42nd Parliament, 1st Session

L218A - Thu 3 Dec 2020 / Jeu 3 déc 2020



Thursday 3 December 2020 Jeudi 3 décembre 2020

Orders of the Day

Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 modifiant la Loi sur la responsabilité des occupants

Eating Disorders Awareness Week Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la Semaine de la sensibilisation aux troubles de l’alimentation

Members’ Statements

John Offutt

Long-term care

Conservation authorities

Infrastructure funding

Long-term care

Land use planning


Addiction services

Alnwick/Haldimand Fire Department


National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women / Journée nationale de commémoration et d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes

COVID-19 deaths

Question Period

COVID-19 response

Long-term care

Climate change

Affordable housing

COVID-19 response

Conservation authorities

Small business

College standards and accreditation

Long-term care

Children’s services

Water quality

Conservation authorities

Persons with disabilities

COVID-19 response

Small business

Business of the House

Deferred Votes

Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la reconstruction et la relance en Ontario

Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 modifiant la Loi sur la responsabilité des occupants

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on General Government

Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills

Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Introduction of Bills

Fostering Privacy Fairness Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 renforçant l’équité concernant la vie privée


Conservation authorities

Education funding

Small business

Conservation authorities

Conservation authorities

Economic reopening and recovery

Injured workers

Firearms control

Education funding

Transportation infrastructure

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Good morning. We’re going to begin this morning with a moment of silence for inner thought and personal reflection. Let us pray.


Orders of the Day

Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 modifiant la Loi sur la responsabilité des occupants

Resuming the debate adjourned on December 2, 2020, on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 118, An Act to amend the Occupiers’ Liability Act / Projet de loi 118, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la responsabilité des occupants.

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

Mr. Miller, Parry Sound–Muskoka, has moved third reading of Bill 118, An Act to amend the Occupiers’ Liability Act. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

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

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

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

Third reading vote deferred.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la Semaine de la sensibilisation aux troubles de l’alimentation

Ms. Andrew moved third reading of the following bill:

Bill 61, An Act to proclaim Eating Disorders Awareness Week / Projet de loi 61, Loi proclamant la Semaine de la sensibilisation aux troubles de l’alimentation.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To lead off the debate, the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s.

Ms. Jill Andrew: Thank you to everyone in the House, across the aisle, all the MPPs who have been very supportive of Bill 61 and who provided unanimous consent for this bill on December 6, 2018.

It’s a real honour to stand here. I don’t stand alone with this bill; I stand alongside many community members in St. Paul’s and across Ontario, in post-secondary schools, elementary schools, high schools, community service organizations. I also stand alongside those who live with the shame and stigma that often comes with how society treats people or judges people who are experiencing eating disorders, eating problems and body image issues. So I’m very proud to stand today for the third reading of my bill, Bill 61, my first private member’s bill—a bill to create a week of significance, the first week of February, as Eating Disorders Awareness Week across Ontario.

If Bill 61 becomes law, we will join BC, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and 74 municipalities in Ontario, including our very own Toronto, that have already recognized this week of February as Eating Disorders Awareness Week by issuing proclamations.

I also want to take a moment to thank my family as well: my partner, Aisha, who I know is watching, and my mother. I’m just really thankful for the opportunity to stand and represent them the best way I know how. I’d also like to thank Sheena’s Place in Toronto—probably about a brisk 20 minutes for me, walking—for providing me with a road map, a journey, in my early twenties, when I too had lost my way with regard to body acceptance.

I want to express some of the words that I shared with the committee a couple of days ago. During this season, December, it’s usually the holidays—however we celebrate the holidays. It’s a time when obsessive body shaming, calorie counting, obsessions with our weight and our waistlines is commonplace. Well-meaning family relatives, friends, even colleagues will police our bodies at times, telling us that we should exercise more or telling us, “It looks like you’ve put on a little weight” or whatnot. These comments aren’t helpful. These comments don’t make people exercise more or move more or feel better about themselves. In fact, it does the exact opposite. It creates the type of diet culture, the type of over-preoccupation with looks and beauty and aesthetics that disproportionately impacts women and girls.

Part of the reason that I put forth Bill 61 is that I want to make it clear to everyone across Ontario that eating disorders do not only impact women and girls; they impact men and boys. They impact people across the gender spectrum. They impact trans women, trans men, gender-non-conforming folks. They impact disabled folks, Black, Indigenous. They also impact fat people. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be thin to have anorexia or to have bulimia or any other type of eating disorder or eating problem or body dissatisfaction issue.

To reiterate my position on the importance of Bill 61, I believe that Eating Disorders Awareness Week will bring attention to the sociocultural determinants of eating disorders like food and income insecurity, housing inequities and health care and mental health inequities, plus systemic violences like sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia, trans misogyny, anti-Indigenous racism and poverty that so many people are experiencing and that we know COVID-19 has exacerbated.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week will promote awareness of people’s diverse experiences with eating disorders, eating problems and other body image challenges. I strongly believe where there is better research, public education, intervention and awareness on these issues, it sets the foundation. It sets the foundation for more long-standing, sustainable treatment options. It sets the foundation for hope.

The one thing that we heard over and over again in the deputations earlier for this bill is that eating disorders destroy people’s lives. They take them off the trajectories they are on, whether it means missed time at work, missed time at school or just simply a loss of self. It is something that we have to address.


Here’s an interesting thing, because statistics don’t always tell the full story: I understood from my own research and from documentation from some of the most profound eating disorders awareness organizations in our country—and in our province, even—that one million Canadians are impacted by eating disorders. Really, that number is an estimate. We have heard that upwards of three million Canadians are impacted by eating disorders, with about 500,000 or so here in Ontario. What we know by the inconsistency of numbers is that more research is necessary. More research is necessary, and in order to have more research, we need more funding. We need more funding.

What I heard from our deputants is that proclaiming the first week of February as Eating Disorders Awareness Week will help to validate the lived experiences of so many who are living with this: surviving, struggling and some even trying to thrive. It will validate women’s and girls’ experiences. It will validate marginalized Ontarians’ experiences with eating problems.

I have often said to kids when I taught, or when I was a child and youth worker or even an equity adviser, that you’ve got to be able to love the skin you’re in. The reality is that some of us aren’t in the skin we believe we should be in. Furthermore, it’s not only a self project to love the skin you’re in. The society has to love the skin you’re in. The society has to acknowledge your uniqueness, your difference, your diversity—not tolerate it, but accept and celebrate it. That’s what doesn’t happen for a lot of folks who have body image issues.

As I mentioned in the House, there are members across the aisle, and myself as well and others here on this side, who have been body-shamed, who have been attacked on social media because of our weight, because of our race, because of our gender identity or expression. Regardless of our political affiliation, nobody, none of our constituents—I’m going to say it—none of our family members, none of our friends, none of our enemies have a right to body-shame anyone, not just in this Legislature but across Ontario.

As I’ve mentioned, eating disorders do not discriminate. They don’t discriminate based on income, on gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, intellectual acumen or weight.

I want to also emphasize how important this week will be for those who are in rural, northern communities, who routinely and chronically do not have access to eating disorders support. Much of that inaccessibility comes down to a lack of broadband, a lack of local services, a lack of culturally relevant services. That’s why I remember being so proud to sit in the House and hear my colleague and friend MPP Vanthof speak so passionately about how essential broadband is—it really is—for the delivery of health services, for the delivery of programming that supports people living with eating problems and all other different health ailments.

I want to make it clear that eating disorders are one of the most profound and deadly of mental illnesses. So as a government, I implore you to never see mental health as an area that should be cut. I know hundreds of millions of dollars have been cut from mental health; we must stop that. I implore you to recognize the conditions that also impact people’s lives and can place them in a spiral where they feel out of control. Those conditions include not being able to pay one’s rent, swimming in OSAP debt, being underpaid at work, living with wages that are unlivable. And frankly, the pandemic that ODSP and OW recipients in my community have been facing even before the pandemic of COVID-19, a pandemic of outrageous poverty, must be addressed.

This folder, which I will not be able to get through, includes stories from many of the folks I’ve spoken with over the years, and many of whom were in the chamber a couple of years ago. I want to just highlight a few comments.

This is from NIED, the National Initiative for Eating Disorders. Wendy Preskow was gracious enough to join us during our deputations. “Providing individuals with timely access to quality care could result in a significant drop in health care costs in Ontario.”

