42nd Parliament, 1st Session

L099 - Wed 1 May 2019 / Mer 1er mai 2019

 

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Let us pray.

Prayers.

Orders of the Day

Time allocation

Resuming the debate adjourned on April 30, 2019, on the motion for time allocation of the following bill:

Bill 100, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact, amend and repeal various statutes / Projet de loi 100, Loi visant à mettre en oeuvre les mesures budgétaires et à édicter, à modifier ou à abroger diverses lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate?

Mr. Jeremy Roberts: It’s a pleasure to rise today and speak on the topic of Bill 100, which is our government’s budget bill, quite possibly the most important piece of legislation that we have put forward since coming to office almost 11 months ago last June.

This document is a comprehensive document, Mr. Speaker, that touches on a wide range of different topics, and helps to chart us a path forward for the next half-decade to help bring us back to a position of balance, all the while protecting what matters most. That’s actually what we titled this budget. My good friend the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Vic Fedeli, in his infinite wisdom, decided to call this budget Protecting What Matters Most, because that’s what we’re doing.

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, I oftentimes like to put things in context a little bit by taking a little jaunt down history to see what lessons we can learn from the past and how they’re applicable to today. In fact, there is a wonderful lesson for us to learn as we chart forward our path with this new budget by looking back into the early 1990s at the Canadian federal government. You see, in the early 1990s, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian federal government was in a pickle. Years of financial mismanagement had left the Canadian government with the unfortunate label of “fiscal basket case.” That’s what people were calling the Canadian government at the time.

The Canadian government needed to go out and get a new line of credit to keep paying for its growing debt. Unfortunately, when Canadian bond salesmen went out to try to sell Canadian debt, nobody wanted to buy it. Nobody thought that Canada, the fiscal basket case, deserved to be given a new line of credit. This, Mr. Speaker, was a crisis because if we couldn’t finance our debt, we wouldn’t be able to provide the incredibly important and critical programs that Canadians relied on.

At the time, Mr. Speaker—and I give him full credit for this—the Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien took action. He reduced spending at the federal level. Now, as part of that, he took a different approach to the federal Conservative government. While the federal Conservative government of Prime Minister Harper reduced spending in terms of direct program spending, Prime Minister Chrétien actually slashed transfers to the provinces in an effort to get the finances under control and, of course, that had ripple effects down the line here in Ontario, where we did see program cuts and layoffs at the time.

Thankfully, these actions of the Liberal government and the Conservative government put us back on a sound fiscal track, and Canada was once again able to finance its debt. It was able to borrow more money so that we could continue to provide those important critical public services that we rely on.

Unfortunately, when our government took office on June 7, we found ourselves in a similar situation to Canada in the 1990s. After 15 years of reckless, irresponsible spending decisions—and this is a startling statistic—Ontario was the most indebted province or state in the entire world, the most indebted sub-sovereign state in the entire world. We were spending $40 million per day more than we were taking in, and we were spending over a billion dollars each month just on financing our debt.

Now, that’s startling because when you look at a pie chart of the different areas of spending for the provincial government, you see that our number one priority is, of course, health care; the second priority is, of course, education; third, social services; but, then, fourth, before we get to any of the other critical areas that the provincial government provides support in, whether that’s post-secondary education or infrastructure or energy, whatever it might be—before we get to any of those spending areas, the fourth-largest spending of the provincial government is paying interest on the debt. That money could be going toward supporting vital services that we rely on. That’s why, when we were elected in June, we were elected on a promise to return us to balance and to get our financial house in order. And the reason we’re doing that is because we don’t want to see money being thrown out the door paying for interest on our debt.

We also want to make sure that when people look at Ontario, they see someone who they think they can trust to buy our debt, to finance our debt, because, if not, we will end up in a situation where my children and my grandchildren and everybody’s children and grandchildren here in this chamber and around the province aren’t going to be able to rely on that world-class public health care system, on that world-class public education system that we all care so, so much about. So when we talk about protecting what matters most, that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about getting us on a path to return us to balance.

Now, when we laid out this plan, when the Minister of Finance laid out this plan, alongside the Premier and the President of the Treasury Board, they could have gone a different route. They could have taken an aggressive path to balance and gotten us to balance as quickly as possible. But we know that that’s not necessarily the responsible path to take. The right path to take is to take a moderate path, to say, “Okay, this is going to be a challenge for all of us that we need to work together on to cut back our spending, and to get ourselves back on sound fiscal footing, but we are not going to do it aggressively.”

We laid out a plan to return to balance in five years. We’re starting already. We inherited a $15-billion deficit and got it down to $13 billion in the first year. We’re making progress towards getting us in a position where we’re in surplus, where we can start paying down that debt, reducing our interest payments and investing that money where it matters most. And that’s exactly the sort of position that we want to get ourselves into.

Now, as part of this responsible five-year plan forward, we had a number of phenomenal measures in this budget that are going to help with that goal of protecting what matters most. So when we talk about returning to balance, we’ve decided that we’re going to put our money where our mouths are. You see, in our budget, we included the accountability guarantee and, through this, the Premier and the Minister of Finance have each put their own salaries on the line. The government will be mandated, going forward, to be transparent and accountable with our public finances, and if we aren’t, if we don’t meet the obligations laid out in this budget bill, then the Premier and the finance minister will suffer a cut to their pay. They’re willing to put their own salaries on the line because they know how important this goal is to protecting what matters most and giving our future generations a chance to thrive and prosper in the same way that we have been blessed to over the past number of years.

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Along with balancing the budget, when we talk about protecting what matters most, we need to look at some of those areas that are critically important. One of those areas is health care. Health care in this province, our public health care system, is vitally important. It’s something that we all count ourselves incredibly fortunate to have here in the province of Ontario. This budget makes sure that we’re protecting health care. In fact, while we go about balancing the budget, health care spending in Ontario will continue to grow. I want to repeat that just so that everybody fully understands and grasps that. Health care spending is not decreasing as it did in the 1990s. Health care spending is continuing to increase year over year as we move forward on this important task, because we recognized that this was an area that we needed to protect going forward. As part of that, we’re going to see some phenomenal measures going forward as the Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care brings about the reforms in the health care bill.

The budget also lays out $17 billion in new capital spending for hospitals around this province to make sure that our hospitals are getting the support that they need to continue to grow, expand and serve these growing and diverse populations. I look forward to seeing some of that support in Ottawa. I know that we are getting support for a number of our local hospitals in Ottawa, including the new Ottawa Civic campus that is getting built, support for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, or CHEO, a place that’s close to my heart, and support for hospitals in my riding as well—the Queensway Carleton Hospital. So that’s an area that we know is vitally important that we’re going to continue investing in as we go about returning to balance.

Of course, another important area is making sure that our seniors get the support that they need. There are two things I want to highlight here. As we go about balancing the budget, we have committed to building, creating and modifying over 30,000 new long-term-care beds. This budget committed to 15,000 of those new long-term-care beds on top of the already 7,000 that are in the pipeline today. That’s going to make sure that that massive backlog of seniors who are currently waiting at home, desperately in need of long-term-care beds, or worse, who are currently taking up beds in hospitals where they shouldn’t be—and that those beds could be freed up for other patients because those seniors could be put in a place where they need to be, where they can get the 24/7 care they need, in a long-term-care facility. That’s one of the areas where we’re investing in seniors. Another area, of course, where we’re also investing in seniors is through dental care, by making sure that low-income seniors have access to free dental care, because we know that that preventive health care is so vitally important for them.

The last thing that I’d like to do here, Mr. Speaker, is to talk a little bit about what Ottawa has received in this year’s budget. Ottawa was incredibly fortunate to receive a tremendous amount of support through this year’s budget. Ottawa received $1.2 billion towards stage 2 of our light rail transit system. This was a wonderful announcement that I had the chance to participate in, alongside the Premier, the Minister of Transportation and my other caucus colleagues from Ottawa. This $1.2 billon towards stage 2 of LRT in Ottawa represents the largest infrastructure investment in Ottawa’s history since the construction of the canal. That’s going to make sure we can keep people moving in the city of Ottawa. It’s going to make sure that people are able to get to their jobs easier, because of course—a lot of people don’t know this, but Ottawa is actually one of the largest cities, geographically, in Canada. You can fit the cities of Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver all inside the boundaries of the city of Ottawa. So we’ve got to make sure that those people in our big city can get to where they need to go.

I’m particularly pleased with this investment, Mr. Speaker, because this stage 2 of LRT is going to bring light rail transit right into my riding. We’re going to see a light rail transit station at Moodie Drive, we’re going to see a light rail transit station at Algonquin College, and we’re going to see the residents of my riding being able to access everything that downtown has to offer. Whether it’s the Parliament buildings, whether it’s getting to the University of Ottawa, whether it’s connecting onto the Trillium Line and getting down to Carleton University, it’s going to be a fantastic win for the people of Ottawa West–Nepean.

Another large investment that we saw in this budget is $2 million towards the Ottawa police to help deal with guns-and-gangs violence. Guns-and-gangs violence has been something that has been on the rise, unfortunately, in Ottawa. Our police services made it clear to us when we got elected that they needed some additional support to deal with this growing problem. That’s why in our budget we were pleased to make sure that we could provide that support to Ottawa so that our police services have the tools that they need to take action on this important, vital issue of keeping our communities safe, because at the end of the day we all know that keeping our communities safe is probably the number one priority of any government.

Beyond this—I mentioned this a little bit earlier, but I’m going to dive into it a little bit more deeply—we saw some funding in this budget towards something that I’m incredibly proud about, and that’s funding towards the children’s treatment centre at CHEO, our children’s hospital. Mr. Speaker, when I was born, I had a cleft palate—a big hole in the top of my mouth—and the doctors at CHEO told my parents that I’d probably never be able to talk. Of course, my parents now say that they can never shut me up. But I was fortunate at that time to receive support from the children’s hospital, and giving back to that hospital and seeing it continue to thrive and grow over the years is something that has shaped my life.

For us to be putting this money in this budget towards CHEO’s groundbreaking #1door4care project—it’s so exciting, because this project is going to centralize a number of mental health and developmental disability supports on the CHEO campus. We’re going to take an outpatient facility that’s currently several dozens of kilometres away, in Vanier, and bring it to the CHEO campus so that it’s there next to the in-patient facility. We’re going to make it so that when a family is in crisis with a mental health issue or with an issue involving a developmental disability, they don’t face confusion about where they should go to. They know that they can go to CHEO and that there is #1door4care there that they can access. This is the sort of support that our government is committed to and that we’re making sure that we’re providing to the wonderful people of Ottawa and also, of course, the people of my riding, in Ottawa West–Nepean.

That’s some of the support that’s going towards Ottawa. Let’s touch on a couple of other areas here. Education: We all know that education is vitally important in our province. Other than the member for Niagara, I think I’m the second-youngest in this chamber, so I’ve been in our education system within the past decade, and I have seen some of the needs that are there in our school systems. The wonderful thing about this budget is, just like in health care, we are continuing to grow education spending year over year in this province. We’re not cutting education spending; it will continue to grow. We’re going to be making those targeted investments that we need to make, like $13 billion in capital support to make sure we can build some new schools in places where we need those new schools—in growing communities—and also make repairs to some of the schools that desperately need them.

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That again goes back to that overarching theme that we have of protecting what matters most. We’re protecting our health care. We’re protecting our education. We’re making investments in cities, like the city of Ottawa, to make sure that support is there.

We’re also going to be doing some things that I’m pretty excited about; some really smart things that I’m surprised government hadn’t done before now. I speak, of course, about some of our efforts to digitize government services. As a millennial, I find myself all the time wondering: Why in the world do we not have an app for this? Why in the world is this something that I can’t do online? I’m sure that many of us, over the years, have thought to ourselves, “My God. To get a driver’s licence or health card, I have to go and stand in line at the ServiceOntario station and wait for what can be up to an hour.” You get one of those little tickets from the machine and you watch that screen, waiting for your number to come up. Now we’re going to move towards digitizing some of those government services. I commend my friend the Minister of Government and Consumer Services for leading this charge to make sure that we can have digital access to services like renewing your driver’s licence, like getting your health card renewed, and like getting your vehicle permit. These are things that we should have in a government that is of the 21st century. We are heading there through this budget and making sure that we’re making those transformational changes that can ensure that our government is providing the support that we need and the service levels that we need, all while taking that critical step towards balancing the budget.

Of course, balancing the budget is going to involve some tough decisions. There are going to be times when we have to make decisions about where we can find an efficiency or whether or not a program is continuing to serve the purpose that it should serve. But I’d like to challenge everyone at home—I think we need to reframe this discussion. We all know how important it is to balance the budget. We know how important it is to do it while protecting what matters most. So every time you hear about an efficiency or a spending cut, I would ask everyone at home to ask yourself a simple question: Is this something that we want or something that we need? Is this spending going towards the most vulnerable and in-crisis individuals, or is it a luxury that we can live without for a couple of years? I’m convinced that if we apply this litmus test, we can work together to make sure that we can achieve that goal of balancing our budget, setting us on a sound financial course into the future, and making sure that we are protecting what matters most: our health care, our education and our growing cities.

I’m incredibly proud of that. That’s why I am going to be so proud to support Bill 100, to support our government’s budget and to go home to my community and share this incredibly good news that what we were elected on is exactly what we are doing.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate?

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: It is with great disappointment that I have to rise in the House today to speak to yet another time allocation motion. I should be speaking about the actual debate motion itself, not a time allocation motion. This bill has over 60 schedules. It affects so many things that we as a society hold to be core principles or values, things we hold dear, like public education, public health care, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and access to justice.

It’s not just the members on this side of the House for whom these are core principles, but we know it is for our constituents and for the people of Ontario as well, because we have been hearing from the people. My office and, I’m sure, many members, including the members from the government side, have received volumes, hundreds, maybe thousands of emails, phone calls and visits from our constituents. We could be spending our time reviewing the 60 schedules, listening to the people of Ontario, but instead, here we are back again shutting down debate on an important and, I would say, life-impacting and life-changing piece of legislation.

If it’s not already obvious, we on this side of the House, the NDP, do not support time allocation motions that shut down debate on very important issues that are going to impact the people of this province. My approach in this House, as an elected representative for Parkdale–High Park especially, is to amplify the voices of the people in my riding, not to silence them.

Frankly, I’m not surprised that instead of debating the content of this bill and the vision for Ontario, we are here debating a time allocation motion, because this government has done this repeatedly. They are not only trying to shut down debate and trying not to listen to us, but they are also shutting down members from their own side by putting forward a time allocation motion. Speaker, with this, the government is basically saying that they don’t even want to hear from their own members. They don’t want to hear from the constituents of the ridings that they represent.

This time allocation motion is asking for the members of the House to be in agreement that it is in the best interest of Ontarians for committee hearings to occur only over two days—and that’s next week, May 7 and 8—just as they did with the health care bill, the bill that privatized our health care system, Bill 74, and many other bills, actually, where they only allowed one day of committee hearings.

Speaker, we all know Ontario is a big province. Do they not want to hear from people who can’t get to Queen’s Park on very short notice? Do they not want to hear from people in their own ridings, people living in the north? I have to ask why. Why do you not want to hear from the people of Ontario? If you truly believe that this bill is “protecting what matters most,” then you should be confident that the people of this province will come and support your bill. But no, you won’t allow them to speak to it, and I think that’s very telling.

Also, the proposed deadline to appear before the committee is May 2. That’s tomorrow; 4 p.m. to be precise. The government is only going to give the people of Ontario until tomorrow at 4 p.m. to submit their request to appear before the committee. Everything is happening so quickly without enough public notice that I’m sure the majority of Ontarians don’t even know that 4 p.m. tomorrow is the deadline. This is undemocratic. But, then again, it’s the Ford government.

We have seen this in the past and, myself, as a representative of a riding in Toronto, we’ve seen this government use the “notwithstanding clause”—

Interjection.

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: Or threaten to use it. Or said, at least, that you would do it in a heartbeat, right? That you would do it again.

As well, Speaker, the deadline for the written submissions is 6 p.m. on Thursday. That’s one week from now. We all know that when there were thousands—I think tens of thousands—of written submissions that were submitted for Bill 74, the government didn’t even give the committee enough time to compile all of that information and for it to be summarized so that the committee could take into consideration all of the things, and yet, again, we’re back in the same place.

This is something that the government has done repeatedly to stop the people of Ontario from expressing their concerns about their government’s actions. This is not what the legislative process is all about. The Legislature belongs to the people of Ontario. We are here to serve the people of Ontario. It’s a place where members bring the thoughts, ideas, suggestions, concerns, hopes and dreams of our constituents, but all of that doesn’t seem to be of any priority for this government.

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We know that debate results in better legislation, and using a time allocation motion diminishes the role of that process. Speaker if we had proper consultations, I am sure that we would hear from many parents and teachers about, for example, the cuts to the public education system.

I want to share with you a story from my riding. In Indian Road public school, the school community there is devastated at the potential loss of their music teacher, Ms. Katherine Fraser. My office has received numerous emails telling me that Ms. Fraser should be winning the teacher of the year award and not be handed a surplus notice. Ms. Fraser is known for keeping the music room open at recess and at lunch for students to come in to play or sing. She runs the improv club and the guitar club. She teaches students to write and sing original compositions that they perform at school concerts in front of their peers and parents.

A local parent, Kaleb Montgomery, wrote to my office to share that he nominated Ms. Fraser for the TDSB teacher of the year award, and how much of a loss it would be to the school for her to be surplussed. Kaleb shared his son’s experience in Ms. Fraser’s class and how Ms. Fraser transformed his son’s relationship with learning and school. He writes:

“Tate has some learning challenges. He has a dyslexia-type condition that makes reading and especially writing very difficult. He suffers from anxiety because of this. His anxiety has caused him to have difficulty getting to school some days. Not only does Katherine give him a reason to get to school, he is excited and energized” about going to school because “he has music class and/or practice.

“Tate, with all of his classmates, has played” in “Massey Hall twice, the Gardens, and soon Roy Thomson Hall. He is 12 years old.”

He writes: “I’m tearing up as I write this, but none of this would have happened without Katherine’s experience, love, dedication and energy. She pours all of herself into our kids. She is a force of nature. She inspires our kids to risk and express themselves with passion and learn self-confidence. She is that teacher that our kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

“We have recently learned that with the Ontario government’s threatened education cuts, Katherine Fraser will be the one cut at our school.

“Yours sincerely,

“Kaleb Montgomery”

Speaker, there are amazing teachers like Ms. Fraser all across this province who are unsure whether they will be teaching in September. At the No Cuts to Education town hall that I hosted last week, I heard similar stories from many parents and teachers from across my riding.

Speaker, I only have a few minutes left and I just want to say, finally, that this budget is an attack on our public education system. Our education system is a public trust. The government does not have the right to destroy it.

It is also an attack on the most marginalized in our community. It’s an attack on refugees, on tenants, on the environment, and this time allocation motion is an attack on democracy itself.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate? The member from Cambridge.

Mrs. Belinda Karahalios: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and good morning to you.

It’s my honour to rise here in this place on behalf of the people of Cambridge and North Dumfries. It’s always a pleasure. It’s always humbling to be able to address issues that are of great importance to the people of my riding of Cambridge, but indeed to all Ontarians.

That’s why we’re here, for all Ontarians. That’s who we are concerned with on this side of the House and for the 11 seats on that side of the House. That’s right, Mr. Speaker, you heard me: We are so big that we needed to take up seats on the other side. But I digress.

We are here to protect what matters most, and that’s quite clear in Bill 100. I am proud to sit on this side with my colleagues. I am proud to be part of this government. We are steadfast in our commitment to putting Ontarians first, protecting what matters most, and to righting the fiscal wrongs of years—15 years—of Liberal waste, mismanagement and neglect.

I am standing up here today and speaking to the importance of time allocation because we need to get things moving, because we need to get things done. And Bill 100 will get things done for Ontarians, Mr. Speaker.

This budget covers a lot of ground: from getting our great province on the path to fiscal sustainability to protecting critical services such as health care and education. In fact, we’ve added $700 million to the education budget. We can’t expect the latter two, which are improving health care and education, without the former, fiscal sustainability. We know this all too well, thanks to the last decade and a half under the previous Liberal government. But this government—our government—is looking out for fiscal sustainability while being mindful of just how important it is to help hard-working Ontarians and those who need our help the most in their later years.

One element of Bill 100 that I’d like to highlight with the time that I have here today, Mr. Speaker, is related to health care: specifically, dental care for low-income seniors. This is something that I heard from people during the last election and before I came here. It’s also something I’ve heard about since taking my seat here, when I speak with seniors and families and community partners; I’m sure many of my colleagues heard the same thing as well. The Liberals didn’t get the job done. They spent the cupboard bare for 15 years and ignored this important aspect of health care as well as many other aspects of health care. Simply put, at least two thirds of low-income seniors in Ontario do not have dental insurance. They simply aren’t covered.

Untreated oral health issues can lead to chronic disease and a lower quality of life. The longer that oral health care is delayed or left unchecked, the more costly and painful treatment will become. Untreated oral health issues represent a significant drain on the health care system and contribute to hospital overcrowding. For example, in 2015, there were over 60,000 hospital emergency visits for dental problems alone, which cost Ontario’s health care system approximately $31 million. This is why our government is moving forward with its commitment to introduce a new dental program for low-income Ontario seniors, with an annual investment of approximately $90 million when the program is fully implemented—because we recognize the importance for seniors to live safely and independently, and how much dental care means and why that support matters. This is also why time allocation for this bill is so important, because the assistance offered for seniors in this area is long overdue—15 years overdue.

Our government’s new, publicly funded dental care program for low-income seniors will help decrease unnecessary trips to the hospital, prevent chronic disease and increase quality of life for seniors in my riding of Cambridge, all through Waterloo region and in communities all across Ontario.

About our dental care program for low-income seniors, Bill Davidson, executive director of the Langs community health care centre in Cambridge, said this: “The Ontario government’s announcement about dental health services for low-income seniors is a welcome and much-needed investment. It is not only a critical resource for seniors who need the service immensely, it is a wise shift to preventative health care that promotes wellness and favourably impacts the overall health care system economically.”

This just further illustrates the need for time allocation on Bill 100: so that we can get moving on what matters most.

Our government’s investments will make sure that our seniors have the care they require and that hospitals are able to deliver the high-quality, patient-centred care Ontario patients expect and deserve, while addressing wait times and supporting ending hallway health care, which is also a key promise that we made to Ontarians.

Even when we look at other parts of Bill 100, we see the necessity of what is offered. For example, I could talk about the importance of giving parents the support they need to look after their children; Bill 100 does that. It offers parents of young children some very-much-needed support. The cost of child care can be a barrier to employment, especially for parents with young children to care for and look after. To help reduce the cost of child care, our government is proposing, as part of Bill 100, to introduce the Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses, or CARE, tax credit, which would support working families, especially families with low and moderate incomes.

I’ve had an opportunity to bring up the CARE tax credit in this House before, and Speaker, I wanted to reference it again today, because, as a parent of a busy three-year-old, I know first-hand the importance of quality child care. As a parent, I want to ensure that my child has the best. As the member of provincial Parliament for Cambridge, I know that parents of young children in my riding want and deserve to have the opportunity to provide the best for their children.

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The CARE tax credit would be one of the most flexible child care initiatives ever introduced in the history of our province. It would place parents at the centre of the decision-making process. The proposed tax credit could raise the incomes of working parents and help experienced employees return to work sooner after a parental leave or job separation. The reduced child care costs resulting from the CARE tax credit could help expand Ontario’s workforce by about 9,000 to 19,000 people, seeing businesses stay competitive. The CARE tax credit would help eligible families choose the care that is right for their children. Currently, families in need of child care may have few affordable options beyond subsidized daycare, which may not be available nearby or may have a long wait-list. This isn’t acceptable. The CARE tax credit would provide relief from expenses, enabling families to access many different child care options, including care in centres, homes and camps. The CARE tax credit would also be easy to access because it wouldn’t require families to gather additional information come tax time.

With this new tax credit, eligible families would receive up to 75% of their eligible child care expenses incurred as of January 1 this year. Each year, the CARE tax credit would provide up to $6,000 per child under the age of seven, up to $3,750 per child between the ages of seven and 16, and up to $8,250 per child with a severe disability. The CARE tax credit would cost around $390 million annually and provide about $1,250 per family, on average, in new child care support to about 300,000 families.

These are just two areas that Bill 100 touches on. We touch on why they matter. These two items are great examples of why time allocation is important. They show quite clearly why we need to move forward and why we need to move quickly to get things done for parents, for seniors and for people all across Ontario. Bill 100 acts on what the last government failed to do. Ontarians have waited too long already and shouldn’t have to wait any longer. Let’s get on with protecting what matters most.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further debate? Further debate?

Ms. Scott has moved government notice of motion 36 relating to the allocation of time on Bill 100, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact, amend and repeal various statutes. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

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

All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required, it will be deferred until after question period today.

Vote deferred.

