42nd Parliament, 1st Session

L171 - Mon 6 Jul 2020 / Lun 6 jui 2020



Monday 6 July 2020 Lundi 6 juillet 2020

Tabling of sessional papers

Members’ Statements

Anti-racism activities

COVID-19 response

Assistance to persons with disabilities

Riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington

Child care

Public health

COVID-19 response

Autism treatment

Workplace safety

Personal protective equipment

Correction of record

Question Period

Long-term care

Long-term care

Employment standards

Workplace safety

Police oversight

Long-term care

Towing industry

Education funding

Correctional services

Personal protective equipment

COVID-19 response


Child care

Skilled trades

Members’ expenditures

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on General Government

Standing Committee on Social Policy

Introduction of Bills

Climate Crisis Health Action Plan Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur le Plan d’action sur la crise climatique et la santé

WSIB Coverage for Workers in Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la protection à accorder aux travailleurs dans les établissements de soins en résidence et les foyers de groupe par la Commission de la sécurité professionnelle et de l’assurance contre les accidents du travail


Personal protective equipment

Broadband infrastructure

Long-term care

Access to justice

Affordable housing

Personal protective equipment

Long-term care

Municipal development

Orders of the Day

Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 pour un système judiciaire plus efficace et plus solide

Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la construction plus rapide de transport en commun

The House met at 1015.

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


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I wish to acknowledge this territory as a traditional gathering place for many Indigenous nations, most recently the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

This being the first sitting Monday of the month, the national and royal anthems of Canada were going to be sung in the chamber. Given current public health advice regarding group singing, and out of an abundance of caution, I have made arrangements to have the recordings of these anthems played for the House. Please join me in listening to the national and royal anthems.

Playing of the national anthem / Écoute de l’hymne national.

Playing of the royal anthem / Écoute de l’hymne royal.


Tabling of sessional papers

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that the following documents have been tabled:

—the 2019-2020 annual report of the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario;

—the annual report of the review of expense claims covering the period April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020, pursuant to the Cabinet Ministers’ and Opposition Leaders’ Expenses Review and Accountability Act, 2002 from the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario;

—the 2017-2018 annual report of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Ontario; and

—the 2019-2020 annual report from the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario.

It is now time for members’ statements.

Members’ Statements

Anti-racism activities

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: In June alone, two nooses were placed at the Michael Garron Hospital construction site in Beaches–East York, intended for Black workers to find them. Worse, one of those workers told me that nooses and swastikas are a common occurrence on work sites and that everybody knows it.

Last week, too, alumni and current students at Notre Dame High School, also in the riding, spoke out about systemic anti-Black racism at the school that they say continues to go unaddressed despite repeated complaints.

Last week, I spoke with a Black constituent who told me that police had refused to charge the white men who had attacked and threatened to kill him and soccer-kicked his girlfriend in the head, resulting in her hospitalization and a concussion.

Each of these are instances of serious systemic anti-Black racism, toxic workplaces, a poisoned education system, and yet another instance of police not protecting Black people. But the Ministry of Labour refused to participate in a forum on workplace hate last week, and the Premier said in June that deep systemic racism doesn’t exist in Ontario. Maybe that’s why he has allowed Ontario’s anti-racism strategy to lapse; why he gutted the Anti-Racism Directorate; why he said he does not support redistributing funds away from overblown police budgets towards housing, mental health supports, youth opportunities or clean drinking water in First Nations communities; and why he has reinstituted God Save the Queen at Queen’s Park.

Everybody deserves to feel safe in Ontario. The Premier and his government need to do better. We need a plan.

COVID-19 response

Mr. Vincent Ke: I have had the great pleasure of hosting many successful consultations with a variety of engaged constituents from our riding of Don Valley North during the pandemic. They represent a good cross-section of interests in the restaurant and the real estate sectors, along with several revered faith leaders whom my constituents turn to for comfort, kindness and hope during these difficult times. All of them are committed to enhancing the lives of the people in our thriving community.

Each of the discussions we had enlightened me about their contributions and concerns. Their enthusiasm inspires me as they each embrace the opportunity to participate and to learn about how they can best serve and protect their patrons and parishioners.

I feel humbled to have earned their trust as their representative in this Legislature. I value their input and I count on these conversations to keep me informed and aware of the issues that matter to them.

Speaker, getting to know them makes me feel confident for the future that, as our great province reopens, they will each continue to light the way with true Ontario spirit.

Assistance to persons with disabilities

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I have a letter:

“It is with the interest of the disabled community in mind that I’m reaching out to you, even though, as a person with severe mental disabilities, it is extremely difficult for me to do so. Like many who suffer from severe disabilities, the basic functions of daily life are an immense challenge for me. Even the simplest actions of everyday life for a typical Canadian are fraught with barriers and challenges, whether it’s shopping, speaking on the phone, or even just getting out of bed.

“These challenges are made even greater by the needless cruelty and woeful insufficiency of the province’s most fundamental program for disability support, ODSP. Despite facing far greater challenges than the typical person, I am left to fend for myself with the inexcusably minuscule sum of $1,100 a month. In good times, this is nowhere near sufficient. In the time of COVID, it is downright punitive....

“I was, naively, optimistic to see the average person receive $2,000 a month from the federal government, mistakenly believing that was an acknowledgement that this amount of money was considered the absolute minimum for the most basic standard of living. As always, this has proven to not be the case....

“It has become obvious that Mr. Trudeau has no interest in providing even the most basic of support for the most vulnerable of the disabled community. Unfortunately, that means we are left at the mercy of the merciless Ford government....

“I ask that you don’t let my voice—and the voice of every disabled Ontarian suffering in extreme poverty due to the insufficient and punitive nature of ODSP, and the complete lack of regard from the ... government fall silent.... Please do not allow me, and the millions of other disabled Ontarians, to be forgotten.

“Thank you,

“Aaron Green.”

Riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington

Mr. Daryl Kramp: As we begin only the second July sitting of the 42nd Legislative Assembly in Ontario’s history, it’s worth noting that the federal government is not sitting. But all of us in this government have a serious responsibility to govern during this unprecedented pandemic period because general operations of government cannot be brought to a standstill. Decisions need to be made, legislation passed, and democracy demands local and regional input.

But in summer in Ontario—well, summer is back, as we can all read, see and feel, like the summers we used to know, with Lake Ontario at normal levels, the heat at higher levels and farmers wishing for rain. A tip of the hat, though, to Hastings county: No new cases of COVID since May 17, despite a much greater increase in testing. And thanks also to the people of Lennox and Addington, who have been side-swiped by an outbreak in their Kingston neighbour, forcing all to wear masks in stores. The compliance has been amazing—a community truly caring about their community.

I would like today to pay tribute to a volunteer-run Amherst Island radio station, which passes the good word to so many, as it seeks to upgrade its licence to 4,800 watts so it can reach all of Loyalist township on the mainland. I can assure you: We’re with you. That’s a message we all want to hear.

Child care

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to read a letter I received from one of my constituents. It goes:

“I am a single-parent family, economically independent, with a full-time professional job.

“I parent two young children.

“Last week, we lost our licensed child care.

“No room at the inn.

“The centre has been forced to reduce its capacity due to Ontario’s operating directive of reduced staff ratio and no new funding.

“Only six out of 10 families have child care this summer. The remaining 40% of us are in a desperate situation.

“My livelihood, my ability to pay rent, feed my family and invest in their futures depends on having quality, dependable child care.

“I was unable to work full-time for the last month, as my children could not succeed in online school without my support at home.

“I need to return to working full-time.

“I am terrified for September.

“How am I as a single parent expected to work full-time without child care for rotating school days?

“Where is the child care plan? Where is the support for working parents? How are women” like me “able to participate in the labour force and remain economically self-sufficient without child care?

“I implore you to turn your mind to restoring child care.


“Families, like mine, are dependent on our government to fully support Ontario’s economic recovery. And, there is no economic recovery without a she-covery, and there is no she-covery without child care.”

Public health

Mr. Randy Hillier: Speaker, there’s a growing contempt for our democracy, transparency and accountability, and it’s expanding well beyond our government’s own circle.

Last week, I received an email from my public health unit informing me that they are providing direction to make face masks mandatory. The consultation was confidential, the participants undisclosed, and the arguments and evidence not revealed. But a decision was made with the following justification: “A poll was conducted in Ottawa recently and 91% of the public who responded agreed with mandatory mask use in indoor public spaces.”

I was floored. Public health policy is now not being determined by evidence or science or data. It beggars the question: Why are we paying health care professionals for advice and guidance? It would be much cheaper just to hire a pollster to make public health policy.

It is clear that both this government and their bureaucracy are not making decisions based on available data, but rather on what the polls are telling them. Like the COVID command table, unknown actors behind closed doors are making decisions on our future after reading the latest polls. It does now appear that COVID is evolving from a public health crisis into a public relations strategy.

COVID-19 response

Mr. Billy Pang: To begin, I hope my constituents in Markham–Unionville had a safe and joyous Canada Day. On the back of my summer newsletter, I included the Canada flag for my constituents to cut out and display on their windows, fridge and more so that they can celebrate Canada Day at home.

Since COVID-19’s start, the health of the people of Ontario has been our priority. Places of worship are gradually re-opening, and on June 19 my riding of Markham–Unionville entered stage 2. Hair salons, restaurant patios, museums and more businesses, who have been patient and supportive, can now open their doors for business.

In the last couple of weeks, I had the pleasure to tour and speak to local businesses—Old Firehall Confectionery, Main Street Dental Team, Unionville Arms Pub and Grill, Casa Victoria Fine Dining and more—to listen to how their businesses are adapting to the new normal. I also had the opportunity to stop by senior and long-term-care centres Union Villa and Bethany Lodge to meet with residents at a distance.

From limiting stores’ capacity to allow physical distancing, to providing masks and gloves to employees and increasing sanitation, I want to thank businesses and care homes for following guidelines and protocols to ensure the health and safety of our community.

I want to thank all the residents of Markham–Unionville for their collective efforts in helping our province fight COVID-19. Their efforts and sacrifice do not go unnoticed.

Autism treatment

Ms. Jessica Bell: I met Alexandra Kollo and her daughter last summer. Alex’s daughter has autism and has been on the wait-list for Surrey Place since 2017. Surrey Place is in my riding and helps children and adults living with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and visual impairments reach their full potential.

In March, Alex was finally able to apply for interim funding for her family but has continued to encounter delays. Her online application didn’t work, and she was unable to reach anyone at the ministry for support. After her application was finally submitted, the ministry was unable to locate it. It has been nine weeks since Alex applied for funding support, and the ministry still cannot tell her when or whether her application will be processed.

It has been over a year since the Ford government announced it was revamping the autism program to reduce the backlog of the 23,000 kids who are on waiting lists for autism funding. This Ford government promised to create a better needs-based system, but it keeps delaying when that better needs-based system is going to happen. And now, because of COVID, these families are at breaking point.

We cannot waste another day. Kids with disabilities in this province must receive the support they need to thrive today—not in a year, not in three years, but today.

Workplace safety

Mr. Deepak Anand: Protecting the health and safety of workers and the public is the government’s top priority. That is why, Mr. Speaker, Ontario has taken decisive action to contain the spread of COVID-19. Last Friday, our government announced an exciting new initiative that will provide online training to promote safer workplaces across Ontario. On average, 37,000 people require this mandatory training every year, including the members from Mississauga–Malton. This new online training will ensure joint health and safety committee members stay up to date and address safety and health concerns in their workplaces, including those related to COVID-19. The training will take place and be provided in real time using videoconferencing by qualified instructors who are approved by Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer.

Mr. Speaker, there have been rapid changes during this global pandemic, and we want workers and employers to get the training on health and safety measures so that we can safely and gradually reopen Ontario’s economy. By offering these online options, we can ensure that workers still get that important information, but from the safety of their homes, making workplaces safer for everyone.

On behalf of Mississauga–Malton, I’d like to take a moment and thank Premier Ford and Minister Monte McNaughton, the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, for taking swift action in supporting our employees and employers. Together, let’s stop the spread of COVID-19.

Personal protective equipment

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Today, I would like to tell the Legislature a tale of two cities: Barrie and Kitchener. After years of research and development, O2 Canada from Kitchener partnered with Jomi Technical Services in Barrie to produce a game-changing piece of protective equipment that allows a person wearing the device to breathe easily while at the same time protecting the individual. While the word “mask” might come to mind, this personal protective equipment is actually a respirator device.

To produce more respirators, the Barrie company, Jomi, retooled its space and hired more staff to make this more comfortable piece of equipment that’s also environmentally friendly. As we see far too often right now, we see masks littered all over our communities and all over the ground. But O2 and Jomi have partnered to make this reusable mask that comes with a filter that can be replaced. Jomi was also able to show me, first-hand, a new piece of manufacturing equipment they received just last week that’s going to help them create more of this equipment.

I want to thank Jomi Technical Services for stepping up to the plate and partnering with O2 Canada to produce a life-saving and life-enhancing respirator. Thank you to Mike, Drew and Peter for the tour of their retooled facility and all your hard work. This is an excellent example of the Ontario spirit and the power of working together.

Correction of record

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Beaches–East York has a point of order, I understand.

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: Thank you, Speaker. I’d like to correct my record. The Premier didn’t reintroduce God Save the Queen but rather instituted it for the first time.

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

Question Period

Long-term care

Ms. Andrea Horwath: I just want to say, on behalf of the official opposition and New Democrats, that I hope everyone enjoyed their Canada Day celebrations in a safe and pleasant way with family and friends.

Speaker, my first question this morning is to the Minister of Long-Term Care. Media have now confirmed that, as COVID-19 loomed last February, the Minister of Long-Term Care requested additional funds to deal with the staffing crisis in long-term care. That request, actually, was rejected by the Treasury Board. Over 1,820 people have since died in our long-term-care homes.

Can the minister tell us what she requested, and the reason she was given when her request was denied?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. When we consider the neglect of the 15 years of long-term care under the previous government, it was very clear that capacity was an issue. Staffing was an issue. The integration of long-term care into the entire health care system through Ontario Health—the use of Public Health Ontario to give us expert advice and to use the directives to create a positive response ongoing, not only for this pandemic but beyond. So staffing, obviously, was part of this. This has been an issue during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was years in the making, and our government was looking to fix that.


That’s exactly what we were doing with an expert panel, with a staffing study that will be released very soon, to inform a comprehensive staffing strategy. We know that staffing was an issue. Our government acknowledges that, which is far greater than the previous government.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, in February, the World Health Organization was warning the world to prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks. That very same month, this Minister of Long-Term Care was acknowledging a “severe shortage of personal support workers and other key roles” in the long-term-care sector. The minister and government were warned over and over again that staff forced to move from home to home, staff with inadequate PPE, would infect themselves, would infect residents—and, of course, that happened, and too many people died.

People deserve answers, Speaker. Did the minister request additional resources from the Premier and her cabinet colleagues in February, and if so, what was the response?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Again, thank you for the question. We have been back and forth to Treasury Board many times over many issues because long-term care was in such a sorry state when we inherited that from the previous government—and years of neglect, decades of neglect. So, there was much to do—a new ministry dedicated to long-term care.

In the summer of 2019, we immediately started to address the issues in terms of capacity, looking at building what was required to address a surge in an aging population. The previous government only built 611 beds in about a decade.

