn’t fix it. I can tell you, after a few months of no sleep, a few months of worrying about whatever was wrong with this baby—maybe it was just a growth phase—and even with a partner and even with some supportive friends around, it was incredibly difficult. I can only imagine what that situation would have been like if I had to worry about my rent; if I had to worry on my own, without support around me.

Again, you heard the member from London West talking about the lack of home care after birth. That is so important, Mr. Speaker. It’s so important to have someone else come in and help you out, just with simple things like groceries, washing the dishes, doing the laundry. Those kinds of simple chores, especially if you’re a single mother, can make the difference between mental health and not mental health. Those are the social determinants of health.

Of course, we know that if you don’t look after women, you don’t look after their children either. When we talk about maternal health, we’re talking about, ultimately, women’s health. We’re talking about women’s health. Again, poverty plays a role. As I said, the face of poverty in this province is a woman with a child. That is the face of poverty. Whether those across the aisle want to admit it or not, that is the face of the homelessness crisis. It’s the face of a woman with a child. Yes, a time of awareness for this is extremely important, but we need to do so much more. What we need to do—that is the “so much more”—has been so obvious.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago I marched in my first International Women’s Day march here in Toronto. Guess what we stood up for then? Free universal child care; freedom to choose over your own bodies; freedom from violence; and equal pay. And 50 years later, I spoke at the Mary Spratt Breakfast, along with the member from London West. What did I say? “We’re still marching for the same things.” How long will it take before we have child care? How long will it take before we have equal pay? How long will it take before we have freedom from violence, and the freedom truly to choose?

It all hits home when a woman is at her most vulnerable, and that can be after birth. First, let’s look after the social determinants of health. Let’s look after women’s health. Let’s look after children. Let’s attack the poverty issue seriously, not just with lip service, because that ultimately determines the health of both mother and child.

My goodness, yes, another day: Let’s acknowledge that. Another day is better than nothing, but 50 years from now, I don’t want my granddaughters to be marching over the same core demands of the second wave of feminism that we marched over.

Let’s do freedom; let’s do equality; let’s do maternal health; and then you’ll get maternal postpartum health as well.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mrs. Kathryn McGarry: It’s always a pleasure to rise, on behalf of my constituents in Cambridge, to add a few comments to the debate.

I’m going to start off by wishing my mother, Barbara Murgatroyd, a happy birthday from yesterday. Speaker, it’s her story I want to tell today, because this relates exactly to MPP Anderson’s bill today—sorry, the member from Durham.

My mother was one of three children born in the early 1930s to a mum who had had three babies in four years. One day, when my mum was 18 months old, my grandmother, on the third floor of her house, lined the three children up behind her, dressed very well, put her red shoes on, and jumped out the window, asking the children to follow her. My aunt, who was four at the time, determined that this was not the right thing to do, but she remembers to this day the red shoes going out of the window.

My grandmother didn’t commit suicide, like she was attempting to do—because she had left a note. She broke her back and was hospitalized. She never came home. She went from the hospital into a mental institution, where she was kept until she was middle-aged.

My mom’s brother and sister were split up. My mother moved to Toronto to live with her grandmother and her aunt. My aunt and uncle, because they were a little older, took a ship and moved to England to be with his parents.

1520

This was a splintered family. My mother certainly had some family support around her. She was supposed to be sent to England at some point, to meet up with her brother and sister, but it never happened, and she was raised without her mom, her dad, her brother and her sister.

My grandmother was not treated very well in the institutions that she was in. They didn’t have medications at the time. She was one of the first victims who experienced electroshock therapy. Eventually, she did come out of the hospital and reconnected with my mother, who was working as a nurse at that time and had her own first baby, who was myself.

I tell this story because it affects so many women worldwide, of all cultures, all incomes. We today have the knowledge of what it’s like to treat and recognize a maternal mental health illness, and in particular, postpartum depression. My mom’s family wasn’t alone in that.

I have to say that maternal mental health illnesses affect the whole family. Women can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, depression, anxiety, mania, psychosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder. My grandmother, as far as we know, was never fully diagnosed. In the most severe cases, like my grandmother’s, maternal mental health illnesses can result in suicide or infanticide.

The good news is, we can treat today, through medication and through other issues. But we are also blessed with trying to break down the stigma, so those women who think they may be experiencing a maternal mental health illness can receive some help.

My mother’s family was splintered by a likely undiagnosed, untreated, severe postpartum depression. I’ve often wondered what she would have been like if she’d grown up in her family with her mom and dad and her brother and sister. The happy news is, she did reconnect with the rest of the family as an adult, and was able to bring them back into the family fold.

I cannot support Bill 176 enough. I want to congratulate the member from Durham for bringing forward this very important bill.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mrs. Julia Munro: Something that I want to say at the very outset of this opportunity I have today is that it certainly made me think back, in my own circumstances, to the kinds of things that, today, would be identifiable, but in past generations, there was just sort of a shrugging of the shoulders, and, you know, “suck it up and move on” and things like that.

The comments made by others, with regard to experiences that they or immediate family members undertook, serve to demonstrate the reality of the purpose of today’s debate.

I remember my own mother talking about her experience. I was her first-born. She was alone in a strange city; she knew no one. I was a brand new baby. Her husband, my father, had just left to go overseas. I was sick, and there was nobody there to provide advice or respite or anything like that. She used to tell me that the isolation, and the depression that went with not being in control and not having any answers, meant that she seriously thought about just putting a pillow on me, because she had no way of dealing with it. It was just so insurmountable, as it appeared to her, at that particular time.