We’ve seen what COVID-19 has done, how it has ravaged our long-term-care homes, our communities, our families. A dear friend of mine recently got news of a loved one of hers who is now stricken with COVID-19.

What we know is that the treatment for eating disorders is often outside of the reach of many because it’s often not free, and sometimes upwards of $15,000 a month. We also know that there are plenty of lost earnings from essential caregivers—those family members, those friends, who take time off work to take care of their loved ones—not to mention the loved ones, many of whom can’t get paid sick days in our province when they’re sick and therefore spiral even further into poverty while they’re simply trying to survive their eating problems.

NIED wants us to remember that funding towards intervention and prevention and having a week like Eating Disorders Awareness Week will help amplify the conversation on this issue. Hopefully, it will amplify it enough that it gets to your ears, as the government, and we can see some additional funding to our community-based programs, to our institutions, to our schools, so that we can have mental health curriculum.

Interestingly enough, I’ve learned that doctors, practitioners, pediatricians, psychotherapists, of which there are a very, very small number who are actually trained in eating disorders research, knowledge, interventions, prevention—some are receiving literally one hour out of their entire medical school history on eating problems, some maybe three hours. What that means is, when someone walks into a doctor’s office, they’re often misdiagnosed. Even more scarily, if they’re Black, or if they’re fat, or if they’re trans, they’re even more likely not to be diagnosed, because there’s this stereotype that eating disorders are an affluent white women’s issue. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

So the more awareness we can raise, the more knowledge we’ll have and the more progressive, equitable and sustainable interventions we can make in people’s lives.

I’ve also learned that while everyone has their own trajectory of “healing” or recovery from eating disorders, not every treatment model works for every person the same. So it’s really important that we have a plethora of options available and that we have many voices at the table informing the decision-makers and the policy-makers. Again, that is us, as official opposition—but the buck really does stop with the government and what you consider to be important enough to fund, important enough to research further.


I remember the story of Tierra, a Black and racialized woman who spoke with me a while back, who said her doctor said, “Just eat. Why don’t you just eat?” That is not the answer. This is a mental health issue, but it’s also a social issue and it is one that, as I’ve said earlier, is perpetuated by racism, unemployment or underemployment and food rationing based on food insecurity.

I would also like to say something that one of our deputies mentioned earlier this week on this sort of a prize that we give to people who work, work, work and burn out. God knows, I’m burnt out, as I’m sure many in this room are. I’m not going to say more about that or I will cry again. We have to stop rewarding folks for giving, giving, giving of themselves over and over and over, until the point they are empty and have nothing for themselves, and therefore can’t advocate for themselves.

I think of Ivory, a constituent of mine who said, “I truly believe that in my more formative years, had there been more awareness and advocacy surrounding eating disorders and more protection surrounding discrimination based on appearance, I would not have had such a vicious battle with bulimia and depression. Had appearance-based discrimination been a protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code, I likely would not have self-harmed and attempted to take my own life as a teen.”

Karen McBoyle said that it’s not a choice.

Devon Spier, as you all may have heard, some of you who were in committee, put forth this prolific, poetic, jaw-dropping presentation that spoke about her Jewish body, that spoke about her survival of sexual abuse, that spoke about her proximity to homelessness at one point during her journey. She really left us with something profound. When one struggles with an eating disorder, with eating problems, with body image issues, with self esteem issues, we have to look within ourselves as those persons suffering, but society should also ask themselves what more is going on in that person’s life.

Again, by trade, I’m an educator; by academia, a sociologist, an education person. It’s always about the social connection for me. I’m not a proponent of neoliberalism. I do not believe that bootstrap ideology—you know, “I did it. I made it, so everyone else should be able to. Stop the complaining. What barrier are you talking about? There’s no barrier. What’s that chip on your shoulder?” These kinds of narratives actually hurt people because the reality is, there are barriers. As my mother would say, you can’t live alone on an island. Nothing gets done by itself. Nothing good gets done by itself, and certainly nothing harmful gets done by itself.

I am proud to stand here on behalf of every organization, every person who has spoken to me and on behalf of myself, to say that I hope Bill 61 becomes law one day in Ontario, so we may acknowledge Eating Disorders Awareness Week the first week in February and help save lives.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Hon. Michael A. Tibollo: It gives me great pleasure to rise this morning as the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to speak to Bill 61, the Eating Disorders Awareness Week Act, 2020. As the minister responsible for mental health and addictions, I understand—we all understand—that eating disorders are about more than just food. It’s a mental health issue. It’s a mental health issue that needs to be addressed in order to ensure that individuals—again, not just women; the majority are women, but not just women—have the supports they need to be able to deal with that particular issue.

When we came to government, one of the things I wanted to do was work towards building a plan, a strategy to deal with the needs of all individuals in the province of Ontario. That gave life to the Roadmap to Wellness, which was proclaimed in March this year, which gave us the opportunity to develop a centre of excellence that will look specifically at issues that need to be addressed by the different Ontario health teams. It gave us the opportunity to look beyond just talking about mental health to actually narrowing it down, talking about the life span model and the types of services and needs of individuals, whether it be during the early years of life, and what we could do from an education standpoint and a prevention standpoint—what we need to do to support individuals who unfortunately are in need of help and in need of support later on in life.

But when we looked at it, we also discovered that we needed to do something more based on individual communities, ensuring that we addressed issues that were different, whether you were in southern Ontario, in northern Ontario or in a remote community. We looked to develop a continuum of care for individuals in each of those different areas, but that wasn’t enough. We needed to go beyond that. We needed to understand what each of the communities that we are trying to help, in fact, need. What are we doing for the Black community? What are we doing for the Indigenous populations? What are we doing for the francophones? What are we doing for the LGBTQ2 community? What are we doing for our first responders and our front-line workers? Each of them have a different need. Each of them, depending on where you are in this province, require different supports, which aren’t necessarily the same or as available.

When we talk about eating disorders and mental health and the prevalence of it—that’s the other thing that I don’t think very many people understand. It’s 10% to 15% of people who have a mental health disorder, who have some form of an eating disorder, and that translates into concurrent disorders—we talked about depression, anxiety—but it also translates into something else, and that’s suicide. One of the things we know is that the suicide rates are extremely high for people with eating disorders.

We need to do more. Are we doing more? Yes. Our government is investing. It’s investing in programs to assist, whether it be early interventions, education. So I completely support the Eating Disorders Awareness Week Act because the first thing in order to make a difference and make a change is education. It’s allowing people to understand that you can look however you look. It’s not your outside, it’s what’s inside that matters and that counts.

I completely support the bill that’s been brought forward and I look forward to seeing it put into place, and also seeing the work that’s done by all the organizations that focus on eating disorders and helping young women, young men, making sure this is something that we do get under control and that we also look for ways to ensure that future generations are not having to deal with this.

You spoke eloquently about the social determinants of health. Yes, it affects everybody across all sectors. That’s part of what we’re trying to do with the Roadmap to Wellness: to look to identify the different needs of the different populations in the different areas and ensure that the individual is going to get the supports they need where and when they need them, but centred on the individual—a holistic approach to make sure that that person has the supports not just when they come the first time, but their entire lifetime.

We say it all the time, but I truly mean it, and I know we all mean it: When we talk about health, we can’t have that health without mental health. This is a perfect example where a mental health issue is having a profound effect on the individual’s physical health. We need to do more, and I applaud you for the work you’re doing.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?


Mr. Joel Harden: This is one of those days—and there have been a number of them in this Parliament—where I am so very thankful to have my friend from Toronto–St. Paul’s. Thank you, my friend, for your words and for your leadership this morning.

I also want to thank the government for championing this, too. I have indication and reason to believe from what the minister just said and what I’ve heard other government members say that this is going to be a priority for this Parliament, and that’s a good day for the province of Ontario. That’s a very good day. As much as there’s acrimony in this place and we tear each other apart, this is an important moment in which we can build each other up.

Today is also the International Day of People with Disabilities. As defined by the United Nations, having an eating disorder is understood as an episodic disability. It is a serious matter. I had occasion with the member from Toronto–St. Paul’s and a number of other members in this House to be at committee for this particular bill and was inspired, shocked and edified by so many of the things that were shared with me. I would encapsulate them, Speaker, in a few rhetorical questions.

I would ask all of us and those watching this and those reading the Hansard of this debate to consider: What would it feel like to be a prisoner in your own body? Why do so many people, particularly so many young people, grow up hating their bodies and the way they look? How can one of the most deadly mental illnesses in Canada, impacting over a million people in our country, have such limited health services?