Looking at the neglect, the Ministry of Long-Term Care, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour—many ministries—were looking across government to understand how we can improve and fix long-term care that was so badly neglected. We’ve been working consistently, relentlessly, to do that.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The House will come to order. Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Despite what this minister was saying publicly, it’s clear that the minister knew in February that Ontario’s broken long-term-care system would not be able to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The horrifying stories of neglect, rotten food and overworked staff were being sent to the minister long before COVID-19 came to Ontario. In fact, she just acknowledged that a moment ago.

The Premier said they did everything they could and that the minister got all the resources she asked for. So, the question to the minister is: Is the Premier telling the truth?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Premier.

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: If we’re talking about money, we immediately injected $243 million into long-term care.

The minister is doing an incredible job. She has a working group together, and we’re waiting for the working group to come back until we can give more money to help the long-term care.

At the beginning, the whole world was in a crisis with PPE. We were able to, now, have 23 suppliers bidding for face masks: the N95s and the surgical masks. We have endless companies producing face shields, producing gowns and producing hand sanitizer right now so that we don’t have to rely on anyone anymore. If, God forbid, this comes again for a second wave, at least we’re secure in the PPE.

We were able to bring the count down to 34 homes out of 626 homes right now in outbreak. Thanks to our great Canadian military and our great minister, who works on this around the clock, we’re able to reduce the cases. Now we’ve got a handle around—

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

Long-term care

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is for the Premier. But do you know what isn’t great, Speaker? You know what isn’t great? That over 1,820 people in long-term care have died of COVID-19. That is not great. That is not great, and I think the Premier needs to acknowledge that. He has repeatedly stated that his government took every available step to protect residents in long-term care. He said it over and over again. He has dismissed media reports of the Treasury Board’s rejection of a plan to fund long-term care as riddled with errors. This is what he says; it was riddled with errors.

In the interests of transparency, will the Premier waive cabinet confidentiality and allow the public to see the minutes from Treasury Board and cabinet meetings where funding and support for long-term care was discussed?

Hon. Doug Ford: What people have seen is that we’ve got a handle on long-term care, and it’s not over yet. There’s still a lot of work to do, Mr. Speaker. By no means is this job finished.

We’re creating thousands and thousands of beds. We promised we’d create 15,000 in the first five years and another 15,000 in the following five years, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re doing a quick build, which we will be announcing—and hopefully, you’ll be part of it to support it. Maybe if you’d come up with great ideas, we’ll put one in Hamilton as well. But right now, hopefully, we’re going to be building over 1,200 beds in a very short period—brand new, state-of-the-art beds in different jurisdictions around Toronto and the GTA.

We’re working our backs off, Mr. Speaker, and we’re going to continue working our backs off until there are zero cases.

I want to thank all the front-line workers who worked through this with us. They’re absolute champions. Thank you.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, the Premier may know that my colleagues and I have sent hundreds and hundreds of recommendations and suggestions to the government and to his ministers. It would be nice if they’d actually look at them from time to time.

But look: Despite the Premier’s claims, it is absolutely clear that Ontario’s response to COVID-19 failed, that the crisis response was a failure. With over 1,820 seniors who lost their lives in long-term-care homes, there’s no other way to assess it, Speaker. There is no other way: 1,820—more than 1,820. It’s equally clear that if the government had taken the action that other governments took swiftly to control staffing and to protect residents, many of those residents and workers would be alive today.

The Premier says reports that he denied funding requests aren’t true, but he refuses to make the minutes public. Will his commission into long-term care be empowered to review cabinet decisions in public hearings, and if so, is he willing to repeat those same details under oath himself?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: Again, let’s talk about the $243 million that the Treasury did put forward. Let’s talk about the great working group. You just don’t hand over money—and the minister will agree, and I think everyone in this room will agree—without the working group coming forward and saying, “This is what we need for that. This is what we need for that.” And we’re prepared. As a matter of fact, we’re anxious to put more money into long-term care.

Again, when the Leader of the Opposition criticizes long-term care, what she is doing is criticizing public health, criticizing Ontario Health, criticizing all the great front-line workers who were working their backs off, coming in, putting the community and long-term care ahead of themselves. That’s what the Leader of the Opposition is criticizing.

We work together with everyone, and that’s the way we’re going to get through this. We’re going to continue working through COVID right across this province, and by the figures I’ve seen, Mr. Speaker, we’re leading North America in any jurisdiction our size, with the lowest cases in North America.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, I think that’s pretty shameful; I really think that’s pretty shameful, what the Premier just said, because I’m not criticizing any of those heroes. I’m criticizing the Premier, and I’m criticizing the government, and I’m criticizing the minister and the entire cabinet, because they did not shore up long-term care the way they should have. Everybody knows it. I don’t care about $243 million; I care about over 1,820 lost lives. That’s what I care about, Speaker.

Residents in long-term care, their families and the workers who support them have been sounding the alarm bell about conditions in long-term care for years. We all agree about that. We’ve been talking about it for years on this side of the House. At the lead-up to the COVID outbreak, though, they pleaded with the government for action, those folks. All of those advocates, all of those front-line workers, they pleaded for action, and it didn’t come. It didn’t come. It either came too late or it didn’t come at all.


They don’t believe the Premier when he says that the deaths in long-term care were inevitable. They didn’t believe him when he claimed that it was an iron ring protecting their loved ones. If the Premier truly believes, Speaker, that his government has nothing to apologize for, why is he refusing—

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

Hon. Doug Ford: I guess the difference, Mr. Speaker, between our government and the previous government, along with their cohorts, is, I stood up many times and I admitted I take ownership of this. I take full ownership of it.

We’re going to fix the problems that they left behind. Not only the $243 million—we put $25 million immediately into emergency funding. We put in $88 million for prevention and containment of this virus just in long-term care and $130 million to create additional capacity at the homes.

We also increased the level-of-care funding by 1.5% and provided $8 million to support the staff wage subsidy, which is so important to us. Now they are getting pandemic pay because they deserve it, and they deserve it moving forward, as far as I’m concerned. They’re great people. They work hard, and thanks to them—not our government—thanks to the front-line workers, we’re getting a handle around it. But by no means is it done yet.

Employment standards

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Premier, and if he did so well, then he should have no reason not to call a public inquiry, Speaker.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the Windsor-Essex region and on the migrant workers who are now confronted with major outbreaks that are spreading rapidly through their workplaces. Unlike other provincial governments, the Ford government failed to take proactive measures to ensure these workers and these communities would be protected—another failure.

Over the last week the Premier has attacked public health officials for his failure, for preventing workers from staying on the job after a COVID-19 diagnosis, and inaccurately claimed that workers were hiding from COVID testing—disgraceful. Health experts have been clear that these workers should not be told to keep working when they are sick, when they have tested positive for COVID-19. Nobody should. So why is the Premier ignoring their advice? And who exactly is he taking advice from?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: On Friday—ever since this happened, but let’s just go back to Friday—we were able to get all the farmers on the phone on a conference call with OMAFRA and the chief medical officers of Ontario and down in Windsor-Essex. I’ve been in constant communication with the two mayors in Leamington and Kingsville, along with the chief medical officers and the farmers. I spoke to the farmers. They called me up to thank me. I didn’t call them; they called me to thank me for the great job, to thank me for taking down the heat on Friday. The farm is back up and running. They’re producing product. They’re shipping it down to the US. They’re very, very grateful.

The only way we’re going to get through this down in Windsor-Essex is if we all work together. I’ve told the workers down there very clearly that they’re like any other worker in Ontario. They’re eligible for WSIB. They’re eligible for CERB if they worked here last year and they have a number. We’re moving through this. Wait until the next stage; we’re going to get Leamington and Kingsville back into stage 2 very shortly.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The Ford government has left communities in southwestern Ontario in lockdown and some of the most vulnerable workers in the province in jeopardy. It’s clear that the Premier is not listening to public health experts, Speaker. Local mayors say promised phone calls are never returned, and the workers themselves have seen pleas for assistance ignored.

Will the Premier stop the misinformation, Speaker, and admit that forcing migrant workers to work with COVID-19 is inhumane—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the unparliamentary comment.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Withdraw, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Conclude your question.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Will the Premier clarify the information that he puts out and admit that forcing migrant workers to work with COVID-19 is inhumane and will make the crisis worse, and invest the resources required to ensure that workers have proper sick pay, safe accommodation and—

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

Hon. Doug Ford: I don’t know how to say this parliamentary, but that’s not just not accurate. I return every single phone call. I talk to the mayors. Actually, you can call Mayor MacDonald from Leamington; we had a great conversation. We’re doing everything we can to support these folks and the farmers as well, and they’re feeling much, much better.

Again, Mr. Speaker, every hurdle that we have faced with the support of the people, support of the front-line workers, we’ve been able to get through. And it’s not the government. Sure, we push it, but it’s the people. It’s the farmers that help us get through. It’s the workers that helped us get through. It’s the local people from Leamington and Kingsville. They deserve to get into stage 2 because they’re hurting, too. Right now, we have three areas: We have the workers, we have the farmers and we have the public in Leamington and Kingsville. We want to help them to get back to normal, to get into stage 2. And stay tuned: That announcement will be coming very shortly.

Workplace safety

Mr. Billy Pang: My question is for the Premier. As we reopen the economy, the health and safety of everyone remains our top priority. As more businesses open their doors, Ontario employers are going above and beyond. This is why I want to commend the work of businesses and constituents in my riding and throughout the province for their leadership during this time. This includes great examples of ensuring safety for workers, like putting up Plexiglas barriers, providing masks to their employees and sanitizing surfaces frequently.

Our government has made sufficient investments and supports, and we will continue to do everything that we can to provide whatever assistance is needed during this time.

Can the Premier please update this Legislature on our government’s recently announced new support?

Hon. Doug Ford: I want to thank the great member from Markham–Unionville for the question. I always like reminding everyone: second-highest votes in the entire province. He had more votes than me, more votes than anyone in this room—with the exception of that old guy Yak, back there somewhere, wherever he is—but great job. I want to thank the people from Markham–Unionville.

Last week, I was proud to announce, with the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, that our government would be providing free health and safety training online for the first time ever in Ontario. There are going to be over 100,000 people that are eligible for this job training. I think it’s absolutely critical. We’ve put over $3 million into this. This training will give employers and employees the confidence that when they get hired, someone who knows can create and maintain a safe workplace for customers and their employees. This is good for business confidence and it’s good for consumer confidence.

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

Mr. Billy Pang: My supplementary question is to the Premier. Premier, this is wonderful news. That is a great encouragement for workers in my riding and across the entire province.

I want to echo the sentiments of what the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development stated. Last week’s announcement is another example of how we can make things safer and easier when we adapt. When people take health and safety training, they not only make working safer for themselves; they learn how to keep themselves safer as well.

Can the Premier elaborate further about our assistance for training and skills development regarding health and safety and other training and skills development initiatives supported by the government?

Hon. Doug Ford: I’d like to thank the member again. This is a program through the Employment Ontario network. We put in $3 million, and it’s amazing. We’ll have 100,000 people that have been trained on safety. It’s simple. These courses cover topics such as infection control, ladder safety, and preventing slipping and trips and falls. I’ve been in the private sector for 30 years. A lot of people get hurt simply having a messy floor. Rule number one: Clean up your floor in your shop, because there are a lot of trips and falls.

These courses will provide job-seekers with confidence to safely enter and return to the workforce. As soon as you get someone’s resumé, I look at what training have they had in safety, because that’s the number one priority for every single company. We’re also making it possible for people currently working who are members of workplace joint health and safety committees—which every single company should have, at least two members on the floor and two from management levels. Just last week, our government was also proud to announce an additional investment of $3.5 million in skilled—

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


Police oversight

Ms. Sara Singh: My question is for the Premier. Over the last month, tens of thousands of people across Ontario have called for fundamental changes to policing and more investments in community services and supports. They see that the current system is broken, and Black, Indigenous and racialized Ontarians are paying the price—all too often, Speaker, with their lives.

Last week, the city of Toronto passed a motion calling for the Premier to give the city control and oversight over their policing budget. Will the Premier listen to the people and honour the city of Toronto’s request?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Solicitor General.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: I don’t think that any of us have to be reminded, but I will, for the sake of clarity: Racism, hatred and discrimination have no place in Ontario. But police services boards also have autonomy on who they hire as their chief and on their budgets.

Our dedicated front-line police officers across Ontario play a vital role in keeping our communities safe. Municipalities are responsible for ensuring adequate and effective policing services. Police services and chiefs of police have the authority to use the tools and resources they believe are necessary to ensure community safety in the communities they serve.

The province provides funding support for police services on key community initiatives, and I will remind the member opposite that some of those community initiatives include guns and gangs. Some of them include human trafficking. Some of it includes local community initiatives and priorities. It’s important that the police services boards have those oversights. It is also important that we, as a government, ensure that our communities continue to be the safest in North America.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): And the supplementary question?

Ms. Sara Singh: Last week, Black community leaders gathered here at the Legislature to highlight years of both Liberal and Conservative failures to take action on systemic racism and proper oversight in policing. They pointed to existing government-commissioned reports that have sat on the shelf and gathered dust because Liberals and Conservatives failed to implement them. The city of Toronto has also called for an overhaul of police oversight bodies and expanded instances when officers can be suspended without pay. Premier, will you listen to the community and enact these changes immediately?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: I fundamentally cannot accept what the member opposite is saying because many of the recommendations that have been brought forward in, for example, Justice Tulloch’s recent recommendations, have already been implemented by police services across Ontario. I talked about the community safety and policing grants that help tackle guns and crimes such as human trafficking, domestic and sexual violence.

We have confidence in our police services. I’m not sure what the member opposite has confidence in, but I have confidence in our police services board, our police chiefs and the individuals who serve in our communities. We have to the ensure that they take that consideration when they serve their community. They do so under very, very challenging situations.

I would respectfully ask the member to go and have a drive-along with the police when they are answering those mental health calls. They are incredibly challenging. And to suggest that they are not doing everything within their professionalism—

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

Long-term care

Mr. John Fraser: My question is for the Premier. Premier, I wish you’d stay. But we do know that our Canadian Armed Forces left the struggling long-term-care homes last week, and we know that we are lucky that they were there to help us. We also know, Mr. Speaker, that the government took two months to give itself the power to take over long-term-care homes. We have also learned that in January and February, the Minister of Long-Term Care brought two Treasury Board submissions to stabilize the workforce in long-term care. My question to the Premier is: When was the Premier first made aware of the critical situation in long-term care, and why were both of those Treasury Board submissions rejected?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Long-Term Care to reply.

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Thank you for the question. Our government took an integrated, comprehensive approach with Ontario Health, the command table, and Public Health Ontario. And our ministry, along with the command table, was actively monitoring those homes. You’ve heard me mention before about the coding: the red, the yellow and the green. We monitored those homes and were acting in response and anticipating issues, which is why we began to organize to have the armed forces come in. I am tremendously grateful to the armed forces for assisting us in our time of need.

Looking at another province, our neighbour also needed assistance. We are the two largest populations in Canada. The Canadian Armed Forces was there for us in our time of need, and we will continue to take the measures necessary to repair and move and advance long-term care forward.

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

Mr. John Fraser: I appreciate the response, although I don’t think it was an answer to the question.

I wrote the Premier the week before last about releasing the minutes, the agendas and the submissions by the Minister of Long-Term Care. I think that’s important. He wants to be transparent. Ontarians need to know what he knows, as he says. I’ve yet to receive a response.