Order of business

Hon. Bill Walker: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I seek unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding Yom ha-Shoah.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Mr. Walker has put forward a notice of motion to recognize Yom ha-Shoah. Is there consent? Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. Bill Walker: I move that, following the proceeding known as members’ statements during routine proceedings on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, up to five minutes shall be allotted for the independent members, followed by five minutes for Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, followed by five minutes for Her Majesty’s government, to recognize Yom ha-Shoah, at the end of which the member for York Centre will recite a prayer in ancient Hebrew.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Mr. Walker has moved the following: “That, following the proceeding known as members’ statements during routine proceedings on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, up to five minutes shall be allotted for the independent members, followed by five minutes for Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, followed by five minutes for Her Majesty’s government, to recognize Yom ha-Shoah, at the end of which the member for York Centre will recite a prayer in ancient Hebrew.”

Shall the motion carry? All those in favour? Agreed.

Motion agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Orders of the day? I recognize the minister.

Hon. Bill Walker: No further business.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): This House now stands recessed until 10:30 this morning.

The House recessed from 0945 to 1030.

Introduction of Visitors

Mr. Dave Smith: I would like to welcome two groups today. First, from the Peterborough Humane Society we have Sue Warrington, Shawn Morey, Nicole Truman and Chris White. They’re here for lunch with me today. They were the winners at the event that we held in Peterborough that I can’t recall the name of. The Fur Ball Gala; I’m sorry.

The second group I have is Rebecca and Steve Daynes from Peterborough.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: I have three guests here today. First, I’d like to welcome the Ontario Parliamentary Friends of Tibet for the summer internship program. My intern will be Jigme Tsering. Welcome, Jigme.

Also, from the fire chiefs we have Bruce Montone, the fire chief in Amherstburg, who will be here, a former chief in Windsor; and also Rick Arnel from the town of Essex. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Jill Dunlop: I, too, have a few guests here to introduce today. I have the Walker family: Amanda, Dave, Alysha and Kayla. Also, with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, I have the deputy chief of Rama Fire and Rescue Service as well as the director of OAFC, Jeremy Parkin. Thank you for being here today.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I’m also pleased to welcome fire chiefs and deputy fire chiefs here today: Derrick Clark, Stephen Barkwell and Todd Wood from the city of Oshawa. Also, I’d like to welcome Chuck Parsons from the town of Kingsville. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: From the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, I would like to introduce Cynthia Ross Tustin, Richard Arnel, Bill Boyes, Mark Berney, Chad Brown, Stephen Hernen, John Hay, Paul Hutt, Jeremy Parkin, Mark MacDonald, Deryn Rizzi, Jason Whiteley, Richard Boyes and Mark Tishman. Thank you and welcome to Queen’s Park.

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: I have two introductions to make. First, I would like to welcome the family of Helen DeBoni, who is page captain today. Her family, in the House: Jill Zelmanovits, mom of Helen; Ross DeBoni; Luke DeBoni; and also her grandparents Judith and George Zelmanovits. Welcome to the Legislature.

As well, I’d like to welcome students who are part of the Ontario Parliamentary Friends of Tibet program at Queen’s Park. We have Tenzing Gaphel Kongsta, who will be working with MPP Calandra, the member from Markham–Stouffville. We have Tenzin Norzin, who will be working with MPP Parsa, the member from Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill. We have Jigme Lhamo Tsering, who will be working with MPP Hatfield, the member from Windsor–Tecumseh. And we have Jamyang Choetso, who will be working with me. I’d like to thank all of the members who are taking students this summer.

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: I have the privilege of welcoming to the Legislature John Urie, who is from my riding, from Grimsby. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Joel Harden: Speaker, Happy May Day.

I also just want to say—I can’t find him; I’ve looked for him all morning. Kim Ayotte, the fire chief in Ottawa, is here somewhere. If he’s not here, Speaker, it’s because he’s home filling sandbags. I want to thank Chief Ayotte and all of his members. I want to tell them I’m going to be home later today filling sandbags with them.

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: I would like to introduce two constituents of mine. Josh Boersen and Steve Van Ness are here today to watch the proceedings. Welcome.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Brampton Centre—Brampton North.

Mr. Kevin Yarde: Thank you, Speaker. Yes, Brampton North. I would like to welcome Fire Chief Cynthia Ross Tustin from Essa Township Fire Department as well as Deputy Chief Chad Brown from Peterborough Fire Services and Fire Chief Rob Grimwood from Niagara-on-the-Lake, as well as all the other fire chiefs here today.

Hon. Monte McNaughton: I know he’s not in the Legislature yet, but he’s coming. I want to welcome a good friend of mine—actually my first hockey coach—and former Liberal MPP for my riding from 1985 to 1990. I would like to welcome Doug Reycraft to Queen’s Park today.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Windsor–Tecumseh again.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Thank you, Speaker. I’d like to correct my record. I welcomed Chief Rick Arnel from Essex. He’s actually from Ajax. My mistake.

Mr. Stan Cho: It’s my privilege to introduce two awesome guests this morning: fellow Willowdaler Ellen Schoenberger, who is here watching her grand-niece in action as a page, and Victoria “Vicky” Florez, whose daughter, Sara, works in my office. It’s Victoria’s birthday today. Happy birthday and welcome to the Legislature.

Mrs. Jennifer (Jennie) Stevens: Today I would like to thank Chief McCormick from St. Catharines fire department, as well as all the deputy chiefs and all the men and women who are in the fire department in St. Catharines. Thank you for all you do.

Mr. Kaleed Rasheed: I would like to welcome two of my very good friends, Brett Johnson and Liv Stewart, to Queen’s Park. Welcome, and I hope you have a good day here.

Miss Monique Taylor: I’d like to welcome back to the Legislature Angela Brandt, Amanda Mooyer, Amy Moledzki, Stacy Kennedy, Faith Munoz and Bruce McIntosh. Welcome back to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Vincent Ke: It’s my honour to introduce my constituents, my friends and my volunteers from my riding of Don Valley North. They are sitting in the public gallery above us. Their names are Fu Yanchen, Wang Haixia, Peng Hui, Wu Xiaohui, Sun Yu Ping, Cindy Tang, Wang Mioa, Jack Wang, Yijun Chen, Lina Xie, Jiang Lianbo, Fan Zhuang and Tina Zhang. Welcome to Queen’s Park. I hope you enjoy your day.

Ms. Judith Monteith-Farrell: I’d like to welcome our great fire chief from Thunder Bay, Ontario. Welcome to Queen’s Park, John Hay.

Hon. Victor Fedeli: I’d like to welcome in the gallery the former Nipissing–Timiskaming member of Parliament, Jay Aspin. Welcome, Jay. And I’d like to welcome North Bay Fire and Emergency Services fire chief Jason Whitely to our Legislature today.

Mr. Ian Arthur: It’s my pleasure today to welcome Gemma Zelmanovits from my riding and her family. They are here. Her niece is the page captain today. Thank you for visiting.

Hon. Michael A. Tibollo: Today I would like to introduce members of We Are Golf, who are at Queen’s Park today on the second annual National Golf Day to discuss the vital importance of the golf industry. Welcome, Doug Breen, Blair Breen, Leslie Ferrari, Jeff Germond, Wendy Burgess, Jay Aspin, Simon Bevan, Jason Boyce, Brenda Evans and Mike Kelly. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Kevin Yarde: I’d also like to welcome Bill Boyes, who is the OAFC vice-president from Brampton; Stephanie Malo, fire chief from Mississauga; Bruce Morrison from Halton Hills; and Todd Daley from Callander.

Mr. David Piccini: I too would like to welcome fire chief Ted Bryan from Otonabee-South Monaghan, who is joining us today. Thanks for taking the long drive down. I’m looking forward to meeting with you later today, wherever you are.

Mr. Stephen Crawford: Good morning. I have two individuals I’d like to introduce to the Legislature today. I have an Oakville constituent who also serves the province as a crown attorney, Ms. Rana Thiara. I’d also like to introduce a friend, Mr. Kelly Harris. Welcome to the Legislature.

Ms. Jane McKenna: I’d just like to welcome the Burlington Royal Arts Academy. They’re up there in the west lobby. They are very, very talented students. I was thrilled to be able to speak to them and the teachers and the parents this morning.

Also, I have a constituent, Jeff Germond. He actually is the CEO at Mississauga Golf and Country Club. He’s here today.

Ms. Lindsey Park: I’d like to welcome to the Legislature fire chief Mark Berney from the township of Scugog Fire and Emergency Services. He’s also the vice-president of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Again, we’ll welcome all of the guests who have not yet been introduced.

I know that the member for Ottawa–Vanier has a point of order.

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Mme Nathalie Des Rosiers: I’d like to seek unanimous consent because the member from Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston had to leave urgently and I’d like to take his position in the question rotation today.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Ottawa–Vanier is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to ask a question in place of the member for Lanark–Frontenac–Kingston. Agreed? I heard some noes.

Fitzroy Gordon

Ms. Jill Andrew: I’m rising on a point of order. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent for the House to observe a moment of silence to honour Fitzroy Gordon, the founder of Toronto’s G98.7 FM and a formidable advocate for Toronto’s Black and Caribbean communities.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Toronto–St. Paul’s is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to have a moment of silence to honour Fitzroy Gordon, the founder of Toronto’s G98.7 FM and an advocate for Toronto’s Black and Caribbean communities. Agreed? Agreed.

The House observed a moment’s silence.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.

It is now time for oral questions.

Oral Questions

Municipal finances

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, before I begin I think it’s important just to thank the Environmental Commissioner, Dianne Saxe; Irwin Elman, the Child Advocate; and François Boileau, the French Language Services Commissioner, for all of the work that they’ve done over many years as advocates for the people of the province.

My first question is to the Premier. Yesterday, the mayors of 28 of Ontario’s largest cities issued a statement denouncing what they call a “stealth” campaign of cuts affecting everything from public health to policing to flood management to child care. The Ford government has spent the last months denying that these cuts are even happening. Is the Premier saying that these 28 mayors are wrong and he’s right?

Hon. Doug Ford: Solicitor General.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: While the member opposite and the leader of the NDP can choose to keep repeating things that, frankly, we do not subscribe to in our party and in our government, we are going to continue to actively work and engage our municipal partners.

As you know, ministers of the crown meet with AMO at least once a month, often more than that, to talk about the changes that we are making, to initiate conversations that ensure that what people want to protect and what matters most to Ontario residents is looked after by all levels of government. Whether that happens at the federal, provincial or municipal levels, we all have a responsibility to ensure that the dollars that are spent, collected when we collect taxpayers’ dollars, end up being the most efficient, and ensure the health and safety of our residents. That’s what we do when we work with our municipal partners and that’s what we will continue to do.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: It seems to me the government has a pretty twisted idea of what partnership means, Speaker.

The Premier can have his ministers deny his reckless cuts, but no one believes them any more, especially when 28 mayors, representing 67% of the province’s population, say that these cuts will have a devastating impact. They’ve asked the Premier, at the very least, to delay the cuts so that they can actually plan, instead of reeling, as the Ford government lurches from one stealth cut to the next.

Is the Premier willing to consider that request?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Steve Clark: Speaker, through you to the Leader of the Opposition: I spoke to Mayor Cam Guthrie from Guelph this morning. He’s the chair of the large urban mayors’ committee, or LUMCO. We had a very good chat, and I’m sure it’s a conversation we are going to continue.

As the Solicitor General outlined in the first part of the question, we have a framework of consultation with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. LUMCO has a seat at that table. It’s a confidential process, so while I’m not going to betray the confidentiality of some of the discussions we’ve had with ministers and AMO and their affiliates, we’ve had a very good conversation.

The Solicitor General is right: We do meet on a monthly basis. There are other meetings that take place, if there is an emerging and important item.

Suffice it to say, I had a very good conversation with Mayor Guthrie. I look forward to continuing to engage—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Final supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I’m sure what the minister called a “chat” the other person in the conversation is calling something completely different.

Nonetheless, the Premier’s cuts are hitting municipalities, and these are services that families across our province rely on. Only the Ford government could cut flood management in the midst of unprecedented flooding, cut immunization programs just as health experts are warning of a measles outbreak, or cut public health while they claim to be tackling hallway medicine and then have the brass to claim that they weren’t doing it.

Twenty-eight mayors have joined the chorus—the loud chorus—of doctors, nurses, scientists and tens of thousands of average citizens who say these cuts are dangerous and absolutely indefensible.

Why is the Premier so certain that all of these people are wrong and he alone is right?

Hon. Steve Clark: We’re going to continue to have conversations with Ontario’s large urban mayors. We’re going to continue to engage the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Unlike the previous government that expanded that consultation to every couple of months, we meet with them every month. We give them a door to be opened in the interim if there’s an issue that they want to speak about.

Quite frankly, I find it pretty rich from the Leader of the Opposition, who has supported the Liberal government. They were spending $40 million a day more than they were taking in. We were saddled with a tremendous deficit that, I have to say—our budget that Minister Fedeli has tabled that’s protecting the things that matter most to Ontarians is a responsible plan.

We’re going to continue to engage our municipal partners. We’re going to listen to them. We’re going to work with them and move forward.

It’s quite funny that the Leader of the Opposition seems to think she knows the conversation between Mayor Guthrie and I this morning. I find that very, very strange.

Public health

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Premier. But what I’ve got to say is pretty rich is that this government and these ministers don’t remember when they were in opposition, trying to support municipalities to overcome the downloading of the last time the Conservative government was in office, under Mr. Harris. It’s quite rich, Speaker.

Anyway, the question is to the Premier. Yesterday, the Premier wrote to the mayor of Toronto, insisting that the—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for King–Vaughan will come to order. The member for Sault Ste. Marie will come to order.

Restart the clock. Leader of the Opposition, I apologize.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Yesterday, the Premier wrote to the mayor of Toronto, insisting that the Ford government budget cuts to public health won’t impact the programs public health provides. The chief medical officer of health, the Ontario Medical Association, doctors, nurses, school boards and, of course, the mayor himself disagree.

Does anyone who doesn’t work for the Premier support his view?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: We actually made our response to the mayor of Toronto public. I find it ironic—I spent four years down there—and the present mayor hasn’t found a single penny of efficiencies in an over $13-billion budget. They have a fleet of cars down there, $10 million, and they’re still getting paid for their cars. They’re getting millions of dollars to actually go out and water dead trees. They tell me there aren’t efficiencies to be found—and by the way, it’s 0.024%. If they can’t find that in a budget, we have serious problems at the city of Toronto.

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All they know how to do at the city of Toronto is tax people and spend their money, not drive efficiencies. They don’t care about the taxpayers’ money at the city of Toronto.

We do care about the taxpayers’ money. We’re still splitting the expense 50-50; that’s pretty good, if you ask me, Mr. Speaker.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members please take their seats. Restart the clock.

Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I think what’s pretty ironic is the Premier obviously wants to be there, over in the city of Toronto, but for some reason he’s here. That’s what’s pretty ironic, Speaker.

The Premier simply cannot have it both ways. When you cut funding to public health—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for Markham–Stouffville will come to order. The member for Mississauga East–Cooksville can come to order. I can hear what you’re saying. You don’t have to yell across the floor.

If we took a poll of our visitors, I’m not sure how many would be impressed by the behaviour from some members. Let’s think about that.

Start the clock. Again, I apologize to the Leader of the Opposition.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Premier can’t have it both ways, Speaker. When you cut funding to vital public health services, you can’t pretend that those services won’t suffer. And they’re vital services that keep us healthy and out of hospitals. Whether it’s immunization or school breakfast programs, that’s the fact: It keeps us healthy and out of our hospitals. Is the Premier seriously arguing that he can hit public health with retroactive budget cuts but public health won’t suffer?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: What the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t say is that over the past 10 years, Toronto Public Health has run a cumulative surplus of $52 million. That’s $52 million, with a surplus of nearly $12 million in 2011. Where’s the money? Where is that money, Mr. Speaker?

Let’s talk about the $20 billion our government has given to the city of Toronto by uploading the backlogged repairs for the TTC. Where is that $20 billion? I don’t hear the mayor talking about the $27-billion investment we’re putting into transit.

It’s all right to talk about, again, 0.024%, less than one third of 1%—that they can’t find efficiencies. Through you, Mr. Speaker: They need to wake up, smell the coffee and start driving efficiencies for the taxpayers of this city.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members take their seats. Order.

Restart the clock. Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, the last time the Conservatives drove efficiencies we ended up with Walkerton, and that’s certainly not something that we want to have again in the province of Ontario. That’s something the Premier needs to think about.

He needs to think about—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Order. If this continues, I will start warning members. If I have to warn them, the next time they will be named. We’re going to have order here.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of infrastructure will come to order.

Restart the clock. Again, I apologize to the Leader of the Opposition.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Thank you, Speaker. In neighbourhoods and communities across Ontario, public health units are providing vital services that keep us all healthy. I’ve said it once and I’m going to keep saying it because it’s the truth. Programs like breakfast programs, school immunization, dental clinics—where, in my own community, over 50% of kids in grade 2 had cavities in their mouths that were untreated—long-term-care centres, doctors, nurses and mayors from across Ontario, of every political stripe, have told the Premier that these cuts put all of these services in all of these communities at risk.

At what point will the Premier realize that all of the bluster and denials won’t change the fact that his reckless cuts will do serious, serious damage and that it’s actually time to reverse direction and stop the cuts from happening?

Hon. Doug Ford: Solicitor General.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: The NDP can continue to chase headlines and continue to repeat rhetoric that, frankly, has no validity, while we protect what matters most.

I want to talk about some of the investments that our Deputy Premier and Minister of Health has already made, as a government:

—a commitment of an additional 15,000 long-term-care beds, half of which we have already announced and we’re not even a year in;

—$90 million that will cover 100,000 low-income seniors for free dental care;

—$384 million in additional funding in hospital operational funding;

—$27 million over 10 years for hospital infrastructure.

I could go on and on, but I’m focusing and our government is focusing on what matters most. We will stop the inappropriate spending, like, for example, watering dead tree stumps.

Public transit

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is to the Premier. Earlier today, the Ford government announced their intention to start—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for Sault Ste. Marie is warned. I don’t know if there’s a confidence vote later on today or not.

I apologize again to the Leader of the Opposition. Start the clock.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Thank you, Speaker.

Earlier today, the Ford government announced their intention to start a hostile takeover of Toronto’s transit system. The province is supposedly still at the negotiating table with the city—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I apologize. Again, stop the clock. The member for King–Vaughan is warned.

Restart the clock. The Leader of the Opposition.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The province is supposedly still at the negotiating table with the city of Toronto on this matter. The Premier hasn’t even come close to answering serious questions about this scheme, and Toronto council has been clear it’s a scheme that will not work for the people of Toronto.

Does the Premier have any intention of actually working with the city in good faith, or is this yet another example of a Premier stubbornly imposing his will and refusing to acknowledge the serious consequences?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: Boy, talk about rich. Talk about ironic. We’ve had a stagnant transit system here for the last three decades. You look at the map of the TTC; it’s not moving.

Through the great work of our Minister of Transportation—he has put out an incredible, incredible plan. No matter if it’s the Ontario Line starting at Ontario Place going up to the Ontario Science Centre, if it’s extending the Eglinton line out west all the way out to the airport to serve the people of Etobicoke, or it’s to the great people of Scarborough, who have been waiting for transit for decades and decades—we’re going to make sure we have a three-stop subway stop right there. And another great announcement for the people up in Richmond Hill: We’re going to run the Yonge line all the way up to Richmond Hill.

We’re putting the largest investment in Ontario’s history, in the country’s history, in North America—a $27-billion investment.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, I guess the Premier doesn’t remember the last time the Conservatives were in office, when they buried the Eglinton subway tunnel that was being built to expand subways in the province.

It’s clear that the Premier is plowing ahead with a hostile takeover of the TTC without the permission of the people who built, paid for and use the subway, just like he’s ignoring the doctors who provide public health or teachers in a classroom.

After decades and decades of transit delay, some of which was caused by the Premier during his time at city hall, the people of Toronto want their leaders to work together to get transit built. Instead, the Premier is changing plans and attempting to impose his will yet again.

Why won’t the Premier realize that this actually will lead to further delays, less transit and more gridlock?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock again. The Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry is warned.

Interjection.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Niagara West is warned—you.

Start the clock. Premier to reply.

Hon. Doug Ford: The great Minister of Transportation.

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Hon. Jeff Yurek: You know, it’s unfortunate the Leader of the Opposition and the NDP are mischaracterizing this entire announcement that we will be introducing legislation tomorrow. We are stepping forward with ensuring—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the minister to withdraw.

Hon. Jeff Yurek: I withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The minister may conclude his answer.

Hon. Jeff Yurek: So what we are doing is, we have been working with the city of Toronto since last November. We campaigned on a promise to upload the subway. We campaigned on a promise to build new subways for the city of Toronto. The old system was not working, Mr. Speaker. They were unable to expand this current subway network, and we are going to do that. We’ve been working with Mayor Tory and his staff since November, working towards the terms of reference. We have been meeting with them weekly as we progress towards the upload which is going to benefit not only the people of Toronto but the entire province as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, I have to ask the Leader of the Opposition a serious question. She gets upset when she claims we’re downloading services. We’re actually uploading $20 billion worth of network into our province. Is she for uploading or not? She needs to get on the record—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.

Next question. Start the clock.

Ontario economy

Mrs. Daisy Wai: My question is for the Premier. This week, the Premier travelled to New York City with the Minister of Finance. They were in the Big Apple to speak to investors on Wall Street, promote our 2019 budget, and let our largest trading partner know Ontario is open for business and open for jobs. Since being elected, we have been cutting red tape through measures like the Making Ontario Open for Business Act and the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. We are providing corporate income tax relief through the job creation investment incentive, and we are fixing the Liberals’ hydro mess.

Could the Premier explain to the House how important it is to bring our open-for-business message to international investors?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: Myself and my all-star Minister of Finance went to New York. I’ll tell you, that was one of the most rewarding trips, not only for us but for the people of Ontario. When we talked to the largest investment firms in the entire world, that stopped investing in Ontario, stopped investing in Canada, because of the tragedy they saw that took place over the last 15 years—when we told them that we were cutting the red tape by 25%, saving businesses over $400 million, cutting regulations, making sure we reduce hydro rates, making sure that we put a job creation investment incentive of $4 billion, they were excited. We talked to numerous Fortune 500 companies, and they look forward to coming, creating jobs, and creating investment in Ontario.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek has to come to order.

Supplementary.

Mrs. Daisy Wai: Thank you to the Premier for his response. Businesses finally have a government and a Premier who understand business. They have confidence in the government again. Ontario has created 123,000 jobs since we took office nine months ago. It is because we are creating an environment where job creators can thrive, and because after 15 years of Liberal waste, scandal and mismanagement, we are getting our fiscal house in order again.

Our 2019 budget protects what matters most to Ontario families, while providing a clear path to balance. Could the Premier outline for the House how our budget was received by investors and businesses in New York?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our all-star member of provincial Parliament from Richmond Hill. You’re doing a great job, Daisy. I apologize I didn’t say that at the beginning; I got so excited about this trip to New York I took off on that, so my apologies.

When we went to New York—again, we met with private companies, Fortune 500 companies, and met with investors a few times—there was one investment company, the largest in the world, that told us they had never seen a prosperous country and a prosperous province, Ontario, dismantle the energy file ever in their entire lives. They said the investments just dried up. No one was interested in investing in Ontario or Canada anymore. The exact words are, “They systematically destroyed your energy file.” They said, “Even if we planned to destroy it, we couldn’t destroy it as well as the NDP and the Liberals have done it over the last 15 years.” That’s staggering, when investment dries up. But we told them, Ontario is open for business and—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.

The next question.

Municipal finances

Mr. Jeff Burch: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The recent budget cut vital funding for municipalities and municipally cost-shared programs. A planned increase in gas tax funding for municipal transit was cancelled, costing more than 100 municipalities over $360 million per year in planned funding. Public health funding is being cut by $200 million per year. The Community Infrastructure Fund, which funds projects in small, rural and northern municipalities, was retroactively cut by $100 million per year.

Why is this Premier making life harder for families and businesses that count on these municipal programs?

Hon. Steve Clark: Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I’m surprised that we haven’t heard from him or his party when we made a historic investment in the last fiscal year. We provided 405 municipalities out of Ontario’s 444 municipalities with over $200 million on a one-time basis to work on municipal modernization. That was a great announcement, one that has been celebrated across this province.

Again, we work quite closely with our municipal partners. We value the relationship that we have with them, and we’re going to continue to sit down with them and talk about how we can assist and work with them. We know that there is a tremendous appetite out there for municipal officials to make their municipalities more effective and more efficient and ensure that those critical services that they provide their constituents are done in the most efficient and effective way as possible. We value our relationship. We’re going to continue to work with them.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.

Mr. Jeff Burch: For almost half of Ontario’s municipal governments, a 1% property tax increase raises only $50,000 per year, but the Premier has cancelled hundreds of millions of dollars of annual funding for municipally cost-shared programs, meaning either huge cuts or huge property tax increases. We are seeing cuts to flood protection, interlibrary loans and housing programs.

The last Conservative government cancelled funding for municipal social housing and transit, and social housing and transit have been in a state of crisis ever since. Why is the Premier repeating this shameful history with cuts to public health and other vital municipal programs?

Hon. Steve Clark: To the Minister of Infrastructure.

Hon. Monte McNaughton: Here we are, yet another day in question period, and the NDP continue to defend the record of the former Liberal government. I don’t understand. Every day they are advocating on behalf of the former Liberal government.