I think that probably, if we were to investigate our own families, we’d find more evidence of that kind of problem. I would say my mother was a wonderful mother, but as an adult, I can appreciate the kind of isolation and overwhelming nature of the circumstances she found herself in.

It gets worse. My mother told the story of a woman—that was back a couple of generations ago, long before people talked about postpartum and things like that—who lived on a farm in Sarnia, Ontario. She had had three stillborn children in three years. One day, she just went berserk, according to the story, and started digging them up. There was nobody there to provide any kind of professional help or any kind of support.

I think maybe the most important element that was missing is the strength of other people, whether they have degrees at the end of their name or not. It’s the strength that you as an individual require, and that was missing.

Today, when we look at creating an awareness day, I think it’s probably overdue. We know that it’s something that happens to people, and we know how it make it better. Therefore, we should be looking at this opportunity that is provided to us.

The minister made a comment a few minutes ago about the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program. I was very pleased to be a member of the government that introduced that, and I remember that, when it was introduced, the idea was that every single child would be seen, and in most cases everything would be fine. But that was the point. The point was to make sure that everybody was fine.

If you have a nurse come in and, while looking at the baby, would look at the mother and would be able to determine whether there were supports needed for mother, whether there was education needed for mother and what kind of things they needed—today, we have an opportunity to make a difference.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Harinder Malhi: I’m pleased to rise in the House today to speak to this bill, and I want to congratulate my colleague the member from Durham for introducing this bill. It’s very important that we recognize that education is empowerment. To educate and raise awareness will empower women in such a situation.

Many of my friends over the last few years have had little ones, and I’ve seen them suffer through postpartum depression and through many other things. The lack of understanding around these things has made it even harder for them to find supports within their families and with their friends.

When it comes to having their first child, it was hard to deal with their own emotions, as well as taking care of a child and learning about how to take care of a newborn child. They go through a very difficult time, and I think that it’s so important that no matter what the issue is, we raise awareness. The more that people are aware of the circumstances that new mothers face, the more they will be available to help them and to support them.

My colleague from—I’m not going to be able to remember the riding right now—earlier talked about not having the support of your family. Not everybody has the luxury of having extended families to support you or to have your in-laws or parents there to support you. That’s why—

Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: Parkdale–High Park.

Ms. Harinder Malhi: Parkdale–High Park—there we go. Thank you.

When the community is more aware, the more likely that supports will be available within the community. They’ll have places where they can reach out.

I am proud to support this bill. I know this legislation will be helpful to many new mothers and to many families.

1530

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Mike Colle: I want to thank everybody for doing this, especially the member from Durham. Everybody is saying that this is something that needs attention. The member from Durham is trying to do his part.

There isn’t one silver bullet in transforming this area to get the attention it deserves; there is no magic solution. I know that our tendency is to try to blame the medical system or blame government or blame whatever. I think we have to see that there is a serious, serious black hole when it comes to women’s health, and especially maternal health. There’s a huge black hole.

There are 144,000 women who give birth in Ontario every year. How many of them go through postpartum depression? I’ll bet you there are tens of thousands—all different degrees. What kind of help do they get? I would say it’s marginal, because women are supposed to be strong. They’re supposed to be great from the instant they give birth, and then they’re supposed to go back to work—these are the moms who give birth to healthy babies.

There are about 40,000 women every year in Ontario who have stillborn babies or second- or third-trimester miscarriages. They get zero help. They are told, “Go home and try again. No problem, go back to work.” They’re not even eligible for maternity leave. In some cases, they have to give their maternity leave benefits back if they have a stillbirth.

It’s about time that we started to yell and scream about this: 40,000 women who have pregnancy loss, the other ones are successful, and they get very little support from society and the media. We’re all to blame for this big black hole when it comes to maternal health. Let’s do something about it and start by supporting this good, strong initiative by the member from Durham.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member from Durham, you have two minutes for a response.

Mr. Granville Anderson: Thank you to the member from Eglinton–Lawrence, the member from Cambridge, the member from Brampton–Springdale, the Minister of Children and Youth Services and minister responsible for women’s issues, the member from Thornhill, the member from London West, the member from Whitby–Oshawa, the member from Parkdale–High Park and the member from York–Simcoe.

I want to end it by highlighting a few of the key points for my colleagues. Women are equal contributors to our communities and play a very important role in the health of their families. Too often, maternal mental illness is reduced to postpartum depression. While it is a significant illness, it oversimplifies the mental health challenges that up to 20% of women face during and after pregnancy.

These women deserve more than that, Mr. Speaker. They should feel able to come forward with their struggles and have peace of mind that our system and our communities will be there for them in their time of need.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day will provide us with an opportunity to focus on the unique needs of these women at a very important time of their lives; to share research, information and best practices; and to move forward to a standard of safety, inclusion and health for these women and their children. Thank you.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We’ll take the vote on this item at the end of private member’s public business.

Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur le congé et les mesures d’accommodement pour les employés victimes de violence familiale ou sexuelle et la formation dans le lieu de travail

Ms. Sattler moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 177, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of leave and accommodation for victims of domestic or sexual violence and to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act in respect of information and instruction concerning domestic and sexual violence / Projet de loi 177, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2000 sur les normes d’emploi à l’égard du congé et des mesures d’accommodement pour les victimes de violence familiale ou sexuelle et modifiant la Loi sur la santé et la sécurité au travail à l’égard des renseignements et directives concernant la violence familiale et sexuelle.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I am very pleased to bring this bill forward today. Before I do, I want to recognize some of my sisters who are here in the gallery with us today: Yolanda McClean, who is CUPE Ontario second vice-president; Christine Laverty and Laura Thompson, from OPSEU Provincial Women’s Committee; and Angela Thompson and Sara Labelle, also from OPSEU. I thank them for their support.

I also want to recognize some of the other organizations that have expressed support for my bill, including the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, Women Abuse Council of Toronto, WomenatthecentrE, the Canadian Labour Congress, Ontario Federation of Labour, ETFO, OECTA, Unifor, the Toronto Medical Officer of Health, the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, and many more.

Speaker, this bill addresses the gap that exists in the government’s current initiatives to deal with sexual violence and domestic violence, through Bill 132, as well as its It’s Never Okay action plan. It is an evidence-based bill that is informed by research and the experience of other jurisdictions. It is the missing piece that was highlighted during the hearings of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment, during the public input that the social policy committee received on Bill 132, during the Changing Workplaces Review and during the gender wage gap consultations. The bill honours all that was heard throughout all those different consultation processes, and also some of the recommendations of the final report of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment.

Passing this bill will further Ontario’s reputation as a leader in addressing sexual violence and domestic violence and, ultimately, through mandatory workplace training, in reducing gender-based violence across the province.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Employment Standards Act to require employers to provide up to 10 days of paid leave, as well as reasonable unpaid leave, to workers who have experienced domestic violence or sexual violence, or whose children have experienced those forms of violence. The leave can only be taken for specific purposes related to or arising from the violence, and that includes seeking medical attention; going to a victim services organization, a rape crisis centre, a sexual assault centre, a women’s shelter or any one of those myriad community organizations that support survivors; seeing a psychologist or another professional counsellor; relocating, which we know is a very real likelihood for women who are fleeing domestic violence; or meeting with law enforcement officials or participate in legal proceedings.

This is important, because throughout this whole last year of the Select Committee on Sexual Violence and Harassment and throughout the government’s action plan, what we heard repeatedly from the people who spoke to the select committee was that we need to take a survivor-centric approach to dealing with these issues. We need to consider the survivors’ perspective when we’re looking at the needs of those who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault.

From this perspective, whether the violence was experienced at home, on a date, at work or anywhere in the community, the basic needs of survivors and the supports they need to help them heal are the same: health services from a nurse, a physician or a psychologist, counselling from a rape crisis centre or a women’s shelter and, as I said, moving to a new residence, potentially a women’s shelter or some other kind of second-stage housing.

Of course, if survivors decide to report the violence—and as we know, that only represents about 10% of survivors—there are meetings with the police, there are meetings with lawyers and there’s the time that has to be spent preparing for a court trial if the case goes to court, then testifying on the witness stand. Recognizing that survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence should not have to jeopardize their employment because of the harm they experienced, this bill puts in place protections to enable women to deal with the violence and to seek the support that they need without risking their job.

We know that a number of US states have already passed legislation to provide unpaid leave for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, and those include California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine and Oregon, and New York City, Philadelphia and Washington.

1540

But it’s also true that many survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence can’t afford to take unpaid leave, and that applies particularly to people who are most vulnerable and also are more likely to be victims of sexual violence or domestic violence, such as racialized women, women with disabilities, LGBTQ individuals and others.

The District of Columbia provides paid domestic violence and sexual assault leave of three to seven days, and in November 2015, Manitoba became the first Canadian province to provide paid leave for domestic violence—NDP government, by the way.

I expect that some of the members to my right may raise concerns about what this is going to mean for employers. Isn’t paid leave going to be too onerous for employers to manage? Will it open the floodgates for workers to claim, unjustifiably, a leave of absence? Well, with regard to the second point, the bill does include a provision to allow employers to request reasonable evidence that the leave is for one of the purposes that is specified in the bill. This can be done either through future regulation or through adjudication by the Ministry of Labour. Certainly, throughout that process, we’ll want to ensure that the evidence does not impose too high of a bar that it ends up preventing workers from accessing the leave.

We know from other jurisdictions—in Australia, there are paid leave provisions across, probably, a third of the workplaces. A 2014 study found that employees who access the leave requested just one to three days of paid leave.

Australia is really leading the way on issues of domestic violence in the workplace. There was a report in November 2015 called Male Champions of Change, which is an initiative involving 30 CEOs and high-profile leaders in business and the public sector. They recognized that paid leave, in addition to other leave entitlements, is critical to help employees experiencing violence to maintain their employment and to ensure their financial security. That report recognized 10 days of paid leave as a developing norm across that country. One of the CEOs who is involved in the initiative said that his firm has 32,000 employees and only 22 had accessed the paid domestic leave over the last six months, with an average leave of 2.3 days.

This leave will not cause financial hardship for employers, but the reality is that employers will have to pay now or they’ll have to pay later, because there are significant financial costs to employers associated with domestic violence and sexual violence in the workplace. There are costs associated with reduced productivity, increased absenteeism, decreased employee morale and the cost of replacing, recruiting and training new employees as victims resign because they can’t manage the violence that they’ve experienced with their job or they may be dismissed for performance reasons.