We know that it took the government more than a month to do the same things that BC and Quebec did right away to stabilize the workforce. It sounds like the minister tried to do the same thing. I’ve said before that the government’s response has been flat-footed. It’s more like paralysis. So my question to the Premier is this: Will you release those agendas? Will you release those submissions? And can you explain to this Legislature why the decision-making process for increasing the pay and staff in long-term care took so long?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Thank you for the question. There were many issues leading up to this pandemic and through this pandemic and moving forward, whether it’s capacity, whether it’s staffing, whether it’s looking at shoring up integration with our acute care sector, or whether it’s integration with academic centres to understand the research that needs to be done to address an aging population.

Everyone has known for decades that our population was aging. Our government is the first government to take the long-term-care sector seriously in the way that it needs to be done. We cannot repair what lasted for decades of neglect in a short period of time, in a few weeks or a few days. We certainly took every measure possible. We used every tool possible, and we will continue to do that, creating a resident-centred long-term-care system ready for the 21st century. That will be our commitment. You’ve heard the Premier say it. We all say it: We are committed as a government to long-term care.

Towing industry

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. In recent months, we have seen a surge of violence and criminal activity within the towing industry. It’s a cause of concern for our government and all Ontarians. It’s intolerable, Mr. Speaker.

Last week, I was pleased to hear of the action our government is taking to shut down the bad actors in the towing industry. Can the minister tell us about the recently announced task force and the role it will play in improving standards for the towing industry?

Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Thank you to the member from Brampton West for the question. I want to begin by acknowledging the member for Thornhill for the work that she has done on this file and the efforts that she has made to address criminal activity in the towing industry.

I was pleased last week to join the Premier, the Minister of Health and the Solicitor General to announce the immediate action that our government is taking to crack down on criminal activity in the towing industry that jeopardizes the safety of operators and everyone who uses our highways. Mr. Speaker, enough is enough.

As Minister of Transportation, I’m committed to ensuring a high standard for the towing industry to keep Ontario’s roads and highways among the safest in North America. We’ve established a task force to develop a provincial oversight model for the industry that will increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for consumers, improve safety standards and consider tougher penalties for violators. I look forward to receiving the task force’s recommendations and future consultations with stakeholders as we determine the best path forward.

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

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: Speaker, through you, thank you to the minister for her response. It’s clear that this task force represents a significant step forward in ensuring public confidence in an industry that supports everyday Ontarians in times of need on our highways.


My supplemental question is over to the Solicitor General. I have heard through my constituents and through the media reports of very concerning criminal activity within the industry. A recent spike in violence, including instances of corruption, torching of tow trucks and the firebombing of offices, is a threat to Ontarians and public safety.

Ontario’s responsible tow truck owners and operators work hard to provide an important public service, and they need to be able to do their vital jobs without the fear of intimidation. Can the Solicitor General share how the towing task force will help address criminality within the industry and threats to public safety?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Thank you to the member for Brampton West for his interest in this important issue. The dangerous tow truck turf war being waged in communities across Ontario is a threat to everyone, including law-abiding tow truck operators and the public. Our policing partners have been instrumental in working together to respond to this growing threat and bringing the issue to the public’s attention through key initiatives, such as York Regional Police’s Project Platinum.

By working collaboratively with our policing partners, including the Ontario Provincial Police and members of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the task force will help us determine tougher standards for the industry and shut down criminal activity that puts Ontarians in danger on our roadside. Consumers deserve nothing less.

Education funding

Ms. Marit Stiles: My question is for the Premier. Mr. Speaker, even with a very difficult school year behind us, anxiety is growing among parents about what the fall is going to look like for their kids. Parents want to know how they’re going to be able to return to work if their children are only in school part-time, and they want to know how schools can safely reopen with 15-student classes and simultaneous emergency remote learning when the government hasn’t put forward a single new dollar to hire more teachers. Even the money that this government is putting forward for COVID-related cleaning amounts to just $800 per school.

When will the Premier treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves and put forward the funding and support required to truly and safely reopen our schools?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Education.

Hon. Stephen Lecce: Thank you to the member opposite for the question.

The government is committed to reopening schools, but keeping kids safe is our paramount priority. It’s why we’ve sought the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, who has guided us along the way. The message from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the command table is to be prepared for all circumstances. It’s why we’ve asked school boards in this province to be ready for three circumstances, so that kids can continue to learn irrespective of the challenges that manifest.

With respect to funding, every board in the province of Ontario will receive more funding this year than any year before in the history of this province—in the member opposite’s board, the Toronto District School Board, $55 million more to better prepare them for the challenges ahead dealing with COVID-19.

Speaker, overall we’re investing more in the Grants for Student Needs than any government in the history of Ontario—more money for cleaning, more money for hiring of custodial staff; in fact, $200 million for the Support for Students Fund to hire the staff we need to keep kids safe.

Our commitment is to get kids in class in September. We will do that with more funding, with cleaning, with protocols in place that ensure students in September are safe and are learning.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Mr. Speaker, I tell you, this is a shell game.

What’s historic is the challenge that we are facing, and this plan does not meet that challenge. The challenge of COVID-19 requires bold and creative solutions to ensure that every child gets the education they deserve. That means looking at available community spaces and putting them to use. It means hiring more teachers, custodians, EAs, ECEs; providing income supports like parental leaves and paid sick days; and a massive investment in capital repairs to ensure our schools are safe.

Instead of leaving this to the boards to solve their problems without money to back it up, will the Premier show some leadership, collaborate with our education partners and bring in a plan that finally puts our children first?

Hon. Stephen Lecce: What’s going to ensure that students remain the priority, Speaker, is being prepared for every challenge on the horizon. It’s why we’re asking boards, as many provinces across the federation have done, to be prepared for the circumstances that can manifest. That’s a common-sense application to make sure the kids remain learning and safe.

But in the context of funding, this Progressive Conservative government is investing $15 million more than any government in the history of Ontario to procure 37,000 more Chromebooks. It is this government that is investing $10 million more, after doubling the mental health budget in the province, for mental health supports. It is this government that’s investing more in the Grants for Student Needs. The per-pupil funding is up. Every board of education’s funding is up.

Speaker, we’re putting the money where it counts. But in addition to funding, we’re ensuring that there’s public health guidance so that students, when they return to class, can do so with confidence that they will be safe in September.

Correctional services

Mme Lucille Collard: My question is for the Solicitor General. Earlier this year, Justice David Cole released his final report as the independent reviewer of the Solicitor General’s compliance with the 2013 Jahn Settlement terms. Justice Cole found that the ministry remains non-compliant with many of its most substantial obligations, including the collection of human rights data, implementing independent oversight of the use of confinement, and conducting regular mental health reassessments for inmates.

As the minister knows, the ministry is legally obligated to comply with the Jahn Settlement terms to ensure that no one is lost in the system like Adam Capay was, and that isolation is not being used as an alternative to treatment for inmates with mental illness.

Last Wednesday, the Ontario Ombudsman found that the ministry remains noncompliant with 13 separate commitments made in 2017 to improve oversight for inmates. Could the minister explain why meeting these obligations is taking so long and give us a firm commitment for when the ministry will meet its legal obligations and comply with the Jahn Settlement?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: I want to thank both Justice Cole and Professor Hannah-Moffat for this report and the recommendations. The report will further inform our ongoing and future policy changes and updates.

We are pleased that Justice Cole notes that all 31 of the time-specific deliverables in the consent order were successfully implemented by the ministry in a timely fashion, including enhanced mental health screening for inmates and formalizing timelines for screening and assessments; revising operational policies on segregation and special placements of inmates; establishing methods to track conditions of confinement for inmates; and publicly releasing data on segregation.

Speaker, this would not have been possible without the excellent work within the Solicitor General’s office and, most importantly, the critical dedication of the corrections officers who are serving in those institutions. It’s because of their work that this was able to happen.

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

Mme Lucille Collard: With respect, the Ombudsman’s report of last week disagrees with your statement.

I want to say that in 2018, the previous Liberal government passed the Correctional Services Transformation Act. This comprehensive corrections reform bill, if enacted, would immediately bring the province into compliance with the Jahn Settlement and, according to the Ombudsman report itself, substantially address many of the remaining 13 commitments to his office.

While this bill achieved royal assent, the government is simply refusing to proclaim it into force. It’s just sitting there. If they choose to, it could be proclaimed into force tomorrow, and many of those long-standing issues would be immediately addressed. Will the minister put partisanship aside, recognize the gravity of these commitments for overseeing vulnerable inmates, and commit to proclaiming the Correctional Services Transformation Act into force to immediately and substantially address the ministry’s overdue legal obligations?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: I am not sure if the member opposite is reading her press releases, so I will be happy to re-announce what we announced a couple of weeks ago: $500 million and 500 new staff in corrections. Those are staff who are going to work in mental health; they’re going to work in programming; they’re going to be corrections officers—500.

Last November, we took action by introducing regulatory changes that require an independent review of inmates in administrative segregation conditions at least once every five consecutive days.

I believe that the work that the corrections division is doing is incredible. It is actually transforming how we deal with individuals. We’ve taken action to better identify which inmates have mental health needs and are responding appropriately to best support those inmates. This includes the mental health screening of all inmates upon admission and a reassessment at least once every six months. There are times when separating inmates and individuals from the general population is necessary for health, safety and/or security reasons—

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


Personal protective equipment

Mr. Daryl Kramp: My question today is for our fine Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. One of the main tools we have in our fight against COVID-19 has been the PPE: the masks, gloves, sanitizers and the face shields that protect all of our front-line workers, certainly our first responders and, of course, all of the people of Ontario. I think you would have to have your head in the sand not to realize that COVID-19 has spread to high, high levels right in every corner of the world. PPE is in high demand, given that the disease has spread to actually over 180 nations.

We’re so fortunate to live in a province that is a leader now in the manufacturing and production. At so many PPE facilities, entrepreneurs are working to provide the product that we need for the safety of our people.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister update this House on how he is working to bring these entrepreneurs together to secure the supplies of PPE that we so desperately needed and are now delivering?

Hon. Victor Fedeli: Thank you to the member from Hastings–Lennox and Addington for the question. The Ontario spirit of production, innovation and problem-solving is nothing short of amazing. In March, we called on Ontario businesses to help fight COVID-19 with production capabilities and ideas through our Ontario Together website. And, Mr. Speaker, they have stepped up. Some 27,000 offers of help have been received; 18,000 have been converted into almost $630 million in purchases of personal protective equipment. That’s 25 million gowns for our nurses and doctors, 173 million gloves for our paramedics and police, 123 million masks for our social workers and support staff, and over four million face shields for our front line.

Speaker, we thank all of the businesses, the entrepreneurs and the organizations who have helped in this task.

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

Mr. Daryl Kramp: I certainly thank you, Minister. And, Mr. Speaker, a sincere level of gratitude and thanks has to go out to all of the industries and businesses that the minister has been able to work with to develop the teamwork necessary to provide the safety and the protection for the people of Ontario. The support of all of these Ontario businesses and entrepreneurs has been critical—really, absolutely critical—in our fight to deal with COVID-19, because ensuring that our front-line workers and our first responders have the PPE that they need to defend themselves and the public against COVID remains one of the key priorities of this government.

I’m so impressed and pleased that the minister has taken this challenge first-hand and has built an incredible network of entrepreneurs to be able to bring forward the solution that we, as a province, need.

To the minister, Mr. Speaker: Can he update the House on how Ontario is harnessing the entire manufacturing might that they have in this fight against COVID-19?

Hon. Victor Fedeli: Speaker, Ontario has weathered every past crisis with businesses, employees and government working together, and COVID-19 was no different.

We launched the Ontario Together Fund to help companies rapidly retool production and enhance their manufacturing capability. This $50-million fund has already supported Southmedic in Barrie with $1.8 million, Sterling Industries in Concord with $1 million, and Virox Technologies in Oakville with $850,000. Southmedic will make 175,000 oxygen masks a week and triple production of specialty masks to 35,000 a week. Sterling will boost their face shield output to one million a week. Virox will up its production of disinfectant wipes to 6,000 cases a day, while creating 20 new jobs.

Across Ontario, businesses are retooling to make PPE. Speaker, we are proud of these made-in-Ontario solutions.

COVID-19 response

Mr. Faisal Hassan: My question is for the Premier. Mr. Speaker, on June 17, I wrote the Premier and the health minister regarding the concerns of my residents and myself on the lack of local testing capacity in my community of York South–Weston. Our community is home to many front-line heroes. Nurses, technicians, PSWs and hospital staff all make their home in York South–Weston. They need and they deserve access to the testing they need to help keep themselves and their families safe.

As an identified hot-spot area, when can our underserved community get the testing that is so overdue?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Health.

Hon. Christine Elliott: We know how important testing is, as we’re dealing with COVID-19 and as we move into the fall, when we’ll be dealing with the flu season as well. We have made testing a priority, to the point that we have now the highest testing capacity in Canada, the highest per 100,000 testing capacity. We routinely test between 20,000 and 25,000 people per day.

But what we have done is change our testing strategy over time to respond to the needs of communities and what is happening in different parts of the province with respect to COVID-19. We want to make sure that we’re going to be able to test in areas where there are outbreaks. We want to make sure that we can test in areas where there are vulnerable populations, such as people in long-term-care homes and other areas of congregate living, and we want to be able to do testing in workplaces and other areas to understand what the impact is, as we open up from stage 2 and prepare to get ready for stage 3, to understand what the public health impacts are of this loosening of restrictions.

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

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Again my question is to the Premier. The city of Toronto recently released mapping data showing elevated numbers of cases in my community of York South–Weston; that is even with long-term care excluded. But still, this Conservative government refuses to act and refuses to do whatever it takes, like they promised they would, to keep our community safe. We need pop-up testing units and an additional facility opened for ongoing testing in preparation for a possible second wave. The former Humber Memorial Hospital at 200 Church Street may be the best solution.

Will the Premier commit to more testing in identified hot-spot areas in Toronto?

Hon. Christine Elliott: Absolutely. We’re continuing to expand our testing strategy. Currently, we have the capacity to test approximately 25,000 people per day. We are going to be increasing that, because we know as we get into the fall season, there will be a number of people who will, unfortunately, become ill. We won’t know until we do the testing whether they have flu, which can be very dangerous in and of itself, or whether they have COVID-19.

Of course, we are going to continue to expand our testing strategy because we want to make sure that we can go into areas that are hot spots, areas of outbreak. We have over 100 assessment centres now. We have several pop-up assessment centres. We’re going to continue to expand them, because we know that the needs of people are going to continue to increase, again, as we move into flu season. So this is a priority for us, the testing, and then of course contact management as well. We’re going to expand in both of those areas so that we can keep the people of Ontario safe wherever they live in the province.


Mr. Vincent Ke: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Last week, our government announced a significant investment to help provide and improve housing for homeless Ontarians. COVID-19 has shown everyone how important it is to have a place to call home where they can feel safe and secure.

Speaker, could the minister please explain how this new round of social services relief funding will help communities across Ontario improve housing for our most vulnerable?

Hon. Steve Clark: I want to thank the member from Don Valley North for that great question. He is right. I was honoured last week to stand with the Premier to announce an additional $150 million to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our shelter system and to keep vulnerable Ontarians safe. This funding brings our government’s total Social Services Relief Fund investment to $350 million and continues to build upon our COVID-19 action plan for vulnerable Ontarians. This new investment will allow our municipal partners to fund long-term innovative housing solutions so they can be better prepared for emergencies. These funds can also be used to provide food, shelters and supplies. It can also be used to renovate our shelter system.