Those are my three takeaways when I think about the severity and the importance of the discussion we’re having right now.

My colleague from Toronto–St. Paul’s mentioned the great Wendy Preskow from the National Initiative for Eating Disorders. I think the people at home who don’t follow this debate deserve to know a little bit more about Wendy’s story and where the need comes from. Because on a day like today, where we are seeing all-party consensus around the need for more education and more awareness and—we hope—the need for more services and supports coming out of that awareness, it is important to remember where change comes from.

Wendy has a daughter—she has been public about this story, Speaker—who has grappled with an eating disorder. Wendy’s daughter didn’t experience significant trauma, as we have heard through many stories of people who have talked about their eating disorders and where they’ve emanated from. Wendy’s daughter just never felt good enough, never felt comfortable in her own body. The measure of control Wendy’s daughter could exert was by controlling what she ate. It begs these larger questions about why it is that people are driven to do that.

But Wendy’s daughter is now 34 years old, if I remember this correctly. I want us to imagine what it would be like to have a 34-year-old person in your family with incredible potential but with a seven-year-old’s lack of emotional and social independence and with the osteoporosis of a senior. That’s what a long-lived experience with an eating disorder did to Wendy’s daughter.

As any parent would do, Wendy became an advocate for her child. But what makes Wendy Preskow special, Speaker, is that she took it much further than that. When Wendy started being a community organizer around eating disorders about a decade ago, from my understanding, she very carefully surveyed what was available by way of support networks—the non-funded, voluntary charitable networks that exist on so many different issues in our country, but in this particular domain of eating disorders. What she found was that there were about six leading organizations in the country doing important work.

Do you know what Wendy decided to do, Speaker? She decided to try to bring them together. In 2016, six different organizations came together in Winnipeg and they formed a national coalition, and that’s where the National Initiative for Eating Disorders comes from. That’s where they agreed on a strategy for change involving these pillars: treatment, training, education, prevention, support for caregivers and research. But that was after a lot of dialogue between a lot of different organizations that were just trying to do what, frankly, public services ought to do. But they were making it happen.

That collaboration and that convergence wasn’t an accident. It was an intentional act of care-mongering, as we say under COVID, to bring people together. So I want people at home to recognize that if you have a member of your family struggling with an eating disorder, if you yourself are struggling with an eating disorder, taking action on your own is not a vain effort. What we’re talking about today comes out of months, years, decades of organizing and work of which my friend has been part—a leader in this country.

I want to read, if you will, a poem that was written by someone in the United States who talked about their own struggle with an eating disorder—sorry, not a poem; it’s a letter. It’s a letter this person wrote to their own body to describe what it was like, now in, as this person put it, recovery or, perhaps more appropriately, awareness of what that person is going to live with for the rest of their life. The letter was called “An Apology to my home.” It reads:

“Dear body,

“I am so sorry. I almost don’t know where to begin. I have put you through so much. And I hate to say it, but I’m going to put you through” much “more as I ... fight this. And I will fight this.

“All you have ever done is try to support me.

“To my belly, you smile with warmth when you’re nourished. But I’ve denied you that warmth countless times. I’ve damaged you and I’ve left you in pain. I know you’ll never be quite the same.

“To my legs, you carry me everywhere I need to go. When I eat, I strengthen you. I’ve forced you into weakness” though “time and time again. I’ve risked breaking you when you are what bears me up.

“To my voice, you are so soft and beautiful. You speak kindness, you sing worship to my almighty God. I’ve silenced you and made you weak. I’ve risked losing your sweet sound.

“To my heart, the very one” thing “that keeps me alive and breathing. I’ve slowed you down and I’ve sped you up. You just want to keep beating. I’ve risked tiring you out. I’ve risked harming your strong and powerful beat.

“But your forgiveness is abundant. It is evident as you accept the love I am working so hard to give you. Little by little, you accept the warmth of food, belly. Little by little, you are growing strong, legs. Little by little, your ring is coming back, voice. And beat by beat, you relax and rest, heart.

“I want to be your friend. I’m learning to appreciate you again, learning to fall back in love with you. I see how much you’ve done for me, how you would do anything to keep me upright. I no longer want to dwindle you. You are my home.”

With that, Speaker, I want to spend the rest of my time this morning celebrating the courage it takes to write something like that, to be a public advocate and maybe, if I might—because, I’ll explain in a second, I have a personal connection through the most important person in my life to this matter. Dr. Clare Louise Roscoe is my partner. She’s part of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario’s mental health team, with a specialty in eating disorders. In the 15 years we’ve been married, I’ve learned a lot about what families go through.

I have to admit, when Clare and I first met in the first couple of years, I fancied myself quite a feminist ally. I thought I was aware of a lot of issues tackled and faced by feminist political organizers, feminist educators. But do you know what I never noticed, Speaker? Until I met Clare, I never noticed how grotesque the checkout line was in the grocery store. I would stand in line, I’m sure like a lot of us, oblivious, waiting to pay for my groceries, seeing that magazine stand staring back at me. And I would just say, “Oh, my goodness, can you believe the headlines they printed today? Oh, my goodness, can you believe that latest ridiculous outfit that celebrity is wearing? Oh, my goodness.” It never occurred to me how monstrous some of those images are for people who live every day with shame about how they look. But I’m aware of it now. I’m aware of it now.


One of my favourite moments, to be honest, MPP Andrew, was when you were doing your advocacy—this is a year ago when we had a great community event back in Ottawa Centre—around the fashion industry responding about body-positive modelling, because that’s a revolutionary act. That is a revolutionary act to see people in the fashion industry—if I’m not correct, people from Ryerson University right here in Toronto. I will never check out of the grocery store the same way again. I will never experience the holiday season the same way again. One of the more popular holiday movies my kids were watching last weekend, I happened, in the basement, to listen to Santa Claus ruminating about how large he looked in his Santa outfit. It just breaks the heart.

Fat shaming is one of the acceptable forms of prejudice in our society. You can do in polite conversation. But I invite all 124 of us here today, and staff in this building and anybody watching, to become a warrior for affirmation like my colleague from Toronto–St. Paul’s is, to interject when people insult themselves or insult others on the basis of how they look.

I also think that now is the time for awareness, but what I’m also hearing from advocates who deputed to the Legislative Assembly committee is that we have to be careful in the way in which we broaden this awareness out. Some people who are actually gripped and seized by their eating disorder, who really see this as their measure of control in a chaotic world, they will fight to hold on to it. In some measure, awareness around eating disorders can have the reverse effect. This is what Wendy has told me, this is what Clare has told me, this is what I’ve heard from my friend from Toronto–St. Paul’s.

I actually have a lot of faith and confidence in the educators in our public school system, I have a lot of faith and confidence in my friend from Toronto–St. Paul’s and other advocates who raise awareness around eating disorders, but I’m begging the province of Ontario, in how we roll this out, to listen to them. We do not want to take this incredible piece of non-partisan work and put it into a situation where we will inadvertently be promoting the wrong things.

I was also really struck by the deputation of Ms. Spier. I want to talk about that in the time I have left. My friend from Toronto–St. Paul’s mentioned the particular story Ms. Spier had to bear, but what the story inspired me to think about after our committee meeting ended was that here is someone who has experienced incredible trauma herself, who felt herself in the throes of an eating disorder, who will live with this for the rest of their life, but will live to do something truly incredible.

Ms. Spier, as I understood in her deputation, is studying to become a rabbi, studying to become a faith leader. This has been my experience with people with disabilities: They are some of the best caremongers we have in the province of Ontario. Who better to counsel someone through trauma than someone who has lived with trauma themselves? Let’s think about that for a second. Let’s think about what we will do with this awareness in giving people a pathway to rediscover themselves, to fall back in love with themselves, but also to go on and make incredible contributions in the province of Ontario.

That’s another one of the rhetorical questions I want to ask today: What are we going to do for people who make use of this moment, this legislative moment, and where will those folks go? Are we going to make sure our post-secondary institutions are affordable and available to them when they want to apply their skills and make that journey?

I think about the hundreds of thousands of people living on an income provided by the Ontario Disability Support Program right now during the pandemic, living in legislated conditions of poverty. What opportunity are we going to offer them to do what Ms. Spier—soon to be Rabbi Spier—has done? What are we going to do?