Mr. Speaker, on March 12, on behalf of Premier Ford and our government, I announced a $30-billion investment in infrastructure plans for municipalities right across the province. That is a historic investment.

We’re going to invest $30 billion in roads and bridges, in transit right across the province, green infrastructure like water and waste water systems, as well as building community centres and recreation and cultural centres right across this province. I would think that the NDP would support that type of investment in their own communities right across this province.

Beverage alcohol sales

Mr. David Piccini: My question is to the Minister of Finance. We know that when the people of Ontario elected our government, they did so wanting greater convenience and greater choice in their everyday lives. That’s why our government promised during last year’s election campaign to bring beer and wine into corner stores, big box stores and even grocery stores. When I went for my morning coffee at Clark’s Variety, I heard from countless farmers, folks in rural Ontario who said, “Why can’t we pick up a beer on our way home?”

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Yesterday, a study from the Retail Council of Canada reaffirmed that our commitment will have a positive economic impact. In fact, it will contribute over $3.5 billion to Ontario’s economy. Speaker, could the minister share details of how bringing more convenience and more choice for Ontario’s consumers will provide opportunities for job creators and consumers alike?

Hon. Victor Fedeli: Thank you, Speaker, and to the member for Northumberland–Peterborough South for the question. By expanding choice and convenience for Ontario consumers, we’re expanding opportunities for small businesses right across the province. Local store owners, brewers and consumers all stand to benefit from an expanded market.

Yesterday, the independent Retail Council of Canada said that if Ontario were to increase the number of retail stores selling alcohol to meet just the national average, we would see 9,000 new jobs created in Ontario and $3.5 billion added to our GDP. The retail council says, “Greater choice for alcohol and increased convenience is both a strong win for Ontario consumers as well as for Ontario’s economy.” Speaker, we agree and look forward to filling yet another promise made to the people of Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?

Mr. David Piccini: Thank you for that response, Minister. I know members of the opposition aren’t interested in those sorts of economic impacts to our province and those jobs, but it’s encouraging to hear the words of yesterday from the independent, non-partisan Retail Council of Canada.

It’s abundantly clear that our government is open for business and open for jobs, and it’s going to continue putting people first in everything we do, as evidenced by the Retail Council of Canada’s comments. But we also must ensure that the changes we inevitably introduce are socially responsible, and that the health and safety of our communities are maintained.

Minister, can you tell the House how our approach to modernizing alcohol sales embraces this immense economic opportunity while also ensuring it’s done in a responsible manner?

Hon. Victor Fedeli: Again, thank you to the member for the question.

Speaker, not only does Ontario stand to benefit from the job creation opportunities that exist, but expanded choice and convenience would directly benefit consumers. Our proposed changes would allow responsible adult consumers to make the choices that are best for them. At the same time, we want to ensure that any proposed improvements will uphold the safety and health of all of our citizens and all of our communities.

We have appointed Ken Hughes as special adviser. His experience as chair of Alberta Health Services will inform our government’s absolutely responsible approach. We continue to engage with a wide variety of groups, and we look forward to working with them on the great opportunities that lie ahead.

Child care

Ms. Marit Stiles: My question is for the Minister of Education. Just last night, we learned of yet another cut hitting Ontario’s child care system. Buried within the government’s 2019 child care allocations is a $50-million cut to child care operators through the retroactive elimination of fee stabilization funding.

Now, Mr. Speaker, fee stabilization was put in place in order to ensure that as our front-line child care workers saw their wages rightly increase, operators would not be forced to either increase fees for parents or lay workers off. Simply put, the funding helped keep kids in reliable care, kept parents from seeing a hike in their fees and helped Ontario workers keep their jobs. Why is the minister taking this away?

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you very much for the opportunity to stand and speak in the House today, to dispel yet another NDP myth that they’re trying to perpetuate. The manner in which this party is trying to fearmonger is just staggering, and this is another example.

Quite frankly, all I have to say is, “Bill 148.” That fee stabilization was put in place to correct a mistake that the former Liberal government made, and you backed them up yet again. Decision after decision—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the minister to make her comments through the chair, not across the floor.

The minister to conclude her response.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay. Thank you, Speaker.

The decisions made in daycare across Ontario—absolutely unaffordable. The previous government raised Ontario’s minimum wage by 20%, and that was absolutely unmanageable for Ontario’s child care sector. So what are we doing? We’re fixing the mistake that the NDP backed up that the Liberal Party made. The fact of the matter is, we’re investing $2 billion—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Supplementary.

Ms. Marit Stiles: Mr. Speaker, I don’t know why this government is in such a rush to get it so very wrong. The abrupt end to this stabilization funding means that child care facilities are being hit with massive changes to their funding formulas with absolutely no warning from this government. Clearly this government has no idea how this change will impact Ontario families, because once again they haven’t consulted with the key stakeholders before they pull the funding.

To make matters worse, Mr. Speaker, 44 out of 47 child care delivery and oversight boards had their general allocation funding cut this year, leaving parents, again, to pick up the tab.

Since forming government, the Conservatives have made child care less safe for children and more expensive for parents and have created absolute chaos for child care providers and educators. Why?

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: The answer to “Why?” is very simple. We were elected as a government to fix the mess the Liberal government made and that this party propped up for the last 15 years. Honestly, we’re getting it right once and for all for Ontario daycare. We’re investing over $2 billion. We’re continuing with the Wage Enhancement Grant, we’re continuing with the Home Child Care Enhancement Grant, and we’re also continuing with the qualification upgrades for early childhood educators.

Speaker, like never before, we’re standing up, getting it right and standing with parents. We’re going to be leaving, ultimately, more money in their pockets because, over and above everything else we’re doing, we introduced CARE, a tax credit that ultimately will see relief from the costs of child care because it’s going to be a tax credit that will enable parents’ flexibility, accessibility and affordability when it comes to obtaining care in Ontario.

Municipal finances

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: My question is to the Premier. Speaker, through you to the Premier: Yesterday the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus raised concerns over the Ford government’s downloading-by-stealth agenda. This plan will place significant financial pressure on municipalities that are already struggling to cope with the cuts to library services and public health.

Under its downloading-by-stealth agenda, this government will require municipalities to cost-share child care funding at a rate of 80 to 20, from its previous 100% funding. Why is this government unilaterally shifting these costs when we know that we only have one taxpayer? Why is this government using child care cost-sharing to off-load their responsibilities—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member will please take her seat.

The government side will come to order. Once again, I need to be able to hear the member who actually has the floor, has the right to place a question, and is not breaking the rules by loud interjections.

Start the clock. I apologize to the member for Scarborough–Guildwood. Please conclude your question.

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Why is this government using child care cost-sharing to off-load their responsibilities onto municipalities, leaving them out to dry?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: I can’t believe what I just heard. There’s one taxpayer? This is a government that dismantled this province for decades. This is a government that put our debt, the largest sub-sovereign debt in the world, at $347 billion. When I was in New York, they couldn’t believe it. This is a government that put our children, our families, the workers in this province into a deficit of $15 billion.

We have to be fiscally responsible, Mr. Speaker. I just can’t believe that the government of 15 years of scandal and mismanagement of money from the taxpayers actually has the nerve to get up here and say that there’s one taxpayer. They’ve never seen a dollar that they don’t love spending. It’s about tax, tax, tax; spend, spend, spend.

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Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Order.

Restart the clock. Supplementary question.

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: Again, back to the Premier: This morning we learned that the Ford government is cutting $50 million in funding that was meant to support child care centres with increasing costs of labour. The removal of this funding will destabilize the system and force child care centres to either cut staff or to raise fees for parents—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock again. The member for Kitchener–Conestoga is warned. The member for Carleton is warned. Six members have been warned.

Start the clock. Again, I apologize to the member for Scarborough–Guildwood.

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: The report also notes that there’s a centre in Peel that is already raising fees by $72 because of this devastating cut.

Families simply can’t afford hundreds more dollars for child care costs.

Why is this Premier forcing increased fees on child care centres—at the same time, downloading its responsibilities to municipalities? It’s like you’re giving with one hand and taking from the next. It is wrong, and it’s hurting families and also destabilizing a system that they rely on.

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: They were taking from both hands. The reason they’re raising it $72 is because the previous government raised the minimum wage from $11 and change up to $14. I spoke to child care folks, and they can’t afford to hire people because of the minimum wage.

What we’re doing—we’re putting a CARE tax credit, which is a child care expense deduction. We’re investing $2 billion. Families can receive up to $6,000 per child under the age of seven. They’re going to get a tax credit of $3,750 from seven up to 16 years of age. Anyone with a severe disability is going to get a tax credit of $8,250. We’re helping 300,000 families out there—300,000 families. They will have a choice where they get their child care—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for Orléans is warned.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): It’s not helpful. We’re trying to have decorum in this House for the remainder of question period. It’s the Speaker’s obligation to try to maintain that. I need your help.

Start the clock. Next question.

Public transit

Mr. Logan Kanapathi: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation. Recently, the Premier and the Minister of Transportation unveiled a bold vision for transit right here in the GTHA. It is a $28.5-billion transit vision to expand the province’s subway network by 50%. This is a historic announcement, and this is by far the most money ever invested to get shovels in the ground and get new subways built. Our transit vision includes: expanding transit options for Scarborough residents, who have been ignored for far too long; moving forward with the desperately needed Ontario Line; extending the TTC subway into York region, Markham and Richmond Hill; and extending the Eglinton West LRT. People have waited long enough for an integrated regional transit system.

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Transportation update the Legislature on the upload?

Hon. Jeff Yurek: Thanks to the member from Markham–Thornhill. It’s a great opportunity to work with him. He has been a strong advocate for an extension of our subways up north there.

Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to be invited to speak this morning at the Toronto board of trade’s annual breakfast and I thank them for the invite. I announced that tomorrow in this Legislature I will be introducing the Getting Ontario Moving Act. If passed, it will give us the legislative tools to upload ownership of future subway expansion projects to the province so that we can get them built and build them faster. That is our government’s plan: to get people moving and get the economy going.

In the past, other governments have made promises to expand transit in the GTHA, but red tape and politics prevented that from happening. Time and again people have been disappointed when nothing gets built. During the campaign our party promised to upload responsibility for subway infrastructure to build subways faster and get Ontarians moving, and we’re doing just that.

I look forward to more answers in my supplemental.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Mr. Logan Kanapathi: Thank you to the Minister of Transportation for the very informative and exciting update.

Our government for the people is moving full steam ahead to hold true to our commitment to get people across Ontario moving. As the minister has stated, our subway transit vision will include:

—the Ontario Line, which will provide real relief from congestion on Line 1. It will be twice as long and will move twice as many people as the original relief line project—and we will get it done at about the same cost;

—the Yonge North subway extension, which will connect the subway to one of the region’s largest employment centres;

—the long-awaited three-stop Scarborough subway extension;

—the Eglinton Crosstown west extension through Etobicoke.

Can the Minister of Transportation share more details about the legislation being tabled tomorrow?

Hon. Jeff Yurek: Thanks again for that question. Mr. Speaker, as I stated before, the province is in the best position to build transit. We’ll be able to prioritize transportation projects and make decisions based on what is best for the people of Ontario, not just Toronto.

We have a greater capacity to finance projects and move them along much, much quicker. We have the resources and the decision-making abilities, we can issue ministerial zoning orders, and we can compel utilities to prioritize our projects.

We will utilize the city’s previous planning that they have done. We’re going to use it to work with the city and with the federal government in order to build, develop and create a truly regional transit system. We’re going to be connecting neighbourhoods that have never been connected before. We’re going to be working towards fare integration.

Mr. Speaker, this is great news for the province of Ontario as we work forward to implementing our $28.5-billion investment in transit in the city of Toronto and the GTHA.

Government spending

Mr. John Vanthof: My question is to the Acting Premier. This week, the Premier and the finance minister took their partisan news service on a trip to New York City. The media report that the Premier’s office has refused to disclose the cost of the trip. Will the Premier tell us how much the public will be paying for his trip to New York? It’s a very simple question.

Hon. Victor Fedeli: Thank you very much for the question. I can tell you it was a great honour to join the Premier in New York this past week. It’s interesting, Speaker, that since we have come out of the budget blackout period, we have raised $4.6 billion from the markets, and half of that was in US dollars.

There is unbelievable confidence, for the first time, in the province of Ontario. They loved our “Open for business, open for jobs” message. They loved the fact that we’ve cut red tape, that we have a job creation investment fund, that we’ve cut the WSIB fees of $1.45 billion, that we scrapped the cap-and-trade, that we have cut the hydro bills. We are open for business and open for jobs, and they spoke loud and clear with their chequebooks.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?

Mr. John Vanthof: While the Premier was gone we’ve seen the government announce that they don’t have funds to maintain student breakfasts or teachers in the classroom, or even flood management as Ontario scrambles to deal with record flooding. At the very least, the Premier of this province owes the people—

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.

Mr. John Vanthof: At the very least, the people of this province deserve to know how much this trip cost. Obviously, the Premier’s office does not have unbelievable confidence in its own numbers. It’s a simple question. It deserves a simple answer: “The trip cost X.”

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for Northumberland–Peterborough South is warned.

Restart the clock. The Minister of Finance to reply.

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Hon. Victor Fedeli: Thank you very much. We took a fabulous message to the investors and the business prospects in New York. They love the fact that we are transforming government. They love the fact that we are modernizing government. They love the fact that we are digitizing government. In fact, we told them the story about exactly how if you went to your DMV to get your licence renewed, in Ontario, you can now go online to renew your licence. You can now go online to renew your vehicle registration. You can now go online. So we showed them what we mean by digitizing our government.

We told them that we had a plan to save four cents on every dollar spent, and in fact our plan to date has resulted in almost eight cents in savings on every dollar spent.

And they were thrilled to hear that not only are we doing this without increasing taxes; we’re returning $26 billion in relief to Ontario’s families. They found that the situation is better today than it was 10 months ago.

Fire safety

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Before I begin, I just wanted to welcome to the Legislature the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, and in particular fire chief Pascal Meunier from Carleton Place; fire chief Ken Stevenson from Burk’s Falls and district; and fire chief Brian Wilson from Clarence-Rockland, who I look forward to meeting with later today. I also want to give a quick shout-out to fire chief Kim Ayotte from Ottawa, who couldn’t be here.

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General. Protecting citizens is at the core of our government’s work for the people, and the enforcement of modern and robust fire safety rules protects the lives of citizens as well as our hard-working firefighters.

We know that fire regulations are a key part of ensuring the safety of our communities. These regulations aren’t always top of mind for everyday citizens, but they have a big impact on fire services’ ability to do their job. Could the Solicitor General please let us know how improving these regulations is making firefighters and citizens safer?

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Opposition, come to order.

Solicitor General?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Thank you to the member from Carleton for your important question, but also for serving on the caucus advisory team for the Solicitor General. Her advice is very valuable, so thank you.

I would also like to welcome and thank the fire chiefs for joining us today at Queen’s Park. It’s important advocacy that you need to do to educate us as MPPs, so thank you.

Your officers, the brave men and women on the front lines, keep our families safe. As a government, we’re committed to ensuring firefighter regulations support firefighters across Ontario. Whether you live in Kenora or Cambridge, Ottawa or Oxford, I can assure you that the regulations that we put in place are going to be appropriate for the communities that you serve, and we will continue to do that.

As you know, there are some new regulations coming forward in the early summer that will really make an impact for the services as well as the communities that we serve. I want to assure you that we will continue to make sure that those regulations are appropriate for the size and the service of the community that you serve.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Speaker, through you: I would like to thank the Solicitor General for her response. It’s truly an honour to serve on the caucus advisory committee and to work with our first responders all across the province.

Firefighters have always stood up for the safety of communities, and now they have a government that respects and supports them as they carry out very difficult and very dangerous jobs each and every day. We ask these brave men and women to potentially put themselves in harm’s way to keep our loved ones and our communities safe. In return, we see it as only fair to support them in their important duties.

Through you, Mr. Speaker: Could the Solicitor General please tell us more about how our government is providing better support to firefighters across Ottawa and Ontario, and improving fire safety?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Speaker, as you know, our government values the important work that firefighters do as they place themselves in harm’s way.

I want to also give a shout-out to the volunteer firefighters, because they also play a vital safety role in our small-town communities. Frankly, it’s why we amended the Fire Protection and Prevention Act this past fall: to ensure that full-time firefighters can volunteer their services, if they choose, in their home communities.

I would be remiss not to highlight, Speaker, your work for many years in opposition on this issue, and of course my friend and colleague the Minister of Labour, to bring forward this amendment. It makes a real difference in our smaller communities, so thank you.

These amendments protect firefighters and municipalities from any pressure to dismiss professional firefighters from what is commonly referred to as double-hatting. This will also ensure that professional firefighters cannot face association penalties for double-hatting and will allow municipalities to include them in their service model

Our government is restoring respect for first responders, including firefighters, and I want to thank them for their service.

Education funding

Miss Monique Taylor: My question is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board announced that 99 teachers will be laid off. That’s enough to staff two full high schools.

I’ve heard from a math teacher who lives in Flamborough–Glanbrook who is on maternity leave and has received her notice, stating that she no longer has a job to return to. Why does the minister, and the member from Flamborough–Glanbrook, think it’s okay to gut schools in Hamilton?

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: Quite frankly, we don’t. What we’re doing is restoring trust, transparency and accountability to the province’s finances, and we expect our education partners to work with us in that regard as well.

The GSN notifications just went out on Friday. We’re going to be working with school boards to make sure that the efficiencies that are found within their administrations are not impacting our classrooms. We want to establish a precedent in terms of making sure our Ontario tax dollars are going into sustaining and building and growing a learning environment that is effective for both the student and the teacher.

Our number one priority is student achievement, and we can’t lose sight of that. That’s why we’re working with our labour unions and working with our education partners. We have invited them to come forward, through to May 31, with ideas, suggestions, offsets—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Supplementary question: the member for Sudbury.

Mr. Jamie West: Thank you, Speaker. The question is to the Minister of Education as well. In the greater Sudbury region, 51 high school teachers at the Rainbow District School Board received redundancy notices on Friday. While in past years there was a chance that these educators would be reassigned, this government’s cuts to education make the threat of job losses very real. These teachers are not resigning and they’re not retiring. They can be out of a job as a direct result of the Conservatives’ cuts to the education system. What does the minister have to say to the hard-working educators in Sudbury, worrying that they could lose their jobs?

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: Well, the first thing I have to say to all teachers in Ontario is: Please, don’t get caught up in the fearmongering we’re hearing from the members of the opposition day in and day out.

We have a huge mess to fix in Ontario, and every sector has to do their part. But I can tell you, our number one priority is the learning environment in the classroom that is absolutely focused on student achievement. We’re standing with teachers. We’re standing with students, so that teachers, students and, ultimately, parents have absolute confidence in what is going on and happening in our classrooms in terms of addressing getting back to the basics, making sure that our students have the job skills and the life skills they need to ensure a job today and for tomorrow as well.

When it comes to making sure that we get things right—I heard the member opposite say that teachers received notification of redundancies on Friday. That board only received their GSN on Friday. There’s too much fearmongering—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.

Restart the clock. Next question.

Hate crimes

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: My question is for the Attorney General. I join my colleagues in the House today to solemnly mark and observe Yom ha-Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day is about the tragic loss of more than six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust and honours those who survived this unthinkable tragedy.

Sadly, the threat of hatred is not isolated in our history books. In fact, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics cited an alarmingly sharp increase in hate crimes in 2017, with incidents targeting religion up 80%. Anti-Semitism was a factor in one in five incidents, and we saw an increase of 400 hate crimes reported to the police over the previous year.

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Could the Attorney General please tell this House how our government is standing up against hate?

Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I want to thank the member from Barrie–Innisfil for her important question on Ontario’s 20th anniversary of Yom ha-Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is a day we come together as Ontarians to make sure that we never forget and that we are vigilant against the rise of hate in our communities.

We have zero tolerance for hate of any form here in Ontario. It’s why I’m working with my colleagues and my ministry to create a new working group of regional hate crime crown specialists. This new group will ensure a consistent approach is taken to combatting hate crimes. This group will work to create closer relationships with police officers investigating these heinous crimes. It will also work closely with community partners to develop specialized training for our lawyers to ensure that they are sensitive to the unique elements of hate crimes and the deep impacts that they have in our communities.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I want to thank the Attorney General for letting us know about the important work that is under way to uproot the seeds of hate from our communities, where everyone deserves to live free of hate, intimidation and violence.

From this terrible period in our history has emerged a glimmer of light with remarkable stories of faith, hope, resilience and determination. We know many survivors have immigrated to Canada and settled in Ontario. We are fortunate to count them among our neighbours and our community leaders.

Could the Attorney General reflect on the importance of working with and honouring the stories of the victims of the Holocaust and our commitment to never forget?

Hon. Caroline Mulroney: We can never stand back and cede ground to the rise of hate. A part of the responsibility we share is to carry in our hearts the stories of heartbreak and terror that many of our neighbours and their families experienced in this dark chapter of history.

I recently had the privilege to meet Max Eisen, a remarkable constituent in my riding of York–Simcoe, who shared his story of survival in his book, By Chance Alone. In it, he wrote: “I found myself in the men’s line with my father and my uncle. My grandfather, my grandmother, my mother (still holding baby Judit), my two younger siblings, and my aunt were all marched away in the other group. Everything happened swiftly and we had no time to think. I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to my mother—nor did our eyes ever meet—and wasn’t able to say goodbye to her.” The horrors that Max Eisen and so many others faced challenge us to keep fighting against the rise of hatred in Ontario. We can’t let them down, and we won’t.

Correctional services

Mr. Paul Miller: My question is to the Solicitor General. It has been nearly 10 months since 62 recommendations were made to prevent overdose deaths in Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre. The inquest was sparked after a wave of inmates overdosed in this correctional facility, a problem which has, sadly, continued since the recommendations were released. This week, an inmate overdosed less than 24 hours after families and friends had placed 15 crosses outside of the facility to represent the inmates who have died since 2012.

The Solicitor General has until May to respond to these recommendations. What day this month can the people of Hamilton expect the minister’s response?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: The member opposite raises, frankly, a very tragic issue that is happening within our corrections institutions and, frankly, within our society. When people choose to use and abuse drugs, it has an impact. It has an impact on our streets. It has an impact in our hospitals. It has an impact in our institutions.

What I am doing is not waiting for recommendations. I’m not waiting to react. We’ve already made some quantitative changes that are seeing improvements, but it takes time. As the member opposite knows full well, these are not issues that started 10 months ago. These are issues that have been ongoing. We have been giving our corrections officers and staff additional tools, but we need help. We need help from individuals to stop bringing illicit drugs into our jails. We need to make sure that everybody understands this is a societal problem, and we will work collectively with my partners in the—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Supplementary? The member for Niagara Falls.

Mr. Wayne Gates: My question is also to the Solicitor General. There was a crisis in corrections under the Liberals and now there’s one under the Conservatives. In March, a constituent from my riding, Angela Case, sent the Solicitor General a letter. She told her about how her 22-year-old son died of a fentanyl overdose in the Niagara Detention Centre. She explained that the detention centre was built to house 125 inmates but currently has 250. Angela explained where the government’s protocols and regulations came up short in preventing the death of her son. But the Solicitor General didn’t even have the courtesy to respond.

When will the Solicitor General respond to Angela and tell her how the government has created a system where people overdose on fentanyl inside our jails?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: You know, I can’t imagine, as a mother, hearing of such a tragic death happening in our institutions. But I also want the members to understand and appreciate that every time we assess an individual who comes into our prisons, every time we take that 24 to 48 hours to make sure that people are not suffering from an overdose, it is a challenge, and it is a challenge that we are dealing with head-on. Frankly, that is why, last week, we made an announcement of a new investment of a new jail in Thunder Bay.

We understand that you can’t have waiting lists in our corrections institutions. We have no choice. We must take the people who need to serve in our institutions. There is no waiting list in an Ontario jail. We are working on it. These are issues that have festered, quite frankly, for many, many years, and we’ve already started to make investments and changes and—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.

I’m going to advise the House, again, that the following members were warned this morning during question period: the member for Sault Ste. Marie, the member for King–Vaughan, the member for Niagara West, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, the member for Kitchener–Conestoga, the member for Carleton, the member for Northumberland–Peterborough South, and the member for Orléans. I remind those members that if they’ve been warned, the warning carries over into the afternoon sitting. If you have been warned and the Speaker has to call you to order again, you may be named and have to leave the chamber for the remainder of the day.

Notice of dissatisfaction

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to standing order 38(a), the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane has given notice of his dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Acting Premier concerning the costs of the trip to New York City. This matter will be debated today at 6 p.m.

Deferred Votes

2019 Ontario budget

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): We have a deferred vote on the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Call in the members. This is a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1149 to 1154.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I would ask the members to please take their seats.