At a time when sheltering at home has become essential, the importance of having a home is stronger than ever. And I want to say that this is another reason and another way that we’re helping to address the homelessness problem in our province. So again, thank you for the question.


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

Mr. Vincent Ke: Thank you to the minister for that response. I’m proud to be part of a government that takes homeless needs seriously, and I know that this new funding would be critical in my riding of Don Valley North and in the communities all across Ontario. I look forward to seeing the innovative housing solutions that our municipalities propose. Could the minister please further explain how this program is rolling out?

Hon. Steve Clark: Again, I want to thank the member for that great question. Our government is working, as I said in the first answer, to create longer-term innovative housing solutions in communities right across this province. Local service managers and our Indigenous program administrators know what their community’s needs are, and we’re working with them to get their best advice on how to move this program forward.

Our government has already moved forward to support a number of innovative projects. In the member’s own city of Toronto, we were proud to respond to a city of Toronto request for a minister’s zoning order to help them complete a very innovative modular home development, offering 56 units to house homeless in Toronto. These homes will help the city respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and would help to relieve the strain on our shelter system.

There’s still a number of steps to go in the planning process, but I’m excited that this project was a partnership with the city and I’m looking forward to having more updates on it in the near future.

Child care

Ms. Jessica Bell: My question is to the Premier. Parents in my riding are worried about the Conservatives’ failure to plan for the return to school in the fall and what that failure is going to mean for them.

Megan is a single parent. She works as an electrician, so there is no way she can work at home. And like many parents, Megan is worried about how the government won’t be making decisions about reopening schools. She fears they won’t be making them until just days before, leaving everyone in the lurch. I can tell you that last-minute decisions by this government will force parents into making drastic and last-minute child care plans that aren’t going to work. It’s going to hurt parents and their children and it’s going hurt our entire recovery. When is this government going to let parents know the plan for September?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Education.

Hon. Stephen Lecce: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. What we have learned over the past months is that government must be prepared for all circumstances because students have a right to an education. They must continue to learn with a quality education before them, led by their teacher. And so, Speaker, what we’ve asked school boards to do is to be prepared for all circumstances: yes, a conventional day-to-day in-class model for students with heightened health and safety protocols. A second option is the online delivery; God forbid that is required again. Third is a blended model of the two based on public health advice cohorted at 15.

School boards are required to have their plans done by the first week of August. We will be communicating thereafter on the way forward. Our obligation is to keep them safe. It’s why we put more funding in place for cleaning. We’ve put together a clear guidance document that provides a framework for our school boards on the way forward. We obviously endeavour to return to conventional delivery as soon as possible, including in September, but it must be safe, and that is our commitment. It’s what we’re going to continue to follow.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Nickel Belt. Supplementary.

Mme France Gélinas: Also to the Premier: The lack of a plan for child care in education is going to hurt families throughout our province. But in the north, where access to child care was already at crisis level, it’s going to be really difficult for us. My constituent said, “Last week, we lost our licensed child care; no room due to Ontario’s operating directive to reduce staff ratios.” She goes on to say, “I am terrified for September. How is a single parent expected to work full-time without child care for rotating school days?”

Premier, she wants to ask you, where is the child care plan? Where is the support for working parents? And how are women able to participate in the labour force and remain economically self-sufficient without child care?

Hon. Stephen Lecce: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that the former question from an urban member and now a more rural, remote member are sort of opposing the concept of a regional approach to reopening—because I think it is fair to say that the risk of COVID is not lingering in Timmins like it is in Toronto. The reason why we have proceeded on this basis is to provide some regional approach that is responding to the reality on the ground.

With respect to child care, we’ve put in place a plan to reopen child care. Many child care centres right across the province are reopening as we speak. It is based on more sustainability funding for our operators, on leveraging federal supports, on more supports for cleaning as well as for PPE for our operators.

Our commitment to our operators is strong, but what doesn’t get enough communication in the area of focus in the discourse is the government’s commitment to protecting consumers. Operators are able to get that funding so long as they keep the space and so long as the fees do not increase.

Skilled trades

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: My question is for the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The Canadian construction industry alone will need 300,000 skilled workers over the next decade. Without these crucial journeypersons, critical projects like those in my riding, with the new GO train station, bridges and Highway 400, to name a few—the projects all across this province will cost more and take longer if we don’t have the right skilled trades and journeypersons in place.

But that’s all right, because our government is giving hope to Ontarians again by investing and building up success, by investing more money in Skills Ontario and, of course, by building up the next generation of our skilled trade workers.

I want to ask the minister if he can tell this House why it’s so important to build on a meaningful career in the skilled trades sector.

Hon. Monte McNaughton: Thank you to the member from Barrie–Innisfil for that excellent question here this morning.

Through you, Mr. Speaker: As Ontario carefully reopens, the skilled trades are an essential part of the recovery and future of Ontario’s economy. Our additional investment of $3.5 million makes a total of $5 million, which will go toward reaching youth, educators and parents to show everyone that the skilled trades are meaningful career options.

About one in five new jobs in Ontario over the course of the next five years is expected to be in the skilled trades. We must continue to promote the trades and give young people access to these careers that keep many of our provincial industries thriving.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I’ll talk about it more in the supplementary.

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

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Thank you to the minister for that answer. I know he’s even building up success in his own backyard with his daughter. He’s teaching her a skilled trade by building her tree house, Mr. Speaker, which is very commendable.

It’s something I hear from parents in Barrie–Innisfil as well. They’re worried for their children. They want them to go to school and be able to get a job, but they’re seeing that many degrees do not lead to successful jobs right away. They want to see success in their children.

We have many city councillors in Innisfil—specifically Kenneth Fowler, who’s really encouraged by the efforts our government is putting into skills training and the financial supports we’re giving to those skills.

I want to ask the minister if he can tell us a little more about what he’s doing to promote skilled trades, both in our elementary schools and in our secondary schools.

Hon. Monte McNaughton: Thank you again to the member from Barrie–Innisfil for that question.

For over 30 years, Skills Ontario has organized workshops, events and activities for youth in an effort to build and support a strong and diverse skilled workforce. This pandemic has underscored the importance of this work.

A lot of young people don’t know about the opportunities out there. This investment will put our proud men and women in the trades in front of 125,000 students from grades 1 to 12.

We will continue to build on the investments our government has made and on our strong partnerships with businesses, tradespeople and organizations like Skills Ontario to ensure a prosperous future for these kids.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. That concludes our question period for this morning.

This House stands in recess until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 1139 to 1300.

Members’ expenditures

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that today I have laid upon the table the individual members’ expenditures for the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on General Government

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on General Government and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Tonia Grannum): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 159, An Act to amend various statutes in respect of consumer protection / Projet de loi 159, Loi modifiant diverses lois en ce qui concerne la protection du consommateur.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.

Report adopted.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to the order of the House dated June 16, 2020, the bill is ordered for third reading.

Standing Committee on Social Policy

Ms. Natalia Kusendova: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Social Policy and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Tonia Grannum): Your committee begs to report the following bill, as amended:

Bill 184, An Act to amend the Building Code Act, 1992, the Housing Services Act, 2011 and the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 and to enact the Ontario Mortgage and Housing Corporation Repeal Act, 2020 / Projet de loi 184, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1992 sur le code du bâtiment, la Loi de 2011 sur les services de logement et la Loi de 2006 sur la location à usage d’habitation et édictant la Loi de 2020 abrogeant la Loi sur la Société ontarienne d’hypothèques et de logement.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.

Report adopted.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to the order of the House dated June 16, 2020, the bill is ordered for third reading.

Introduction of Bills

Climate Crisis Health Action Plan Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur le Plan d’action sur la crise climatique et la santé

Mr. Tabuns moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 193, An Act to provide for the development of a strategic action plan respecting the impacts of the climate crisis on health, as well as the establishment of the Climate Crisis and Health Secretariat and a science advisory board / Projet de loi 193, Loi prévoyant l’élaboration d’un plan d’action stratégique contre les effets de la crise climatique sur la santé et la constitution du Secrétariat de l’action relative à la crise climatique et à la santé et d’un conseil consultatif scientifique.

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 Toronto–Danforth care to give a brief explanation of his bill?

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Thank you, Speaker. The bill is meant to set in motion planning to deal with the climate crisis, its impact on the health care system, on public health, and taking steps to prevent illness and death in the population of Ontario.

WSIB Coverage for Workers in Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la protection à accorder aux travailleurs dans les établissements de soins en résidence et les foyers de groupe par la Commission de la sécurité professionnelle et de l’assurance contre les accidents du travail

Mr. Fraser moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 194, An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 / Projet de loi 194, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1997 sur la sécurité professionnelle et l’assurance contre les accidents du travail.

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 Ottawa South care to briefly explain his bill?

Mr. John Fraser: Once again, I’d like to thank all members of the House for their support.

This is about WSIB coverage for workers in residential care facilities or group homes and would make everyone who operates one of those a schedule 1 employer. There’s a basic inequity where people are doing the same work with different coverage. It’s the third time I’ve introduced the bill. I’m looking forward to debating it.


Personal protective equipment

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I have a significant petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario entitled “Ask the Government to Ensure N95 Masks and Needed Medical Supplies are Manufactured in Ontario.

“Whereas COVID-19 is recognized as a global pandemic; and

“Whereas the medical community and public health authorities recognize that transmission of the COVID-19 virus is inhibited by precautionary use of personal protective equipment (PPE), and respirator masks known as KN95 or N95 masks are recommended for front-line health care and first responders interfacing with people in the community or care; and

“Whereas front-line health care and emergency workers including hospital workers, nurses, paramedics, police and fire services throughout the pandemic have reported N95 mask shortages, quality concerns, fit challenges, and are all finding it difficult to procure their own supplies of reliable and appropriate PPE, and the ongoing shortage of necessary medical equipment and PPE—especially N95 masks—is endangering patients and front-line workers in the community; and

“Whereas the Canadian government has reported a shortage as high as 150 million N95 masks, and has been unsuccessful in procuring N95 masks and is still unable to find reliable American or international suppliers; and

“Whereas the Premier of Ontario has publicly acknowledged the need for provincial manufacturing and self-reliance, but to date has not taken direct action to ensure N95 masks are manufactured here; and

“Whereas community advocates, the MPP of Oshawa and Green Jobs Oshawa have called on General Motors to manufacture PPE at the nearly empty GM facility in Oshawa, where there are thousands of laid-off GM and supplier workers available to manufacture equipment and supplies to keep Canadians healthy and protected, and there are millions of square feet available at the Oshawa assembly complex; and

“Whereas General Motors converted their operations and restarted manufacturing in Warren, Michigan, to make protective masks—including N95 masks—but have only committed to manufacturing level 1 masks in Oshawa; and

“Whereas the government of Ontario has given itself the authority to exercise emergency powers, but has not yet secured manufacturing, despite the fact we have seen that American government involvement has been effective in securing contracts with GM to make N95 masks for Americans; and

“Whereas relying on private and corporate partners does not guarantee the continuation or sustainability of supply, and planning for a future of government- and publicly owned manufacturing is in the best interest of all Canadians; and

“Whereas, despite the seemingly unabating need for a reliable domestic supply of PPE and N95 masks there is not yet any significant manufacturing of N95 masks in Ontario or in Canada;

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

“To increase the permanent manufacturing capacity in Canada and secure a supply of medical equipment, personal protective equipment and socially beneficial products during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, and use their powers and influence to ensure GM increase production of PPE in Oshawa to meet the needs of Canadians, and to ensure that—as they do in Warren, Michigan—General Motors will manufacture N95 masks and needed PPE at their complex in Oshawa.”

Speaker, I wholeheartedly support this petition. I will affix my signature and send it to the table.

Broadband infrastructure

Mr. Daryl Kramp: I have a petition today regarding broadband access for all Ontarians.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas now more than ever, people across Ontario need reliable broadband to work, learn and connect with friends and family; and

“Whereas too many people in our province lack reliable Internet or cellular access—or don’t have any connectivity at all; and


“Whereas the digital divide has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically for rural and northern Ontarians, as we’ve heard about their frustrations as they work and study from home; and

“Whereas northern and rural businesses continue to face inequitable challenges to transitioning to touchless payment options, which represents a serious disadvantage when following the advice of health officials; and

“Whereas as we carefully restart the economic engine of” Ontario, “every region and every community must play a role in bringing jobs and prosperity back to our province; and

“Whereas by investing in reliable broadband and cellular service, we are helping to create greater opportunity for our families,” our friends “and small business owners in rural and remote areas of this great province; and

“Whereas last year our government announced Up to Speed, our province’s first broadband and cellular action plan, to improve broadband and cellular service in communities across Ontario; and

“Whereas Ontario is investing $150 million in a new program that, when leveraged with partner funding, has the potential to result in a total investment of $500 million to improve broadband and cellular coverage in underserved and unserved communities;

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

“Urge the federal Ministry of Infrastructure, in addition to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, to do the right thing and step up and help the province of Ontario expand connectivity to everyone across this province so that:

“(1) All Ontarians can have access to the opportunity to join the economy of the 21st century;

“(2) Our rural and northern communities are provided the same opportunities as urban Ontario.”

I affix my signature, and I’ll forward to the desk.

Long-term care

Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Mrs. Krista Trafford, a good friend of mine, who collected this petition. It goes as follows:

“Whereas quality care for the 78,000 residents of (LTC) homes is a priority for many Ontario families; and

“Whereas the provincial government does not provide adequate funding to ensure care and staffing levels in LTC homes to keep pace with residents’ increasing acuity and the growing number of residents with complex behaviours; and

“Whereas several Ontario coroner’s inquests into LTC homes deaths have recommended an increase in direct hands-on care for residents and staffing levels, and the most reputable studies on this topic recommend 4.1 hours of direct care per day;”

They petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

“To amend the LTC Homes Act (2007) for a legislated minimum care standard of four hours” of hands-on care “per resident per day, adjusted for acuity level and case mix.”

I fully support this petition, will affix my name to it and send it to the Clerk.

Access to justice

Mrs. Nina Tangri: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas after 15 years of neglect under successive Liberal governments the justice system grew outdated and unnecessarily complex;

“Whereas Ontario’s class action legislation has not been significantly updated in more than 25 years. The current system is outdated, slow and doesn’t always put people at the centre of class actions in Ontario;

“Whereas lives can be—and have been—destroyed by serious crimes like sharing intimate images without consent. Cyberbullies can communicate broadly and quickly, making targets feel like they have no escape and often causing enduring mental and emotional harm;

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

“Proceed as effectively as possible to stand up for victims and law-abiding citizens, provide better, more affordable justice for families and consumers, and simplify a complex and outdated justice system to better serve the people of Ontario by immediately passing Bill 161, An Act to enact the Legal Aid Services Act, 2019 and to make various amendments to other Acts dealing with the courts and other justice matters, so that:

“(1) A flexible, sustainable and accountable legal aid system is built (Legal Aid Services Act);

“(2) Ontario’s outdated class action legislation is updated (Class Proceedings Act);

“(3) Criminals don’t profit from crimes (Civil Remedies Act);

“(4) How a small estate is handled is simplified (Estates Act);

“(5) Notary and commissioner services are modernized (Notaries Act, Commissioners for taking Affidavits Act);

“(6) It is made easier for cyberbullying victims to sue their offender (Victims’ Bill of Rights);

“(7) In the tragic death of a loved one families are given closure (Vital Statistics Act);

“(8) Who can perform marriage ceremonies is expanded (Marriage Act);

“(9) Lawyers and paralegals are held to the highest ethical standards (Law Society Act);

“(10) Juror privacy and security is protected (Juries Act);

“(11) Reappointing case management masters is more efficient (Courts of Justice Act);

“(12) Taxpayer dollars are no longer used to pay legal fees for judicial officials removed from office (Courts of Justice Act and Justices of the Peace Act).”