Awareness is important, but, as the great political theorist Isaiah Berlin used to say, there’s a difference between negative and positive liberty. We can legislate against discrimination, but if we don’t empower people with the positive liberty to explore their rights, all of the work we will do against discrimination is in vain.

This bill has to be a gateway into what we’ll call today—because today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities—an enabling society, a society that doesn’t just value freedom from discrimination but values the positive liberty that can and must accompany awareness of discrimination.

What would that look like? Well, Speaker, I want you to imagine a public school where there are mental health counsellors, a mental health team, that are not exclusive positions. My friend over here from London, who has taught in the public education system, knows better than me what it’s like to run from pillar to post in a public school and then to be summoned to a meeting and told, “Today is our mental health strategy day. You four already-busy people working at 200% are now the mental health team for this school.” That’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about raising revenue in this province by asking the wealthiest among us to pay more in tax—even, dare I say, wealth tax—so we have the resources to have mental health teams in every school, not only for students but for staff. That’s what we’re talking about.

What are we talking about in the workplace? For those of you in the workplace who are seeing colleagues struggling with eating disorders, who are trying to find the courage to have a conversation with somebody about the demons they’re facing, figuring out how you do that in a supportive way—I would say to my friend the minister for mental health, that’s a workplace strategy.

We have to make sure that, one day in this province, OHIP covers mental health counselling services for everyone.

If Clare was in private practice, she would have a long roster of clients she could work with on eating disorders. But in order to pay for those services, we’re talking about thousands of dollars a year—in some cases, a month, as my colleague was saying.

Can we imagine an Ontario where we ask the wealthiest among us to pay more in tax so we can have mental health care across the province of Ontario—north, west, east and south—available to everybody in a workplace, everybody in a school? I can, because I look to places like Scandinavia, where that support exists. It’s not fictional. It’s there.

I would also ask us to imagine an Ontario where we realize how important it is to fund the arts at a community level and self-exploration for kids so they get to mediate themselves, not just through the newspaper stand or—I’m sorry; I’m old school—the smart phone; they can mediate their own understanding of themselves together.

Growing up, one of the best gifts I had was improv theatre. I recommend it to any student who asks me, “How did you get into politics? What did you need to do?” I say, “Find an improv team and roll. Have fun. Laugh at yourself. Make mistakes.” Can you imagine an Ontario, Speaker, where we had improv classes, community theatre groups that were so resilient, so resourceful that they would be as popular as some of the major sport teams in our country? That would be a fantastic province.

Going back to our public school system: Could we imagine mental health and diagnosis supports at an early age, so kids who are struggling with self-worth, struggling with learning disabilities are not just identified early but transitioned to supportive treatment early?

In our own city of Ottawa, which is an affluent city—although there are deep pockets of poverty—it takes a long time for families who can’t afford private occupational therapy treatment or mental health therapy treatment even to have their children diagnosed. I think in particular of dyslexic kids and autistic kids, of whom I’ve had the great pleasure to meet many.

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and I’ve talked a lot in this place about autism, so I’ll end on dyslexia. To every dyslexic kid and every parent of a dyslexic child watching this at home: Know that there was a great person from Ottawa Centre, Paul Dewar. He passed away recently. He couldn’t read for a formative moment of his life, but because his family took an interest in him and helped him and had the affluence to, he went on to make Canada a better place, and you can and you will too.

We need a piece of legislation like this to get people the positive liberty to explore themselves, to love themselves and to make sure this is a province open and inclusive for everyone.

Thank you, friend from Toronto–St. Paul’s. Thank you, chamber. Let’s get this done.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Mme Lucille Collard: I’m happy to stand today in support of this bill introduced by the member for Toronto-St. Paul’s. I found it important to speak to this bill on third reading because I have three girls and one boy. While I wasn’t here when the bill was introduced, I was probably dealing with this very issue with my one of my girls back then.

I want to talk about awareness and people’s health. Days, weeks, months are dedicated to awareness of different health conditions, often without a clear definition of what awareness means or what exactly is supposed to come out of it. Since I took my seat in this House, I’ve found myself scrambling to find the right colour of shirt or scarf to show my support and bring awareness to countless causes.

I’ve often found myself thinking that there are really a lot of these days. But do awareness days actually improve people’s health? Has anybody ever evaluated these things? Do we know if they’re effective at all? The answer is, we don’t really know, and not many people have explored this question. But the fact of the matter is that by talking about a cause more often during a certain period, showing support by having multiple people showcase a colour or a symbol at the same time, or making multiple statements during that same period can actually spark conversation and encourage people to ask questions. We can also help fight stigmas and stereotypes about issues that aren’t often spoken about, and by doing that the objective is achieved. People become more aware.

To some extent it can also bring some comfort to those impacted or affected by the issue. Realizing that others are understanding or making the effort to understand their struggles or their reality, they may feel less alone or abandoned to their fate. Sending a message, getting attention and getting people to talk about an issue, at the very least on social media, is therefore a start.

But in order to have an impact on these issues we are bringing attention to, government needs to do their job and walk the talk. If an issue is important enough to work on and to mobilize attention, then it certainly deserves some measures in terms of legislative change or investment to address and help with the issue. Symbolic acts are not enough. Concrete commitments and actions are essential. What comes with raising awareness is a responsibility to do something about what you’re aware of.

Various forces influence a person’s health and a population’s health. Those forces include environmental, societal and economic factors, things that can’t be fixed with knowledge alone. A better awareness day might be to spread information about the prevalence of a condition and its risk factors, as well as policy changes that could lessen disparities or help people living with the condition.

That being said, I don’t think awareness days are a bad thing, and it can be a first step toward changing behaviour. But in my opinion, more importantly, it should be a first step of many steps to address the policies that impact a population’s health.

I want to conclude by saying that this proclamation of a week to speak about eating disorders has the potential for good, definitely, but it needs to be done properly as well. Individuals suffering with eating disorders often feel a very large amount of shame and fear due to stigmas and stereotypes. The member for Toronto–St. Paul’s spoke a lot about this. So I do see the benefit in encouraging more open conversation on this topic, but there are also needs to be more awareness around the damaging standards being set for health and beauty, around cultivating healthy, intuitive eating habits and around supporting individuals with eating disorders without further stigmatizing the issue.

What will be done to tackle the broader issues that impact disordered eating? Simply recognizing the issues will not bring about the concrete changes that are needed, but it will do something.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?

Mrs. Robin Martin: I’m rising mostly just to say a few words. I want to commend the member from Toronto–St. Paul’s for bringing forward what I think is an important private member’s bill. I have to confess, I have not been that aware about eating disorders issues throughout my lifetime, but when I first came into government and was made parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Health, I worked on our mental health policies for the first year, before we got the Associate Minister of Mental Health, and one of the things that I learned a lot about was eating disorders. I talked to many people who were concerned about how we were dealing with eating disorders and, really, people’s understanding or lack of understanding about eating disorders.

I went to Sheena’s Place—I know the member for St. Paul’s mentioned Sheena’s Place; I know the minister also visited there—which is a wonderful service here in Toronto for people who have mental health challenges, including eating disorders, and reviewed what we were doing with eating disorders in the province as far as treatment and what else we probably could do.

I think the member from Ottawa Centre said that there is some difficulty in bringing forward this legislation, perhaps because—one thing I did learn is that eating disorders are incredibly complicated, and may be different for each patient. Sometimes I think harm could be done without realizing that harm was being done, so I just think it is important to educate people, so that they understand an issue which some may have no familiarity with. I think that that can go a long way, and if we have a better overall understanding, maybe we can have a better overall result. That’s certainly something worth striving for, so I again commend the member for St. Paul’s for bringing forward this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate? Further debate?

Ms. Andrew has moved third reading of Bill 61, An Act to proclaim Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I declare the motion carried.

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

Third reading agreed to.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Orders of the day? I recognize the government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: No further business.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): There being no further business this morning, this House stands in recess until 10:15.

The House recessed from 0957 to 1015.

Members’ Statements

John Offutt

Ms. Jessica Bell: On November 20, at 4:45 p.m., on Royal York Road, Mr. John Offutt was killed by a cement truck driver in a horrific accident.

John was a special guy. He was a gifted athlete, a loving husband and a father of two sons, who were devastated by the cycling accident. His wife, Jane, describes him as “the most generous person,” who “crammed a ton into 59 years” that he lived on this planet.

He supported many charities, from Parry Sound hospital after staff helped him recover from a heart attack, to Moorelands Kids, which helps disadvantaged children attend summer camps.