On April 11, 2019, Mr. Fedeli moved, seconded by Mr. Ford, that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

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

Ayes

  • Anand, Deepak
  • Baber, Roman
  • Babikian, Aris
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bethlenfalvy, Peter
  • Bouma, Will
  • Calandra, Paul
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Cho, Stan
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Crawford, Stephen
  • Cuzzetto, Rudy
  • Downey, Doug
  • Dunlop, Jill
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Fee, Amy
  • Ford, Doug
  • Fullerton, Merrilee
  • Ghamari, Goldie
  • Gill, Parm
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Mike
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Kanapathi, Logan
  • Karahalios, Belinda
  • Ke, Vincent
  • Khanjin, Andrea
  • Kramp, Daryl
  • Kusendova, Natalia
  • Lecce, Stephen
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • Martin, Robin
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McKenna, Jane
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norman
  • Mulroney, Caroline
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • Oosterhoff, Sam
  • Pang, Billy
  • Park, Lindsey
  • Parsa, Michael
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Phillips, Rod
  • Piccini, David
  • Rasheed, Kaleed
  • Rickford, Greg
  • Roberts, Jeremy
  • Romano, Ross
  • Sabawy, Sheref
  • Sandhu, Amarjot
  • Sarkaria, Prabmeet Singh
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Skelly, Donna
  • Smith, Dave
  • Surma, Kinga
  • Thanigasalam, Vijay
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Tibollo, Michael A.
  • Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.
  • Wai, Daisy
  • Walker, Bill
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): All those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time and be counted by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Andrew, Jill
  • Arthur, Ian
  • Bell, Jessica
  • Berns-McGown, Rima
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Burch, Jeff
  • Des Rosiers, Nathalie
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Fraser, John
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gates, Wayne
  • Gélinas, France
  • Glover, Chris
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Harden, Joel
  • Hassan, Faisal
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Karpoche, Bhutila
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • Lindo, Laura Mae
  • Mamakwa, Sol
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Miller, Paul
  • Monteith-Farrell, Judith
  • Morrison, Suze
  • Rakocevic, Tom
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Schreiner, Mike
  • Shaw, Sandy
  • Singh, Gurratan
  • Singh, Sara
  • Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
  • Stiles, Marit
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • West, Jamie
  • Yarde, Kevin

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 68; the nays are 40.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I declare the motion carried.

It is therefore resolved that the House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government.

Motion agreed to.

Time allocation

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): We have a deferred vote on government notice of motion number 36, relating to allocation of time on Bill 100, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact, amend and repeal various statutes.

Call in the members. This is a five-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1158 to 1159.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): On April 30, 2019, Ms. Scott moved government notice of motion number 36, relating to the allocation of time on Bill 100. All those in favour of the motion will please rise one at a time and be counted by the Clerk.

Ayes

  • Anand, Deepak
  • Baber, Roman
  • Babikian, Aris
  • Bailey, Robert
  • Barrett, Toby
  • Bethlenfalvy, Peter
  • Bouma, Will
  • Calandra, Paul
  • Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
  • Cho, Stan
  • Clark, Steve
  • Coe, Lorne
  • Crawford, Stephen
  • Cuzzetto, Rudy
  • Downey, Doug
  • Dunlop, Jill
  • Elliott, Christine
  • Fedeli, Victor
  • Fee, Amy
  • Ford, Doug
  • Fullerton, Merrilee
  • Ghamari, Goldie
  • Gill, Parm
  • Hardeman, Ernie
  • Harris, Mike
  • Jones, Sylvia
  • Kanapathi, Logan
  • Karahalios, Belinda
  • Ke, Vincent
  • Khanjin, Andrea
  • Kramp, Daryl
  • Kusendova, Natalia
  • Lecce, Stephen
  • MacLeod, Lisa
  • Martin, Robin
  • Martow, Gila
  • McDonell, Jim
  • McKenna, Jane
  • McNaughton, Monte
  • Miller, Norman
  • Mulroney, Caroline
  • Nicholls, Rick
  • Oosterhoff, Sam
  • Pang, Billy
  • Park, Lindsey
  • Parsa, Michael
  • Pettapiece, Randy
  • Phillips, Rod
  • Piccini, David
  • Rasheed, Kaleed
  • Rickford, Greg
  • Roberts, Jeremy
  • Romano, Ross
  • Sabawy, Sheref
  • Sandhu, Amarjot
  • Sarkaria, Prabmeet Singh
  • Scott, Laurie
  • Skelly, Donna
  • Smith, Dave
  • Surma, Kinga
  • Thanigasalam, Vijay
  • Thompson, Lisa M.
  • Tibollo, Michael A.
  • Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.
  • Wai, Daisy
  • Walker, Bill
  • Yakabuski, John
  • Yurek, Jeff

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): All those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.

Nays

  • Andrew, Jill
  • Arthur, Ian
  • Bell, Jessica
  • Berns-McGown, Rima
  • Bisson, Gilles
  • Burch, Jeff
  • Des Rosiers, Nathalie
  • Fife, Catherine
  • Fraser, John
  • French, Jennifer K.
  • Gates, Wayne
  • Gélinas, France
  • Glover, Chris
  • Gretzky, Lisa
  • Harden, Joel
  • Hassan, Faisal
  • Hatfield, Percy
  • Horwath, Andrea
  • Hunter, Mitzie
  • Karpoche, Bhutila
  • Lalonde, Marie-France
  • Lindo, Laura Mae
  • Mamakwa, Sol
  • Mantha, Michael
  • Miller, Paul
  • Monteith-Farrell, Judith
  • Morrison, Suze
  • Rakocevic, Tom
  • Sattler, Peggy
  • Schreiner, Mike
  • Shaw, Sandy
  • Singh, Gurratan
  • Singh, Sara
  • Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
  • Stiles, Marit
  • Tabuns, Peter
  • Taylor, Monique
  • Vanthof, John
  • West, Jamie
  • Yarde, Kevin

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 68; the nays are 40.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I declare the motion carried.

Motion agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): This House stands in recess until 3 p.m.

The House recessed from 1202 to 1500.

Correction of record

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order: the member for Windsor–Tecumseh.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Thank you, Speaker. I’d like to correct my record. Yesterday at this time, I made a member’s statement on the passing of my friend Daphne Clarke. I said she came to Windsor in 1980. Speaker, Daphne came to our community in 1970, and I apologize for my error.

Introduction of Visitors

Ms. Natalia Kusendova: Good afternoon, Speaker. Today, I have a very special guest in the gallery: my mom, Anna Kusendova, who came to watch me present my private member’s bill, as well as her friend Ms. Barbara Bisek, who is a registered nurse and works in our hospital. Thank you so much for being here.

Mr. Roman Baber: I would like to introduce my parents, Ilia and Rozana Baber, and my little sister and her husband, who are going to be joining us shortly, Dr. Marta Baber and Mr. Jesse Braun.

Members’ Statements

Workers’ rights

Mr. Joel Harden: I rise on May 1, International Workers’ Day, to honour the struggles, sacrifices and contributions of working people. I’m proud to be here representing a party that was set up to advance workers’ demands. Universal health care, public pensions, workplace rights: These things were never freely given. Generations of Canadians—our grandmothers and grandfathers—fought for them, and I salute them today on May 1.

I also make these remarks, Speaker, at a time when it’s actually hard for me to be here. There are communities neighbouring to mine that are suffering incredible damage, given the floods, and it’s the first responders and volunteers who have shown us the power of working people in practice. In fact, Speaker, I saw something first-hand when I was sandbagging that I’d like to share with this House. In an emergency situation, I saw city staff, first responders and the military, whom I’m very thankful for, come together, and they accomplished great things.

In that same spirit of selflessness, on May 1, I invite us to consider what we as a province could contribute to solving the great crises of our time: climate change, poverty and inequality. To me, that’s what democratic socialism is all about. It’s about neighbours helping each other in their time of need to accomplish great things.

Speaker, on May 1, I want to remind us to think of the goal to build a province for the many, not the few.

Bone marrow donation

Mr. Deepak Anand: Bone marrow transplants, also called stem cell transplants, treat over 80 diseases and disorders, including certain forms of cancer. A patient’s diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy stem cells from a donor.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to raise awareness for the bone marrow registry. On any given day, there are about 1,000 Canadians on a waiting list for a bone marrow transplant. Three out of four patients rely on external bone marrow donors. Finding a potential donor is not an easy job, especially among South Asians, where there’s a one-in-a-million chance because of the extremely low donor registration rate.

I would like to recognize a charity, Match For Marrow, from the GTA, which has partnered with Canadian Blood Services and other international organizations to raise awareness for bone marrow registries. Match For Marrow was founded in 2010 when Jasnoor Deol was diagnosed with blood cancer and his family wanted to help him. Jasnoor has been waiting nine years for a transplant and still hasn’t found a donor. I commend the efforts of Match For Marrow.

Mr. Speaker, South Asians only make up 5% of the worldwide bone marrow/stem cell network. I want to talk about a youth, Avinash, who passed away on April 21 after waiting for three years for a potential donor he was not able to find.

I encourage everyone to get involved and spread awareness and, for further information, go to www.onematch.ca.

Government’s record

Mr. Faisal Hassan: I rise today on behalf of my constituents, the hard-working and decent people of York South–Weston.

The last few months have been challenging in my riding. My constituents are angry, hurt, disappointed and overwhelmingly frustrated with this government.

The Ford Conservatives campaigned on a commitment that no cuts would be made to front-line services and jobs. The reality on the ground across the province is different. Programs vital to the success of many communities in York South–Weston and beyond, supporting women, newcomers, racialized folks, students and low-income households, are now in jeopardy, all because of this government’s attacks on front-line services.

The implications of this budget are far-reaching. Everyone, from the young child wanting to borrow their first book from a public library, to the high school student without reliable access to the Internet being forced to take an online class, to the nurse who is being let go due to a lack of funding, to the senior citizen on a fixed income whose recreational program was defunded, will be severely impacted by this budget.

Teachers who have dedicated their lives to the education and well-being of our children are losing their jobs all across this province.

This government has turned its back on the people of Ontario. It is only making things worse. The people of York South–Weston and the people of this province deserve better.

Ontario Christian Gleaners

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Cambridge.

Mrs. Belinda Karahalios: Thank you, honourable Speaker. Today I’m speaking about an event and an organization that you yourself are actually quite familiar with.

On April 12, I had the pleasure of attending the Ontario Christian Gleaners dinner to celebrate their important work over the past 10 years in my riding of Cambridge.

For those who are not aware, the word “glean” means “to gather from a field what is left” in order to give back to our communities. “Gleaning” is a Biblical concept in which God instructed farmers to leave a portion of their crops for the poor or those in need. This is what the Ontario Christian Gleaners aim to do in their work by donating millions of servings of soup worldwide.

Also, their dinner was hosted during National Volunteer Week, and I would be remiss not to highlight the contributions of their volunteers. Thank you for making a difference not only locally in Cambridge but also overseas.

Their volunteers trim over 5,000 pounds of vegetables, which go into over 30,000 servings of soup every day. They trim, dice and dry fresh apples that are then packed as treats for children. All of this food is arranged and donated to their partner organizations, who distribute as far-reaching as Haiti, the Philippines and Romania, just to name a few places.

The Ontario Christian Gleaners are committed to being global citizens and making an impact on alleviating world hunger. They have combined their gospel message with humanitarian aid.

Thank you for all the work that you do, Gleaners.

Indigenous languages

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Chi meegwetch, Mr. Speaker. The United Nations declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, based on a recommendation from the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The fact that most of these are Indigenous languages puts the culture and knowledge of Indigenous peoples at risk. Ontario is home to six Indigenous language families: Anishinaabemowin, Onkwehonwe, Mushkegowuk, Lenape, Inuktitut and Michif, which includes over 18 unique languages and dialects, including my own, Oji-Cree.

Our languages play a vital role in telling our history. They carry tradition and cultural identity. They tell our creation stories. They provide us with our world views and values. Every year, we lose more and more of our languages. Right now in Ontario, there are no Indigenous languages considered to be safe.

The language that we speak is our way of being. Our language carriers need to work together to carry our languages forward to help one another. Language is culture.

I honour those who do this important work in our communities as it is an essential part of who we are as people.

Meegwetch.

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Events in Orléans / Événements divers à Orléans

Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde: I rise before the House today to bring to light a plight experienced by many residents across Ottawa. Flooding has displaced many people from their homes and has had economic consequences. Last weekend, while working alongside volunteers who tirelessly were filling sandbags to help alleviate any further damage, they relayed to me their voices of concern. I want to say thank you to the many volunteers, community leaders, Canadian Armed Forces and first responders who came together to help these residents. It’s very timely, Mr. Speaker, that today also marks Ontario’s First Responders Day. The flooding in Ottawa is another testament to the essential services first responders provide to help us keep safe and healthy.

Vendredi dernier, j’ai aussi participé au premier gala de collecte de fonds du Centre de secours alimentaire de Gloucester, qui, tristement, soulignait aussi leurs 30 ans de service. This food bank as well as many others is a sad reminder of the needs that still face many families in our communities. We need to do better.

Lastly, I am pleased to say that I will be hosting two autism round tables in Orléans on May 6 and 16. Furthermore, I’m also working with community leaders to host a community consultation on dyslexia needs and disabilities. Mr. Speaker, health care is an important need for me.

Kempenfest

Mr. Doug Downey: Summer is a busy time in Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte and Barrie–Innisfil. Every year, tens of thousands of people come to attend our concerts, our festivals, our outdoor activities.

One of our biggest festivals is Kempenfest. It’s an arts and music festival held on the waterfront of downtown Barrie. Nearly 400 vendors set up shop over two kilometres of waterfront to sell craft goods, antiques, clothing, art and food. It gives local entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their skills. It draws talent and visitors from far and wide. There are many family-friendly activities, midway rides, face painting and concerts on two live music stages, and there are water activities to do.

Kempenfest is all about community. For the past 49 years, volunteers from organizations like the Kiwanis Club of Barrie and the Barrie Art Club have donated their time to organize this festival. As much as $250,000 has been raised over the four-day span each year. This year, it’s from August 2 to August 5. These funds are directed back into local organizations like the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka, the Optimist Club of Barrie, the Barrie Lions Club and the Knights of Columbus. All the organizations support youth sports or other charities and the less fortunate in our community. A huge thank you to all the volunteers.

I invite you to join me for Kempenfest 2019, August 2 to 5. Come and see the unique talent and incredible community spirit found in Barrie, Ontario.

Earth Day

Mrs. Amy Fee: There were many events in my riding and across Waterloo region last week to celebrate Earth Day, and I had the opportunity to attend a few of them with my daughter Irene.

In Hespeler and across Cambridge for more than 20 years, residents have been gathering for the annual city-wide community cleanup. Despite the rather windy and cold weather, there was still a great turnout this past Saturday.

The Minister of the Environment, Rod Phillips, and his parliamentary assistant, Andrea Khanjin, were also in Kitchener last week for a round table on the environment and to speak to the KW chamber of commerce 32nd annual energy and environment forum.

At the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, they celebrated Earth Day by launching their new seed-share program. Community members who visit the food bank can now not only access food, clothing and supports, like play therapy and pregnancy counselling, but they can also pick out seeds to grow their own vegetables and herbs.

My daughter’s favourite event last week was the Reconciliation Tree Plant at the Waterloo Region District School Board’s outdoor education centre in Cambridge. The day was the vision of teacher Nathan Mantey. He supports students at the outdoor education centre throughout the school year and wanted to do an educational family day for Earth Day. We got to learn about how the land in the area has been impacted by colonization over the years and the work being done to restore the ecosystems. While there, we also heard from Dr. Andrew Judge, who is Anishinaabe. He talked about the Indigenous land practices and how we can all work toward sustainability. The morning certainly inspired the dozens of children who took part, including Irene, who said her favourite experience was learning about smudging and also getting to plant two trees.

Harry Jerome Awards

Mrs. Robin Martin: This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the 37th annual Harry Jerome Awards, hosted by the Black Business and Professional Association at the International Centre in Mississauga. Established in 1983 in memory of the late Harry Jerome, a medallist in the men’s 100 metres in the 1964 Olympic Games and a strong advocate for the community, the awards recognize and honour notable achievements in the African Canadian community.

The awards were given to 15 accomplished honorees in various roles, such as leadership, business, the arts, media, professional excellence, health and science etc. Their names are Wendy Beckles, Traci Melchor, Rustum Southwell, Leslyn Lewis, Karen Burke, Paulette Senior, Exco Levi, Ross Simmonds, Shaquille Smith, Frances Anne Solomon, Ray Williams, and Doctors Wordofa and Selton as well as Grace Foods.

I was honoured to be there, and it was great to see other members of this House there as well, including the Premier and the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. It was even better to be able to share the occasion with a number of friends and neighbours from Eglinton–Lawrence, including Owen Hinds, program director of Pathways to Education in the Lawrence Heights community, as well as a number of the program’s alumni and their families.

Mr. Speaker, it’s my sincere hope that events like this will continue to inspire accomplishment in all of our communities amongst all young Canadians. I look forward to attending again in the future.

Legal aid

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members’ statements? The member for Brampton South.

Ms. Sara Singh: Brampton Centre.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Brampton Centre. I apologize. I’ll get it right next time.

Ms. Sara Singh: That’s okay, Mr. Speaker. There are a few of us from Brampton. I can understand the confusion every now and then.

It is a pleasure to rise here today as a critic for the Attorney General. I’d like to just start off by thanking all of the champions that are here with us today in the gallery that are fighting back against this government’s cuts to legal aid. As we learned through the budget, this government is cutting $133 million, 30% of legal aid’s budget. This is going to mean that the most vulnerable people in our province are not going to get access to justice that they need, and, frankly, that they deserve.

These are people like single mothers who are fleeing domestic abuse and folks who are suffering from mental health and looking to make sure that they can get the ODSP supports that they need from the province. It is people who are experiencing poverty, and children that are not going to be able to access justice. It is very concerning, the direction that this government is taking our justice system. In addition to those vulnerable populations, people like refugees or immigrants who are unable to navigate the legal system to seek out justice themselves will also not have the opportunity to be represented by lawyers through legal aid.

It is concerning that this government is trying to use language like “modernize the legal system” when, in fact, what they’re doing is cutting access and services that people need in order to get the justice that they deserve.

Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order, the member for York Centre.

Mr. Roman Baber: I’d like to make a special introduction for the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem. For over two decades, the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem, in collaboration with the government of Ontario, has planned an annual tribute to Holocaust survivors. They’re joining us today in the east gallery, and we’re honouring five Holocaust survivors and their families: Dr. Renate Krakauer, Eva Meisels, Aaron Nussbaum, Lilia Tsareva and Lenka Weksberg. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Parkdale–High Park on a point of order.

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: I’m sorry I missed introductions earlier, but I’d like to welcome to the Legislature constituents from Parkdale–High Park, particularly from Romero House, and I would like to name them. They are Janice Dillon, Jenn McIntyre, Lucas Driediger, Sarah Villiger-Klaas, the Rev. Alexa Gilmour, Winnie Muchuba, Kathryn Dennler, Mary Smart, Nasra Mohamed Abdillahi, Tembeka Ndlovu, Fatouma Ali and Valerie Walsh. Welcome to your House.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Government and Consumer Services on a point of order.

Hon. Bill Walker: I’d like to welcome Fire Chief—jeez, I’ve got to think of his last name—Doug Barfoot, sorry. Fire Chief Doug Barfoot from the great city of Owen Sound’s fire department. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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Yom ha-Shoah

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Earlier today the House gave unanimous consent that we would set aside a few moments this afternoon to recognize Yom ha-Shoah, and we’re going to do that now. I look to the independent members to start off. I recognize the member for Ottawa–Vanier.

Mme Nathalie Des Rosiers: Merci, monsieur le Président. I will be sharing my time with the member from Guelph.

C’est un honneur aujourd’hui de prendre la parole pour dire quelques mots en l’honneur du jour du souvenir de l’Holocauste à la mémoire de plus de six millions de Juifs et de Juives qui ont péri pendant l’Holocauste.

The impact of this terrible period in history will forever scar the world’s heart.

Nous avons un devoir de mémoire, le devoir de dire et de redire ce qui s’est vraiment passé.

It is so important that we continue to acknowledge what took place, to honour the victims and survivors and to educate future generations so that they can learn from this horrific genocide. When we stay silent, when we act with indifference, we are complicit. Elie Wiesel said it so well: “To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.”

As Canadians, we continue to treasure freedom of expression and freedom of religion, and we want to continue to protect the integrity of our human rights system. The concern for equality that animates us all came from the recognition of the dangers and the horrors of the Holocaust. We must honour the memory of victims by committing to our charter and by never undermining our commitment to human rights.

Today, the stories of survivors were shared. I know that my colleague the MPP from Ottawa South introduced Aaron Nussbaum, whose family of 24 was reduced to six during the Holocaust.

I think we all remember Suite Française, the beautiful novel that spoke to the bewilderment of people seeing their entire society being divided.

Aujourd’hui nous promettons de ne jamais oublier, de dénoncer la haine sous toutes ses formes et de poursuivre nos efforts pour l’égalité.

We will never, ever forget.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. I recognize the member for Guelph.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Thank you for sharing your time. Today, on Yom ha-Shoah, we honour and we remember the six million Jewish men, women and children who died in the Holocaust. It’s essential that we remember the horrors of the Holocaust, that we remember to fight every day against the type of hate that led to the discrimination, persecution and genocide of the Jewish people.

The Holocaust is a reminder of why it is so important to speak out against and fight against anti-Semitism and the hate that is still present today, the kind of anti-Semitism that led to the shootings just this past weekend at a synagogue in California. We simply cannot allow the roots of such hate to take root in Canada. That is why I read with horror over the weekend the Globe and Mail story giving us an inside look into the alt-right hate groups that are rising in Canada today. I believe everyone in this House and across this country has a responsibility to stand against and speak out against such hate groups.

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of joining the Yom ha-Shoah event at the Beth Isaiah synagogue, where I was inspired by the story of Howard Chandler, who talked about his lived experience as a Holocaust survivor. Mr. Chandler talked about the ways in which he was dehumanized as a young boy, making it easier for others to hate him and his family. His story was such a heartbreaking reminder of why it is we must all come together to stand against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.

Today, we pay tribute to all those who lost their lives and the millions who suffered in concentration camps, the families and communities torn apart, the people whose heroic stories of survival inspire us today. Mr. Speaker, we owe it to them to never forget and to never remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I recognize the member for Beaches–East York.

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: It is a particularly poignant moment to commemorate Yom ha-Shoah. I was very honored earlier this afternoon to attend the ceremony of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem and to honour Dr. Renate Krakauer, Eva Meisels, Aaron Nussbaum, Lilia Tsareva and Helena Weksberg.

We are witnessing the rise of anti-Semitism—unprecedented since the Holocaust—in Europe and North America. Synagogues in San Diego and Pittsburgh have been attacked in recent months by shooters determined to kill Jews at prayer. In San Diego, Jews were celebrating Pesach—Passover—the very holiday intended to honour liberation from oppression. Jews are frightened. They have seen this movie before.

I want to talk a little bit about trauma. People can be traumatized because they themselves, as individuals, experience a particular event, or they can be traumatized intergenerationally because the terror and acquired behaviour of family and community members who endured those events affect their lives, or because they imagine themselves in the situation that books and movies depict. How many little Jewish girls imagined themselves locked in a closet-sized room, writing in a diary and awaiting the knock that would spell their doom?

But we also know that cataclysmic events like the Shoah actually changed the DNA of survivors, family members and their descendants.

My own relationship to the Shoah is such. I was born in South Africa. Three of my four grandparents were Ashkenazi Jews whose families had fled persecution in different ways in Poland, Prussia and Latvia. But my extended family, who did not leave in time, perished in the deep night that descended upon Europe. I know some of, but not all of, their names and some of, but not all of, the places where they were murdered. For me, as for millions of others, the Shoah represents loss, erasure and unimaginable horror.

When anti-Semitic graffiti is spray-painted across a family’s garage doors in Markham the same day that Jews are murdered in prayer, it’s terrifying, and that graffiti—swastikas and “We are watching”—was particularly horrifying. Who is watching? Where are these people? What are they capable of?

When the Holocaust is remembered every year, it is not simply to pay homage to those who lost their lives but to ensure that the conditions do not arise for its re-creation or for another iteration of it.

My father, who was six when World War II began and 12 when it ended, used to point out to me that all of Germany’s culture, philosophy, universities and sophistication did not prevent it from the heinous acts and crimes against humanity that were the Holocaust. It is a chilling lesson and one that we need to take seriously.

We need to pay attention and to act when hate-mongers like Faith Goldy run for public office and manage to garner 25,000 votes in a municipal election. People like Faith Goldy, who was recently kicked off Facebook for propagating hate, need to be taken seriously. She claims she means no harm, but she and others like her say they want racialized people to go back where they came from, which is extraordinarily ignorant of their own settler history on these lands and which is why, by the way, it is so critical that we always make land acknowledgements.

People like Faith Goldy sometimes say nice things about Israel, by the way, but it is not because they wish Jews well; it is because they applaud separation, walls and barriers. Do not be misled.

Canada behaved very, very badly during the Shoah. It sent a ship full of refugees back to their deaths, a story we know all too well, and it has had to apologize.

The world is watching again, and it is important that anyone who has power not only say soothing words but take very specific action to stamp out anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. We can have no tolerance for views like those of the yellow vests, or any of the other alt-right bloggers or trolls, or people like Faith Goldy. Never again—never again for anyone.

1530

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I recognize the member for York Centre.

Mr. Roman Baber: I’m humbled to bring Yom ha-Shoah remarks on behalf of the government. In the Hebrew language, “Yom” means “day” and the word “Shoah” means “Holocaust.”