I support this petition and will sign it and pass it over to the desk.

Affordable housing

Mr. Faisal Hassan: I have a petition entitled “Affordable Housing.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas for families throughout much of Ontario, owning a home they can afford remains a dream, while renting is painfully expensive;

“Whereas consecutive Conservative and Liberal governments have sat idle, while housing costs spiralled out of control, speculators made fortunes, and too many families had to put their hopes on hold;

“Whereas every Ontarian should have access to safe, affordable housing. Whether a family wants to rent or own, live in a house, an apartment, a condominium or a co-op, they should have affordable options;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to immediately prioritize the repair of Ontario’s social housing stock, commit to building new affordable homes, crack down on housing speculators, and make rentals more affordable through rent controls and updated legislation.”

I fully support this petition, Mr. Speaker. I will be affixing my signature to it and providing it to the usher to deliver to the table.

Personal protective equipment

Mr. Deepak Anand: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the global competition to secure critical personal protective equipment and medical supplies is fierce; and

“Whereas in the face of a global shortage of medical equipment, Ontario-based companies have stepped up in a big way to produce these items in order to ensure our front-line workers are protected against COVID-19; and

“Whereas Ontario is making considerable progress in procuring critical supplies and equipment, while the global supply chain remains constrained; and

“Whereas nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of patients and the workers caring for them, as well as our first responders;

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

“Proceed as expediently as possible to continue to ensure that patients, front-line health care workers and first responders have the critical equipment and supplies they need to protect themselves during the COVID-19, so that:

“(1) Ontario continues to procure vital supplies and personal protective equipment through its traditional suppliers and donations, as well as working in collaboration with the federal government, other provinces, and Ontario’s manufacturers;

“(2) Maintaining Ontario’s same-day deliveries to hospitals, long-term-care and retirement homes and other facilities to support essential workers in all settings and ensuring supplies and equipment are expedited to those most in need;

“(3) The province continues to collectively explore how to overcome supply chain challenges, including through domestic production opportunities and the safe reprocessing of supplies.”

I wholeheartedly support this petition and I’m going to pass it on to the table.

Long-term care

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I’d like to thank the Family Council Network 4 Advocacy for collecting these signatures on the petition.

“Time to Care Act—Bill 13.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas quality care for the 78,000 residents of (LTC) homes is a priority for many Ontario families; and

“Whereas the provincial government does not provide adequate funding to ensure care and staffing levels in LTC homes to keep pace with residents’ increasing needs and the growing number of residents with complex behaviours; and

“Whereas several Ontario coroner’s inquests into LTC homes deaths have recommended an increase in direct hands-on care for residents and staffing levels and the most reputable studies on this topic recommends 4.1 hours of direct care per day;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to amend the LTC Homes Act (2007) for a legislated minimum care standard to provide an average of four hours per resident per day, adjusted for acuity level and case mix.”

I fully support this petition, sign it and give it to the usher to deliver to the table.


Municipal development

Ms. Natalia Kusendova: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Greater Golden Horseshoe is one of the fastest-growing and most important regions in North America. In the next 20 years, the region will accommodate up to 85% of Ontario’s population growth. The region is also the economic engine for Ontario and the country and generates up to 25% of Canada’s gross domestic product; and

“Whereas because of this we need to manage growth in the region’s communities in a way that offers homes people can afford, attract jobs and investments, allow people to get around quickly and conveniently, and preserves and protects farmland, green spaces and ecologically sensitive lands and waters; and

“Whereas Ontario must begin laying the groundwork now so that our municipal and sector partners are ready to hit the ground running on our road to economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; and

“Whereas the changes being proposed to A Place to Grow effectively balance a commitment to protecting the environment, including the greenbelt; and

“Whereas the aggregate industry is critical to building the schools, homes, hospitals and bridges that are so incredibly crucial to the well-being of my constituents;

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

“Continue as expediently as possible to implement the new land needs assessment methodology for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which supports the implementation of A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe area so that:

“(1) Municipalities plan for growth through to 2051 instead of 2041;

“(2) Population and employment growth forecasts are updated and changed to give municipalities flexibility to set higher forecasts;

“(3) Quarries ... are able to be located closer to areas where they are needed for construction purposes; and

“(4) Municipalities ensure that current work they’re doing conforms with A Place to Grow by July 1, 2022.”

I support this petition and affix my signature to it.

Orders of the Day

Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 pour un système judiciaire plus efficace et plus solide

Resuming the debate adjourned on June 24, 2020, on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 161, An Act to enact the Legal Aid Services Act, 2020 and to make various amendments to other Acts dealing with the courts and other justice matters / Projet de loi 161, Loi visant à édicter la Loi de 2020 sur les services d’aide juridique et apportant diverses modifications à des lois traitant des tribunaux et d’autres questions relatives à la justice.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): When we last debated Bill 161, the member for York South–Weston had made his presentation—had concluded it, I understand.

Now we go to questions and responses related to the presentation that was made by the member for York South–Weston. Questions and responses? I think we start with the government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It has been some time since I heard the member’s speech, so I apologize. I just wonder if he might, just in general terms, give us some things that he might have done differently on the bill if he agrees that it is time that we update the criminal justice system in the province of Ontario, and any other suggestions he might have heard through committee.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for York South–Weston to reply.

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Definitely, I would suggest that access to justice for all is very important. We strongly recommend that the Ontario Legislature reject schedules 15 and 16 of Bill 161 and, instead, engage in public, meaningful and open consultations with low-income and marginalized communities and their clinics about a needed reform of the legal aid system.

Mr. Speaker, our legal clinics, law professors, lawyers and everyday citizens are alarmed at the ramifications of Bill 161. I strongly urge the government to rethink this bill and to not act with haste.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Questions?

Mme France Gélinas: I thank the member for his presentation.

I note that from the francophone community a lot of legal aids will no longer be able to continue to offer services in French simply because of a lack of funding. Some of the positions that have gone, they haven’t been able to recruit and fill them, because they have no money.

I’m just asking what you think will be the impact of that bill on francophones seeking access to legal services in French.

Mr. Faisal Hassan: It’s very important that we serve diverse communities, and it’s definitely very important that French-speaking communities and the marginalized, the low-income communities—having access to justice is important, and this has not addressed this. I hear you. Also, making sure that there is access to justice for all is important and essential in this province of ours.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Questions?

Hon. Paul Calandra: I just want to continue on that path a little bit with the member. I wonder if you would agree with me, then, that marginalized communities, francophone communities and other underserviced communities across the province of Ontario are also hurt by a justice system that has not been renewed in such a long time. I wonder if the honourable member could suggest whether he agrees that it was time. Whether he agrees with all the things in the bill or not is immaterial; I understand that there are a lot of things that he doesn’t agree with, but I wonder if he would at least agree that the time has come to make some modifications and reforms to our justice system, even if he doesn’t believe these are necessarily the right ones.

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Thank you for the question.

I do believe that access to justice for all is an important component of our justice system.

As you know, the Ontario government’s April budget reduced the amount of funds for legal aid by 30%, and definitely, reducing that will not create access to justice. As a result, on June 12, legal aid cut the budget of community legal clinics by almost $15 million.

Definitely, supporting these communities—the marginalized, French-speaking communities and those who are low-income—with community support and access to justice will help strengthen this bill, which is missing that at the moment.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Questions?

Ms. Sara Singh: I appreciate the member and the debate.

My question for the member is if he could perhaps elaborate on how the cuts to legal aid are going to disproportionately impact marginalized communities. Especially given the current climate with concerns around racial justice and equity, how are those cuts to legal aid going to disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and racialized communities?

Mr. Faisal Hassan: To the member from Brampton Centre: Definitely, our justice system has to be justice for all, and not giving an opportunity to folks to have representation will definitely make things worse.

I visited with my colleagues in the north, in Thunder Bay prisons, with members of our caucus and I’ve noticed there were Indigenous and Black members of our communities who are there. Most of them, actually, were awaiting a day in court; they were not even convicted of a crime.

It will also further diminish opportunities to educate future lawyers in community-based advocacy, because this is where the community legal clinic is based. Furthermore, there is reason to believe the additional restrictions on the structure and scope of community legal clinics would follow the implementation of legal aid 2019, given the provincial government’s recent cuts to legal aid in our system, the limitation placed on law reform community organizations during legal aid implementations of these cuts and the stated goals of the ongoing and confidential legal aid modernization project.

In particular, I’ll say that schedule 15 of Bill 161 will cancel all existing funding arguments between community legal clinics and legal aid, which must be renegotiated within six months of the bill coming into force. This is a serious concern—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much. Next question, the Attorney General.

Hon. Doug Downey: I’m curious from the NDP’s review of the bill whether they support the modernization of estates, to allow for less red tape for smaller estates—as you know, a lot of the estates, whether it be $50,000 or $5 million, it’s the same process; it’s very bureaucratic—whether the NDP supports simplification of that, or whether the NDP supports the modernization of the Marriage Act to allow for First Nations individuals to perform marriages or out of the province, or whether the NDP supports the class actions materials that were put forward, and if they don’t, why they didn’t bring an amendment to committee.


Mr. Faisal Hassan: Thank you very much. Certainly the NDP will support dealing with Indigenous people nation to nation, respecting their rights, and working together as that aspect of it. And definitely access to justice is an important part of our justice system.

When we cut the legal aid and we don’t provide enough resources and when we don’t give representations and strengthen our community legal clinics, then really, it will not make justice for all.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Toronto Centre.

Ms. Suze Morrison: In follow-up to the last question we had to the membe:, I know we heard in committee that folks from the Indigenous legal services community came and said that the harm of this bill was so great, it was not worth the components of the bill that speak to solemnization of marriages, which communities, Indigenous communities, are already doing. Would you have anything to add to that in further comment to the minister across?

Mr. Faisal Hassan: What’s happening is cutting to specialized legal clinics, such as the member from Toronto Centre has mentioned. It is very important that we strengthen rather than not support our Indigenous communities. Not providing resources certainly will not create justice for all and justice for our Indigenous communities. This bill, Bill 161, also cuts more and doesn’t really address the justice for all.

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

Mr. Lorne Coe: When I spoke on this bill, I spoke about two parts of it. One part was the Civil Remedies Act. Will you agree that it is important for government to ensure that those who have acquired funds through illegal methods not be able to profit from those funds? And I spoke about victims.

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Definitely, restricting a class action suit and not allowing that remedy of a class action suit is really problematic here. But I would also think that access to justice for all requires, as well, an opportunity for people to have representation and to have resources. Cutting 45% the next year, which means also more cuts to funding for legal clinics and specialized clinics, will not support justice for representation at the courts.

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

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I rise today to speak on Bill 161. Speaker, I expressed concern with this bill at second reading, particularly with schedules 4, 15 and 16, with proposed changes to the Legal Aid Services Act and the Class Proceedings Act. Since my time is limited, I’m going to focus on these areas in my remarks today, especially since there seems to be a consensus among a number of legal experts that despite minor amendments, this bill still has serious problems in these areas.

While I’m pleased the government was willing to amend the legislation to ensure that the stated purpose of Legal Aid Ontario will still be to ensure access to justice—this was an issue that I and others had raised at second reading—I am troubled that they refuse to amend the legislation to continue to mandate that Legal Aid Ontario shall—and the key word here is “shall”—continue to provide representation in areas such as criminal law, family law, employment law, immigration law and mental health law. In light of the 30% cut imposed on legal aid in 2019, this fundamental change sets the stage for Legal Aid Ontario to justify not serving everyone who meets the qualifications for legal aid.

I’m disturbed that no substantive changes were made to the schedules concerning the Class Proceedings Act, which experts have suggested will significantly restrict the rights of people to seek class action justice in this province. Given the government’s preoccupation with shielding itself and other large actors from legal harm, I’m unfortunately not surprised, but I am disappointed and I am worried, because these schedules will limit accountability and restrict access to justice. Just think of some major cases such as class action lawsuits related to the Walkerton water scandal or the tainted-blood scandal or Indigenous youth in residential schools.

These changes and the way they affect access to justice especially affect people from marginalized communities. If the government is serious about tackling issues such as systemic racism, for example, then access to justice, especially through legal aid, must be increased, not restricted.

Speaker, because of these problems with these three schedules in the bill, I will be voting against Bill 161, and I encourage the members of this Legislature to also vote against Bill 161.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’ll now invite questions for the member for Guelph, related to his presentation.

Mrs. Nina Tangri: Over the last 15 years, funding for legal aid in Ontario has increased exponentially with no improvement in outcomes. Past consultations and reports, including the Auditor General’s 2018 annual report, have identified a need to improve the system. Stakeholders, including the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario, the Ontario Paralegal Association and the CEO of LAO, have all said that the changes in Bill 161 modernize the system and put the focus back on the clients’ needs.

Don’t you think we need modernization of the legal aid system, particularly in light of the challenges and impacts raised by the recent COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected the justice sector? I’d like to hear your thoughts on that, please.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: In response to the Auditor General’s report, I would say that when we’re questioning value for money of something like Legal Aid Ontario, you don’t do it by restricting access or cutting services; you do it by enhancing services, you do it by increasing access, you do it by increasing the budget.

I bet that every member in this House has so many people, particularly from marginalized communities, come into their office seeking justice through Legal Aid Ontario, and there are limitations in the ability of Legal Aid Ontario to provide that justice because of funding cuts.

So I would actually recommend to the members opposite to take the exact opposite approach the government is taking with Legal Aid Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Questions?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I want to thank the member for Guelph for his remarks.

I also wanted to ask his opinion on the class action provisions of the bill in light of the devastation of COVID-19 in our long-term-care homes. I have heard from families in London who’ve lost loved ones to COVID-19 in a long-term-care home that they are interested in potentially joining a class action lawsuit. What would this bill do to bring justice to those families?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I’m deeply concerned about the implications of this bill and previous legislation that the government passed, the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, which also restricts the ability to sue the government. When you take the two combined, we’re restricting the ability of the people of this province to seek justice through class action lawsuits. Particularly when it’s related to COVID-19, I’m thinking of people as it relates to long-term care—both private and public long-term care—but I’m also thinking of migrant workers who want to seek access to justice and may need to through a class action.

As a matter of fact, the Law Commission of Ontario wrote the Premier and the Attorney General, saying that they reject the changes to the Class Proceedings Act because “Bill 161 will effectively restrict class actions and access to justice in a broad range of important cases....” That’s exactly what this bill proposes to do.


Think of past cases, such as the tainted-blood scandal, the Walkerton water crisis, residential schools—those were all class action lawsuits, and to limit the ability to do that limits access to justice.