In his forties, John quit his job in real estate to become a teacher in the low-income neighbourhood of Thorncliffe Park. This is Hafeez, a former student: “Mr. Offutt was my kindergarten teacher.

“He was the sweetest most down to earth teacher I’ve known.

“Even when I was young I would always look up to him.

“I started my bike road safety advocacy earlier this year. I’m doing it for the people who are scared to raise their voice, who are scared to ride on the road, and now I will do it until we never have another innocent person die on our roads.

“I believe Mr. Offutt would be proud of me. And for that I will do it for him and for the others who never got to finish their ride.” Mr. Offutt never got to finish his ride.

In the last two years, trucks have been involved in 15 of 65 fatal collisions. We know what needs to be done. We need to move forward with a Vision Zero plan, and we need to better regulate trucks. Premier, I’m asking you to move forward on that so we have no more deaths.

Long-term care

Mr. Norman Miller: I rise to share with this Legislature my gratitude to the staff and management of the six long-term-care facilities in Parry Sound–Muskoka. Between the facilities, there has only been one resident case of COVID-19 and few staff cases and, importantly, no fatalities.

I want these hard-working people to know there’s more support coming for our seniors. Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of announcing the approval of 64 additional long-term-care spaces at Fairvern Nursing Home in Huntsville. With these beds, a new 160-bed facility will be built beside the local hospital and create a campus of care. The board and management of Fairvern, the town of Huntsville and the district of Muskoka have all been working hard on this project. They’re all thrilled to hear this long-awaited news, as was Pat Dubé, the donor of the property for the new Fairvern. I want to thank the Minister of Long-Term Care for approving these new beds.

I also want to highlight the fact that the districts of Muskoka and Parry Sound are eligible for the expanded community paramedicine program to support seniors in their homes. I believe this program will make a difference for many seniors in our communities.

Again, I want to thank the staff working in our long-term-care facilities in Parry Sound–Muskoka. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed, and our government is here to support you and our seniors, both in your facilities and in their own homes.

Conservation authorities

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: Folks in Beaches–East York are incensed at the Premier’s latest sneak attack on the environment. He has tried to pave over the greenbelt, stalled Ontario’s transition to clean energy and cancelled a much-needed plan to put a price on carbon, all the while wasting taxpayer dollars on sure-to-lose court cases and unconstitutional stickers. And now, he’s at it again, trying to gut conservation authorities and burying his assault in the budget bill. If schedule 6 is not removed, Ontario’s wetlands and forests will be at the mercy of ministerial zoning orders that do not allow for public consultation.


Conservation authorities have been powerful guardians of Ontario’s wetlands, forests and watersheds since 1946, when they were installed by Conservative Premier George Drew to ensure that critical ecosystems and the biodiversity they hold are protected and that they are not sold for a mess of developer pottage. Shame on the Premier for destroying 75 years of cross-party stewardship of the environment.

Later today, I will be tabling a petition—1,000 signatures collected in just two days—from residents of my riding begging the Premier to rethink this short-sighted move. In a time of climate crisis, undermining conservation authorities and their science-based stewardship of wetlands and watersheds makes absolutely no policy sense whatsoever. The Ford government may be willing to pave Ontario’s wetlands for a quick buck, but most of us understand that strong environmental oversight is critical in our fight against a climate emergency.

Infrastructure funding

Mr. Robert Bailey: It’s a privilege to rise today and announce more strategic investment, totalling nearly $5 million, in my riding of Sarnia–Lambton by the government of Ontario. This funding is focused on protecting the health and well-being of individuals and families in Sarnia–Lambton through investments in critical infrastructure projects for the 11 member municipalities in Lambton county and its top-rated Lambton College.

First, the Ontario government is providing over $2.7 million in combined federal-provincial funding through the COVID-19 resilience infrastructure stream to the municipalities in Lambton county to support key infrastructure projects in our community. With these investments, we are making it possible for the municipalities in Lambton county to get shovel-ready projects under way sooner, giving our local economy a much-needed shot in the arm.

Next, I’m pleased to share that the province is investing over $2.1 million in capital funding to help Lambton College address its deferred maintenance backlog, undertake critical repairs and upgrades, and provide a modern and safe learning environment for students, faculty and staff. Well-maintained facilities and the latest in learning tools and equipment are critical points and parts of a post-secondary education. By investing in Lambton College, our government is supporting economic recovery, creating jobs and ensuring students obtain the skills they need for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.

I look forward to sharing more good news about Sarnia–Lambton with the House in the future.

Long-term care

Miss Monique Taylor: Ontario’s long-term care and retirement homes are once again facing deadly outbreaks of COVID-19. Thousands of families across the province are worried about their loved ones, or they’re grieving a tragic loss.

While we often speak in this House about nursing homes and how we need to fix them, we don’t always highlight the great work of PSWs and the other staff under these difficult circumstances. In my riding of Hamilton Mountain, Grace Villa is currently suffering a horrible outbreak. The staff there are working day and night to contain the spread of COVID. They are the epitome of front-line heroes.

This is the home’s first outbreak, and the staff are heartbroken that this invisible killer has made its way into the lives of those they care for. When I spoke with these workers, they told me they are scared and they are getting worn out. They are willingly being tested every five days to keep everyone safe. Some are staying in hotels because they have vulnerable family or they have contacted COVID themselves. They’re watching people who they have cared for and come to love become sick and die.

They are telling me they need help. They need more PSWs to share the work, because they are stretched so very thin. They need mental health supports to get them through this difficult time. They need to know that they have a government that cares about them, not one that just says nice words, but that actually provides them the resources they need to save lives.

Land use planning

Mr. Stephen Blais: There has been very real concern raised in the media, here in the Legislature and from residents across Ontario, including in Orléans, about the government’s increased use of ministerial zoning orders. Environmental protections and community-based processes have been put in place over the years to protect agricultural land, to protect fragile ecosystems and to allow residents, the real people who will be impacted by the government’s decisions, to take part in the development and preservation of their communities.

The Ford government has significantly increased the use of MZOs, using as many as 27 since they have been in office, not only to expedite projects that respond to the concerns of COVID but also to fast-track the building of housing, warehouses and distribution centres—all of which might be very good projects, Mr. Speaker, but projects that still deserve and require oversight nonetheless.

The power to cancel consultation, subvert the planning process and plow through development applications outside the municipal standing orders should not be abused. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Greenbelt Council, environmental advocates and elected officials from across the province are raising concerns about this apparent disregard for local environmental concerns. MZOs are putting agricultural lands in Vaughan at risk. They’re putting provincially significant wetlands in Pickering at risk. Are the wetlands in Niagara next? What about the prime class 1 agricultural land in southwest Ottawa near Barrhaven? They’ve been the apple in the eye of many over the years who wish to create a new, massive suburban satellite community. Are they next, Mr. Speaker?

We need to find balance in our development process and environmental protections, but plowing over local environmental land use rules isn’t the way to do it.


Mrs. Gila Martow: Speaker, next week is Hanukkah. It follows the Hebrew calendar, so you might notice that it moves around from year to year, at different weeks before Christmas and sometimes right on Christmas. The holiday dates back to around 200 BC when the Jewish people in the ancient land of Israel had to battle the Greeks. Unfortunately, most Jewish holidays revolve around wars and enslavement. We still manage to celebrate and eat a lot of good food.

The modern state of Israel was established in 1948—that’s very recent, we know, for a country. Israel, unfortunately, has been perpetually at war with many of its neighbours. There have been long-standing peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, but that, we know, has not been enough. Recent events are promising, with new trade and peace agreements and visits, even, between Israel and many of the Arab states surrounding it, including the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Lebanon and even Sudan. Recently, Saudi Arabia has given permission for Israel to fly commercial jets right over Saudi Arabia, which is very environmental, as we know, when the planes don’t have to go around doing a big detour.

So there is a lot to celebrate this Hanukkah. This holiday season, I hope we all celebrate and we hope for ongoing and everlasting economic ties and peace between Israel and all of its neighbours and, of course, across the world. I want to wish everybody here and outside and across Ontario a very safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

Addiction services

Mr. Jamie West: I’ve stood in this House multiple times, trying to bring attention to the opioid crisis that’s wreaking havoc in my community of Sudbury. This isn’t just about bringing awareness to the issue; something absolutely needs to be done to prevent more opioid-related deaths.