Tomorrow, the state of Israel will commemorate the Holocaust. It is marked every year on the Hebrew calendar a week before the Hebrew date which marks the birth of the state of Israel. That is no coincidence, Mr. Speaker.

Anti-Semitism isn’t new. Prejudice and incitement to violence against the Jewish people can be traced to almost 2,400 years ago. Through ancient history, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, and modern history, this force of evil was responsible for violence, prosecutions, pogroms, expulsions, and even murder. Groundless and senseless prejudice passed through generations, manifesting itself through discrimination at best and atrocities at worst.

But no single act of evil, even against the horrific background of World War II, compares to the extent and brutality of the Holocaust. Beginning in 1941 and culminating in “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” which was the official name for the Nazi plan for the extermination of the Jews, this was a deliberate and systematic plan to eradicate all Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe and beyond. From what began as death squads to well-engineered gas chambers, burning ovens and fire pits, innocent men, women, children, the old, the sick and the disabled were exterminated en masse. And why? For no other reason than being Jewish.

According to Professor Peter Hayes, a leading scholar on the Holocaust, approximately 5.9 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, including a million children. In total, the world’s Jewish population dropped from 17 million before the Holocaust to 11 million after the Holocaust. Today, there are approximately 14 million Jews in the world.

Speaker, my family on all sides suffered immensely from the Holocaust. My mother’s grandparents, my great-grandparents, Rosalia and Yosif Tsukerman, were Ukrainian Jews. They were executed in the courtyard of their Odessa family home in October 1941.

For so many Jews, including myself, the Holocaust is not just a vague historical concept. Instead, it is an emotional reality that often shapes our thinking and our being. It shapes our fears and hopes and appreciation of safety and acceptance—safety and acceptance that I am blessed to feel in this House from all of my colleagues.

Regretfully, the origins and sentiments behind the Holocaust continue to this day. Since the formation of this Parliament just nine months ago, and as recently as last weekend, we’ve witnessed persistent attacks on the Jewish community all around the world, including Canada. Global anti-Semitism is on the move again—nothing new. It is a dangerous and horrifying reality that we cannot ignore. Anti-Semitism grows through gradual normalization of anti-Semitic libel and rhetoric.

But it is not confined to Twitter and graffiti. It grows through apathy. It grows through a chill in governments. The only way to defeat this evil is to remain resolute in the face of this evil.

We can honour the Holocaust—we should honour the Holocaust—by honouring the living everywhere. Teach and remember the Holocaust. Speak against anti-Semitism. Condemn it and fight it. Do not accept it, do not allow it, and do not allow history to repeat itself. Never again—not just for the Jewish people, Mr. Speaker, but for everyone. And it’s only through concrete action that we can ensure that when we say, “Never again,” we really mean never again.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask everyone in the House to now rise, if they are able to do so.

Again I recognize the member for York Centre.

Mr. Roman Baber: Speaker, to conclude, pursuant to the request of the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem and pursuant to unanimous consent of the House, I will now recite the Mourner’s Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of remembrance of the dead, in honour of those whose lives were senselessly taken away.

Prayer in Hebrew.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.

Introduction of Bills

Mandatory Police Training Act, 2019 / Loi de 2019 sur la formation obligatoire de la police

Ms. Kusendova moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 105, An Act with respect to the training required of police officers and others / Projet de loi 105, Loi relative à la formation requise des agents de police et autre personnel policier.

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

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Would the member for Mississauga Centre care to briefly explain her bill?

Ms. Natalia Kusendova: The rising trend of opioid overdoses across the country is a public health issue that demands action. This bill would mandate that all police services across Ontario be trained in the administration of naloxone. Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and allow for medical help to arrive. By ensuring that front-line officers are trained in recognizing the symptoms of opioid overdose and in administering naloxone, this bill will empower police services and save lives across this province.

Egyptian Heritage Month Act, 2019 / Loi de 2019 sur le Mois du patrimoine égyptien

Mr. Sabawy moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 106, An Act to proclaim the month of July as Egyptian Heritage Month / Projet de loi 106, Loi proclamant le mois de juillet Mois du patrimoine égyptien.

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

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Would the member for Mississauga–Erin Mills briefly explain his bill?

Mr. Sheref Sabawy: As the first parliamentarian of Coptic Egyptian origin in Canadian history, I am so proud to bring this bill forward that recognizes the contributions of Egyptian Canadians to the fabric of Ontario and of Canada.

Motions

Adjournment debate

Hon. Bill Walker: I seek unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding the parliamentary assistant responding to the late show scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, 2019.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Walker is seeking unanimous consent to put forward a motion without notice regarding the parliamentary assistant responding to the late show scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Agreed? Agreed.

I recognize the Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

Hon. Bill Walker: I move that, notwithstanding standing order 38(b), the parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Finance may respond to the late show scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in place of the parliamentary assistant to the Premier.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Walker has moved that, notwithstanding standing order 38(b), the parliamentary assistant for the Minister of Finance may respond to the late show scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in place of the parliamentary assistant to the Premier.

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

Motion agreed to.

Petitions

Legal aid

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: I’d like to thank the good people of Romero House who have collected over 300 signatures on this petition titled “Ensure that Low-Income Ontarians Have Access to Justice.” It reads as follows:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the government of Ontario has cut the funding for Legal Aid Ontario by almost one third;

“Whereas provincial funding for the immigration and refugee law program at Legal Aid Ontario has been completely cut;

“Whereas access to legal aid is essential to low-income Ontarians who are facing legal proceedings such as in immigration, criminal, family, mental health, poverty law and child protection cases;

“Whereas vulnerable populations like refugees will be left to represent themselves in a complex and already overburdened legal system, where a negative decision leads to deportation to countries where lives may be at risk;

“Whereas the cuts will lead to backlogs and delays throughout the justice system, causing chaos in the courts and costing taxpayers more, not less;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reverse the cuts to Legal Aid Ontario that have already begun to impact the most vulnerable people in Ontario, including immigrants and refugees.”

I hope this government ensures that everyone, no matter their income, has access to justice, and I fully endorse this petition and will affix my signature to it as well.

Veterans memorial

Mr. Vincent Ke: “Petition in Support of Constructing a Memorial to Honour Our Heroes.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas over 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members served in the war in Afghanistan including the 159 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice; and

“Whereas the Premier made a commitment to the people of Ontario to build a memorial to honour the bravery and sacrifice of our armed forces; and

“Whereas, by remembering their service and sacrifice, we recognize the values and freedoms these men and women fought to preserve; and

“Whereas the memorial will show our gratitude to our veterans, their families and to their descendants; and

“Whereas the memorial will be a place of remembrance, a form of tribute, and an important reminder to future generations of the contributions and sacrifices that have helped shape our country;

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

“That the government of Ontario immediately construct the memorial to honour the heroes of the war in Afghanistan.”

I support this petition. I will sign it and give it to page Trenyce.

Legal aid

Mr. Faisal Hassan: I have a petition entitled “Ensure that Low-Income Ontarians Have Access To Justice....

“Whereas the government of Ontario has cut the funding for Legal Aid Ontario by almost one third;

“Whereas provincial funding for the immigration and refugee law program at Legal Aid Ontario has been completely cut;

“Whereas access to legal aid is essential to low-income Ontarians who are facing legal proceedings such as in immigration, criminal, family, mental health, poverty law and child protection cases;

“Whereas vulnerable populations like refugees will be left to represent themselves in a complex and already overburdened legal system, where a negative decision leads to deportation to countries where lives may be at risk;

“Whereas the cuts will lead to backlogs and delays throughout the justice system, causing chaos in the courts and costing taxpayers more, not less;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reverse the cuts to Legal Aid Ontario that have already begun to impact the most vulnerable people in Ontario, including immigrants and refugees.”

I fully support this petition. I’ll be affixing my signature to it and providing it to page Emily to deliver to the table.

Animal protection

Mrs. Belinda Karahalios: I will read this petition entitled “Animal Protection in Ontario.

“Whereas all animals in Ontario deserve our protection but are largely going unprotected at this time;

“Whereas the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) is the only agency in Ontario authorized to enforce animal protection laws;

“Whereas the OSPCA has continually cut back services, including the recent decision to stop investigating incidents involving farm animals, including horses, as well as failing to fully investigate poorly run zoos, dogfighting operations, puppy and kitten mills and even documented cases of dogs being tortured in the city of Toronto;

“Whereas the OSPCA has made itself completely unaccountable to the public by eliminating annual general members meetings and board elections as well as eliminating a government representative from their board meetings;

“Whereas the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services provides an annual grant to the OSPCA of $5.75 million of the public’s dollars, for which the OSPCA is to provide province-wide coverage and other services which the OSPCA has failed to deliver;

“We, the undersigned, hereby petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to exercise its authority, through the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services under the current funding transfer payment agreement and the OSPCA Act, requiring that:

“—through the OSPCA Act the government annul the bylaws of the OSPCA;

“—a new bylaw be required that re-establishes annual general members meetings, open board elections and a government representative attending board meetings;

“—the government immediately suspend funding to the OSPCA and conduct a forensic audit of the organization’s use of public funds;

“—the government conduct a service delivery audit of the OSPCA relating to the enforcement of the OSPCA Act;

“—recognize the important job of animal protection by creating a more accountable system that ensures the immediate and long-term protection of the millions of animals who live among us.”

I affix my name to this petition and present it to page Maria.

Legal aid

Ms. Sara Singh: I’m proud to present this petition entitled “Ensure that Low-Income Ontarians Have Access To Justice.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the government of Ontario has cut the funding for Legal Aid Ontario by almost one third;

“Whereas provincial funding for the immigration and refugee law program at Legal Aid Ontario has been completely cut;

“Whereas access to legal aid is essential to low-income Ontarians who are facing legal proceedings such as in immigration, criminal, family, mental health, poverty law and child protection cases;

“Whereas vulnerable populations like refugees will be left to represent themselves in a complex and already overburdened legal system, where a negative decision leads to deportation to countries where lives may be at risk;

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“Whereas the cuts will lead to backlogs and delays throughout the justice system, causing chaos in the courts and costing taxpayers more, not less;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reverse the cuts to Legal Aid Ontario that have already begun to impact the most vulnerable people in Ontario, including immigrants and refugees.”

I am very proud to add my name to this petition, and I will send this off with page Wolfgang.

Veterans memorial

Mr. David Piccini: I’m pleased to table a petition entitled “Petition in Support of Constructing a Memorial to Honour Our Heroes.

“Whereas over 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members served in the war in Afghanistan including the 159 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice; and

“Whereas the Premier made a commitment to the people of Ontario to build a memorial to honour the bravery and sacrifice of our armed forces; and

“Whereas, by remembering their service and sacrifice, we recognize the values and freedoms these men and women fought to preserve; and

“Whereas the memorial will show our gratitude to our veterans, their families and to their descendants; and

“Whereas the memorial will be a place of remembrance, a form of tribute, and an important reminder to future generations of the contributions and sacrifices that have helped shape our country;

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

“That the government of Ontario immediately construct the memorial to honour the heroes of the war in Afghanistan.”

Having recently spent some time with Afghanistan veterans in my community, I’m very pleased to affix my signature and give this to page Caleah.

Legal aid

Mr. Michael Mantha: Just coming back from constituency week, I got a message that was loud and clear from the people on Manitoulin Island and across the North Shore with regard to our legal aid clinics.

“Ensure that Low-Income Ontarians have Access to Justice.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the government of Ontario has cut the funding for Legal Aid Ontario by almost one third;

“Whereas provincial funding for the immigration and refugee law program at Legal Aid Ontario has been completely cut;

“Whereas access to legal aid is essential to low-income Ontarians who are facing legal proceedings such as in immigration, criminal, family, mental health, poverty law and child protection cases;

“Whereas vulnerable populations like refugees will be left to represent themselves in a complex and already overburdened legal system, where a negative decision leads to deportation to countries where lives may be at risk;

“Whereas the cuts will lead to backlogs and delays throughout the justice system, causing chaos in the courts and costing taxpayers more, not less;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reverse the cuts to Legal Aid Ontario that have already begun to impact the most vulnerable people in Ontario, including immigrants and refugees.”

I completely agree with this petition, affix my name and present it to page Mary to bring down to the Clerks’ table.

Veterans memorial

Mrs. Amy Fee: I have a petition in support of constructing a memorial to honour our heroes.

“Whereas over 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members served in the war in Afghanistan including the 159 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice; and

“Whereas the Premier made a commitment to the people of Ontario to build a memorial to honour the bravery and sacrifice of our armed forces; and

“Whereas, by remembering their service and sacrifice, we recognize the values and freedoms these men and women fought to preserve; and

“Whereas the memorial will show our gratitude to our veterans, their families and to their descendants; and

“Whereas the memorial will be a place of remembrance, a form of tribute, and an important reminder to future generations of the contributions and sacrifices that have helped shape our country;

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

“That the government of Ontario immediately construct the memorial to honour the heroes of the war in Afghanistan.”

Mr. Speaker, I fully support this petition and will be signing it and giving it to page Sarah to bring to the table.

Legal aid

Ms. Marit Stiles: It’s a great pleasure to introduce this petition, signed and presented to me by my constituent Kate Acs, with a nod to the amazing people at the FCJ Refugee Centre in my riding, who are desperately working to fill the gaps left by this government.

“Ensure that Low-Income Ontarians have Access to Justice.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the government of Ontario has cut the funding for Legal Aid Ontario by almost one third;

“Whereas provincial funding for the immigration and refugee law program at Legal Aid Ontario has been completely cut;

“Whereas access to legal aid is essential to low-income Ontarians who are facing legal proceedings such as in immigration, criminal, family, mental health, poverty law and child protection cases;

“Whereas vulnerable populations like refugees will be left to represent themselves in a complex and already overburdened legal system, where a negative decision leads to deportation to countries where lives may be at risk;

“Whereas the cuts will lead to backlogs and delays throughout the justice system, causing chaos in the courts and costing taxpayers more, not less;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to reverse the cuts to Legal Aid Ontario that have already begun to impact the most vulnerable people in Ontario, including immigrants and refugees.”

I’m very pleased to affix my signature and I’ll hand it to page Leo to table with the Clerks.

Fish and wildlife management

Mr. Ross Romano: I have a petition here. I want to talk about the wolves again.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the ban on hunting and trapping in sections of Ontario to protect the eastern hybrid wolf was put in place without regard for the overall ecosystem;

“Whereas this ban has adversely affected the ability of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), hunters and trappers to properly manage animal populations and Ontario’s ecosystem;

“Whereas this ban is no longer needed and is in fact causing more damage to Ontario’s ecosystem and increasing unnecessary encounters between wildlife and Ontarians;

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

“That the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry immediately lift the ban on hunting and trapping set in place to protect the eastern hybrid wolf.”

I will be signing or affixing my name to this petition and providing it to page—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. The time for petitions is now up.

Orders of the Day

Fixing the Hydro Mess Act, 2019 / Loi de 2019 pour réparer le gâchis dans le secteur de l’électricité

Mr. Rickford moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 87, An Act to amend various statutes related to energy / Projet de loi 87, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne l’énergie.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I now turn it back to the Minister of Energy.

Hon. Greg Rickford: I rise to begin third reading of Bill 87, Fixing the Hydro Mess Act, 2019. I’m pleased to be here with my parliamentary assistant, my long-standing colleague for the energy portfolio, the member from Markham–Stouffville, a dear friend of mine. I was telling him that I stayed up one night in Thunder Bay well after 11 o’clock to watch a rerun of his magnificent speech on this bill, and I’m so pleased to be working alongside him, Mr. Speaker.

Indeed, I want to thank all colleagues, including from the opposition, for their contributions to the discussion related to this debate on Bill 87, and in particular to all of my colleagues in the Progressive Conservative caucus for your strong representation and your belief in what we’re trying to accomplish.

There are really three essential elements to the Fixing the Hydro Mess Act, 2019. They deal with conservation, OEB modernization and global adjustment. I would like to take some time to speak to the three of these.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to conservation, I want to be clear that we’re taking action to reduce costs and duplication by streamlining the patchwork of inefficient electricity conservation programs in Ontario. Indeed, some were found to be redundant. The marketplace had caught up. Some of the technologies that back in the day were expensive—light bulbs are a really good example—became readily available and cost-effective and, from an energy perspective, had achieved their goal in conservation terms.

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Globally, Mr. Speaker, the actions would reduce spending by up to $442 million a year. Most notably, we would still be meeting 94% of our conservation goals. I’m thinking out loud here: saving money, $442 million is lot of money, and still reaching our target of 94% of our conservation goals. I think that’s a pretty good pairing.

Specifically, we’re winding down the current 2015-to-2020 conservation and demand management framework. This reduction in costs would lead to immediate savings for businesses and would benefit all taxpayers in the long run. Our new approach will move to a central program delivery model delivered by the Independent Electricity System Operator, otherwise known as the IESO. All participant contracts entered into under the previous CDM framework will, of course, be honoured. Cost-effective electricity conservation programs targeting businesses will continue to be available. For example, programs for low-income consumers will continue to be available through the home assistance program; for Indigenous communities, the First Nations Conservation Program will continue to be offered by Hydro One’s service territory on a community-by-community basis. This is, of course, in addition to the expected launch of the new Indigenous conservation pilot program for remote communities by the IESO. We’re very, very excited about protecting some of these programs, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to add a few additional comments. I’ve been obviously doing some formal consultations in the industrial space, sector by sector by sector. I heard some very, very positive feedback from energy-intensive sectors like automotive and particularly mining, that under these changes, mining in particular would be saving $15,000 to $30,000 a month in electricity costs; a very, very similar price for the automotive sector. These are two very electricity-intensive sectors that have costs. Remarkably, this only represents a couple of percentage points in their total costs. It reminds you of two things: the challenge to really effectively reduce costs for energy-intensive sectors, but I always like to think about it as the opportunity. That’s what these consultations are designed to do. I and my colleague, my parliamentary secretary for energy I mentioned earlier, and of course my colleague from Sault Ste. Marie, are participating in those as well.

In those consultations, we’re hearing an appreciation for our approach to the conservation programs: protecting those most vulnerable, offering relief at the other end of the spectrum for those class A companies, energy-intensive. Aany amount of money, especially given the margins—I know in the mining sector $15,000 to $30,000 counts a lot.

A couple more quick comments on the conservation program: These changes will have no impact on the environment. Over 95% of Ontario’s electricity is already produced GHG-free, thanks to its reliance on nuclear and hydro generation. Just a couple of quick comments on that: Of course, a couple of decades ago, Ontario began a process of phasing out coal. We think back to Progressive Conservative governments of old who started that and, in fairness to the now independent members who ran under the Liberal banner, a continuation of that policy—probably the only thing they did right in the energy sector over that 15 years. It has put Ontario in a really good position, actually, for us to boast that our electricity system is 95% GHG-free. I think that’s pretty impressive. If I may, Mr. Speaker, have your indulgence without going into too many other policy discussions unrelated to this, that’s important because when we take a stand against the job-killing, regressive carbon tax, it’s on the strength of these kinds of statistics. It’s on the strength of Bill 87, an act to fix the hydro mess.

Amendments are also being proposed to the Electricity Act, 1998, to provide the government with the flexibility to continue to fund those important conservation programs and other IESO procurement costs from the tax base in the future.

Let’s talk a little bit about Ontario Energy Board modernization, because it’s all connected. But Mr. Speaker, let me just say this: Time after time after time, in speech after speech, in consultation after consultation, if we heard anything—and I’m looking to my parliamentary secretary because he has participated in a number of these—Ontario Energy Board modernization was probably the most pressing and substantial thing on people’s minds. Is that a fair assessment, Pauly?

Mr. Paul Calandra: Yes, absolutely.

Hon. Greg Rickford: I would say so, yes—modernizing to improve organizational governance, promote regulatory excellence and, of course, cutting red tape. Our proposal would establish a new governance structure, including a board of directors and a CEO, to better separate the OEB’s management, administration, and adjudicative responsibilities.

We also intend to streamline the OEB’s consumer education objective and reduce duplicate responsibilities between the OEB and the IESO.

To further cut red tape and to promote efficiency, we would require the OEB to report annually on its efforts to simplify regulations for the energy sector. Tomorrow’s OEB needs to serve Ontario—the people of Ontario—better and ensure that our energy system remains sustainable and reliable.

The complaints, or the concerns, as I reflect back, are up to 9,000 pages of submissions for fairly routine regulatory matters. Most notably, late last fall we had a critical piece of energy infrastructure, the east-west tie. I think the opposition might agree with me on this—certainly their northern colleagues—that that was a critical piece of infrastructure that brings in a swath of communities in the central part of a vast region of northern Ontario. Most notably, it included dozens of Indigenous communities—a workforce of Indigenous peoples in the order of almost 300 people ready to go. What we realized by late fall was, if there wasn’t a decision by the OEB come year’s end, these well-trained Indigenous people were going to move out into other opportunities in the region. They were trained specifically for that east-west tie. I wish them all the best in their careers.

It sounds like there’s going to be a tremendous opportunity, not just for the east-west tie but afterwards, because energy infrastructure in northern Ontario is of course a top priority for this government as we think of new mines coming on board that are completely electrified and as we think about the opportunities. I’m thinking of Eagle’s Nest and the potential in the Ring of Fire region to proceed. Greenstone obviously has a magnificent opportunity. Mines don’t start without energy, and like so many things, we have to get this right.

I’m sure that my NDP colleagues are going to vote to support this bill because the northern Ontario colleagues, more than anything, see the opportunity here to really start to fix structurally some of the things that have been holding us back in the north.

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Interjections.

Hon. Greg Rickford: Thank you, colleagues. Last fall, we eagerly awaited the decision of the OEB, and we got to Christmas and we realized that a new old entrant was going to be allowed to bid on or intervene on a decision that needed to be made. We had to step in, Mr. Speaker, for the sake of those hundreds of Indigenous people. I’m thinking of Pete Collins—Chief Collins, the chief of Fort William First Nation—who said, “Greg, we have got to do something. Something has got to give so that this project can go forward. It has been in the OEB for way too long.”

We took that action, and I’m pleased to say that that project is moving forward. We look forward to seeing shovels in the ground in the coming months.

That’s just a few examples of some of the feedback that we heard. I think my colleague from Markham–Stouffville will highlight some other ones that he’s heard, but I now want to pivot to the third element of this bill, global adjustment refinancing.

This is a real Rubik’s cube, Mr. Speaker. It’s interesting. The Premier just returned from New York City, and despite all of the good things that they said and had heard that were going on in Ontario over the last eight or nine months, they remain very serious—and in some instances, in some sectors, gravely concerned—about the energy sector. It speaks to the challenge, but it speaks to the opportunity. Every time what comes up is the global adjustment refinancing.

This has been called a variety of things—a trust fund cover-up, in the public discourse. What it has all amounted to is a very expensive system and a system plagued with uncertainty. This has made it very, very difficult for class A, class B, small businesses and residents of Ontario who pay their hydro bills on a monthly basis or otherwise—left them confused and short more cash than they should be.

Our plan to replace the current global adjustment refinancing under this act is for rate relief structure by transitioning to a new lower-cost, transparent, on-bill rebate. The bills would actually show the true cost of electricity and would clearly—imagine—clearly display the full rebate amount as a separate line item on consumer bills.

It was fascinating at the automotive industry consultation that I did. One company representative brought out a bill that was 42 pages long. Residential payers had said that it’s so complicated that you end up just looking at the bottom line to see how much you pay, and pay it and you move on. We don’t think that that should be the case. We think bills should show the true cost of electricity and clearly display the full rebate amount as a separate line item. It would replace the Fair Hydro Plan. I don’t want to draw your ire, Mr. Speaker, by referring to that plan in any other pejorative terminology, but I can tell you that I’m giving it as much respect as I can, certainly in this place, by calling this anything but fair.

The program implemented by the previous government, with a new approach that we’re going to take, is going to be more transparent and save taxpayers almost $4 billion in borrowing costs. These are not my words, although they can be relied upon, and they’re not the words of the President of the Treasury Board or my learned colleague and fellow northerner the Minister of Finance. This is actually from the Financial Accountability Office. This is an office that has said that this government, by doing it this way, is going to save $4 billion in borrowing costs.

That’s important, because when you’ve got a 13—what is it, 13, or 11.5—thanks to our great efforts over the past nine months—billion-dollar structural deficit and an over-a-third-of-a-trillion-dollar debt, no family, no business, big or small, operates on those kinds of accounting principles.

So any money that we can save—$442 million in the conservation program, $4 billion in borrowing costs by changing the way that the global adjustment refinancing rate relief is dealt with—is the right choice, not just because of the cost, but because in addition to that, the Auditor General and other third parties have said this is the way that it should be done.

We think, moving forward, that an on-bill rebate that would be in place by November 1, 2019, as a result of this bill, when the province’s regulated price plan rates are normally updated, is a good idea, not just because it saves money for the ratepayers, saves money for the province—and let’s not forget who the province is; they’re made up of taxpayers—it’s a good thing. In the interim, so between now and November 1, we made a regulatory amendment that ensured that the average residential electricity bill increase was held to the rate of inflation, as of May 1, 2019.