There was recently a Canadian study that looked at domestic violence in the workplace. It was conducted by the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children. This was a national survey of more than 8,400 respondents. Half of them were from Ontario. A third of the respondents said that they had experienced domestic violence. Another third said they believed that they had a co-worker who has experienced domestic violence. Not surprisingly, four out of five of the victims—the survivors—said that the violence had affected their job performance. Less expected, perhaps: 30% of the co-workers who were aware of somebody else experiencing violence also felt stressed in their workplace. The effects of domestic violence in the workplace are pervasive. They affect not only the employee who’s experiencing the violence, but also those around them.

Finally, I want to touch on another very important provision of my bill and that is the requirement for mandatory workplace training on domestic violence and sexual violence. The survey that I just referred to asked respondents, “Do you get information about domestic violence in the workplace?” Less than a third of the workplaces said that they were receiving information in their workplace, even though we have Bill 168. We have legislation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act that requires workplaces just to provide that information. Employers are not fulfilling their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, so we need to make mandatory requirements for this information to be provided.

But more than information, we need training. We know that people who are experiencing domestic violence in the workplace are quite likely to disclose to a co-worker: 43% disclose their violence to somebody they’re working with. Co-workers don’t feel equipped to be able to know how to deal with a disclosure of domestic violence, so information and, more importantly, training in the workplace are critical.

There is an excellent information and training package that was funded several years ago by the Ontario government, and I do give them credit for it. It is Make It Our Business, a very rich and robust information and training package available to all employers across this province on a voluntary basis.

The select committee received a presentation about this Make It Our Business training package. When we asked how many employers are participating, how many are taking up this excellent training package, we learned that it’s about 1%. About 1% of Ontario employers are bringing this kind of training into the workplace, to engage their workers in recognizing the signs of domestic violence and also in knowing what to do if a co-worker discloses.

I ask all MPPs to do the right thing. Let’s solidify Ontario’s status as a leader on sexual violence and domestic violence, and vote to pass my bill.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Harinder Malhi: I want to congratulate the member from London West on bringing this important issue in front of the Legislature today. I have had the privilege of working with her on the select committee and as the women’s critic, so we have had a number of opportunities. I know how passionate she is about ending sexual violence and harassment in Ontario.

Our government believes that ending sexual violence and harassment in Ontario is a priority for us, and we’ve been focusing on this priority, as we passed Bill 132 earlier this week and were able to get royal assent that day. So we see why she’s passionate about this; I see why she’s passionate about this.

When we travelled the province, we met so many individuals, so many survivors of sexual violence and harassment, that we want to continue to support. We want to support them when they’re in this vulnerable position, and we want to be able to help them.

We understand and recognize the severity of this issue and the impact it will have on individuals in their workplaces and in their homes. We want to thank you again, MPP Sattler, for bringing forward your PMB.

We have been concerned about violence, including domestic violence, for some time now. That’s why, in 2009, we passed Bill 168, which updated the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Under the OHSA, employers must take every precaution reasonable to protect their workers from possible violence. Workplaces in Ontario are also required to have workplace violence policies, programs, measures and procedures in place to protect workers from violence in the workplace, including domestic violence that may enter the workplace.

We will be supporting this bill. We understand the importance of it, and we will be supporting this bill today. But we want to acknowledge that workplaces in Ontario have certain measures in place. Yes, this will strengthen those measures, as will Bill 132.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act is the only legislation of its kind in Canada to require employers to take every precaution reasonable, in the circumstances, to protect a worker from domestic violence that may occur in the workplace. An employer must respond when they become aware of domestic violence that may expose a worker to physical injury in the workplace. We made this information on domestic violence available to assist people in workplaces and to assist workplaces in dealing with these situations.

With the passing of Bill 132, our commitment to the safety of workers has increased by ensuring that employers are doing all that they can for men and women who work for them, each and every day.

Our government believes that all women in Ontario should feel safe in their communities, their homes and their workplaces. We have launched a groundbreaking action plan, It’s Never Okay, that is investing $41 million over the next three years. We’ve implemented many initiatives to raise awareness of domestic violence and to strengthen supports for victims since 2004.

1550

This includes the following initiatives under our Domestic Violence Action Plan:

—the Neighbours, Friends and Families public education campaign, training more than 34,000 front-line professionals and service providers to recognize the signs of domestic violence and learn how to support victims effectively;

—the Employment Training for Abused/At-Risk Women Program, which provides women with specialized supports and services to help increase their employability and income-earning potential; since 2006, more than 3,200 women have participated in this program, and 77% of graduates have found jobs or pursued additional training within six months of graduation; and

—the Language Interpreter Services Program, which will help many of our diverse ridings, like my own and which helps victims of violence, including human trafficking, who face language barriers or who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to access services. In 2014-15, over 10,000 victims accessed interpreter services through 790 agencies, and more than 44,900 hours of interpreter services were provided.

We understand and we know that we have more work to do, and we’re committed to doing that work. As the member is well aware, we heard from a number of labour stakeholders during the select committee. During our travels with Bill 132, we were able to travel the province and take in consultations which helped make decisions on any amendments we made to Bill 132 through clause-by-clause. We’re going to continue to work and further our action plan, It’s Never Okay, to support everybody in our community, whether it be in their workplace or their home, on campuses and in schools.

Thank you again for bringing this PMB forward, and we look forward to supporting it today.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Ted Arnott: I’m very pleased to have this opportunity this afternoon to speak on behalf of the people of Wellington–Halton Hills in response to the member for London West’s Bill 177, the Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016.