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

Mr. Vijay Thanigasalam: I heard outrage from my constituents in Scarborough–Rouge Park when they learned the taxpayers have to pay for legal fees for judicial officers kicked out of office for misconduct, which can include anything from fraud to sexual assault and more.

My question is very clear: How can you justify to the public that Ontario taxpayers—honest people who do their job every day, who keep on doing the right thing and don’t break the rules—have to pay for judges and justices of the peace who take advantage of their power and break the rules so badly that they are kicked out of office, but other Ontarians aren’t afforded that same luxury?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Yes, I’m sure the member opposite did hear outrage around that.

This bill—and I just want the public to know this—when it was originally proposed, had 20 schedules in it. Surely, when you look through all 20 schedules, you’re going to find parts of the bill you like and support, right? I would think so; I would hope so in 20 schedules. But there are three schedules that have significant flaws and that justify voting against this bill.

I’m sorry, but to restrict people’s access to engage in class action lawsuits restricts access to justice. That’s exactly why the Law Commission of Ontario said that those schedules should be removed from the bill. So if the government would like the opposition, or at least this member of the opposition, to vote in favour of some of their legislation, then I would say recommend removing the schedules that are deeply problematic so we can support those schedules that do have some good elements in them.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Beaches–East York.

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: I would be grateful if the member could please speak about how he believes this bill is going to expand access to justice for women seeking to escape situations of violence and domestic abuse.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I appreciate the member’s question.

One of the reasons the concerns around class action lawsuits are so deeply problematic and troubling is that, oftentimes, people who may have trouble accessing justice—I’m thinking of women who may be facing domestic violence; I’m thinking of people who may be facing systemic racism. Many people in the legal profession state this over and over again, and stated it at committee: One of the ways people who are from more marginalized communities can access justice is to do it collectively, because you can share the cost. It significantly then reduces legal costs and other costs to access justice. So that is one of the reasons that restricting the class action proceedings is so problematic in this bill when it comes to creating access to justice for people.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Mississauga Centre.

Mme Natalia Kusendova: Ce projet de loi comprend des modifications qui donneront à l’Aide juridique Ontario les outils dont elle a besoin pour aider les clients à résoudre leurs problèmes juridiques plus rapidement et avec moins de barrages routiers. Ces changements proposés s’appuient sur les points forts des cliniques juridiques communautaires, des avocats de service et de l’utilisation de certificats de barreau privé pour corriger ou remplacer des processus obsolètes. Ils confèrent également à Legal Aid Ontario le pouvoir d’établir des règles sur les questions opérationnelles, ce qui lui permet de fournir de façon transparente et durable des services de haute qualité aux clients où et quand ils en ont besoin.

You have frequently stated that the current legal aid system is outdated and does not provide services to all those that need them. Why, then, are you opposing the changes which would provide clients with more options of how they can access legal services, and by doing so, allow more people to access justice?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I appreciate the member opposite’s question—je parle anglais. Modernizing Legal Aid Ontario I think is something that is a good thing to do. But in the process of modernizing Legal Aid Ontario, to take out specific elements of what Legal Aid Ontario is providing in terms of services I think is the wrong way to go. We’ve had legal experts come to committee and talk about it publicly, about how that restricts access to justice. So if you combine that with the 30% cut to Legal Aid Ontario in the 2019 budget, that is restricting access to justice for our most marginalized people in many communities.

I can’t tell you how many people reach out to my office and need access to Legal Aid Ontario and oftentimes are unable to access Legal Aid Ontario, because it doesn’t have the capacity to provide that access. That’s precisely why defining it in a prescriptive way is so important and ensuring that it’s fully funded is so important.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): One last quick question: the member for Oshawa.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to bring up the families and folks in Pickering at Orchard Villa long-term-care home. Many of them are hurting, as they’ve lost 78 loved ones. They are pursuing a number of legal options. What will this look like for them?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Unfortunately, it likely means that, if this bill passes, it will be very difficult for those residents to seek justice. That’s one of the sad realities of this bill.

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

Ms. Jane McKenna: I want to, first off, start by thanking the Attorney General and his parliamentary assistant, the member from Durham. It was an honour to be able to write my speech and write down all the important notes to clarify a lot of things that have been said in this House today.

I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House today, Speaker, in support of a bill that, if passed, would make it easier, faster and more affordable for people in Ontario to access the justice system. Bill 161, the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, supports the hard-working people of this province by modernizing and amending outdated laws. It strengthens protections for victims of crime, it protects the most vulnerable members of our society and it makes it easier to seize the assets used in illegal activities by criminals.

I’m not a lawyer, and that’s a good thing because I bring another perspective to the debate today.

The proposals contained in Bill 161 reflect countless hours of conversations with front-line staff and legal partners, including Legal Aid Ontario, the Law Society of Ontario and the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario. The Attorney General also consulted with Ontario’s everyday heroes in law enforcement, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, the Ontario Bar Association, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto, the Ontario Paralegal Association, along with various consumer groups and many, many others.

The government heard loud and clear that people are struggling every day to navigate a system that even lawyers find challenging at times. That’s why modernizing Ontario’s justice system will help make our streets safer, put victims and their families at the centre of the justice system and hold criminals accountable for their actions.

The Smarter and Stronger Justice Act proposes amendments to more than 20 acts with the goal of making it easier, faster and more affordable to access justice in Ontario. These improvements reflect our government’s determination to work with justice partners to build safer communities.

Throughout the global pandemic, my constituency office has continued to help Burlington residents with document verification for pensions, gifting a used vehicle to a family member, to access government services and even to prepare claims for Small Claims Court.

In the middle of COVID-19, when we were all telling people to stay home, when most businesses were closed, Speaker, Ontario’s outdated system for verifying documents through notaries and commissioners forced people to leave the safety of their homes to complete a simple administrative task that could have been done online. Many of the people who came into my Burlington office told me that if they can bank online, if they can sign a document online to rent a property, if they can access their COVID-19 test results online, then why can’t the justice system work the same way? We had that over and over again; I’m sure everybody else had that as well.


When the Attorney General introduced this bill, he said that banking transactions don’t always require a trip to the bank. And even legal transactions shouldn’t require a trip to a physical office. I totally agree, Speaker. Online document verifications have been happening all over the world for years. It’s time for Ontario to catch up.

These proposed changes were initially introduced through Bill 161 but were passed by our government in Bill 190 in June. I mention these changes nonetheless because we have demonstrated that we are agile and we are ready to respond to the realities of the public health emergency in the justice sector and beyond.

It also demonstrates that our government has been thinking about how to modernize our outdated, complex justice system before the public health emergency even began. Now, people who are comfortable accessing these types of services virtually will be able to do so wherever they live.

Our focus is on victims, their families, their children, their parents, their spouses and their loved ones. When criminals are allowed to profit from illegal activity, it affects our whole society. Ontario was once the Canadian leader in deterring crime through property forfeit. Unfortunately, over the years, we’ve fallen behind other provinces, who have developed and adapted new best practices.

The Smarter and Stronger Justice Act would create a new tool to get ahead of the criminals who prey on our communities for profit. We all agree that crime should not pay. We know that all levels of government must continue to stand up for victims and for vulnerable members of our communities. We know that we must support the prosecutors in their work on the front lines.

Premier Ford once said that when we “cut off the resources the crooks use to fund their illegal operations, we take that money and” use it for “fighting crime and keeping us safe.” Ontarians agree with the Premier. People I’ve spoken to in Burlington tell me that they want the government to take strong action against criminals who use money for illegal activities that fund even more crime. They want us to take action to support victims of crime. That’s why the Attorney General is working with justice partners, including the heroes in law enforcement, to stand up for victims and to hold offenders accountable. By modernizing and simplifying laws around civil asset forfeiture, we strengthen our justice system and further support victims of crime.

In support of this view, York Regional Police Deputy Chief Brian Bigras said, “The value of illicit assets seized by police” each year “extends into the millions of dollars. A portion of these” illicit assets “go uncontested, meaning no one is claiming ownership due ... to the criminal nature in which these ... assets were obtained.”

The government uses seized funds to compensate victims of crime and to provide grants to projects with a mandate of combatting crimes like human trafficking, which is a crisis our government is urgently working with survivors and justice partners to solve.

The proposed changes to the civil forfeiture system have received broad support from key members of our law enforcement community. Chief Paul Pedersen, president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said, “We support the proposed legislative changes to the Civil Remedies Act because it will simplify the processes around personal property forfeitures while also relieving the burdens on our police personnel and the court system.”

Our government wants to make it as hard as possible for criminals to hold on to the proceeds of their crime. We also want to maintain protections that ensure innocent people, including those who rent or lease their property, are not adversely or unfairly affected. Updating Ontario’s 2001 laws on property would expand Ontario’s ability to take away the profits of illegal activity from criminals. We’re talking about the guns, the cash, the automobiles, and other property that fuels future criminal activity, Speaker. Taking strong action today will also enable Ontario to catch up with the best practices used in other provinces and territories across the country.

For those outside the legal community, if you’ve ever watched Erin Brockovich, you know that a class action is a civil lawsuit brought by one representative on behalf of larger groups of people to resolve common or similar issues in a single preceding. The result of that proceeding binds everyone in the group unless they opt out. In Ontario, unlike the United States, class action suits are guided by three principles: access to justice, judicial economy, and behavioural modification.

Speaker, over the years, class actions have changed significantly in terms of both their complexity and volume. Yet despite these changes, the Class Proceedings Act hasn’t been significantly updated in over 25 years. As a result, the act does not always reflect the current reality—and obviously it wouldn’t if it has been 25 years. Today, class action suits can take years to work their way through the court system. The cost of these lengthy lawsuits impacts employers, employees, consumers and even the litigants themselves. The changes being proposed will allow cases to be dismissed for delay where no meaningful steps have been taken to settle the suit.

We all recognize that public consultations are about more than just giving advice. It’s an opportunity for organizations, professionals and members of the general public to provide meaningful input and to propose legislative changes that will impact them. I was pleased to hear from the Attorney General that, last fall—and pre-COVID-19—the ministry consulted on these important reforms to the Class Proceedings Act with: (1) over 20 plaintiff and defence class action law firms; (2) legal organizations like the Ontario Bar Association, who hosted a round table on the subject; (3) advocacy groups like the Consumers Council of Canada and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce; (4) industry groups in automotive, banking, insurance, and pharmacy, as well as litigation funders and many others.

Another key stakeholder the Attorney General met with was the Law Commission of Ontario, which issued an extensive report last summer on class actions in Ontario. The law commission’s class actions project and final report resulted in more than 40 recommendations on how to reform class action legislation and related policies. As a result of these meaningful consultations, the ministry has either fully or substantially adopted many of the law commission’s recommendations. I thought it was very important to put that in.

If you missed my speech this morning on the extension of the provincial state of emergency, I’ll share with you one of my favourite quotes, from Herbert Swope, a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and journalist who became famous as a war correspondent and as the editor of the New York World. He said, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”

Over the years, Ontario has had countless Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments. In the last 153 years, we even had one Ontario NDP government. Regardless of the party in office, we all do our best to put forward legislation that is fair and that is balanced. Back in the 1990s, did every public sector worker think that the NDP government’s social contract was fair or balanced? Was everyone in the public sector satisfied with Premier McGuinty’s legislated 0% wage freeze back in 2012? Of course not. But I’m sure both the NDP and the independent Liberal members opposite will agree that their governments consulted with stakeholders.


If passed, Bill 161 will also establish the tools courts need to decide whether Ontario is the best jurisdiction to resolve the claim. If there are competing cases in other provinces, this is important, because it can help avoid needless expenditures of resources for both plaintiffs and defendants if Ontario is not the most appropriate forum.

As the number of class action cases has increased—which we all know it has—we’ve also seen an increase in the number of third-party funders. You might not realize it, but class action suits are sometimes being bankrolled by a third party, someone who is not a party in the case—sometimes a person or an organization based in the United States or elsewhere. There are currently no rules about when and how third-party funders are permitted. Bill 161 provides transparency and establishes safeguards to ensure third-party funding agreements have proper oversight, to ensure members’ interests are protected.

Ontario’s current justice system is outdated. It’s slow and it doesn’t always put people at the centre. This needs to change, and every one of us in this House has heard that. Speaking of change, back in 1998, “the Rachel” haircut was all the rage, people visited their local video store to get the latest movie on VHS, the first BlackBerry hadn’t hit the market yet and a two-litre bottle of Coke cost just 89 cents—and that wasn’t even on sale. Although a lot has changed since 1990, the Legal Aid Services Act has stayed mostly the same.

Nowhere is innovation and modernization more important than in our legal aid system. After extensive and broad consultation with Legal Aid Ontario and various community legal clinics across the province, the Attorney General has proposed amendments that would provide Legal Aid Ontario with the tools it needs to help clients resolve their legal issues faster, with fewer roadblocks. That’s why the Attorney General introduced Bill 161. Charles Harnick, former Ontario Attorney General and chair of the board of Legal Aid Ontario, and David Field, CEO of Legal Aid Ontario, stood with the minister in support of the government’s proposed changes.

During consultation with Legal Aid Ontario and other justice partners, the Attorney General heard that the current legislation creates barriers to legal aid access for those who need it most. We also heard that the legal aid system is difficult for clients to navigate, and that clients encounter roadblocks based on the types of services they need—everyone has heard that—where they live and who the service providers are in the neighbourhood or region. That’s why David Field, the CEO of Legal Aid Ontario, expressed support for the bill, saying:

“The new Legal Aid Services Act is an important step towards improving access to justice in Ontario. It offers opportunities for innovation, and allows us to address gaps in the justice system. This legislation, if passed, would allow Legal Aid Ontario and its valued service providers—including staff, clinics and the private bar—to better serve clients.”

While the changes our government is proposing will give Legal Aid Ontario the responsibility for designing new rules around how it provides its services, this bill also has several checks and safeguards to ensure that Legal Aid Ontario carries out this role in a manner that is transparent and accountable, featuring a robust public consultation framework.

Speaker, I move that the question now be put.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Burlington has moved that the question now be put. I am satisfied that there has been sufficient debate to allow this question to be made to the House at this time. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard lots of noes.

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, the bells will now ring for 30 minutes, during which time members may cast their votes. I’d ask the Clerks to prepare the lobbies.

The division bells rang from 1406 to 1439.

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 58; the nays are 15.

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

Mr. Downey has moved third reading of Bill 161, An Act to enact the Legal Aid Services Act, 2019 and to make various amendments to other Acts dealing with the courts and other justice matters. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard some noes.

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

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required—unless I receive a deferral—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I wish to inform the House that I have received a request for a deferral of this vote, signed by the chief whip of the official opposition, asking that the vote be deferred. It will be deferred until tomorrow during the time of deferred votes.

Third reading vote deferred.

Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la construction plus rapide de transport en commun

Resuming the debate adjourned on June 17, 2020, on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 171, An Act to enact the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 and make related amendments to other Acts / Projet de loi 171, Loi édictant la Loi de 2020 sur la construction plus rapide de transport en commun et apportant des modifications connexes à d’autres lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): When we last debated this bill, I understand the government House leader had the floor. He still has some time left if he chooses to use it.

I recognize the government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the opportunity—probably not a lot of time, but just to sum up and say that I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill. Building transit faster is something that has obviously been, to the people of my riding, Markham–Stouffville, extremely important, and something that we’ve been waiting a long time for.