But our opportunity—I’m not even going to call it a challenge, because hard work is well under way—to deliver on a campaign promise of a 12% reduction in hydro is in the workshop as we speak. This is going to feel different than the previous government, who called it a subsidy. We found out it was debt—it was not known to us. We put it out for public information and public consumption, and it has been well received.

What we intend to do is be in hot pursuit—I love that term—of a cut model, trying to do the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance a big favour by finding efficiencies in the system, new ways of doing things in our electricity system that will bring down the rates by 12%. But I digress.

The important point is that this is a more transparent accounting approach that has been endorsed by the province’s Auditor General and brings us in line with the recommendations of the Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve walked us through the three key elements of this act—I prefer the stylized title of “an act to fix the hydro mess” because, in no uncertain terms, that is exactly what it is. This is not a subjective, politicized standard. This is what we have heard from small businesses and large industrial sectors time and time again. People in New York know it. People in Quebec and Manitoba have a competitive advantage over us. We need to fix this.

It just can’t be that at the bottom of a recession a number of years ago a mill owned by the same company operating just inside the western side of the Manitoba border and one operating just inside the most western border, in Norman, Keewatin, Kenora, was not operating. How can it be, based just on the cost of hydro? We need to fix that. Ontario workers—good, unionized workers, many of these folks my friends of long standing—who work in forestry and work in mining deserve an opportunity to be committed to that company and to that sector, should they so choose, for their entire career. That’s what we’re trying to establish here.

We’re thinking of manufacturing and auto workers in southwestern Ontario. We’re thinking of mining and forestry up north. We’re thinking of our steel operations out there in south central northern Ontario—no, I’m just kidding; Sault Ste. Marie is up north.

Regardless of the sector, we’re getting serious about this. We see it as a challenge, but we know it’s an opportunity if we get it right. And we think that Bill 87 takes a significant, big first step forward towards reducing that.

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I want to say that I’m splitting my time with my parliamentary assistant, Mr. Calandra, who has done an extraordinary—

Interjection.

Hon. Greg Rickford: Don’t worry. It was on my radar screen. I wanted to finish with it.

He has really done an extraordinary amount of work, not just speaking in the House, but going out and doing consultations with me. I’m going to turn it over to him, Mr. Speaker, with your permission.

Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, as the member of provincial Parliament for the great Kenora–Rainy River. It’s a privilege and an honour to serve my constituents.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I now, in continuance of debate, turn it over to the member from Markham–Stouffville.

Mr. Paul Calandra: I certainly appreciate the opportunity to speak again on this bill. I had the opportunity when it was introduced, and I get a wonderful opportunity now. I can reflect on some of the things that we heard during committee, and also to address some of the questions that we heard during committee, some of the comments that we heard from the NDP and from stakeholders. Mr. Speaker, as you know, I think it’s always good when you have the opportunity to go back and look at what brought us to this point, so I’m going to do that a little bit at the same time.

I too, of course, want to thank—it’s fitting that we have the Minister of Energy leading off the debate today. Of course, one of the very first things that we did is recognize how important it was to bring the Ministry of Energy together with mines and Indigenous affairs, so that we could focus our attentions and efforts on unleashing the opportunity that had for so long not been addressed in the north. That was a good first step. We also, of course, have a Minister of Finance from the north, who can help us shape some of those policies as well in helping us unleash that economic potential. So we really have started off on the right foot by recognizing what was involved in energy policy.

One of the things people often say is, how could a sector that was so important to building a prosperous Ontario—and, by and large, a prosperous Canada. Because don’t forget: When Ontario prospers, the rest of Canada prospers. So how could something that was created by a Conservative—and which was the envy not only of Canada, but the envy of the world—have gone so wrong, where it then cost us, where it became an anvil on growth, where people were looking and saying, “My gosh, what the heck has happened?”—when they were terrified to open their hydro bills. What happened?

Well, I’ve been talking about this a lot, colleagues. I’ve talked about the 15 years where the Liberal-NDP coalition—surprise, surprise; when I talk about the Liberal-NDP coalition of the last 15 years, which decimated the province, let’s not forget who the minister was in charge of the energy file over the last number of years during the Liberal-NDP coalition. Colleagues, of course, it was an NDP minister, Glenn Thibeault. It was an NDP minister who wanted to become part of the Ontario Liberal-NDP coalition. He did that. He became the minister and, in the process, not only decimated the energy file, but because of how bad that coalition was over the last number of years, it also led to, really, hardship for Ontarians across the board.

Mr. Speaker, I touched on it in my opening remarks on this when the bill was introduced, that we’ve become a province where—I think it bears repeating—seniors get up late at night to do their laundry. I said this again—colleagues, I know you all do this. I know you’ve all done this: You have your laundry strewn all across your home because you’re afraid to turn on your dryer because it might bankrupt you. So you’ve got laundry everywhere, on your kitchen table—it’s all over the place. You’ve put off dinner parties because you don’t want to turn on the oven, so you wait for the summer so that you can go outside and barbecue, because you can’t afford your hydro bill.

Imagine that. In a province as rich as we are—make no mistake about it: Ontario is a very rich province. It is government policy which has impoverished us, but we are rich. We are rich in terms of our resources. The Minister of Energy and Northern Development talked about how important it was for the Ring of Fire and things like that. You can’t open up mines if we don’t have energy. It’s obvious. And if you price energy out of affordability, then guess what? People will go elsewhere. And that’s what has started to happen in the province of Ontario.

And it wasn’t just that. Colleagues, we have municipalities—the opposition talks about municipalities and some of the things that we’re doing to try to bring the budgets back into balance. We had municipalities—Oshawa—saying, “We can’t afford to turn our street lights on because hydro is too expensive.” We had schools and hospitals saying, “We can’t afford to pay our bills. We’re going to have to make changes in how we operate because electricity is too expensive.” That’s the legacy of 15 years of Liberal and NDP coalition.

And they get upset when you say that. They get really angry. But let’s not forget that there was a direct opportunity after the 2011 election in this province when they could have done the right thing. Imagine, colleagues, imagine, if we had stopped the Liberal-NDP coalition in 2011. We bear some responsibility, I will say this. We fought but we weren’t victorious. We fought but we weren’t victorious. But together we had the opportunity, Progressive Conservatives and the NDP, to put an end to what was the most horrific government in provincial history. And what happened? They kept them in power. Imagine. They kept them in power because—and we saw this, the Minister of Energy will remember this—

Interjection.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Stop the clock. I’m going to ask the member from Niagara Falls to withdraw.

Mr. Wayne Gates: I withdraw.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Please continue.

Mr. Paul Calandra: The Minister of Energy will remember, in Ottawa, when another Liberal-NDP coalition tried to seize power and set aside the results of an election. You remember that bargain, right? As long as they got six cabinet ministers and some people in the Senate, no problem. They would form a coalition government and oust the democratically elected federal government.

What they did here in Ontario is even worse. They kept them in power. They kept the taps going, spending and spending. And what was the bargain that they made? Auto insurance. They signed off on the stretch goals. What did they accomplish? Nothing—absolutely nothing.

So the people of Ontario, the most indebted—I know, again, the opposition doesn’t want to hear it. They want to close their ears and say, “I don’t want to hear you talk about that.” The most indebted sub-sovereign government in the world—imagine this. We are the most indebted. We have a $15-billion deficit. Our communities can’t turn street lights on. Our schools can’t afford to heat and turn on the lights. We can’t afford to bring in mines. Our auto sector can’t afford to operate. We can’t afford transit systems. But it’s all right: They signed off on a stretch goal that accomplished nothing. That is the history of the opposition—in particular, the NDP opposition.

I don’t want to focus too much on the NDP, but I will. The province is over 150 years old, and election after election after election after election after election, the people of Ontario turn their backs on the policy offerings of the NDP. Constantly, they turn their backs. They gave them that one chance. They gave them that one chance between 1990 and 1995, and they took to it right to the bitter end—right to the bitter end. One day before their constitutional mandate ran out, they called an election, and then they’ve never, ever come close ever again, because the people of Ontario simply do not trust them. That’s why they’ve put us back.

Now, we have to, of course, fulfill the promises that we made, and we’re doing that. We started right away, and we started right away on the energy file. We started right away on the energy file. Why did we start right away on the energy file? Because it is so important to all aspects of the economy. It’s important to our steelmakers.

The member for Sault Ste. Marie was in this House as an opposition member. Of course, Liberal members of provincial Parliament accomplished nothing on the file, the NDP in the Hamilton area have never accomplished anything on the file, but the member for Sault Ste. Marie did, and has. Imagine that.

I could be wrong, but I think he was even perhaps endorsed during an election by people that the NDP would traditionally say would be their supporters—

Mrs. Robin Martin: Apparently not.

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Mr. Paul Calandra: No, they’re not, because, you know what? Good, decent, hard-working people who pay taxes, who want to rely on services, understand that it is the Progressive Conservative government that will always have their back. That’s why they chose to put us back in their service. I’m proud of that.

The minister highlighted really a lot of the ground-breaking things that are in this bill, the bill that’s fixing the Liberal hydro mess, Mr. Speaker. Now, excuse me, I have to apologize to the minister because, in one sense, I didn’t have a chance to mention that he said he had hoped the NDP would support this bill. We all thought that. I know that the Conservatives who served on the committee thought, “Well, listen, how can you not support this? How can you not support a bill that would fix the mess?” But what did they do? They voted against every single clause in the bill that would disentangle the Liberal hydro mess—every single clause. They stood up for their coalition partners and said that we have to continue to hide the true cost of the hydro subsidization. They voted against every single clause in the bill that dealt directly with the fair hydro scheme.

Colleagues, during the time that this bill has been considered by the House, the Auditor General appeared at the public accounts committee to talk about this scheme. We’ve all read the reports. But what was striking about this, when the Auditor General came up and talked about this, and we heard from witnesses from the departments—and I want to really thank the public service and the Ministry of Energy. They’ve done a great job in helping us bring this back. As much as we get to come out and give speeches, they have supported us. But we heard how they tried to stop the scheme—how they tried to stop the plan. We asked, “Is there any other example in Ontario, in North America, globally, anywhere, where you could find a type of scheme like the Liberal-NDP coalition put together in order to hide the cost of their hydro mess?”

Mr. Will Bouma: Anywhere?

Mr. Paul Calandra: Nowhere.

Mr. Will Bouma: Nowhere. Unbelievable.

Mr. Paul Calandra: Nowhere. There was just no comparison to this. I think it maybe touches on—and perhaps I shouldn’t do it, but it touches a little bit on—actually I just want to go back, before I get there.

Why are we doing this? The minister touched upon it. He touched upon it a little bit in respect to why we’re so opposed to a carbon tax in the province of Ontario. This bill helps to identify some of the reasons why we are so opposed to it. The minister was absolutely correct: It was a Progressive Conservative government that, decades before, understood that we had to do something about cleaning our air and our environment, and the path to doing that was through nuclear. We have been a global leader—something that we should be very, very proud of. There is no cleaner technology. It creates thousands of jobs. It is low-price. It’s a good baseline. It helps us unleash the potential in the economy. Premier Mike Harris understood that and made those investments, again, to bring our nuclear assets back online so that we could have a cheap, clean, reliable source of energy.

As the minister highlighted, to their credit, the Liberals kept that policy in place. But that’s where it stopped, colleagues, because shortly after that they decided that what mattered more was not legitimate policy on cleaning your air, cleaning your environment and how you would actually do it, but looking like you were doing it. No plans or anything like that. “Don’t look at what we are, where we’re going on the energy file.” You had to look good doing it.

I think we’ll remember this, colleagues; I know some of you will. I know that the NDP, for sure, would. I think it was 2009. If I’m wrong on the dates, somebody can correct me, but I believe it was in 2009. Then-Premier McGuinty made a big show: He went to Vancouver, and he was walking through Stanley Park with David Suzuki. You remember this, right? Of course, taxpayers globally—certainly across Canada—as soon as they see that image, they go, “Oh, these poor people in Ontario. They’re done.” But it looked good, eh, the Liberals cruising through Stanley Park with David Suzuki. And what did we hear? “We’re going to bring green energy. We’re going to be the global leader in green energy, windmills and solar. It’s going to be spectacular.” And David Suzuki: “Well, I’m going to help them.” The Suzuki foundation—I hope they’re watching; I really do. “We’re going to develop a program that will be a global leader” is what they said. “Thousands of jobs will be created by this.” What did they do? They created probably the worst program in global history.

Now, there have been global failures, government global failures, before, but this one—

Hon. Greg Rickford: Epic.

Mr. Paul Calandra: —is an epic failure. They created a program to create energy at a time when we didn’t need it. Why? Because Premier Harris had already decided that we would bring back the nuclear assets. One would think that the Minister of Energy at the time would look, listen to his public service, and say, “What do we need? What’s the energy mix that we require?” And when they said we don’t need it, that they would think twice. But did they? No, because what was more important was that they had to look good. They had to look good. So they created a program which cost the taxpayers of Ontario billions of dollars.

Now, the Minister of Energy was very, very smart, and one of the first things that the government did and the cabinet did when they were elected was to cancel additional contracts for energy that we didn’t need. They cancelled those.

Now, let me just say—I want to assure the House that green energy in itself is important. Windmills are important. They’re an important energy mix. Solar is very important. I have farmers in my area that have them. But what we’re hearing is that, well, you know, if we would have listened, if we had listened to the way they did it, it would unleash enormous impact. Well, it did: Enormous debt it unleashed on the people of Ontario. It set back the green energy economy because people have such a negative outlook for it in the province of Ontario. They set it back.

But now they come before committee, these same groups that advocated and created the plan that we’re now trying to dig ourselves out of, the Suzuki foundation and a few others, and they say, “Look at what we’ve accomplished.” “Look at what we accomplished,” they say. “Saskatchewan and Alberta are signing contracts for three cents a kilowatt—the future is in solar. Thank you, Ontario—although you’re paying 40 cents, 10 times the amount—but thank you, Ontario, because you’ve done all the work. I know we said we’d look at all the other jurisdictions and their failures, but you know, we didn’t do that. But now other jurisdictions in Canada are thankful for all the work that you did and the debt you’ve accumulated and the bills that you will pay over the next 20 years”—it’s thanks to a program that they created.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I don’t think the people of Ontario are all excited about that. They aren’t excited about the fact that the previous government didn’t learn from the mistakes of other jurisdictions, whether it’s Germany, California, the Netherlands. They didn’t learn from that. They just made us pay the price.

When the opposition—and I know it’s a bit of a stretch, Mr. Speaker, but you’ll understand how it comes around. When the opposition gets really angry that we have stickers that are going on pumps and they say, “Well, you shouldn’t have those stickers,” do you know why they’re upset about that? Because they participated in a plan to hide the true cost of their green energy failures and they don’t want people to know; they don’t want people to know. And then when this bill comes forwards and it untangles the mess and it makes it obvious and it’s on the bill when it reduces the cost to the taxpayer—

Mrs. Robin Martin: They don’t want people to know.

Mr. Paul Calandra: —they don’t want people to know. They vote against it. So of course they’re mad when people go to the gas pumps and they see the cost of a carbon tax. Of course they’re going to be upset. But of course the government is going to want people to know, because we never want the secrecy that is the hallmark of the Fair Hydro Plan to be the hallmark of the green—when you hear the federal government, they talk about how the carbon tax is important. Well, we’re meeting our goals, thanks to the Minister of the Environment. Thanks to the good work of the people who work at Bruce and Pickering and Darlington and Mississauga, in the nuclear industry out there and, really, across Ontario, we’re not only meeting our goals, we will meet them on time—more than any other jurisdiction in the country. We should be proud of that. I know I am.

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But what we heard opposite over the budget debate was that cap-and-trade wasn’t about environmental protection. The NDP was saying that it was about revenue loss. They said, “Well, you took all that revenue. What are we going to do? Where are we going to get all our pet projects from? You took all that revenue out.” So all of a sudden, it’s not about the environment; it’s about revenue.

Why do we get upset with the federal government on the carbon tax? Well, because we’re meeting our goals. Not only are we meeting our goals, we are subsidizing other jurisdictions in meeting their goals, and we did it off the back of a bad plan that was created by a Liberal-NDP coalition. And that’s what we’re doing. Unfortunately, we’re having to pay that, and Ontarians, for the first time, because of this bill, will see what the true costs of those failed policies were.

If the Liberal-NDP coalition wanted to create that policy, no problem. Having said that, they did have an obligation to be open and honest about it, not concoct a scheme that was unrecognizable by the FAO, by the Auditor General, and that had no comparison globally, anywhere. We could not find one other jurisdiction that had managed to do the chicanery and skullduggery that was in the Fair Hydro Plan.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I’m going to ask the member to withdraw that comment.

Mr. Paul Calandra: Sorry. Which comment in particular?

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I just ask that you withdraw that comment.

Mr. Paul Calandra: The skullduggery and chicanery? I will withdraw those comments.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): I’m going to ask the member—you don’t have to repeat it; just say “Withdraw” and don’t repeat it again.

Mr. Paul Calandra: I withdraw.

Now, it’s interesting, because the NDP is getting upset, right? You hear; they’re starting to get upset, because what hurts is the truth. The truth hurts, right? They probably want us to pay more. They want the people of Ontario to pay more for hydro. Do you know why they want the people of Ontario to pay more for hydro, colleagues? Because, secretly, they hope that we fail. They hope that we fail to bring new jobs to northern Ontario. They hope that we don’t bring new mines and that we don’t save the steel mills.

Interjections.

Mr. Ian Arthur: Point of order, Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Stop the clock.

Point of order: I recognize the member from Kingston and the Islands.

Mr. Ian Arthur: Sorry. I keep hearing about things that the NDP is supposedly doing or not doing. To me, that sounds a lot like imputing motive about why we want to do the things we want to do.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): No, that is not a point of order. I appreciate the member raising it.

I will now turn it back to the member from Markham–Stouffville for further comment.

Mr. Paul Calandra: Let me put it this way, then: If you want a better transit system that runs on subways, guess what? You need electricity. And if you don’t have a cheap, reliable source of electricity, you’re not going to be able to build subways. So those who are not in favour of the province uploading the cost of building and maintaining the system, those who are not in favour of that, probably want higher hydro prices, because they don’t want those systems to appear. They don’t want that to be successful, and we’re not like that. We want to see that succeed.

Those who want their schools and boards to be able to run, to be able to invest in things other than electricity, perhaps don’t want lower energy costs. But we do. We want the cost of energy to be lower because we saw the advantage that came with clean, reliable energy. We were a global leader in manufacturing; we aren’t now, but we will be. We will be because of Bill 66, because we’re untangling red tape, because we’re making investments in hydro. The minister talked about the Ontario Energy Board—

Mr. Wayne Gates: Harper did that.

Mr. Paul Calandra: Yes, you’re right. Stephen Harper did make historic investments. We did. We unleashed the economy. We led the world. We led the G8 in terms of growth—

Interjections.

Mr. Paul Calandra: I’m glad the member for Niagara Falls has opened the door for me to talk about Stephen Harper, because it shows what we can accomplish when we work together, doesn’t it? So imagine: They’re upset because Stephen Harper lowered taxes for individuals to the lowest point since the 1950s. They’re upset and they’re screaming about that because they don’t want Ontarians to have more money in their pockets. Stephen Harper did that. Stephen Harper balanced the budget. Imagine: He balanced the budget. He was able to balance the budget while magically, colleagues, reducing taxes to their lowest point in 50 years.

He made massive investments in infrastructure—in fact, more investment than probably any other government in the history of this country. Stephen Harper made those investments.

Mrs. Robin Martin: Happy birthday to him.

Mr. Paul Calandra: And happy birthday to the Prime Minister.

He made those massive investments, and we were able to accomplish that while balancing the budget. That’s what we want to accomplish here. The one thing that we know for sure, Mr. Speaker—I’ll go back to 1958, because I think it was in 1958—I could be wrong, but the NDP changed their name from the CCF to NDP. I believe the NDP lost the federal election—they were talking about elections over there so I’ll take a moment—and you’ll see how it circles around, Mr. Speaker; I guarantee it.

I believe the NDP lost the federal election in 1958. I believe they lost the federal election in 1960. I think they then lost the federal election in 1963. Forgive me; I could be wrong, but they also lost in 1968. They lost in 1972. They lost in 1979. They lost in 1980. They lost in 1984. They lost in 1988. They lost in 1993. They lost in 1997. They lost in 2000. They lost in 2004. They lost again in 2006. They lost one more time in—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Point of order: I recognize the member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: I’m not quite sure where the member from Markham–Stouffville is going but he’s clearly not actually talking about the bill that’s before us. I’m hoping that he can get back to the bill because we would like to debate the bill.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. I’ve been listening very closely.

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Order, please. Thank you very much.

I’ve been listening very closely and I appreciate the point of order on behalf of the member from Windsor West. He’s bringing it around. I’ve been listening very closely. I will turn it back over to the member.

Mr. Paul Calandra: Thank you. You’re right, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate it, because it does circle around.

Colleagues, I think I was at 1993 when the NDP had lost in 1993. They had lost again in 1997. They lost the election in 2000. They lost the election in 2004. They lost the election in 2006. They lost the election in 2008. They lost in 2011. They lost in 2015. In fact, they’ve never won a federal election ever; right? They’ve never won a federal election. But keep at it. Maybe one day the people of Ontario and Canada will give you the awesome privilege and responsibility that comes with governing. Keep at it. Do keep at it, because one never knows.

Interjection: They did win Alberta.

Mr. Paul Calandra: They won Alberta, but, again, Alberta—and congratulations to my good friend Jason Kenney, the new Premier of the province of Alberta.

Interjections.

Mr. Paul Calandra: I appreciate that.

They did win but, like Ontario, they couldn’t wait for the election to come in Alberta; right? They couldn’t wait for the election to come, and they tossed them out.

But why do we want to talk about all of these other elections and the record of futility that is the opposition? Why do we want to talk about that? It’s important in the context of this bill, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to circle it back.

What we saw at committee, again, was classic Liberal-NDP ideology.

Mrs. Robin Martin: They still don’t get it.

Mr. Paul Calandra: You’re right. The member for Eglinton–Lawrence is right; they don’t get it.

Imagine: You have a bill, colleagues, Bill 87, ending the hydro mess, that modifies our conservation programs so that they focus on those programs that—wait for it—work, that actually conserve and do what they’re supposed to do.

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Why did I talk about all those failed elections? Because the people of Canada understand that failure should not be rewarded, and that’s why over all of those years, they have not been elected.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: You lost in 2015.

Mr. Paul Calandra: You’re right. I am proud to be here in 2018.

They voted against it. They wanted to continue programs that don’t work and don’t result in the things that we want, so of course we’re going to get rid of those programs.

We’ve reformed the Ontario Energy Board. Why? Because it had a hand in creating one of the worst policies that we have ever had, a policy that they say they’re opposed to. They voted against this at committee, the clauses that would reform—in fact, to their credit, they did bring some amendments forward. Their amendments would have created more red tape, would have made the process even more difficult and would have aided in assisting the continuation of this program. Of course, we weren’t going to do that, so we voted those down.

Then when it came to Fair Hydro on committee, I think we all thought, at least on the Progressive Conservative side, “How can there be disagreement over this? How can there be disagreement about putting something on a bill, making it transparent, about reducing the costs by $4 billion? How can you possibly be opposed to that?” We thought they might not like all of the clauses of the bill, but surely on those clauses they would vote in favour of it. But no, they voted against that.

Mr. Speaker, I’m looking forward to being in the House when the member for Toronto–Danforth talks about this. We had scheduled two days of hearings, as you know, colleagues. We hear often the opposition talk about, “Well, there’s not enough time to talk about bills.” We had two days of hearings scheduled. We could barely get through the first day, and the second day was cancelled because the opposition really didn’t bring any witnesses forward. Do you know why? Because people want this done. That’s why there wasn’t a crush of people at committee, saying, “Hey.” They want this done. It’s common sense. It’s logical. And now they’ll have to defend why it is that they’re not in favour of this bill.

But we also heard, and I think this was the one part of it—I often criticize the NDP for having no policies whatsoever.

Interjection.

Mr. Paul Calandra: Right. Well, they do. We often criticize the Liberals for stealing NDP policies. In this instance, I think 98% of the time it was the NDP that was stealing their policies.

Mr. Speaker, look, we have a responsibility. We all heard it during the last campaign. I’ve talked about this ad nauseam as well. We all heard about it: We have to make changes to the Fair Hydro Plan. But as I said, I often criticize the NDP for not having policies, but we finally heard a policy of the NDP, and in fact the policy of the Green Party. I think earlier when we had this from committee, they all voted together. But their policy is that we needed to basically increase hydro rates for our consumers, for our homeowners, for our businesses, by about 25% immediately. This is what their policy has become. They want us to cancel the fair hydro subsidy.

Look, we don’t like having this on our tax bill. None of us like that. But one thing we have learned is that when you create policy without looking at how it will impact the province of Ontario, how it will impact ratepayers, how it will impact taxpayers, how it will impact the small, medium and large job creators, the only thing that happens is bad policy. That’s why we have decided to do it in a phased-in approach.

We started, as I said, with the repeal of the Green Energy Act—a good start. We started by cancelling contracts—another step. We then went forward. In less than a year we’ve gone forward. We turned to the Minister of the Environment, and we said, “Minister of the Environment, we want to make sure that we remain on track to meet our Paris targets.” He brought forward a plan that helps us do that.