I’m also privileged to serve as the official opposition critic for the Minister of Labour, and it is in that capacity as well that I’m speaking this afternoon. I want to commend the member for London West for bringing forward this bill. She gave a great speech this afternoon, and I know that her comments were meant sincerely. It’s important to note that this bill would amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000, and also the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Just to quickly reiterate what the bill is all about, the Employment Standards Act would be amended and an employee would be able to take a leave of absence if they had experienced domestic or sexual violence. They would also be in a position to take a leave of absence if their child had experienced domestic or sexual violence. They would have to use the leave for certain purposes, such as seeing a doctor, going to victim services organizations or meeting with a lawyer. The leave would last for a reasonable time or for a time provided by regulations made under the act, and workers would be entitled to be paid for up to 10 days of leave in each calendar year. They’d also be entitled to reasonable accommodation with respect to their work hours and their needs in the workplace.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, as I said earlier, would also be amended if this bill were to pass. The employer would have to ensure that every manager, supervisor and worker receives information and instruction about domestic and sexual violence in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, I recall my first election in 1990 and some of the issues that were brought up at the all-candidates’ meetings. It seems that, through the years, some of those memories from the first election are especially vivid and poignant. This was an issue that came up time and time again in that first election: the need to do more to support victims of family violence. I know that that was an issue that I brought into this Legislature in terms of my thinking right off the bat. Sadly, 25 years have passed and we’re still talking about the need to do more to support the victims of family violence.

As I said, I think this bill is well intentioned and well meaning. It reminds us that all victims of domestic and sexual violence need our support—not only the support of government but the support of our society as a whole.

This bill would give employees who are victims of domestic or sexual violence up to 10 days of paid leave, as well as a reasonable time period of unpaid leave, if need be, from work. We think that this bill should be sent to a standing committee of the Legislature for further discussion and public hearings so that more discussion can take place and interested parties can come forward and tell their stories.

I know that because we’re in this long session that’s almost two years old there are a lot of bills at standing committees right now. There’s quite a backlog, I think, in private members’ bills at all of the standing committees, but it would be my hope that this bill would have the opportunity to receive public hearings, obviously.

The member for London West noted that there are many other jurisdictions reviewing this issue, and some are currently providing unpaid leave for employees. I understand that this past November the province of Manitoba became the first province to introduce legislation to provide paid leave for victims of domestic violence. When we check the website for the province of Manitoba and their Legislature, it appears that the bill very recently passed third reading but has yet to receive royal assent or be proclaimed to come into force. I guess that will follow in due course, if we read the website correctly.

We believe that employers need to be consulted on this issue because this bill, if passed, would certainly—there’s no question—add to their payroll costs. We would ask the question if it’s fair to ask employers to foot the entire cost, and we would ask, as well, why isn’t the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board doing more to be supportive of victims of domestic and sexual violence?

I would say, Mr. Speaker, that we support this bill in principle. We agree that more must be done to support the victims of domestic and sexual violence, and that there is a need for employers to support their employees if they are victims. We would want to see this bill sent to committee for further discussion and ensure that all parties who have an interest in this bill would have a chance to have their say.

We have two other members of our caucus who want to speak to this issue so I’m going to have to stop now, but I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for listening to my remarks on Bill 177. I look forward to continued debate, and again want to congratulate the member from London West for bringing it forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s a pleasure for me to stand up and support this piece of legislation. I’m incredibly proud of the work that the member from London West has done on these issues around domestic violence. She rightly points out that this is a missing piece of Bill 132, and so this is an opportunity to fill that gap.

When I was going through her validators for the legislation, one that stuck out most for me was the medical officer of health for the city of Toronto, Dr. David McKeown. He rightly points out why this is so important for the workplace. They point out the damaging effects of domestic and sexual violence in the workplace as needing a comprehensive public health approach because, as the member pointed out, these workplaces become poisoned when violence invades them. It is a serious public health concern, as rightly pointed out.

The letter of support is completely well-researched and documented, but what stuck out most for me, Mr. Speaker, is that Dr. McKeown says that this is how perpetrators of violence interfere with the workplace and an employee. This is really an extension of the power that a perpetrator has over a victim. They move it outside of the home into the workplace. Sometimes they prevent employees from getting to work. They repeatedly phone or email. They come to the workplace; they ask questions of the co-workers. They are dishonest with co-workers about the victim’s whereabouts, they threaten co-workers and they verbally abuse or physically harm the victims. They also stalk these women in these workplaces. We have evidence of this and we have tragedies to prove it. Essentially, we are still at a place in our history where we have to accommodate this violent behaviour in order to keep women safe.

I think that we can all agree that we still have a huge amount of work to complete on this file, but certainly this piece of legislation is one more tool that can actually try to keep women safe outside of their home, and is an extension of their workplace so that they are not revictimized when they get to work.

I commend the member for bringing this piece of legislation forward. I hope that everyone in this House will support it.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Eleanor McMahon: It’s always a pleasure to stand in this House on behalf of my constituents in Burlington and speak to issues like this. It’s such an important issue, Bill 177.

I’d like to thank the member from London West for her passion and her advocacy and, in particular, for initiating this important conversation in the House today. This is a bill that seeks to address an issue that is close to our hearts as legislators, and it’s an issue that is sometimes difficult to talk about but one that we must confront.