There has been a lot of progress made in the last couple of years, frankly, in our community, especially since this government was elected in 2018. In particular, we’ve seen the expansion of the GO train service in my community. We have two-way, all-day GO train service, something that we waited for for a very long time. When you put into context the fact that my riding has grown, the growth that we’ve seen in Markham, in particular—when I moved to Stouffville 20 years ago, there were 17,000 people; there are now 50,000 people that live in Stouffville. The importance of two-way, all-day GO train service really has been a change, not only to Markham–Stouffville but to communities just south of us.

The expansion of subway service into the western part of my community and the Yonge line—that will change York region forever in a positive way. When you look at some of the transit announcements that are happening and improvements that will happen in Scarborough—that will impact the southern part of my riding, the part of Markham which borders on Scarborough. This will give additional opportunities for people to use public transit, in a way that they haven’t been able to before, whether it’s people from Markham, going just across the border into Scarborough and getting a subway; or whether it’s those a little bit further north in Stouffville and the northern parts of Markham having the ability to access two-way, all-day GO train service, the new hub that we’re building in the Cornell community for busing, and the investments that we made when I was part of the federal government on the YRT or the Viva express lanes down Highway 7. These types of investments are what will help build a better community.

What has been frustrating for the community for a very, very long time is that these projects have been talked about for a long time, to the point where people just will not believe it until they see the service. When we announced two-way, all-day GO train service to Mount Joy station in Markham, nobody believed it, and it took a while for those trains to actually become populated with people because they just didn’t believe that it was actually happening. It’s the same with the expansion of service to our Stouffville station.

I’m very excited by the opportunities that this bill provides to my community and to communities that surround me. The fact that we are making progress on building transit and transportation so that we can catch up to other jurisdictions which have done this and made these investments a long time ago, and that we’re doing it in a way that’s affordable for the people of Ontario—that’s something that we have to also look at. Can we build it? Can we afford it? Can we afford to maintain it? Well, we can now, and we’re in that position, Mr. Speaker.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a moment to speak on it. Thank you.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Questions to the government House leader?

Ms. Marit Stiles: I think, as my colleagues and I have noted over the last few weeks, we have significant concerns about a lot of this legislation. I want to share on behalf of my own constituents their many concerns about the nature of this legislation, and particularly about the powers that this government is giving itself.

I wondered if the House leader would care to comment on why the government is granting itself, and other private contractors, immunity from lawsuits, not only with respect to the making of transit construction policy but also the administration of transit construction policy.

Hon. Paul Calandra: I suppose it would be easy for me to suggest that the member from Davenport, whose constituents have access to some of the finest public transportation systems in the province—or, in fact, the best transit transportation systems in the province, whether it’s busing or whether it’s subways—the people in my riding, in my communities in York region, are asking for the same thing. In order to do that, we need to move fast. That’s what this bill is about. It’s about building transit faster. It’s about making sure that we can get shovels in the ground. That’s what this bill is about.

I just talked about how long we have waited for transit and transportation to reach our community. I went from a community of 17,000 to a community of 50,000. But the transit and transportation didn’t follow. Markham went from 64,000 to 330,000, but the buses, transit and transportation did not follow. So I would suggest to the member for Davenport that we want what the people in Davenport want: access to the best transit and transportation systems and more opportunities to get people moving around, whether it’s through buses or whether it’s through bike lanes which we have been building. Ultimately, we’ve got to get a lot of people to their jobs and we have to build transit and transportation in order to do that, and that’s what this bill allows us to do.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further questions for the government House leader.

Ms. Jennifer K. French: I was here, I believe, the last time that the government House leader was debating Bill 171, so I’m glad to have a couple of questions.

This is a bill that is called “Building Transit Faster,” but it’s certainly not about building transit responsibly. When it comes to P3s, this government has a fascinating fixation, despite, when we hear from Infrastructure Ontario, their market update reveals more delays for several P3 projects; and, of course, the AG report in 2014—glaring issues with P3s; and yet the government loves them. But Bill 171 really seems to be about removing construction risk for P3 contractors and, instead, forcing that on local communities.

I guess my question to the government House leader is: If we’re seeing so many delays in resurfacing projects and, I’ll say, run-of-the-mill construction projects across the province, as we’ve seen in the market update most recently, how on earth can this government guarantee that we will see faster or better transit with a large-scale project?

Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, I think it’s obvious why we’ve seen the delays that we have over the last number of months. We have a global pandemic, which has forced the building and construction sector to come down, but ultimately, that was one of the sectors that we opened up quicker. If you get into my community—the member talks about resurfacing—and you look at Highway 404 in my community, building transit and transportation means not just building subways; it means building roads and other infrastructure. Look at the 404 in my community. That is well ahead of schedule and that will mean a big difference for the people of my community.

She talks about communities. Well, in my community, there’s not one mayor who’s actually against what we’re doing. They wanted us to do it. They wanted us to build this subway along Yonge Street. My understanding is that all three party leaders in the last election made a promise that they would build the Yonge Street expansion. I’m confused to hear that the NDP are now somehow against that.

We want transit and transportation built, and we won’t allow red tape or obstructions from the official opposition to get in the way of bringing it to those communities that so richly deserve it.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Questions.

Mr. Deepak Anand: Speaker, we all know how important the transit system is. I still remember when the Premier unveiled about a $28.5-billion plan to build our four priority subway projects, and it’s by far the most money ever invested to get subways built. This is momentous.

Can the member explain why everybody in the House should get on board with our subway expansion and support the Building Transit Faster Act, especially because it’s coming to Mississauga–Malton?


Hon. Paul Calandra: The member is not wrong, Mr. Speaker. It’s not really just about transit and transportation. He raises a very good point which I should have talked about in some of the earlier questions.

When you look at what happens around these transit and transportation hubs that we are building, the billions of dollars in economic activity that will be generated in Mississauga as a result of this, the housing that will come as a part of that, getting people closer to public transportation so that we can get fewer people on the roads—that way, we can open up, like we’ve seen with COVID-19. We’ve seen jurisdictions make more lanes of traffic available for bikes. That’s actually a good thing, Mr. Speaker. When people can get off the roads—like transit and transportation will do—when they can live close to the public transportation system, I believe that they will choose to get on those other forms, opening up our roads, whether it’s to bikes, to pedestrians, or just making it quicker to get around, because there’s less traffic on the street.

He’s absolutely right; the billions of dollars in economic activity in York region and Mississauga, the thousands of jobs that would be created, especially at a time when a global pandemic has hurt not only Ontario but all of Canada—Canada is relying on us to get our economy moving, and we’ll do that for them.

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

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: I think everybody in the House wants transit to be built quickly. That’s not the issue. The issue is process. When the bill was before committee, we brought forward a great many amendments that would have made it a more equitable process, but the government chose to turn all of those down. I wonder what the minister would have to say to Torontonians who are concerned about equity and process.

Hon. Paul Calandra: I would say to the people of Toronto, those who are stuck at the Yonge and Bloor subway—and we’ve heard constantly about the thousands of people who are stuck there, the people who are stuck at Union Station, the people who get a disservice in the wintertime when their trains aren’t running. I would say to the people of the city of Toronto that help is on the way, because—


Mr. Peter Tabuns: He’s got a sense of humour.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Colleagues, you know what happens when common sense prevails: The NDP go low. So wait for it, colleagues.

Directly to the people of the city of Toronto, I would say that we are making improvements. We’re not only expanding transit and transportation in York region and the greater Toronto area; we’re making improvements by working with our federal partners to make the system better in Toronto, so that these long waits they have been having because of system failures will be a thing of the past. It’s too bad that we had to wait so long for these improvements to happen, but this government and this Premier are committed to doing that, not only for the people of Toronto, but for the people of the GTHA.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mississauga Centre.

Mme Natalia Kusendova: Le projet de loi 171 accélère la construction de nos quatre projets de transport en commun prioritaires, dont le projet de transport en commun emblématique, la ligne Ontario. Ce projet de loi, s’il est adopté, éliminera les obstacles qui ont retardé les projets dans le passé. Les nouveaux outils décrits dans cette loi nous aideront à fournir le réseau de transport en commun que les Ontariennes et les Ontariens méritent le plus rapidement possible.

Mr. Speaker, this is a historic moment when all three levels of government agree on a unified subway expansion plan for the GTA, something that previous governments were unable to achieve. The consensus is clear: Our plan is the right plan.

Can the government House leader tell us about the progress we’ve made with municipal governments like York region, the city of Toronto, and even my region of Peel?

L’hon. Paul Calandra: Je veux remercier ma collègue pour cette question. Nous sommes très fiers du progrès que nous avons déjà fait dans ce secteur. Comme vous le savez, nous avons décidé d’investir 28 milliards de dollars pour améliorer le système de transit public ici dans la GTHA.

She talks specifically about the mayors. Well, the mayor of Markham and the mayor of all of York region—they are in favour of this. They can’t wait for us to put shovels in the ground. The people in Scarborough, they have been waiting. The mayor of Toronto has endorsed this project, Mr. Speaker. If you look around—I believe the mayor of Mississauga can’t wait for this project to happen. So when she talks about the mayors and the elected officials in and around Toronto, they are very much in favour of this, as are the councillors in Scarborough, who have long waited for this.

I’m very excited about the opportunities. Thank you for the—

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

Mr. Faisal Hassan: It is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill—


Mr. Faisal Hassan: I beg your pardon?

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Carry on, Faisal. You’re great.

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Thank you very much. Thank you, Teresa.

It is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill 171, entitled the Building Transit Faster Act. When it comes to transit, the official opposition has long advocated for families and commuters who, for far too long, have had to deal with increasingly unreliable transit in our province.

My office regularly hears of instances of personal support workers—our front-line health care heroes—having to take several transit connections in order to arrive at their workplaces. In my community alone, people rely on buses on Weston Road, Keele, Lawrence and Jane, and we are talking about individuals earning not all that much money in the first place having the added burden of making their workday that much longer as they struggle to make the connections necessary in order to arrive at work and back home, or to do the grocery shopping needed for their families.

When it comes to improving transit, we on this side of the House are very much in favour. Affordable transit, efficient transit and easily accessible transit should be a number one priority for the sake of families, the economy and, indeed, the environment. Families in the greater Toronto area face some of the longest commute times in North America. The congestion of traffic has significant economic costs. It is estimated that $11 billion is lost each year in productivity because people are idling in their vehicles in stopped traffic, or the TTC or GO is facing yet another delay.

When it comes to the environment, we need to lessen automobile reliance. Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to our climate crisis. Our commute times would be shorter, safer and less harmful to the environment if we would have cleaner mass transit options.

Bill 171, the Building Transit Faster Act, sets out to speed up the delivery of four priority transit projects in the province: the Ontario Line, the Scarborough subway extension, the Yonge North subway extension and the Eglinton Crosstown extension. It is regrettable that more consultation with the public did not take place and that time allocation has rushed through such a complex and important bill. What my office has been hearing and what this government has heard at committee is that this bill is a contentious one in Toronto communities. People are fearful that a lack of consultation and poor planning will result in a chaotic implementation of any transit plan.

People who plan transit need to understand the community it services. Any effective transit plan begins with an understanding of who uses transit and how transit can be most effective in each community.

A view to the needs of disabled people is needed as well. Disabled people are being forced to jump through many hoops to use conventional transit, and in some cases are being forced to use specialized and regular transit on the same trip, thus making trips even longer due to the time required to change vehicles while using mobility devices. Mr. Speaker, when it comes to Bill 171, did this government consult with the disabled community, and, indeed, did they listen?

Transit projects in Toronto need to happen and are desired by a vast percentage of the population. My concerns are about how this rollout will take place, and the problems associated with the P3 model and the role of Metrolinx. It seems like this legislation is being introduced to make it easier for P3s to proceed in these projects.


When the Eglinton Crosstown project was paid $237 million to deliver on time and on budget, neither happened. Will the government enforce penalties or shrug their shoulders?

The minister has said that a goal of Bill 171 is to align the rules for transit construction with P3 procurement, enabling the use of innovation by P3 contractors. What is meant by “innovation,” Mr. Speaker? Innovation means that the contractors are free to decide how to fulfill their project deliverables rather than having the terms of the contract clearly spell out the terms of work. For example, a bad P3 contract could require the government or Metrolinx to use the powers in Bill 171 if a P3 contractor decided it would be more “innovative” to turn a neighbourhood into a construction sacrifice zone rather than spending money working around it. Bill 171 grants powers like this to P3s, and it is disturbing. Accountability and transparency are taken away.

Bill 171 grants the government, Metrolinx and its private contractors immunity from lawsuits with respect to the permit system and stop work-orders. Another disturbing component is that there are no standards to limit how much disruption a community must endure during construction projects, or even a setting of notifications requirements and timelines for power and water supply cut-offs. All of this lack of oversight and transparency is for the illusion of building transit faster.

As part of this “faster” building of transit, the possible environmental impacts of a project can be, incredibly, pushed aside if it means a delay in the work. The government’s own environmental ministry speaks to this. I will quote from the Environmental Registry:

“The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks will be able to intervene in the Metrolinx-led issues response process”—the response to environmental issues—“to modify any measures proposed by Metrolinx in response to issues and concerns, if the minister is of the view that the proposed measures could delay the timely delivery of these projects.”

Mr. Speaker, this is shocking. It is saying to the community members that the environment and health and safety are not the top priority for the Minister of the Environment. The environment ministry, in my mind, is in place to protect the local environment and the health and safety of the residents of Ontario. In the case of Bill 171, residents near a transit line might not be protected if it appears a project may be slowed down because of environmental concerns. The minister is allowed to set those concerns aside and has the power to block measures that may delay a project.

I think most Ontarians would be outraged if they were aware of the new powers granted to build transit faster. It seems like we are changing the rules around environmental assessments in order to accommodate P3s. This undermines the ability of the public to engage and intervene in projects where clearly there are problems. The private sector can ignore the community and proceed as they wish.

Mr. Speaker, let me speak to the consultation around Bill 171, the Building Transit Faster Act. Time and again, we hear from communities that Metrolinx does not truly listen, and that the perception is that the projects are often not on time and not on budget. The trust in Metrolinx needs to be there. Residents have told committee that “Metrolinx has alienated the surrounding community with its high-handed, arrogant behaviour to the point where the community fights it at every turn and regularly petitions for elected provincial and city representatives to intervene.” We only have to read the Auditor General’s annual report to learn of the troublesome stories about Metrolinx and cost overruns. Metrolinx must be required to be accountable, reasonable and fair to the communities it’s doing work in.

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated, we all want better transit and we want it built now, but faster does not mean no oversight or control in how a project proceeds or on the costs and environmental impact it incurs. If this government wanted to build transit faster, then they would not have ripped up existing transit plans and simply redrawn them. That approach set us back years and, in the process, wasted millions of dollars that could have been more effectively spent.

Mr. Speaker, if this government wants to build transit, then we are in agreement. Where we part ways is in the implementation of that plan.

I started my comments speaking about the average transit user, who might be a PSW travelling to their workplace. This bill will not necessarily help that individual waiting on delayed, overcrowded buses on Jane, Weston, Keele and Lawrence. This government needs to actually invest in transit operations and maintenance that has been on a downward slide the past few decades.

We need service improvements, and that requires funding in the province’s budget. We are not seeing that, Mr. Speaker. In fact, the Financial Accountability Officer has reported that funding to new transit expansion has been cut by 40% over the coming five years. True transit improvement and support requires financial commitment.