Opioids impact more than just individuals. Our whole community is struggling, Speaker. Luckily, Sudbury has shown we won’t give up on the fight to end the opioid crisis. Every day, we’ll fight to save our neighbours, our loved ones and our family members. Our city punches above our weight. We’re committed to helping those who need help, to helping families heal from these devastating losses, and to moving forward with harm reduction programs. We know that harm reduction programs work to reduce risks, improve health and connect people with necessary services.

Public Health Sudbury and Districts and their partners have been instrumental in the process of trying to get a supervised consumption site in Sudbury. The process is going well. Partners are on board. The Sudbury city council is on board. Everyone wants to help our community. The only holdup is government red tape. The Conservative government must speed up the approval process for a supervised consumption site in Sudbury. This will ensure that individuals get the help they need.

Families in Sudbury are desperate, Speaker. There are no other similar programs available in the entire northeast, an area the size of France. We cannot afford to wait for months while more Sudburians die.

Alnwick/Haldimand Fire Department

Mr. David Piccini: Movember hits home for the Alnwick/Haldimand Fire Department, as one of their own, Kyle Jeremy, is in remission. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to call rural Ontario home and I’m incredibly proud of our small-town pride. It’s in this spirit that Alnwick/Haldimand Fire Department rallied to support Jeremy and the Movember cause.

This past weekend, I took a drive out to Wicklow Beach to join the A/H fire team as they took the Polar Plunge to cap off a successful Movember month where they raised over $32,000 to help in the fight against prostate cancer, testicular cancer and to support mental health and suicide prevention.


The initiative to enter the Great Canadian Fire Challenge came from Mark Mitro, on behalf of the A/H firefighters’ association. Mark is a volunteer firefighter and also challenged our local Northumberland county departments to join the challenge.

What started as a friendly challenge led to records. Over 150 Canadian firefighter departments took the challenge to see who could raise the most money. I’m proud to say that the Alnwick/Haldimand township fire department association beat out all other fire departments across Canada, raising over $32,000. Mr. Speaker, this is small-town pride.

A special shout-out to the Hamilton township fire department, also in my riding, who came second in the country, raising over $30,000. I’d also like to recognize Cramahe Fire Department, Brighton fire department, Port Hope fire department, Cobourg Fire Department and Trent Hills Fire Department. To all the full-time and volunteer firefighters who get out to keep our communities safe, who serve in our fire departments, thank you for the work that you do every day to keep our community safe.


Mr. Michael Parsa: I’m happy to rise today to share with everyone the amazing efforts that some of our community members have made during this global pandemic.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of GlobalMedic in Etobicoke and take part in an incredible intercommunity effort. There, I helped deliver vital supplies and goods to charities across my local community. We visited the Yellow Brick House, a charity that helps and empowers women and children who faced abuse in the past. Our friends at GlobalMedic also helped the community foodbanks in both Aurora and Richmond Hill by donating vital supplies such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo and many other items that are so important, especially at this time of year.

GlobalMedic has also taken part in disaster relief and humanitarian aid efforts around the world since 2002, but this time, they put their efforts into helping people right here at home in our province of Ontario.

This initiative was more than just an act of charity; it was an opportunity to witness something that you might have heard our Premier refer to in the past, and that’s the Ontario spirit. This initiative wasn’t just about folks in our community helping each other; it was about Ontarians helping Ontarians. This story teaches us that if we can strive to help one another and be kind to one another and to work harder than ever before to help people across this province, across our communities and even across party lines—because in the end, we all call Ontario home and we’re all in this together.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes our members’ statements this morning.

I believe the Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues has a point of order.

Hon. Jill Dunlop: I believe you’ll find we have unanimous consent for tributes regarding the 31st anniversary of l’École Polytechnique massacre, with two minutes allotted to the independent Green member, three minutes to the independent Liberal member, five minutes to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition and five minutes to Her Majesty’s government.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues is seeking the unanimous consent of the House for tributes regarding the 31st anniversary of l’École Polytechnique massacre, with two minutes allotted to the independent Green member, three minutes to the independent Liberal member, five minutes to Her Majesty’s loyal opposition and five minutes to Her Majesty’s government. Agreed? Agreed.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women / Journée nationale de commémoration et d’action contre la violence faite aux femmes

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I rise today to recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Thirty-one years ago, 14 women were murdered at l’École Polytechnique simply because they were women. All Canadians were profoundly affected by this horrific act of misogyny on December 6, 1989. As we mourn their loss and honour their memory, we must reaffirm our commitment to fight the hatred that led to this tragedy and the misogyny that still exists today.

Speaker, I have a daughter in university, and it’s hard to imagine the horror and the pain of the parents of the 14 women murdered when they received that call that night.

As we pledge never to forget their names, I ask every member of this House and all good people across this province to forcefully denounce the growing levels of misogyny in our society, to root out movements like incel that have inspired violent acts of terrorism on our streets, and to stand against the rising levels of gender-based violence in people’s homes during this pandemic.

Speaker, I look in the mirror every day, and I want to say to those of us who identify as male that we have a special responsibility to speak out against misogyny. Silence is complicity. I urge all Ontarians to act today and every day, to have the courage of survivors and to stand strong against the attitudes that led to the violent actions that day and against women today.

Mme Lucille Collard: On December 6, 1989, 14 young women were killed in a mass shooting at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal. Why? Because they were women who were challenging the status quo.

When this happened, I was 24 years old, and I was horrified by the violence of the act. They were women who pushed the boundaries of what women can achieve. Most were engineering students, a field traditionally dominated by men. They were also artists, athletes, chefs, linguists, musicians and more. They were intelligent, dedicated, creative, hard-working, innovative and adventurous individuals. They were role models in many ways, but it was precisely this success that made them targets of misogyny and hate.

Les femmes et les filles d’aujourd’hui sont encore confrontées à de nombreux défis sur la voie de la réalisation de leur potentiel et de la réalisation de leurs rêves. Des stéréotypes néfastes sont souvent imposés aux filles dès leur plus jeune âge, limitant leurs possibilités d’avenir.

Lorsqu’elles cherchent des modèles, elles voient des femmes manquer des promotions à des postes de direction et elles voient le travail des femmes moins valorisé avec des écarts de rémunération entre les sexes. Lorsqu’elles essaient d’être bien dans leur peau, elles voient le corps des femmes objectivé dans les films et la publicité. Lorsqu’elles demandent d’être traitées avec respect, elles voient des femmes se faire siffler dans la rue ou avoir à contrer des conservations non sollicitées avec des inconnus. Lorsqu’elles décident de travailler tard le soir, elles craignent de prendre le raccourci à travers le parc pour rentrer rapidement chez elles. Ce sont toutes les façons dont on rappelle chaque jour aux femmes et aux filles que la société les considère comme moins précieuses.

La violence contre les femmes n’est pas seulement une agression physique. C’est simplement l’expression ultime de la violence que les femmes subissent au quotidien. Afin de vraiment mettre fin à la violence contre les femmes, nous devons nous attaquer aux moyens simples par lesquels les femmes sont sous-évaluées, opprimées et traitées avec manque de respect chaque jour. Chacun de nous a un rôle à jouer dans cette bataille.

It is my honour to stand up in this House today to remember the lives of the young women who were killed 31 years ago, and it is my privilege to remind every member of this assembly that the fight against gender-based violence starts with you, with us.

Ms. Jill Andrew: It is an honour to stand on behalf of the Ontario NDP official opposition to acknowledge the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, where we have heard in this House that 14 women were killed by men, by a man. They were the victims of femicide, and they were killed because they were women. They were killed because they dared to pursue a life and a trajectory that the murderer didn’t see fit for them. Fourteen women; 14 families ruined; 14 communities ruined, and still we remember today, in 2020.


I want to also mention that the annual femicide list created by the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses has added 35 additional names of women who have been killed by men, spanning from November 26, 2019, to November 25, 2020. That brings their list to approximately 780 women here in Ontario who have been killed by men. This is not a list that any of us ever want to be on. It’s not a list that any of our community members would want to be on. It’s not a list that any of us who have children would want to see our children on—and there are children on this list, and it is deeply saddening.

The 14 women from Polytechnique Montréal and these 35 additional women presented to us by the OAITH annual femicide list are gone, although we can never remember them enough or acknowledge them too much.

But there are women who are still here, who we have to continue fighting for. They are our friends. They are our relatives. They are our constituents. They are our students. And believe you me, Speaker, they are our seniors.