1600

Ending sexual violence and harassment, ending violence against women, ending violence, period, is a priority for our government, one that I know the member opposite shares. We understand the tremendous and devastating impact that violence and harassment can have on individuals and their families and friends. That is why I’d like to tell the member opposite that our government and I support this bill, as the member from Brampton–Springdale already noted.

Back in the fall of 2014, when the Premier announced that she would form an all-party committee of the Legislature to examine sexual assault and sexual violence and harassment, including sexual violence in the workplace, I was honoured to be asked to be part of that committee. I’m pleased to say that the member for London West was a part of that committee as well. I enjoyed the work we did together, culminating in the report that we tabled in this House in December. The witnesses that we heard from shared deeply personal stories with grace, dignity and courage, and we received hundreds of useful and very compelling recommendations from across the province. The response we had to the work of the committee gave me an indication of just how pervasive this issue really is. In fact, we had to add additional public hearings to accommodate the demand to testify, as the member will recall. Much of what we heard was heartbreaking but, sadly, not surprising and not completely unexpected.

I started my career 30 years ago as an assistant on Parliament Hill. In fact, as the member from London West knows because she was there, too—we both were there together at the same time, as I learned later—sexual harassment was an issue then as it is now.

I later had the privilege of working at the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women where, in 1992, I had the privilege of working, with a tremendous team of women from across the country, on the national conversation on the rape-shield law. Speaker, when we brought those groups of women together and worked with organizations like the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund and the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, we really thought that, in passing the rape-shield law, we had come a long way. We talked about the education of judges. We talked about the importance of the issue as a society, much as we’re doing here today. There were some very high-profile incidents in public discourse, and we really thought we had done a tremendous service, and indeed we had.

But as it turns out, unfortunately, sexual violence and harassment continues to be far too pervasive in our society. That is why we recently passed Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act, and launched an action plan, It’s Never Okay, investing over $41 million over the next three years in programs and initiatives to address sexual violence and harassment.

Since 2004, initiatives such as our government’s Domestic Violence Action Plan have taken a multi-faceted approach, involving many initiatives, including the Neighbours, Friends and Families public education campaign, and the training of over 34,000 front-line professionals to enhance their ability to recognize the signs of domestic violence and help to give victims the help and supports that they need. The Domestic Violence Action Plan also includes the Employment Training for Abused/At-Risk Women program, which provides women with specialized supports and services to help increase their employability and income-earning potential.

Speaker, these are just a few examples of what is contained in our action plan, but on its own, it isn’t enough. We know that we have more work to do.

In 2009, our government passed Bill 168, which updated the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Under the OHSA, employers must take all reasonable precautions to protect their employees from possible violence. Workplaces are now required to have violence policies, programs, measures and procedures to protect their employees from violence, including domestic violence. The OHSA is the only legislation of its kind in Canada to require employers to take precautions in any circumstance where domestic violence may occur in the workplace. The unfortunate truth is that, despite all of these safeguards, there are still incidents of violence in the workplace, which can take an incredible toll on survivors and their families. In addition to the trauma that can last a lifetime, there can be legal matters that need attention, interactions with law enforcement and appointments with support and care providers. The member for London West also referenced many of these in her very passionate remarks.

Knowing that you can take the time off that you need from work to deal with this incredibly difficult range of issues, without fear of reprimand and retribution, can go a long way in easing the burden faced by victims of violence, particularly given everything on their plate that they are trying to cope with.

In closing, I’d like to thank the member from London West for bringing forward this legislation and for initiating this conversation. As always, she is passionate in her delivery, purposeful in her intent, and well researched, Speaker. She was always someone at committee that we could count on to be very deliberate and really empathetic in her recommendations, and she was indeed that today.

This legislation is an important topic. It’s an important conversation for us to have, because it helps to address an issue of tremendous importance to women and their families.

I support this bill, Mr. Speaker, and I encourage all of my colleagues in this House to do the same.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mrs. Gila Martow: I am pleased to rise today and speak on Bill 177, the Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act. We have heard a lot of great input and a lot of great comments, but I think that there’s a lot more that needs to be done in terms of just educating the public.

But first, I just want to recap a little bit. This private member’s bill, put forward by one of our colleagues here, is basically to give leave, so that an employer would have to provide paid leave of up to 10 days to any employee who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, not necessarily in the workplace—obviously, domestic violence is at home. But we are also very concerned here about the children, and I’m very glad that they added to this private member’s bill the fact that the employee would have leave if their child was the victim of any kind of domestic violence or sexual violence.

I’m reminded of somebody named Julie—it’s Julie S. Lalonde, if you want to look for her on Twitter. She told an incredible story—I believe she was published in Maclean’s—about being harassed by an ex-boyfriend for 11 years, until she got a phone call that he was dead. I don’t recall if she ever said if he killed himself or was killed somehow, but he was a young man, and I don’t think he died necessarily of natural causes.

She recounts the absolute horror. What bothers me the most about the whole story is that she hid it from many of her co-workers and neighbours as much as she could. That’s the part that really breaks my heart. It takes a village to raise a child. We all agree that communities come together and help with children. But communities need to come together and help adults as well, men as well as women. It’s very hard for people to help if the person themselves isn’t able to ask for help or isn’t able to share their story.

There’s too much stigma against people who are victims of stalking, of domestic violence, of sexual harassment, of sexual violence. We have to teach kids from an early age. We don’t want to scare kids. We want to empower them to understand that there are people who we may initially love, and we may think they love us, but unfortunately, they don’t have our best interests at heart—and how to go about it: who to tell, who to ask, how to make yourself safe, and how to use the resources that are available.