In our role as the official opposition, we wanted to make this badly flawed bill work. With that in mind, we suggested a number of amendments with an eye to improve the bill. In fact, we proposed 33 amendments.

One amendment was something community members in York South–Weston and, indeed, the greater Toronto area felt very strongly about—as do I: the need for a community benefits agreement to be a component of any new transit project. Community benefits are exactly as they sound, Mr. Speaker. For example, language would be in an agreement that workers would be hired locally—and from the marginalized communities is key. Local workers earning decent union wages and contributing to the project through their hard work is a community benefit for everyone. In this way, dollars stay within the community affected by the build. Similarly, some communities have components to the agreements whereby affordable housing is built and community park space is added. Community benefits are such an attainable and reasonable goal to have. Unfortunately, this amendment was rejected.

Another concern was the sections of Bill 171 that remove the rights of municipalities to manage their own affairs. In the drive to build transit faster, a transit construction company can run roughshod over how a city manages its own assets in the interest of expediency. Our goal to remove that language was also rejected.

We also asked for a working group to be established, consisting of Metrolinx representatives, business leaders from the community and the contractor—the idea being that regular meetings to discuss how construction is proceeding, and any concerns that need to be addressed would be able to be addressed. Communication between all partners and a construction partner is so critical and truly makes sense and is reasonable. Solving issues before they become larger issues just makes sense. This government said no to this idea.

I earlier touched on the P3 model being used and some of the problems that can be associated with it. The P3 model in this province has a long history, and I must say that the track record is not a good one. Whether it is building hospitals or constructing a transit project, the value for money is just not there. The Auditor General of Ontario actually performed a value-for-money assessment of P3 projects in Ontario and found that an additional $8 billion was spent than if we had gone to a public sector build. Of that $8 billion, $6.5 billion is due to higher private sector financing costs. Private-public partnerships simply cost more, and there are numerous stories of issues involving P3s. The Auditor General highlights problems such as higher costs of private financing, significant conflicts over maintenance contracts, and no evidence to justify projects going ahead as P3s.


Even more disturbing is the refusal of public bodies like Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario to accept and comply with the Auditor General’s recommendations around accountability and transparency. The 2017 report by the Auditor General highlighted that Metrolinx will not follow the recommendation to “publish the detailed risk assessments used to justify” P3 “procurement, as well as the methodology for assessing these risks, so that independent experts can verify the results.” In fact, Auditors General across the country are in agreement in questioning the financial rationale for using P3s to finance, build and operate public infrastructure.

Our amendment that said “no project will be procured by public-private partnership” was voted down by this government. Ontarians may very well come to regret in the future that P3s developing transit projects is this government’s preference.

We also suggested an amendment that would require Metrolinx to present the project’s budget before signing a contract, keeping in mind that some of these projects are five, 10 years and sometimes decades in completion. Surely the public should be allowed to know the spending involved. That is not only reasonable; it is transparent and simply good business, Mr. Speaker. This government voted our amendment down.

A motion for public notification and consultation for any proposed changes to a project was also rejected. This was also to add transparency to a project. Very often, projects change or are cancelled altogether. It only seems reasonable that the public—who are, in fact, funding these projects—are kept aware of every step of a project and any proposed changes.

In summary, Mr. Speaker, Bill 171, the Building Transit Faster Act, is deeply flawed. We all want transit and, in fact, our society badly needs efficient, affordable and accessible transit. This bill, in its aim of faster transit, sets out to remove the rights of Ontarians. It will be easier to expropriate homes and businesses. Having one’s day in court to challenge a project is gone. Metrolinx and the government will be protected from lawsuits or liability, and basically be allowed to operate with no concern for our communities.

This bill was an opportunity to make it a model bill for good transit planning and how it can affect and benefit a community. Instead, this government has not listened to the community. It is very important to listen to the stakeholders, the community and businesses. Instead, this government has not listened to the community, businesses or local municipalities in what should have been a collaborative, positive transit-building plan for all.

Mr. Speaker, this is very important. Transit is important. Most of the people in my community rely on transit, but because it’s not reliable, the majority of them use vehicles—automobiles—and that also is very expensive, because not everybody can afford an automobile, and because those who can are now also subject to pay higher premiums on auto insurance.

In order to make transit effective, we need to plan, we need to listen to the community and we need to work co-operatively. We want this government to listen to us and accept our amendments. We still have time to do so.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Questions for the member?

Mr. Aris Babikian: I am so excited that finally Bill 171 is being debated and that we’re going to do the third reading. The reason why I’m excited is because my constituents keep asking me when the Sheppard subway east will be built. They are looking for the second phase of our government planning, and we will not be able to start debating and planning for the second phase until we address the first phase and those four lines start being implemented or built. The need for better transit and faster transit—I love the title: better transit, faster transit. Because for so many years, we have been seeing so many plans voted on in the city of Toronto and deleted.

So my question is, at what point can the opposition come forward with a practical plan to get the subway built?

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Thank you to the member from across the aisle. As you’ve listened to my speech—we want transit to be built. We have proposed ideas. We have proposed 33 amendments to make it better, to consult, to fix things, to make it something that all of us can work together on. But you are closing your doors, you are rejecting every idea we bring to the table. How are we going to make transit faster, efficient and effective if you are not going to consult with the community?

Furthermore, the money that we spend also needs to be transparent and effective, and we need to make sure that we don’t waste taxpayer money by sourcing out P3s.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: I want to thank the member from York South–Weston for his very well-considered comments. I found them excellent, and I appreciate them very much. I think the member makes some really excellent points, particularly around the importance of community involvement, community benefit, community consultation, transparency and accountability.

In my community, we’ve had a number of major projects: first the Pearson express; now the Davenport Diamond GO expansion, which is linked to the Barrie GO expansion. This is an area where our community has had to push subsequent government after government to have a voice, to have any say, to even get notification of things like noise or construction issues—really basic stuff—let alone the fact that we want to maybe not have hundreds of diesel trains coming through our neighbourhood next to the schools. Maybe we’d like to have electric trains, promised by government after government; yet nothing.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on why he thinks this government would be so closed to the amendments that were presented that would provide greater transparency and accountability.

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Thank you to the member from the great riding of Davenport.

Definitely, it is important to invest in community. Davenport and York South–Weston are neighbours, and I know that the previous government—and I could summarize here: from bad to worse. To this day, we have trains that are diesel trains that are going through our communities, and that’s why we need to consult with the community.

Community benefit also is very important, because it’s a win-win situation. The projects are built; the communities spend money. They stay there. They learn skills. And that’s also something that leaves the community with that. So I think it makes sense.

It’s also important for transparency—because we represent the people of Ontario. If we’re spending their money, there have to be mechanisms that have transparency. Unfortunately, this amendment of the community benefit, which has been a really good idea of engaging the community early on and making sure that the community benefits are excellent—but the government let us down again.

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

Mr. Daryl Kramp: My question to the member opposite: I listened intently to your points, and the unfortunate thing is, everything was negative. Everything wasn’t “could be” or “should be”; it was “why not.” Everything was, “not, not, not, not.” I say to myself, these “ifs” don’t pay the bill, these “ifs” are not going to get construction built, these “ifs” are not going to get rid of gridlock, these “ifs” are not going to bring prosperity to the city of Toronto or provide a way for his citizenry to move around the village.


The point is, our government brought in Bill 171 to finally say, “Enough talk.” We have all levels of government, finally, the province, the municipality, federally—how difficult it is to get everybody finally singing from the same song sheet. We are, and we are doing it, and we’re making this thing happen.

How can this member look his constituents in the eye and say, “I am against public transit expansion in the city”? Wow; I just say wow.

Mr. Faisal Hassan: What I can understand from the member from across the aisle is, it is my way or the highway. We have proposed 33 amendments. We still have ideas to bring to it, to improve it, to make it—transit is important, especially in Toronto. It’s very important. In my community, it’s very important. People in my community rely on Jane and Lawrence and Keele, and they wait hours and hours. These are front-line workers, PSWs, an important workforce; we need to make it fast. Making sure that you listen to us and you listen to the people you represent so that we make this bill better—that’s a reasonable proposition.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for University–Rosedale.

Ms. Jessica Bell: It’s concerning to hear the members from the other side talk about how we are anti-transit, when it was the Ontario government that cancelled the shovel-ready plan that was meant to be built starting now. It’s absurd.

I have a question to the member. You spoke about the value of community benefit agreements. Can you explain more how a community benefit agreement would help your riding?

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Thank you to the member from the great riding of University–Rosedale.

Yes, community benefits would help my community and across this province, because we are going to engage the community, we are going to make sure that the community will gain skills. They will gain, also, an income that they will spend in their own community, and when the project is over, then there are some assets left in the community.

If you look at the previous government, for the last 15 years, which is really from bad to worse at the moment—and that also has not been included into that idea of Metrolinx projects. This is a win-win situation, because the community wins, the government wins and everybody wins, by including everybody. Making that benefit is really very important, that we invest in the communities. This is one way to do so.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Don Valley North.

Mr. Vincent Ke: I’m honoured to rise and speak to Bill 171 on behalf of the people of Don Valley North, who will benefit greatly from our government’s investment in these four subway lines.

Speaker, the opposition members have repeatedly criticized P3 projects under the former Liberal government’s failures. However, he failed to take into account that the Canada Line in metro Vancouver, British Columbia, one of the first P3-based projects in North America, was completed with no cost overruns and opened a month ahead of plan.

My question is to the member for York South–Weston: Why can’t he see that successfully delivered P3 projects will eliminate cost overruns and inefficient—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Question.

Mr. Vincent Ke: —in the traditional procurement and build long-needed transit for us here in Ontario?

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Thank you for the member’s question.

I think the concern we have is transparency and accountability. If we are going to spend taxpayers’ money, then we ought to have our systems in place to make sure that the project doesn’t have project creep, which also costs the taxpayers more. And this has been the case.

You mentioned the previous government. Yes, I say that the last 15 years have been really from bad to worse at the moment. You are not listening to us. We are saying to you that the people need their money being managed wisely, but at the same time, they also have to be consulted and included, and that is not what’s happening at the moment.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I think we’re going to have to move on. There are only five seconds left.

Further debate?

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I’m pleased to rise to speak to Bill 171, the Building Transit Faster Act. The title really speaks for itself. I think about my riding of Barrie–Innisfil and how folks in Barrie–Innisfil are excited that we’re building modern and efficient and rapid transit—and not only just building transit, but the amount of opportunities that occur through that. I wanted to speak about those opportunities that are now going to be as a result of Bill 171.

According to Statistics Canada, 82% of Innisfil residents commute to work. David Hynes really sums it up quite well: He says he sees his son two hours a day, and he sees his wife maybe three and a half hours a day during the workweek because of the commuting.

When we’re talking about building faster transit, Mr. Speaker, we’re talking about families. We’re also talking about people who work. We’re talking about Ontarians who want the quality time with their spouse or with their children but are not able to have that because they are commuting. They move to communities like Innisfil for the different kind of lifestyle we provide and the affordability element as well.

It’s not just in Innisfil; it’s also in Barrie, another part of the riding that I represent. One in five individuals in Barrie also commute, and they spend at least an hour to get to work. That’s staggering.

But it’s not just in Barrie–Innisfil; it’s really across this province. If you look at Stats Canada and the studies they did between 2011 and 2016, the length of travel increased by 5% for those who had to be in a car for long travel—and that rose every year by about 3%.

When you talk about why the government is introducing faster transit, it’s because Ontarians just can’t—many would like the option of taking rapid transit and to be able to go on a GO train or go on the TTC and have those two linked together but aren’t afforded that option. In Barrie specifically, we had fought to bring back the GO train. The tracks were torn up, thanks to Bob Rae. But they were brought back again, and it brought light, hope and a lot of prosperity to the area, where people could now have that quality of life where they’re able to do more work on the road and they would be able to use the train to do their commuting. Certainly, that’s something to really look forward to.

In Innisfil, for instance, we don’t have a GO train. But because of the new model under the leadership of Premier Ford and our government, we’re now going to have GO trains that are being built not at the expense of the taxpayer, but at the expense of affordable housing and our home builders in our communities. That’s really exciting. In Innisfil, it’s going to be one of those projects, and residents can’t wait for that to happen.

But in order for that to happen, we need to streamline the process and make it more reasonable for the 21st century. A lot of the things this government is doing are really trying to bring a lot of the processes into the 21st century and do away with these dinosaur days that many people in the Legislature might want to bring us back to. But certainly, folks in Barrie–Innisfil would want to see something different. They want their government to strive for better, strive for faster, strive for efficiency. That’s something they have to do in their day-to-day lives when they’re doing budgeting for their family, or their day-to-day work.

So when we talk about building faster transit, we talk about Metrolinx and how that process is certainly going to be streamlined, and that’s going to pay dividends for folks in Innisfil. Not only are they going to get a GO train station quicker, but also it means jobs. One of the things that I heard a lot when Minister Mulroney, our Minister of Transportation, announced this piece of legislation, Bill 171, was how it’s going to create jobs. Certainly, we have a lot of folks in the skilled trades in the Barrie–Innisfil area, and they want to see their children pursue that as well. Of course, that’s another piece of work that our government is working on—to put more people into the skilled trades and really open that door and invest in Skills Ontario, which I know our Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development is working on.

Our Minister of Transportation is also thinking ahead and investing in the training that’s necessary. Just this past weekend, our Minister of Transportation, in her own riding, also unveiled the building of Georgina Trades Training Inc., which will be a new training institute, which is really exciting for Barrie–Innisfil, because not only are we going to have the rapid transit building that’s happening, but we’re actually going to be training the talent just next door. It’s all part of York region and Simcoe county and that great partnership we have as regions that are next door to each other, and regions that are both growing. But with growth comes a lot of needs, and one of those needs is, of course, modern-day transportation. When we talk about modern-day transportation, as much as all of us want to build more employment in our own ridings—and certainly in Innisfil we’re doing that with the employment lands; I know Minister Steve Clark helped us unlock a lot of that potential—some people are still going to choose to commute, and it’s up to us to give them that option and it’s up to us to give them that quality of life, and we have the ability to do that in this Legislature.

I would ask all members of the House to really consider the importance of this bill and how it is not only going to build rapid transit, but it’s also going to do things like relocate the utilities more effectively, while treating businesses fairly and ensuring costs are not passed to the consumer—again, that step of us protecting the consumer and protecting families. It’s going to help people like David Hynes. It’s going to help him see his child a few more hours a day and his wife a few more hours a day. I think we owe it to Ontarians like David Hynes to do that.

On that note, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move that the question now be put.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Ms. Khanjin has moved that the question now be put. I’m satisfied that there has been sufficient debate to allow this question to be put to the House.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? There are lots of noes.

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

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required, the bells will now ring for 30 minutes, during which time members may cast their votes. I ask the Clerks to prepare the lobbies.

The division bells rang from 1533 to 1603.

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 58; the nays are 13.

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

Ms. Mulroney has moved third reading of Bill 171, An Act to enact the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 and make related amendments to other Acts. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard some noes.

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—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): —unless I receive a deferral slip.

I wish to inform the House that I have received a deferral slip from the chief government whip, asking that this vote be deferred until tomorrow, during the time of deferred votes, and so the vote is deferred.

Third reading vote deferred.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Orders of the day? I recognize the government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: No further business.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): There being no further business, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 9 a.m.

The House adjourned at 1605.