When COVID-19 began, the message was to stay home. Staying home is not safe for every woman, for every woman-identifying person. Staying home meant some people were staying home in violence.

As a province, as members of this House, we have a responsibility to protect the lives of Ontarians as best we can. We cannot save the lives of those who are already gone, but we can certainly work hard to save the lives of those who are still here.

Our shelters are bursting. When women and others experience violence—because others do experience violence—they must have safe places to go. That means we need more shelters. As OAITH said right at the crux of the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% of their member organizations were packed to the brim, full capacity. And we need more shelters for women who don’t have children, because the value of a woman shouldn’t only be whether she has kids or not.

We know that Indigenous women are killed at six times the rate of non-Indigenous women.

And frankly, we know these lists are never complete, because Black women, trans women and gender non-conforming folk are often left off the lists for a plethora of reasons that I don’t have to go into today because I’ve gone into them a million times.

As government, as official opposition, as independent members, we must tackle the conditions that create the existence of gender-based violence for women and children. Affordable homes, livable wages, better environments in schools and the workplace, pay equity—that’s what keeps people safe. That’s what allows them to move out of violence and into a life they can live so they don’t end up on these lists.

Hon. Jill Dunlop: I’m honoured to speak for the government as we approach the 31st anniversary of the Montreal massacre this Sunday.

On that sorrowful day, December 6, 1989, a gunman walked into l’École Polytechnique de Montréal and killed 14 female engineering students, not because they were students, not because they were potential engineers, not even because he knew any of them personally, but simply because they were women.

Nous avons le devoir, chaque année, à cette période, de rendre hommage aux noms et à l’humanité des 14 vies tragiquement perdues.

They are: Geneviève Bergeron, age 21; Hélène Colgan, age 23; Nathalie Croteau, age 23; Barbara Daigneault, age 22; Anne-Marie Edward, age 21; Maud Haviernick, age 29; Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, age 31; Maryse Laganière, age 25; Maryse Leclair, age 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, age 27; Sonia Pelletier, age 23; Michèle Richard, age 21; Annie St-Arneault, age 23; Annie Turcotte, age 21.

Speaker, reciting their names and ages does not get any easier with each passing year. Fourteen women, aged 21 to 31—14 young lives lost to irrational and hateful gender-based violence. Our minds cannot comprehend such evil. Our hearts ache, and 31 years later, our thoughts are still with the families and friends these women left behind.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women that our country marks this Sunday is both an opportunity to mourn the dead and to condemn in the strongest terms the gender-based violence that cut these 14 lives short.

As I said in the House earlier this week, the silence and secrecy that used to shroud the issues of violence against women is a fact of history that can never be repeated. This is a societal issue for all Ontarians that is now out in the open, never to be concealed again.

Notre gouvernement a une tolérance zéro pour la violence envers les femmes et les filles.

We believe that all Ontarians have the right to live freely, safely and in peace. Today, on streets and in homes all across Ontario, women remain at risk of violence and death simply because they are women: domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and other forms of violence, such as psychological, financial and emotional violence. We know the facts: One in three women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Women are three times more likely to be stalked and four times more likely to be the victim of intimate partner violence. And Indigenous women, racialized women, newcomers, members of the 2SLGBTQ communities and women with disabilities are at an even greater risk of experiencing violence. Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has only gotten worse.

Last week, I outlined to the House the measures the government is taking to protect women and girls from violence and human trafficking. I noted that this year, our government is investing more than $172 million in supports for survivors and for violence prevention initiatives, and I updated the House on our $307-million, five-year anti-human trafficking strategy announced this past March.

All these measures hold out the promise that gender-based violence will recede in Ontario and that girls and women will live with hope and without fear. But we’re not there yet. We talk about the issue every December, but we need to ensure we talk about gender-based violence every day. It is not enough to say it once or even twice—it needs to be said every single day: Gender-based violence is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

Thirty-one years after the Montreal massacre, much work remains to be done. We must continue to educate boys and girls, men and women about healthy and equal relationships. We must be loud and deliberate in our conversations about gender-based violence.

As Ontario’s Minister of Women’s Issues, I will ask all members of this House to recommit themselves, today and every day, to standing up, taking action and helping end violence against women and girls. This requires everyone working together, intentionally and fearlessly, so women and children can live their lives in safety and without fear.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I want to thank the members for those heartfelt remarks. We will always remember the young women who lost their lives on that terrible day.

COVID-19 deaths

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I understand the member for Brampton Centre has a point of order.

Ms. Sara Singh: I seek unanimous consent for the House to observe a moment of silence for the 144 Ontarians who have succumbed to COVID-19 over the last seven days.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Brampton Centre is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to allow for a moment’s silence in remembrance of those who have lost their lives in the last seven days due to COVID-19. Agreed? Agreed.

I ask the members to rise.

The House observed a moment’s silence.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members may take their seats.

Question Period

COVID-19 response

Ms. Sara Singh: My first question is to the Premier. Yesterday, the Minister of Health responded to questions about COVID-19 by saying that Ontario is not in crisis. She then went on to claim we had reached a plateau of 1,700 new cases a day. Unfortunately, “plateau” was the exact same word she used one month ago when we were reporting 987 cases a day.

Does the Ford government think they can just make the crisis go away by pretending that it’s actually not happening?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Eglinton–Lawrence and parliamentary assistant.

Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you to the member opposite, and thank you, Speaker. Our government, from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, has worked with the Ontario Hospital Association, and we’ve continued to work together to respond to the challenges this pandemic has presented. We’ve been unequivocal that the health and safety of patients, front-line workers and all Ontarians is paramount. We’re extremely grateful to our hospital partners and health care workers, who continue to care for all of the patients requiring care during those unprecedented times.

Our government also recognizes the increasing pressures that the second wave is putting on our hospitals and our health system partners across the province, and that’s why we’ve invested an extra $2.5 billion to support Ontario’s hospitals, including the creation of 3,100 new beds in hospitals and alternate care facilities across the province.

Now more than ever, it’s really critical that all Ontarians continue to follow the public health advice to help stop the spread of the virus, so we can make sure we get the numbers down and flatten the curve.

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

Ms. Sara Singh: While over the last week the Premier and his team continued to produce stats that fly in the face of what people actually see every day, this week parents saw hundreds of new cases in schools while the government dismissed testing results. Seniors and their families learned that another 84 residents died from COVID-19 in long-term-care homes this week. Hospitals are cancelling surgeries. Over 200 COVID patients are now in our ICUs. Businesses are shutting their doors. And despite this government’s claim of a plateau, more and more people are being diagnosed with COVID-19 this week than ever before.

Families in Ontario are left asking: If this is not a crisis, then what is?

Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. Our province has always been ready and able to respond to the complex situations that COVID-19 has been presenting us. Everyone in the world is going through a second wave, every jurisdiction, and that’s happening here as well, of course.

The winter season, we knew, would present more cases here. That’s why we implemented our $2.8-billion Keeping Ontarians Safe plan. This plan has and will continue to make sure that our province’s hospitals have the resources necessary to fight this virus. As part of this plan, we have invested over $351 million for more than 2,250 new beds at 57 hospitals and alternate care facilities. It’s critical to point out to the member opposite that since March, since COVID-19 has really been here, a total of 3,131 new hospital beds have been built across the province.

We’re relying on all Ontarians to follow the public health measures to make sure that we also work on flattening the curve.

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

Ms. Sara Singh: Speaker, for people living in COVID-19 hot spots like Brampton, Scarborough and across the GTA, and for students, seniors, and essential workers who have to keep going in to work so that others can stay home, this is a crisis.

While the associate minister would like to compare other jurisdictions, those places are actually getting ready to manage the second wave. This government needs to step up and do the same.

Peel’s chief medical officer of health and Brampton’s mayor have joined New Democrats in the call for paid sick days and benefits to protect essential workers in our province. Parents have called for class sizes to be capped, and public health units are pleading after years of cuts.

When will the Premier stop denying the crisis, stop trying to save a buck and start helping people in our province who desperately need it?

Mrs. Robin Martin: Our government has been working for the entire time, since COVID-19 came to Ontario, to have a plan, to execute that plan and to make sure that people are getting the resources they need.