Yes, we are legislators, and, yes, we can maybe add this bill as the missing piece of Bill 132. Maybe we can legislate that employees can get time off. But what we really want to do is help these women, and we want to ensure that it doesn’t escalate to the point that they need the time off. We want to help them so that they can be safe, so they can have the quality of life that they deserve and so that their children should have a chance at a promising future.

Let’s look at all the different pieces of this puzzle. Let’s put our heads together—there is support from all three parties—and let’s move forward.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Cindy Forster: I want to congratulate the member from London West for bringing forward these important amendments to the ESA and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

But I want to spend my three minutes remembering Theresa Vince, from Chatham, who was murdered by her boss after years of sexual harassment; and Lori Dupont, a registered nurse who was murdered by a physician with whom she had a relationship that she broke off.

1610

I want to talk a bit about Bill 132. Although it passed, in fact, it doesn’t have everything encompassing that we actually need to address sexual harassment and sexual violence in the workplace. Frankly, it basically took 15 or 16 years after Lori Dupont’s death to bring forward a bill that was somewhat comprehensive to address the issues.

I remember acutely the fight between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Ministry of Labour about investigating Lori Dupont’s death. Bill 168 was a minimal attempt at putting some changes into the Occupational Health and Safety Act, but they were minimal. Then it took another seven or eight years after that for the government to bring forward some significant amendments that would require employers to do something about it.

The last piece that I really want to talk about is that during the PTSD hearings, the member from Kitchener–Waterloo talked about poisoned work environments, the response from the medical officer of health in Toronto and about how workplaces get poisoned when you have these kinds of activities happening. When I was subbing in for the member from Parkdale–High Park the other day on that bill, the Ontario Nurses’ Association’s Erna Bujna was making a presentation. She talked about the nurse who was present during the death of Lori Dupont in Windsor, who has never returned to work and has suffered PTSD since that day.

When we hear people talking about the cost to employers, I think that the actual cost for a week or two of leave to employers in workplaces across the province will be far less than having people never be able to return to work and the cost of those benefits through workers’ compensation. I think that there is a balance here in actually doing something and providing some leave.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mrs. Julia Munro: I’m very pleased to have a few moments in which to respond to the private member’s bill from the member for London West. I think we’re starting to see some themes develop here, particularly the process of the private member’s bill.

I have two things that I want to particularly highlight in today’s discussion. The first one is the issue that someone raised about the 10 days of paid sick leave and the potential resistance that people might have to that. I think that it is more important to talk about the benefits of the time spent with those 10 days and what can be accomplished. If you want to look at it from that line of thinking only, obviously, someone who is able to gain benefits through the question of support in the broader community as well as the professional community is that much better off and a quicker way to be able to maintain their normal life. Obviously, having a job is part of that normalcy. So I think that the 10 days of paid sick leave should be looked at as an investment and a recognition that there is a responsibility by an employer and there is the benefit to the victim.

The other thing that I think is important to suggest about this bill is that it should be sent to public hearings. The more opportunities that the author of this bill has to find places to broaden the public discussion, the better. The whole need for having this is because people have difficulty seeking help or being able to find it in many cases. So anything that helps promote and open up the conversation on this issue is time well spent. I think that would be a huge opportunity to broaden the base of support for this bill. I think that’s the most important thing that we can send as a message to the chamber as a whole, to the Legislature as a whole—to be able to demonstrate that we’ve opened up more opportunities for people to understand the importance of responding to this process.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: This is an important piece of legislation. Of course, I support it fully. The last thing a woman needs when she finally makes the decision to do something about her situation, and it’s a situation of domestic violence, is to lose her job. That’s really what we’re asking here. We’re asking that she not have to make that choice.

The one piece I would say is that enforcement is critical. You’ve heard that 1% of employers are really complying with protocol as it now stands. Unless there is enforcement of a law, we know that law will be broken. Only 1% of employers ever get a visit from somebody from the Ministry of Labour. That has to change. That’s the larger picture.

I have to say that right now, it’s a pretty sad scene for women experiencing violence. We’ve had a couple of very high-profile court cases where clearly women are under threat. Certainly, the Supreme Court has ruled very clearly that if you hit someone, i.e. in domestic violence, it doesn’t matter whether you go back, it doesn’t matter whether you say you love them, it doesn’t matter whether you keep living with them, it’s still assault. It’s assault, and yet somehow we see this played out in the court system: “No, no, no. She asked for it,” or “No, no, no. She kept going back.” We’ve also seen a high-profile Twitter court case where, again, it’s open season on women now in social media, because it’s okay to be verbally abusive to a woman on social media. That’s seen as “freedom” instead of hate speech, which is what it is. This is a violent atmosphere in which women have to live and work.

This bill gives a woman simply one thing, and that’s time—simply some time to get some help; to get another place to live, which takes time; to get her children settled, if there are children involved, which takes time; changing schools takes time. All of that takes time. It’s the least we can do. It’s the very least we can do.

Again, you heard there are jurisdictional examples. There are places that do it much better. So we don’t have to invent anything. We just have to put into place the supports that other jurisdictions already have for women and make sure that those supports are supported and make sure that they are enforced.

I want to say, again, kudos to the member from London West. She has been a phenomenal advocate on this file, where women are concerned. Her voice is well known and it’s well heard. Those two things are very important in politics. So we thank her again for this.