We looked at the Auditor General and we looked at the Minister of Finance and we said, “Look, we have to disentangle the mess that was the Fair Hydro Plan. It has to be accountable to the people of Ontario. They have to know what it is that they’re paying for.” And we did it. We said we also have to make sure that ratepayers and taxpayers going forward still have the opportunity to save money whilst we look at ways of reducing the bills by over 12% still. That’s the next step that will come forward.

What you’re seeing—I’ve said this time and time again—is a whole-of-government approach to how we do business here in the province of Ontario. The Minister of Energy’s work is important to members of caucus and around—and even to the opposition, obviously, because we want jobs and opportunity, and we can’t do it without hydro that is reliable and cheap. We need that.

We also want to meet our environmental obligations. That’s why we need the Minister of the Environment to work with us with at the Ministry of Energy in order to make sure that we meet those obligations. We know from the Minister of Finance that all of us want to bring our budgets back into balance. This is critical for us. It is absolutely critical for us. We said we’re going to do that.

We want a different type of health care system, a health care system that isn’t disadvantaged by the fact that they can’t afford to keep the lights on. We’re making those changes. We’re working together, as I said, in a whole-of-government approach to how we tackle the problems.

The members opposite will talk about ideology. Look, I made it very clear in a speech I gave in this House yesterday on the budget that, being a fiscal hawk, I would have probably liked to see the budget balanced earlier. But I understand why it had to happen over five years. I get it. It is hard to disentangle 15 years of Liberal-NDP mismanagement of an economy.

Let me say, it gives me no great pleasure to say that. I’ll tell you why: because it shouldn’t be the goal of governments to come and disentangle what previous governments did. It should be the goal of a new government to build on what the government it replaces did. That’s what we are supposed to do here. I wanted the previous Liberal government and NDP coalition to be successful. I wanted it to be successful. I don’t like to have 80-year waiting lists to get into a long-term-care home in my riding. That’s not good for me. It’s not good for my constituents. I don’t like hallway health care. We want governments to succeed.

That’s what this is about. When you look at everything that this government has done—it’s easy just to talk about Bill 87 and fixing the Liberal-NDP coalition hydro mess. It’s easy just to talk about that. We could talk about the OEB. We could talk about just the Fair Hydro Plan, but it is so important that we talk about how it has impacted people across this province and how it has formed and shaped the decisions that we have to make as legislators going forward.

I appreciate that the members opposite might have a difference of opinion. I hope that in their questioning they in part tell us why it is they want to continue to hide the cost of the Fair Hydro Plan from the people of Ontario. I hope that we’ll hear that. I hope they give us a bit more rationale as to why it is that they voted against those specific clauses in the bill and why they voted against it when it was brought back to the House, and I hope they’ll give us a sense of whether they will vote for this going forward. I hope that they’ll give us a better sense of it, Mr. Speaker.

I do appreciate the opportunity now to have spoken for almost an hour and a half on this bill. We could go for much longer because it is so many things that are encompassed in this.

I thank you for your indulgence, Mr. Speaker. I thank the House for their indulgence and, most importantly, I thank my riding for giving me the opportunity to be elected—

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Please be seated. Questions and comments?

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: It’s great to hear that the member from Markham–Stouffville would like to talk about this bill at greater length. I’m hoping what that means is they’re not going to time-allocate, like they did the budget—like they did the budget. We have a government here that once stood and railed against the Liberals time-allocating, and that’s what they’re doing. So I’m hoping what the member from Markham–Stouffville said means that they are not going to time-allocate yet another bill.

The member from Markham–Stouffville talked about a whole lot of elections; some of them I hadn’t even been born for yet. But what he didn’t talk about was that in 2015, himself, the Minister of Energy and the member for Hastings–Lennox and Addington actually lost their federal seats. He didn’t talk about them losing elections. So I just want to put that on the record.

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I also want to talk about the fact that they’re talking about being open and transparent, but what they’re not doing is being open and transparent. They’re not telling the people of this province that what they have done is basically adopted the Liberals’ hydro plan. That’s what they’ve done: They have adopted the Liberal hydro plan. They borrowed $20 billion from the taxpayers—not just ratepayers; taxpayers—and down the road, in order to reduce hydro costs to the people of this province, they’re going to put that back onto the ratepayers, so those people are being dinged twice.

They’re also not saying—they are going after the stickers that they want to put on the gas pumps, going after the federal government and the carbon tax. They’re not putting stickers on to say what they are charging the people of the province in taxes on gas. Maybe they should do that.

I also want to point out that the current Minister of Finance signed off on, in 2014, with his picture, the white paper—their platform, the Conservative platform—to privatize the entire hydro system. The Minister of Finance’s picture is—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much. Further questions and comments?

Mr. Vincent Ke: It is my honour to rise and speak again on Bill 87, the Fixing the Hydro Mess Act, 2019. Yesterday the House passed the report from the Standing Committee on General Government, and now Bill 87 has been ordered for third reading, pursuant to the order of the House. When passed, this bill would amend five key electricity acts.

Speaker, our government promised to clean up the hydro mess, create transparency in our electricity system and make life more affordable for Ontarians. This bill will provide affordable hydro rates for future generations.

During last year’s campaign, one promise we made was getting rid of the six-million-dollar man at Hydro One. This bill will cap the salary of Hydro One’s chief executive officer at $1.5 million. Bill 87 will also cut red tape when it comes to conservation programs, and it will centralize conservation programs that work. This bill will lead to lower costs and eliminate duplication.

Speaker, I would like to ask my colleagues from the official opposition to support this bill, because you also campaigned to reduce hydro rates for Ontarians last year. Let’s pass Bill 87 together, so we can provide relief to taxpayers and fix the hydro mess created by the previous Liberal government.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Michael Mantha: Following those comments from the member from Markham–Stouffville—my goodness, does he ever know how to talk to a camera, but let’s open up the curtains a bit and see what’s really behind it.

He asked one question, and I do have the answer for him—and he knows this. He said, “Where did it go so wrong? What happened?” Well, he should know that the deregulation that was started and the privatization that was started happened under the Harris government. That was expedited under a Liberal government afterwards. He knows that. I know he’s smiling at me right now and he understands how that whole process happened.

A lot of the initiatives—I was shocked to hear him say that green is important. I almost fell off of my chair when I heard him say that, because yes, there are some effective initiatives that happen through the Green Energy Act under solar and wind. We agree with you that how the Liberals rolled it out was terrible—there’s no disputing that—but I want to go back to the minister, when he made his comments. Again, let’s really open up the curtains and find out what is going on here.

The Conservatives spent a lot of their time complaining about what the Liberals had done. They spent a whole bunch of time in regard to what they brought into this province. What they failed to indicate to all Ontarians is that none of their initiatives are going to go out to the public because they don’t want to hear what the public has to say, because they’re upset and they’re concerned in regard to what this government is bringing forward. The Fair Hydro Plan that the Liberals brought in—well, you just brush it off a bit, you scratch it a bit, you put a sticker on it and it becomes the PC Fair Hydro Plan. That’s what they don’t really want Ontarians to know about.

Listen, Speaker, there’s a lot of things that have happened with the Liberal government. We’re not disputing that; it wasn’t a great plan. But what you’re doing is the same thing.

Here are some ideas that I keep challenging this government on, and I don’t hear any feedback from them: What about the time of use? Why don’t you eliminate that? Why not equalize the delivery charges? And, for goodness’ sake, bring back Hydro One under public hands. That’s an intelligent, far-sighted idea that we need for this province.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Further questions and comments?

Mr. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: I think I just want to take an opportunity once again to kind of sit back and acknowledge the great speech that the MPP from Markham–Stouffville just delivered. He was just spitting fact after fact after fact, and it was kind of amazing. I could probably listen to him for another two hours, if I wanted to. It was amazing.

We’re hearing a lot about this hydro mess, and I can’t help but realize that the NDP really didn’t have a plan. Their plan during the election was basically to reduce costs by 30%. But how were they going to do that? They were going to adopt the plan from the Liberals, and then they were going to ask Justin Trudeau to somehow magically waive 5% off the HST—so absolutely no plan. And while they were going to do that, they were going to close down the Pickering nuclear station and cost thousands of jobs, so absolutely no plan there.

We heard this morning from the Premier that that plan that that government put forward was absolutely disastrous. No company—no one—wanted to invest in Ontario after 15 years of waste, mismanagement and scandal. We lost over 300,000 manufacturing jobs because they drove up the cost of hydro, they drove up the cost of electricity in this province. So we’ve got to do what we have to do as a government to get this province back on track, to get this province to become, once again, the economic engine that it once was. And we’re doing that.

This is a great step in the right direction. By reducing red tape, we took on an ambitious plan here. We’re following through with our commitment to reduce hydro costs across the province. I’m very happy to support this piece of legislation and speak to it.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Now I return to the member from Markham–Stouffville for final comments.

Mr. Paul Calandra: I certainly want to appreciate and acknowledge the members from Brampton South and Don Valley North, who I think continued in highlighting the deficiencies that were in the official opposition—in the NDP—in their whole approach to this.

The member for—is it Windsor?

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: West.

Mr. Paul Calandra: Windsor West. She talked about me losing an election. She said that I should never have a seat, but isn’t it remarkable that I actually do have a seat? My community brought me back. They said, “We want you back.”

Now, I will admit, I remain somewhat bitter—a little bit. I lost my election with 43%, probably more than anybody on that caucus got, Mr. Speaker. Part of the reason, of course, was that the NDP came in in my riding with a ravishing 6% of the vote, colleagues; 6% of the people of Markham–Stouffville trusted the NDP in that federal election. Wow, a whole 6%, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, look, you heard it from the NDP here: They want to increase hydro rates. This is what this is all about. First of all, they said two things. They said, “Look, we don’t want to save taxpayers $4 billion.” They don’t want to change how we utilize this program. The $4 billion, they say, is nothing: “It’s nothing. Nobody will notice.” But more importantly, what they’re talking about is increasing hydro rates tomorrow by 25%. That’s what their plan is. Take that to taxpayers.

You know why we’re dealing with the Fair Hydro Plan? Because we fought to have the right to serve on this side of the House. We went to the people of Ontario and said, “Put your confidence in us and we will get the job done for you.” And you know why you’re on that side of the House? Because you have never won an election. You can’t win an election because the people of Ontario don’t trust you. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we will get the job done on hydro, on health care, on transit—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you.

Interjections.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Order, please.

Just a friendly reminder to all members of the House that when your time is up, your time is up. And when I say “Thank you,” then I would expect that you will agree to stop. And when I stand, that does mean you must sit.

Now, we’re going to move on to further debate. I recognize the member from Kingston and the Islands.

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Mr. Ian Arthur: Thank you very much, Speaker. I believe you will find that we have unanimous consent to defer the opposition’s one-hour lead on this bill.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): The member from Kingston and the Islands is seeking unanimous consent to stand down the lead. Agreed? Agreed.

Now, I turn it back over to the member from Kingston and the Islands.

Mr. Ian Arthur: Just before I begin, Speaker, I do beg the indulgence of the House for a very brief moment before I move on to the debate on Bill 87 to just thank the member from York Centre and the member for Beaches–East York and the other members who contributed their statements on Yom ha-Shoah and the beautiful words that were said and how meaningful they were.

My grandfather was a Latvian Jew, and he was one of the few lucky ones who was able to leave Germany shortly before the war. He played such a role in my life, and it’s a part of my history that I am proud of and paid a lot of attention to. Thank you so much for your kind words during that. It meant a lot, and I do appreciate it.

On the bill at hand, though, it is an honour to rise and debate it. I had the opportunity on second reading to talk a little bit about this bill. It went to committee and it came back. It’s fairly remarkable; not a lot had changed. There is not a lot that’s different in this bill from before it went to committee. There were many people who are experts in their field who testified about this bill with some very strong suggestions about how it could be improved. Many, many, many different organizations came in to talk about what they saw as deficiencies, holes in the legislation, things that should have been simple housekeeping for this bill to be better written and better laid out, and none of that was actually incorporated into this legislation at third reading.

So let’s start with what the fundamental nature of this bill is: fixing the hydro mess, as it is titled. What it is is a blue version of an old, red, bankrupt, Liberal, unfair hydro plan. And blue is not a good colour for this bill. It’s not a good colour. Red is a more appropriate colour, because what it is is a hydro plan that puts Ontario in the red, and it does that for the foreseeable future. That’s a really scary thing.

Everything in this bill is shocking. It is setting the stage for a permanent taxpayer subsidy of hydro rates in Ontario. In what world do so-called fiscal conservatives, Speaker, support continuing bad debt decisions in Ontario? In what world do they say, “Oh, the Liberals took on a whole bunch of terrible debt. You know what? Rather than standing up in front of them and admitting the Liberals did a terrible thing”—they say the Liberals did a terrible thing, but then they just keep doing it.

I think we need to explore a little bit, Speaker, why that is and kind of lay bare what it is that is happening right now. The Liberals borrowed a whole bunch of money to temporarily drive down hydro rates in order to try to win an election. It’s a 25% subsidy. On top of that 25% subsidy, this government has promised a 12% reduction in hydro rates to the people of Ontario. So when you add those together, it’s a 37% reduction from what it was before the Liberal unfair hydro plan. That’s pretty monumental to try to achieve that without subsidizing it with taxpayer dollars.

Yes, they got rid of the Liberal slush fund. That’s a good thing. We can see transparently where this money is being spent—the fact that they are taking from taxpayers with one hand over here and using it to artificially lower bills over here. It doesn’t solve the underlying problems of the hydro mess in Ontario at all. It doesn’t even come close to it. It doesn’t solve the problems of the terrible contracts we signed—it’s debatable whether the government even had someone at the table when some of those contracts were signed—and why we pay so much more for power than people in other municipalities. And that’s not just green energy. Very little of that is to actually do with green energy. Green energy was actually only 12% of the increase in costs in hydro over the last decade. The rest of it was other associated costs with a mismanaged system.

And, yes, it was the Liberals who fundamentally mismanaged that system. They did a terrible job on energy in Ontario. But, despite the title of this bill, there is not a change in course from this government. There is a bluewashing of a terrible plan. There’s a couple of small things that they’re doing a little bit differently, but fundamentally, that behemoth of a ship that is the unfair hydro plan is continuing under this government, and it’s for political expediency. It is because this government knows the repercussions of an overnight 25% hike in bills. They know the political repercussions of that. They would be terrible. I understand that. It’s not that hard to see where that would lead.

This is what is so detrimental about what the Liberals actually did, and I’m going to take a moment here to really focus on the legacy of the poor decisions that are made and how long they are going to last. The Liberals signed the documents to take on this debt at the time for their own political expediency. As far as I see it, they’ve signed up Ontario for the foreseeable future to continue that because it’s going to be near impossible for any government to roll that back, politically. The decisions that are being made and the decisions that were being made are going to have a negative effect on generations. We’re paying that debt and the interest on that until 2030, billions and billions and billions of dollars that are now being added on to the deficit in Ontario. It’s deeply disturbing, Speaker. It’s deeply disturbing.

I want to read a quote here from the Toronto Board of Trade on Bill 87, Fixing the Hydro Mess Act:

“Unwinding the Fair Hydro Plan in the 2017 Energy Playbook, the board acknowledged that the Fair Hydro Plan lowered prices for current customers, but at a significant cost to future ratepayers. Bill 87 continues with this rate reduction structure”—let’s read that again. “Bill 87 continues with this rate reduction structure but funds the cost from the tax base instead of future ratepayers ... it may undermine the board’s other main priorities of sustainability and reliability. The government has stated its intention to reduce costs in the electricity sector, a move that the board applauds. At this time, however, system costs are forecast to increase by more than the rate of inflation, particularly with the need to renew important energy infrastructure. If bill increases are held to inflation for the foreseeable future, this could increase the amount the government spends on electricity cost relief programs (already more than $4 billion per year), prevent needed infrastructure from being built, or lead to sharp price increases in the future. To avoid future price shocks, the board urges the government to update the long-term energy plan price forecasts for at least the next 10 years, including”—and this is so important—“expected government spending on rate subsidy programs,” because this government is continuing to subsidize the cost of energy in Ontario for political expediency.

How did we get to unaffordable hydro? Well, if you look at the cost curves on hydro, it began around the time we started privatizing it, and it led almost immediately to increased costs in Ontario. I want to talk a little bit about the history of privatization, because there are some lessons in it for how we got into this mess that this government is supposedly trying to fix with this bill. Harris privatized the 407 in an attempt to balance the budget just before an election—political expediency again. The member from Markham–Stouffville is smiling. He likes it when I bring up Premier Harris.

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Premier Harris privatized the 407. We got $3 billion for it. It’s just been valued at $30 billion, a tenfold increase since it was sold. That would have been a pretty good return on investment for the people of Ontario. Instead, it’s a rather good return on investment for other companies—one of them, incidentally, SNC-Lavalin, supported by then-Premier Harris.

Premier Eves wanted to privatize hydro, but it was just before an election. I will give him credit for this: At least he had the foresight to realize what a bad idea privatizing hydro before an election would actually be. It was political suicide, and he held back on that.

Now, McGuinty, the person who beat him in that election, who did turf a Progressive Conservative government, despite them supposedly balancing the books on the back of the 407, campaigned against privatizing hydro, turned around and immediately began doing that. He campaigned again and again and again on something, turned around and did something different. Then it was continued by Premier Wynne, and we all know how that ended.

The ongoing privatization of Hydro One was one of the most significant issues in the last election. People voted on that issue. It was the driving force that sent a lot of people to other parties and away from the Liberals. It was her decision to continue privatizing it and the massive cost increase that was associated with it. The member from Don Valley West—I think it was probably the biggest misstep of her Premiership, and I think everyone in the House would actually agree on that.

Now we have this government that’s opening the door to privatization of health care because somehow, after two decades—more than two decades; a quarter century of lessons from privatization—the government still thinks that’s an okay avenue to go down, that somehow this time it will be different, that it won’t lead to increased costs for Ontarians, that it won’t take away revenue from government. Those lessons are there again, again and again, and what’s remarkable is that they flip-flop. It’s a red lesson. It’s a blue lesson. A red lesson. A blue lesson: It goes back and forth, Madam Speaker. It goes back and forth. I’ve said this before, and I’m going to keep saying it because it just rings so true. There are so many examples of this, time and time again, in this House: Liberal, Tory, same old story. There is no significant change of path on the energy policies of Ontario from this government to the last one. There are no actual changes.

Now, you would think there would be changes because of how this government speaks, how the government before them spoke, and I just want to read a quote into the Legislature right now: “What we are certain of is that this Liberal government’s new hydro scheme is going to be a big hit in the pocketbooks of Ontarians, one of unprecedented proportions. The short-term gain that they’re professing out there, a 25% hydro rate cut this summer, will lead to long term pain....”

Madam Speaker, who could have possibly said that? Who could have so eloquently spoken about the problems of this hydro scheme and the borrowing scheme? None other than the member from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, so eloquently fighting against a terrible borrowing scheme that he now stands up and defends. It’s been painted blue, but we know it’s the same thing. Just changed your mind on that one, eh? Just changed your mind on exactly the same plan. Ratepayers, taxpayers, it is still bad debt; it is still being pursued by this government because they don’t want to deal with the political repercussions of facing the decision to actually deal with that debt in a responsible and proactive way.

Mr. Paul Calandra: So you’ll increase it immediately by 25%.

Mr. Ian Arthur: The member from Markham–Stouffville just said that my plan would be to increase it immediately by 25%. That would not be my plan. I would very much like to—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Lisa Gretzky): Order.

Mr. Ian Arthur: Yes, we had a hydro plan. We at least had a plan, Madam Speaker, in the last election. It was written down; it was laid out. It was there for everyone to read, unlike the current government, which campaigned on a series of strung-together half-sentences that managed to make it out of the Premier’s mouth.

Forgive me if I am skeptical of this government’s ability to actually fix the hydro mess in Ontario. Forgive me if I can’t actually bring myself to believe that the title of the bill is going to come to fruition. There are a couple of reasons for this. There has recently been a lot of touting of the Premier’s visit to New York. I think it’s very lucky that he visited New York and not Washington state to talk about business—not Washington state, where Avista Corp., due to the interference of this Premier, had to cancel a hydro deal that cost the people of Ontario $131 million.

Interjection: How much?

Mr. Ian Arthur: It was $131 million that this Premier cost the people of Ontario by interfering in hydro. Do you know what? They’re not talking about the potential liabilities of cancelling the green energy contracts they were in. They were bad contracts; I will agree on that. But it does not provide business stability to override legitimate business contracts in Ontario. They’ve cancelled conservation programs. They have continued some of them, but they’ve cancelled conservation programs aimed at helping us deal with climate change.

I was very heartened to hear that when the Premier visited some of the flooded areas in Ontario and was asked about climate change, he said, “Well, there’s something going on here, and we’ll have to keep an eye on it.” It is very good to know that the Premier takes climate change so, so seriously.

In particular, I have a significant problem with the cancelling of one of the conservation programs, and that was to replace refrigerants: to update fridges and cooling systems in Ontario. The CFCs, the gases that we use to cool things, are incredibly harmful for the environment and one of the biggest causes of climate change on the planet. A single molecule of CFC-12 can hold 11,000 times the heat of carbon dioxide. This was a conservation program that was aimed at limiting the use of those cooling gases in Ontario, and they cancelled it. Refrigerant management, including CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs, tops the list. They’re one of the top three things we can do to combat climate change. We had a conservation program aimed at helping us do that, and this government chose to cancel it as part of their “fixing the hydro mess.” It just doesn’t actually make sense.

It’s lucky that the Premier didn’t visit California on his business trip because we currently have upwards of $125 million of California’s money that they invested, thinking that the cap-and-trade program, a market-based solution to climate change, was stable, that Ontario was a good place to invest their money. They sent us a whole lot of their money they wanted to invest in Ontario. In fact, in 2017, we were one of the top three places in the world to send capital investment money. I wonder how that has changed under this Premier?

It’s really lucky he didn’t visit Nevada, home of Tesla’s gigafactory, a company that had to sue this government simply to be treated like every other company. I think it’s very lucky that the Premier spent his time in Times Square and not these other places. It’s lucky he didn’t visit Texas, home to Exxon Mobil, which now has to put propaganda stickers on all their gas pumps in Ontario or face $10,000-a-day fines. That’s not good for business in Ontario.

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I’m coming to the end of my time, Speaker, and I just want to reiterate that I would love to see a bill that fixes the hydro mess in Ontario. But that is not what we have in front of us. We have a continuation of a terrible Liberal plan that the Tories have adopted and continued as their own. It is a shame. It is not leadership, and it is not where this province should be going on energy.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Lisa Gretzky): Questions and comments?

Mr. Paul Calandra: Madam Speaker, I enjoy when the members—he talked about the 407, so I think I have to just talk about it a little bit. I enjoy when the members of the NDP talk about the 407, because we have a toll road in Ontario, the first toll road that we ever had in the province of Ontario, because of the NDP. Why? Because they bankrupted the province and couldn’t afford to build a road, so they built a toll road. And then the next government to do that was a Liberal government, who tolled another road for the people in Oshawa. The only two parties to give us toll roads are the NDP and Liberals, because, in both circumstances, they bankrupted the people of Ontario and couldn’t afford to build the roads. That’s why we have toll roads.

They talked about the bill and now I get why they’re not voting for the bill. Clearly they don’t understand it. I’ve got to take a little bit of responsibility for that. Obviously we didn’t do a good enough job in our discourse. This bill isn’t about eliminating the Fair Hydro Plan; it’s about disentangling the secrecy of the plan. It’s about saving $4 billion for the people of Ontario. It’s about listening to the Auditor General. It’s about listening to the FAO. That’s what this bill is about. This is what you’re voting against.

There’s more to come. The minister said in his speech, “Clearly, there’s more to come.” The Minister of Finance has laid out how we’re going to bring the province back into balance.

If you vote specifically against this bill, you’re voting to continue the secrecy that was the Liberal Fair Hydro Plan, which the Auditor General said was a worse program. We could find no other jurisdiction in the world to do it. I ask the member opposite—he wants to end it right now? Be honest with the people of Ontario, then, and tell them: Are you advocating an immediate 25% increase for homeowners, for businesses, small, medium and large? Is that what you’re advocating? Is that what you want to do? Is that why you’re voting against this plan?

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Lisa Gretzky): Questions and comments?

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: It’s an honour to contribute—

Interjections.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Lisa Gretzky): The prolonged clapping is not necessary, especially when I’ve already recognized another member in the House to speak. Thank you.

My apologies to the member for Beaches–East York.

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: Thank you, Speaker. It’s an honour to stand and contribute to the debate, and I want to thank my colleague the member for Kingston and the Islands for his eloquent presentation.

I think we can all agree in this House that Enron accounting is bad accounting and that anything that does away with Enron accounting is a good idea. But that is as far as fixing the hydro mess went with this bill, because debt is also bad, and the ongoing accumulation of debt with no plan to get rid of that debt is irresponsible, particularly from a party that posits itself as the party of fiscal responsibility.

It’s been clear, watching this government bill after bill after bill, that it does not understand the difference between what is in the short-term interest of business and what is in the long-term interest of the economy. Time after time after time, this government has sold down the river the long-term interest of the economy.

Ontario’s credit rating has been downgraded under this Premier, and that is not okay. It’s only okay to continue to accumulate debt if you have a plan to get rid of it. And by doing away with conservation programs and energy programs that would have transitioned the economy to cheaper energy, the government is showing over and over again that it has no such plan. Privatization has proven not to be the answer. Perhaps you should have started by reversing that privatization. Perhaps you should start now by getting rid of this bogus plan. Go back to the drawing board and work seriously on fixing the hydro mess.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Lisa Gretzky): Questions and comments?

Mr. David Piccini: I’m pleased to rise to speak to this. Thank you to the members who’ve spoken to this and to the members opposite. This is about restoring trust and accountability, as the member from Markham–Unionville so eloquently explained, but this is also about staying true to our promises to Ontarians. We got rid of the hydro CEO—done. We said we were going to get rid of wasteful green energy contracts for energy that we didn’t need—done. We said we were going to restore transparency in the billing process—done. Madam Speaker, promise made, promise kept.

When they go low on the Premier with these drive-by shootings and they talk about everything else, I understand that’s their style. Perhaps it’s because they have no idea. Not surprising, when in the Swiss cheese budget which would have left our province broke—and Madam Speaker, their ideas would have left this province even more broke. We will not stand by and perpetuate the status quo. The NDP have never met a dollar they wouldn’t spend. They have never met a government program they wouldn’t expand.

The member opposite talks about debt; her party would have thrown this province into unsustainable debt. She would have saddled every woman, every man, every child, every senior with increased debt. It has already doubled in the last decade. It would have tripled under the members opposite. We would have had a carbon tax that would have resulted in gas over $2, heating bills that would have crippled our seniors, and it’s all because they have no plan. They’re not bringing ideas. It’s low blows at the Premier, at this government.

But that’s fine. When they do that, we’re going to go to the people. We’re going to speak to the people of this province. We’re going to act for the people of this province. Madam Speaker, we make no apologies in being a government for the people of this province.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Lisa Gretzky): Questions and comments?

Ms. Jill Andrew: It’s with great honour that I stand to add my voice to the conversation on Bill 87, the Fixing the Hydro Mess Act that the PCs started—I’m sorry, that was my own addition; it’s just “Fixing the Hydro Mess.”

I’d like to first start by saying thank you to the member from Kingston and the Islands and also our member for Beaches–East York for their commentary. All I’d like to add is a message to Ontarians, and that is that the NDP, the official opposition, are listening. We are listening to people who are sitting in their homes, currently having to choose between paying rent and their hydro bills. What we know is that Bill 87 is not going to fix the hydro mess. In fact, it’s not even going to decrease people’s bills, and at the end of the day, that’s what people want to see: hydro bills that are realistic and are not shooting through the roof.

This bill also attacks transparency. It does nothing for bringing Ontario to a more transparent place. The Ontario Energy Board, which has around maybe eight directors currently—this bill allows for 20 board directors. How are we going to pay for that, right? Who are we going to tap for that amount? The taxpayer, the same taxpayer who can’t decide between rent, food for their children or paying their hydro bill.

What we need this government to do with this bill, and pretty much every other bill that has gone through the House so far, is to speak to Ontarians. You keep saying you’re for the people, but again, you’re not for that senior citizen, you’re not for that single parent and you’re not for that renter who has to decide between the bare basics of existence and their hydro bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Lisa Gretzky): Back to the member for Kingston.

Mr. Ian Arthur: Thank you, Madam Speaker. There’s two minutes left, and a lot to fit in.

It’s interesting to hear the member from Markham–Stouffville talk about how this was about transparency and clarity. But the title of the bill is “fixing the mess.” It would actually be more appropriately titled “shifting of debt.” “The shifting of debt bill” would be a more appropriate name for this bill, because it doesn’t actually address how you’re going to fix the mess.

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The member opposite also many times asked me what my plan was and what I was advocating for in my speech. It would appear to me that the member from Markham–Stouffville, as the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Energy, I believe, might be asking me to do his job for him and come up with the plan. But my job, actually, and the entire job of the opposition is to hold this government to account, to look at where there are flaws in their plan, where their plan doesn’t do what it says it’s going to do. That is our job here.

I admired the contribution from the member from Northumberland–Peterborough South. He said that we advocated for a carbon tax that would have put gas over $2 a litre. That, frankly, was never part of the NDP platform. We supported the cap-and-trade program. Perhaps the member could go and do a little bit of reading to understand the difference between a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade program, which, incidentally, was a Republican program designed to deal with acid rain and allow market forces to drive change on a global scale, and it worked.

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this bill. I remain skeptical that it’s going to do what it says it’s going to do.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Lisa Gretzky): Further debate.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be splitting my time with the member from Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte.

I do proudly rise today in support of Bill 87, Fixing the Hydro Mess Act. We are at this very important point where we’re fixing, and the reason it’s titled “fixing” is because it was something that had been broken. Funnily enough, it was called “fair,” what was broken, and it’s interesting to think of when something is fair and then it being very broken—meaning it was very unfair.

Ironically enough, one of the members opposite, specifically from Kingston and the Islands, talks about holding the government to account and finding flaws in the plan. He was asked by the member from Markham–Stouffville about the NDP plan and what they would do, and they couldn’t really answer.

It’s funny, because I remember reading their platform on hydro, and I had made some notes, and there weren’t a lot of notes to really make, because when they were pricing out their hydro plan, it had “n/a” beside the costing of that platform item—non-applicable. The members of the New Democratic Party are not applicable. They don’t think there’s a price to be had on their plan. It’s just not applicable. So I just wonder, if they were in government and they were to introduce a budget, whether every line item in that budget would just be inapplicable and we would just wash our hands of any fiscal responsibility or transparency altogether. I just wonder what kind of mess they would leave behind for generations to come. Would they be writing blank cheques today that are paid for generations to come? And what would that mean?

It’s interesting, I would say; are the New Democrats trying to be New Democrats or the “new dreaming party,” or the “never doing party”? What is it that they’re trying to portray? Because when I see “non-applicable” in a budget, I would say that that is a gaping hole, that is a lot of Swiss cheese, and it doesn’t smell that great.

I want to get back to the facts, Mr. Speaker, because we are a government about facts, prudency, transparency, accountability. It’s one of the key things we got elected on, because life in Ontario was unaffordable and hard-working Ontarians needed that hope and that change—that hope that when they go to work and they earn that hard-earned dollar, their hard-earned dollar is being returned to them, whether it’s in services or being returned to them through their taxes. But they weren’t seeing that, and much of that $1 they were taking back in their pocket was being spent on things like servicing the interest on their debt. It became very evident to this government, when you looked at the things we spend our hard-earned taxpayer dollars on, like education, health care, social services, that when the fourth item is interest on debt, it’s unsustainable. It’s just as unsustainable as the cost of hydro in this province. We did hear loud and clear that the cost was unaffordable, and that it was causing a lot of businesses to struggle and many families to struggle, so we took action and we took control.

What does that mean, taking control? When you have programs like time of use, you’re basically telling that user, the person in their house, “Look, you don’t have control when you do your dishes. You don’t have control when you do your laundry. No, no, no; the government has control when you do laundry and when you do your dishes. No longer do you have that control.” So it’s bringing that back—that option for the taxpayer—to say, “We’re the government for the people. We work for the people. And what does that mean? We’re going to give you flexibility, but more importantly, we’ll give you the choice—the choice of what to do with your hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and that transparency that comes with it.” We owe it to them. They trusted us with their vote. They trusted us to lead a prudent government. We do owe it to them.

When it comes to transparency, Mr. Speaker, I often heard from individuals, “Why can’t you tell me what it is on my hydro bill that I’m really paying for? What are those line-by-line items? Things like conservation: What is that? What am I paying towards? I don’t see it used towards conservation. Why don’t you actually show me what that’s being paid towards?” Things like the global adjustment fee is basically dragging down our businesses. Instead of rewarding our businesses for their achievements, we’re dragging them down with an extra slapping on of a tax or slapping on of a fee.

In my local area of Barrie–Innisfil, many people work at the Honda plant. They rely on that. That’s how they pay their bills. If that company isn’t doing well or they’re paying extra for things like the global adjustment fee, that’s going to affect their bottom line.

But no longer under our plan: Again, we’re providing the hope, that change to hard-working Ontarians under the fixing the hydro mess plan. This plan will see people that work in the auto sector and auto sector companies—consuming 15,000 megawatts an hour a month—they would see a bill reduction of about $15,000 per month. What does that mean for those Honda workers? It means they’ve got a job to go to at the end of the day and they can rely on those jobs. That goes to our plan of creating prosperity in this province, because no longer can we be writing cheques for the next generation to be billed for. It’s not acceptable.

And don’t just take it from me; we have many other sources that talk about how broken our energy grid was, and a very big criticism of what the previous government had introduced. Don’t take it from our government, but take it from the Auditor General, who was saying that, under the previous Liberal plan, under the unfair hydro plan, Ontarians were paying up to $4 billion more than necessary in interest alone. Again, it talks to that if we keep paying interest, we’re never going pay off that debt. We keep burdening the next generation, which is going to be saddled with the bill, with no choices out of it.

That’s why, when we got elected, we took quick action, like ending the green energy contracts. That was one of the government’s first actions. We terminated more than 750 of those energy contracts, and Ontario ratepayers are now benefiting from that. Actually, it reduces cost by $790 million over the time frame of those terminated contracts.

While we’re actually making commitments like scrapping those green energy programs, I reflect back on the NDP platform, where they talked about scrapping things like nuclear and they talked about scrapping things like natural gas. But do you know what they didn’t talk about? Solar and wind, things that we’re wasting money out of province on, where we’re selling energy that we don’t need, only to buy it back at a higher price. That was irresponsible to do by the previous Liberal government. Not only that, but the New Democrats were supporting that Green Energy Act. They did not vote against it; they voted for it. That’s why, in the last election, when Ontarians were going to the ballot box and they had the option to pick a new government, they chose a responsible Progressive Conservative government that brings respect back to taxpayer dollars.

Interjection: Hear, hear. Well said.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Thank you.

It’s that respect for taxpayer dollars that we come into this chamber every day and represent, because gone are the days where we’re just wasting money for ineffective programs. Instead, we’re fixing them.

I will just close my remarks by referencing a very interesting report that I read by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, where they talk about how broken our hydro system was. They say, “Unfortunately, Ontario consumers cannot get access to that low-cost surplus electricity because Ontario’s retail price plans are not designed to make surplus electricity available at its low wholesale market energy price. Ontario consumers should be able to purchase this surplus electricity at the same wholesale market energy price as utilities of other jurisdictions.”

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Translation, Mr. Speaker: Canadian provinces were paying, basically—we were just discarding that money to other jurisdictions rather than being able to use that surplus energy here at home and utilize that surplus energy, not only to lower our electricity rates, but also to lower our greenhouse gas emissions. Every plan that we talk about here, Mr. Speaker, is a made-in-Ontario plan, like our environmental plan, like our fixing-the-hydro-mess plan, because we have one person in mind, and that is the hard-working Ontario taxpayer.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Continuing with debate, I now recognize the member from Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte.

Mr. Doug Downey: There’s been a lot of back and forth today. It’s been kind of fun and kept us awake. It’s very interesting to hear the other side posit problems with no solutions. I have to coin them as the “no detailed plan” party. They’re happy to lob problems, but when asked what the solution is, we’re not getting any potential solutions. It makes me wonder how we got here, Mr. Speaker.

I was listening to the PA for energy from Whitchurch-Stouffville talk about the importance of—sorry, we’re massacring your riding—

Interjection: Markham–Stouffville.

Mr. Doug Downey: Mr. Speaker, I apologize—from Markham-Stouffville. What he was talking about was simplifying and taking apart this Rubik’s Cube, this Gordian knot, this real mess, and so I was reflecting on it as I was listening to thoughts that we had on how we would do that and what’s in the legislation. There are several ways that we’re taking an approach to simplify the process, but the “no-detangling party” is causing more trouble by supporting the Liberals in creating the mess.

Mr. Speaker, there were several choices made by the previous Liberal government, and one of the choices made by the previous Liberal government was about who should pay for this artificial subsidy that they tried to bury so they could pretend they were balancing the budget. In a very simplistic way, they had to choose between the ratepayer of hydro and the taxpayer of the province. What they did is they said, “We’re going to put it on future ratepayers.” I’m not talking about five-years-from-now ratepayers, or 10-years-from-now ratepayers. I’m not talking about the pages in front of us. I’m talking about the pages’ kids and grandkids, and I’m not exaggerating.

When the former Premier was testifying in front of the select committee, she said, “Yes, we knew we were doing that. We knew we were saddling our grandkids with this debt. We did it. We did it on purpose.” And they would do it again, Mr. Speaker. They did it consciously. They got professional advice. They got professional advice from Justice Ian Binnie, the former Supreme Court justice. They got advice from top accounting firms. They got advice from tax lawyers. They got advice from all across the board, and the advice was, “You might not actually be able to do this. You might not actually be able to get away with this.”

I just want to put a timeline on some of this. On March 1, a report went to Treasury Board that said, “You shouldn’t do this. It’s probably not constitutional. It doesn’t fit within a rate-regulated industry that we don’t have. You’re probably not going to get away with it and it’s going to cost an awful ton more”—not just the $4 billion we’re saving now; we’re talking tens of billions of dollars over time.

On March 1, that report went to Treasury Board. Mr. Speaker, you would be shocked to know it went to cabinet on March 1. And if you go back and you look at the timeline, on March 2, the government announced they were doing it anyway. Now, I don’t know what happens in that Treasury Board or in that cabinet room, but I would speculate that there wasn’t an epiphany of why Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie and the accountants and the tax lawyers were all wrong. I think what happened was, “We have to do this, because we’ve got ourselves in a box and we have no other way to pretend to balance the budget.”

But here’s the really offensive thing, Mr. Speaker. Here’s the most offensive thing: They didn’t even balance the budget by doing all that.

Mrs. Robin Martin: After all that.

Mr. Doug Downey: After all that. After taking risk and putting the cost on our grandkids—and they did it on purpose. Mr. Speaker, it infuriates me, and it’s the kind of thing that causes people to run. It’s the kind of thing that causes people to get elected to go in and fix it—and we are. We’re fixing the hydro mess. This is just one small piece.

I want to talk about what happens outside of this chamber, what happens with green energy and how the Liberals, supported by the NDP—and the NDP would restart it in a second. But let me explain what actually happens. I dealt with this a lot as a lawyer, advising people who were setting up solar and wind. In the early days of green energy, what they did is they got grants and they got high, 80-cents-a-kilowatt-hour payments for selling at five cents, which makes no economic sense. But what they really did is that they signed contracts and they put huge chunks of concrete called ground mounts into farm fields—good farm fields. They relied on data from the 1950s they had pulled from museums, because they hadn’t actually done real or current studies. Some of these farm fields received investments from the government to tile those fields. The government paid to tile those fields, to farm those fields, and then the government paid to put big blocks of concrete in those fields. That concrete is in those fields now, and I rue the day when the NDP and the Liberals have to stand up and explain to the rest of us why we have to now subsidize farmers to get those ground mounts out of that farm field when it’s now gone fallow and get it re-energized and get it farmed again, like it should have been in the first place. That’s going to happen, Mr. Speaker, and some of us saw it coming.

Some of those contracts have in it that the proponents who put it in have to grind down three feet. Well, I can tell you, every time that was raised with one of the proponents when I was dealing with it, they said, “Nobody has ever raised that before.” So I have to assume that there are thousands of those across this province that somebody is going to have to pay to get out of those otherwise very good farm fields. Mr. Speaker, that also makes me very angry.

Back to choices that we make: We all knocked on a lot of doors. The one thing that we have in common with the NDP and Liberals is that we heard the same thing at the doors. I know we heard the same thing at the doors. I heard from people who were just burdened by the input costs, either for business or for their personal lives, and it’s the one issue—I’ve said it before—where people did one of two things: When they talked about hydro, they either got visibly angry or they slumped because it was just too much.

Mr. Speaker, it’s the one piece, and it runs across every strata. In fact, it hurts the most those who are struggling the most. The people who are living on a fixed income—I talked to one lady. She was on Ontario Works and had a couple of kids with her, and she was struggling to get by. Do you know what her biggest issue was? It was her hydro bill. It wasn’t her rent; it wasn’t her Ontario Works; it wasn’t her child tax benefit; it wasn’t any of that stuff. It was the hydro bill. Because you never knew what was coming; it was a surprise every month. It went up in the winter, when things were tight, and it took away any discretion she had to care for her family. What always came last was the piece that seemed discretionary, which is what you eat and what you can buy to provide for your kids. Hydro was not discretionary. Hydro had to be paid or it was going to be cut off.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, for those who claim to speak for the little guy, who speak for those who are most vulnerable, those who are impoverished, I can tell you what the previous Liberal government did, with the backing of the NDP: They did exactly the opposite of what they claim they stand up for. And we are fixing that. That is the good news. We’re fixing that for the people. We’re fixing that for the constituents and the citizens of Ontario. We’re going to right this ship. We campaigned on 12%. We campaigned on getting the conservation programs where they’re supposed to be, if they should exist at all. We’re moving the way that we structure the hydro bill so that people can understand them, so they know. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and we’ll shine light on what has been happening.

Mr. Speaker, I can’t tell you enough how refreshing it is to talk to constituents and say, “We’re righting the ship for you.” We’re going to achieve that 12%. We’ve already put things in motion. We’ve cancelled contracts, the $790 million. We’ve got this bill in front of us that’s going to make people understand what’s happening.

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We hear chuckles from the other side about the stickers. There’s nothing better than informing people of what’s happening and why it’s happening and where it’s coming from. We should not be afraid of having information for people to understand what they’re paying, why they’re paying it, and what it’s doing to them. Mr. Speaker, when somebody pulls up and they fill up their gas tank with $5 because that’s all they have, because they have to go home and pay their hydro bill, that’s a shame.

I can tell you, we are on the right track and I can’t wait until we get this bill passed, and then we get on to the next piece. We’re just getting started, Mr. Speaker. We’re getting started to fix this for Ontario. The minister and the parliamentary assistant are on the right track, using all the experience they have, and we’re going to make it so much better for the people of Ontario. The “never decreasing payments” party is just going to have to live with it when they go to the doors and we get the credit for doing the tough work. They’re going to have to say, “You know, we didn’t think it was going to happen but it really did. It really did. It’s just amazing.”

Mr. Speaker, I’m watching the clock. We’re okay? All right, Mr. Speaker.

We’ve got lots to talk about. We talked about laundry and having to do it at certain times of the day. I can tell you—

Hon. Greg Rickford: Heating in the winter.

Mr. Doug Downey: Heating in the winter. What time of day do you want to heat in the winter? What time do you want to heat? If you’re on shift work, it’s a different time than it is for other people. If you’re running a business and you have machines that run—what, you have to go in at midnight to run your presses? That’s actually what people are doing. They’re actually going in at midnight. They’re going in at 1 o’clock in the morning when it’s cold. They’re cranking up the heat; they’re running the machines.

Mr. Speaker, you know what? I know it would be cheaper if you did nothing—

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): Thank you very much.

Third reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): To the members who spoke in the last 20 minutes, there will be an opportunity for questions and comments by either one of you to respond the next time that this bill comes up in the Legislature.

Pursuant to standing order 38, the question that the House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.

Adjournment Debate

Government spending

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): The member for Timiskaming–Cochrane has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by, in this case, the Acting Premier.

The member from Timiskaming–Cochrane has up to five minutes to debate the matter, and in this case, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance may reply for up to five minutes.

I now turn it over to the member from Timiskaming–Cochrane.

Mr. John Vanthof: Thank you, Speaker. I was elected in 2011. I think this is the first time I have ever used the opportunity of doing a late show. The reason I have chosen to do it tonight is that the question that was asked this morning was very simple.

A little bit of background: The Premier, the finance minister and their entourage went to New York to sell their budget. That’s not really an issue. That’s been done before. There’s not a lot of controversy about the Premier and the finance minister going to our neighbour to talk about the budget.

What was a bit controversial was they took their own media team, Ontario News Now I believe it’s called, which is kind of like the propaganda arm of the government. That was a bit controversial. But what was really controversial was the fact that when the media—the regular media not paid for by the Tory party—asked the question, “How much is the trip going to cost?” they refused to answer.

That’s what is making this an issue. It shouldn’t be that hard to provide the answer, Speaker. Think of when you plan a trip with your family or plan a vacation. You have a checklist. You look for the cheapest airfare. Tickets bought? Check. You check for your passport, make sure you have your passport—check. Rental cars, because when you land you need to get somewhere, so rental cars—check. Meals, restaurants—check.

Most people plan their vacations a long time ahead, so I would assume that when you’re the Premier of the province that your staff would plan—and I’m not insinuating that this was a vacation; not at all. This was a business trip. We’re not talking about the benefits of the trip. We heard this morning from the Minister of Finance how great a trip it was, and we would expect a minister to tout how great a trip it was. We weren’t asking how great a trip it was. We were asking how much the trip cost, and there was absolutely no answer.

When the Premier’s staff organizes a trip with taxpayers’ money—and they claim to be very respectful of taxpayers’ money—I am assuming that they also do a checklist. “Tickets?” Check. “We better pack passports; it’s an international trip.” Check. “How many people are we bringing?” Check. “Tickets for everybody?” Check. “Accommodations for our taxpayer-funded propaganda team?” Oh, that’s something that we don’t have on our personal vacations, and that’s something that the Premier of the province usually doesn’t have either.

Perhaps that’s why they don’t want to talk about the price of the trip. That is the question. It’s not about anything else. That’s why it was so, quite frankly, stunning that a government who claims to be so respectful of taxpayers’ money just doesn’t—and hopefully, the member who is going to respond just has the number. They have the number; I’m sure they do, because you would have to book all this stuff beforehand. When you’re organizing for the Premier and the Minister of Finance, you would have all the meetings booked beforehand. They didn’t go down there to just glad-hand. I am sure that the taxi or the limousine or whatever from the hotel to Fox News was planned beforehand. They have all those numbers, and they should just provide them, as previous governments have done when the media ask.

My father always told me, “Be careful when people talk about big numbers, because it’s the details that are important. If you take care of the small numbers, the big numbers take care of themselves.”

The fact that they don’t seem to want to give the actual number of what a trip for the Premier and the finance minister and their entourage cost is very concerning.

What is the cost of the trip? It’s a very simple question.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): The parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance may reply for up to five minutes.

Mr. Doug Downey: I’d like to take a moment to talk about the importance of spreading the message that Ontario is open for business and open for jobs.

I figured out why the objection to the answer this morning—it’s because the member opposite thought they were on vacation. They weren’t on vacation. They were down there to tell the people of New York and the people of the United States that we are open for business and open for jobs.

The Premier and the Minister of Finance had a very successful and very productive trip to New York this week. As the minister shared this morning, American investors are finally gaining confidence in Ontario again. Our government’s message and our priorities are resonating with business. The investment community is excited. I don’t know, Mr. Speaker, if you remember in the early 1990s—well, some time ago—when Premier Rae was in charge and they went to New York and there was a danger that they wouldn’t actually buy our bonds. But we’re past that now. We’re turning the ship.

The Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive that we have encourages new and immediate business investment in Ontario. We’re providing $3.8 billion in relief to businesses over six years. That message to those who want to grow and come to Ontario—it is a place to grow; it is a place that is open for business. We’re cutting red tape. We’re reducing the regulatory burden. We’re making Ontario a more competitive place. It’s important that we share the news.

The members opposite would have the Premier walk around with a selfie stick. How else are we supposed to get the news out, except to tell our story, to tell our good news and make sure that we’re proselytizing the wonderful news?

The way that we were received in New York—because I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, if they had just come back and said, “We were in New York, and guess what? We have all this confidence in all these great things we’re doing,” the members opposite would say, “Prove it.” Well, now they’re upset that we are telling people. We told them in real time. In a digital age, an age of the camera, of course you would tell it that way. You would tell it over social media. We’re digitizing the entire province. We’re getting our message out with the tools available. We’ll yell it from the mountaintops: We’re providing $26 billion in relief to Ontario families and individuals and businesses. Why would we be shy about that?

As the minister stated earlier, the business and investment community in New York are excited. They’re excited about how we’re transforming government and digitizing our processes. We’re modernizing, Mr. Speaker. We’re creating an environment in which businesses can compete and grow and succeed. We’re using all the tools at our disposal to tell our great story, to tell the story of Ontario so people will invest and they will come here and they will start new businesses. They will expand businesses and they will do all the things that we’re saying they are going to do. They are actually doing it. It’s happening in real time. It’s very exciting to see the investment in our area.

Just as one minister is in India telling our story, our Premier and our finance minister are in New York. We’re going at warp speed. Now we’re going to be in a spot where we’re going to have people trained to do so many jobs that are landing in Ontario. I can’t be prouder of the minister’s trip and the Premier’s trip down in New York to tell our story in every way possible, including Ontario News Now. It’s just such a great story to be told. I now understand, because they thought they were on vacation. Why would you bring Ontario News Now on vacation? I understand that. But we have a story to tell, and we’re proud to tell it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the time to answer the question.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Rick Nicholls): There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to be carried. This House now stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1812.