We call upon the House not just to pass it, but to make sure it gets to committee, to make sure it becomes law, because this will have an immediate effect on women’s lives. We cannot just give lip service to something this critical. We have to make it so.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Further debate?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill brought forward by my colleague from London West. I want to say, Speaker, I had the opportunity to chair the social policy committee when we were talking about Bill 132. As other members of the House have said, my colleague from London West followed this matter very closely, came to committee with very detailed recommendations and amendments. I have to say I understand that many of those—most of those—were unsuccessful.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: All.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: All were unsuccessful.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: That’s not good.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: No, it is not a good thing.

Speaker, this is an issue that is not going to go away. This is an issue that has multiple dimensions. My colleague from London West has focused in on this potential, this need for women to have time off work so they can deal with the immediate crisis, they can go to the medical appointments, go to lawyers, look for housing—all of those things that you have to do if you’re going to escape from this very dangerous situation.

1620

In my riding I have a YWCA building for women who have left violent domestic situations. Nellie’s is in my riding. The Red Door shelter, which provides family shelter, also provides a place for women who have fled domestic violence. So I have a few facilities in my riding.

I have to say to you, Speaker, I think that as we come to grips with this issue, this piece is one that should not simply be passed here in this chamber this afternoon. My colleague from Parkdale–High Park is entirely correct: It should go forward to committee. It should come back for third reading. It should be adopted and, frankly, we need to go much further down the road.

All my colleagues here, all my colleagues on that side of the House, know that women can flee domestic violence. With passage of this bill they would have greater assistance, greater flexibility than they have now. But in the end, if they can’t find a new place to live, oh, so often they are forced back to that place of danger where, in the end, women and children are killed.

The passage of this bill is very useful, very necessary, but steps beyond this have to be taken. We have to invest in affordable housing. There has to be the opportunity for women and the children that they often—mostly—bring with them to be able to settle in secure, affordable, safe housing.

This and a number of other measures are needed to actually end this particular illness in our society, this undermining of social fabric. I’m very pleased that my colleague brought this forward, and I’m very pleased that she fought on committee to try and strengthen Bill 132. My hope is that this House will take this bill, pass it, move beyond it and do a full range of things necessary to deal with the issue.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I now return to the member for London West.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I am thrilled by the support that this bill has garnered from MPPs on all sides of this House. I wanted to highlight a couple of the comments in particular that were made.

The member from Burlington talked about this bill initiating the conversation. I want to say that this bill really reflects what we heard throughout the whole consultation that went on over the last year. This was brought to us over and over again: in the sexual violence and harassment select committee, in the hearings on Bill 132. It has been raised in the Changing Workplaces Review and it has been raised in the gender wage gap discussion. So this is not initiating the conversation; this is honouring what we are hearing from people who are on the front lines.

I also wanted to recognize and thank the member for Welland for, of course, reminding us that it was Theresa Vince and Lori Dupont and those horrific murders that brought us Bill 168. It was the flaws in Bill 168 that led to Bill 132.

In fact, one of the provisions of this bill, for mandatory training, was an amendment that I had proposed for Bill 132 but was voted down by the government. I’m glad to see that you’ve recognized the errors of your ways and are going to be supporting this bill. As my colleague said, we want more than referral to a committee. We want it brought back to third reading and passed.

Finally, I want to close on the comments from the member for Kitchener-Waterloo and the member for Toronto Danforth, talking about a comprehensive approach. Yes, we need housing. We need child care. We need partner assault response programs to change the violent behaviours of people who abuse. Until we can change the violence, until we can interrupt that cycle, we are not going to be able to create an Ontario that is violence-free.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.

Men’s Health Awareness Week Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur la Semaine de la sensibilisation à la santé des hommes

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): We will deal first with ballot item 21, standing in the name of Mr. Potts.

Mr. Potts has moved second reading of Bill 170, An Act to proclaim the week immediately preceding the third Sunday in June as Men’s Health Awareness Week.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98(j), the bill is being referred to—the member for Beaches–East York?

Mr. Arthur Potts: To the justice committee.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member has requested that the bill be sent to the justice committee. Agreed? Agreed.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur la Journée de sensibilisation à la santé mentale maternelle

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Mr. Anderson has moved second reading of Bill 176, An Act to Proclaim Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98(j), the bill is being referred to—the member for Durham?

Mr. Granville Anderson: Social policy.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member has requested that the bill be referred to social policy. Agreed? Agreed.

Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act, 2016 / Loi de 2016 sur le congé et les mesures d’accommodement pour les employés victimes de violence familiale ou sexuelle et la formation dans le lieu de travail

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Ms. Sattler has moved second reading of Bill 177, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of leave and accommodation for victims of domestic or sexual violence and to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act in respect of information and instruction concerning domestic and sexual violence.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

Second reading agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): Pursuant to standing order 98(j), the bill is being referred to—the member for London West?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: Justice policy.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The member has requested that the bill be referred to justice policy. Agreed? Agreed.

Orders of the day?

Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment of the House.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): The Premier has moved adjournment of the House. I want to wish all of you a good constituency week.

Is it the pleasure of the House that this motion carry?

All those in favour, please say “aye.”

All those opposed, please say “nay.”

Interjection: Nay.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): He can stay.

Laughter.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bas Balkissoon): I declare the motion carried.

This House stands adjourned until March 21, at 10:30 a.m.

The House adjourned at 1628.