We’ve spared no expense to make sure that the people of Ontario and our front-line workers are ready and able to combat this disease. That’s why we swiftly introduced Ontario’s action plan, which provided over $17 billion in funding and resources to combat this outbreak. Included in that plan was $3.3 billion in additional health care investments, including $2.1 billion for new initiatives to respond to COVID-19 and $1.2 billion to continue to meet demand for services and build a connected and sustainable health care system.

We’ve been putting resources out, making sure we have adequate PPE and providing that to everybody who needs it, as requested. I think the response has been fairly good. As the member opposite will know, our numbers are about 100 per 100,000, which is the best in Canada outside of the Atlantic provinces. So we think we’re doing fairly well—

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

The next question.

Long-term care

Mr. John Vanthof: My question is to the Minister of Long-Term Care. For months, front-line staff, public health experts and even the government’s own long-term-care commission have called for an action plan to protect seniors living three and four to a ward room in outdated long-term-care homes. Yesterday, the Premier said, “We’re considering it.”

Can the Minister of Long-Term Care tell us how many lives are at stake right now in ward rooms while the Premier considers studying the studies, while he considers whether it’s worth spending the money, while he considers whether the government should take action to save these people’s lives?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: We’ve been looking at the safety and well-being of residents and staff in long-term care since day one. That’s why we had the original action plan, the $243 million to go towards staffing and improving IPAC. That’s why we put in the fall preparedness plan the $540 million to make sure that the staffing and the supports were there.

We continue to add resources to our homes to shore them up. This is not a simple solution, as some would have it portrayed. This requires many, many understandings: of the age of the home, the community, the individual rights of the residents, the individual desires of the residents, their advanced care plans. In fact, the ethics table was engaged very early in wave 1 to understand this concept.


People are at the heart of everything we do and we will continue to take measures to protect them. You’ve heard the Premier say that everything is on the table as we consult with our medical and public health experts.

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

Mr. John Vanthof: As we speak, there are outbreaks right now in 43 homes with ward beds and 250 residents have died in the second wave of this pandemic in those homes. We all knew that the second wave was coming—we all knew. The minister also knows, and has said it many times in this House, that ward rooms are one of the biggest risks.

We know that in a pandemic, every second counts. Every delay can cost a life. Yet it appears that this government is still concerned about whether to save money and whether it’s really worth it to do this, whether it’s worth it to take action.

Is it really about the money? You knew the ward systems were a problem. Why haven’t you taken action? Why are you still considering it?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Every resource is being put into these homes, over $1 billion already, and that’s increasing, as I said: $243 million; the $540 million; the $461 million to shore up the staff. It’s a very complex issue and we want to make sure that we are doing everything possible. That’s why the concept of transferring residents has been considered since the very beginning. The welfare and well-being of our long-term-care residents is at the heart of everything we do. The Premier has said that no expense will be spared. We are doing everything to put the residents and the staff at the centre.

I’m going to push back. The time that you had supporting in a minority government situation, you didn’t do what you needed to do to rebuild those homes. You didn’t do it, and you are partly responsible for this.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’ll remind members to make their comments through the Chair and not across the floor directly.

Final supplementary?

Mr. John Vanthof: Ward rooms are a problem in this province, have been a problem for a long time. Everybody knew it. But COVID-19 is not a problem; it’s a crisis right now, and we know it. Those ward rooms aren’t something that we talk about that happened 10 years ago. It’s happening now. People are dying now. The Ford government knew absolutely right now that those rooms are unsafe, and yesterday the Premier said that he’s still considering whether they should take emergency measures.

When will the Minister of Long-Term Care actually recognize that ward rooms are something that we can’t blame on past governments? Ward rooms in COVID are something we have to deal with right now. They have to deal with it right now and spend the money. Why don’t they?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Thank you to the member opposite for the question. It’s exactly what we are doing, making sure that the safety and the well-being of the residents—whether they’re in ward rooms or not in ward rooms—are taken into consideration, with the expert medical advice, our public health officials, our individuals who are related to the hospitals that are actively engaged with these homes. Our homes are partnered with acute care partners to make sure the best medical and public health evidence and scientific understanding is used to support the residents in our long-term-care homes.

But residents in long-term-care homes are not widgets. They cannot be moved around at the whim of some individual. They have rights and they must be considered. Their wishes must be considered. This must be done as we move forward to modernize long-term care, make it a 21st-century long-term-care system that puts residents at the centre and that spares no expense in this pandemic to make sure they get the care they need.

Climate change

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Premier. Just over two years ago, the Premier unveiled what he called the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. The plan was actually a scheme to make massive cuts. Ontario used to spend $2 billion per year on climate change initiatives, but the government is spending about $20 million this year on climate change and resiliency.

A new report today by Environmental Defence shows that Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions have stopped going down and have actually gone up by 10 megatonnes in Doug Ford’s first year in office.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the member to refer to the Premier by the name “Premier.”

Place your question.

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Who benefits from this government’s war on the environment?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant, the member for Barrie–Innisfil, to respond.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Ontario has a proud history when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, over the past two years, since we introduced our environment plan, if the member had read it, he would note that we already made so many accomplishments, which are listed in the plan. For example, we consulted on the first hydrogen strategy, obviously introducing more clean technology into our transit system, which is a large polluter, getting more cars off the road—part of our transit strategy.

But it’s interesting that the member talks about spending. When you talk about bills that are actually going to get cars off the road, that are going to help the environment, the members of the opposition vote against it. In addition to that, when we introduced our environment plan, they had no environment plan. They just sat there. And then, after our environment plan, they waited—let me see here, Mr. Speaker—198 days, six months and 17 days after we introduced our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to introduce a discussion paper or a student survey—I couldn’t really figure it out, Speaker—on their green environmental deal.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question. The member for Kingston and the Islands.

Mr. Ian Arthur: I truly hope the member opposite takes the time to read the report that was released, saying our emissions had gone up. What that actually indicates is that everything they have done has not actually been enough. GHG emissions are continuing to increase under this government. That is the wrong direction. We do not have the time, Speaker, to delay on this.

Last year, a court found that the Premier broke the law with his very first action in office when he scrapped the cap-and-trade program. He has cancelled climate-change-combative initiatives that were worth $2 billion a year and replaced them with this flawed plan, where the centrepiece, the Ontario Carbon Trust, is nowhere to be seen. They keep touting their anti-litter day, but the world is on fire. The world is on fire, Speaker, and they are picking up litter.

He pledged $30 million to fight the federal carbon regime in the courts, which is more than they are spending on fighting climate change itself. When will this Premier stop fighting climate action and start actually fighting climate change, Speaker?

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: What the member is saying just proves what we’ve been saying all along: The only plan the opposition have for the environment is a tax plan, not an environment plan. Our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan is a plan; it’s not a discussion paper, it’s not a survey. More so, it’s a constantly evolving document, which we’re consulting on even more now to add additional measures.

But Speaker, let me lay out some of the things that we are investing in. If the opposition read our budget that we just introduced, they would have seen that we have $3.7 billion in green bonds to help finance public transit initiatives, extreme weather resiliency infrastructure, energy efficiency and conservation projects. And Ontario remains the largest issuer of Canadian green bonds in all of Canada.

Again, we’re making the right investments. We’re not going to tax Ontarians; we’re going to help them and give them the—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Waterloo come to order.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: —responsibility and the tools they need to help protect their environment. The member likes to criticize litter day, but frankly, what are you going to tell groups like Youth for Lake Simcoe? That it’s not enough for them to clean up litter? That’s a shame, Mr. Speaker. We should give our next generation hope that they can do something for the environment.

Affordable housing

Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you for that, Speaker. I’m glad you brought them to order.

My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. We know that this year in particular has highlighted how important it is to have a place to call home. COVID-19 has shed a light on the pressures felt in our community housing systems and underscored the urgency to create more affordable housing.

With winter well under way in Ontario, can you elaborate on our government’s commitment to building more affordable housing throughout Ontario?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant and member for Milton.

Mr. Parm Gill: I want to thank the member from Sarnia–Lambton for that question and for his hard work on behalf of his constituents. It is an important question, Mr. Speaker.


Years of Liberal inaction put pressures on our community and affordable housing system, and I agree: COVID-19 has highlighted the need to create more affordable housing that thousands of Ontarians depend on. We are making direct investments into more affordable housing, reducing the upfront cost pressures on our partners, working to build more affordable housing and accelerating the construction of affordable housing units right across our great province.

The previous Liberal government’s inaction is why we launched our Community Housing Renewal Strategy, which is investing $1.5 billion this year alone to help sustain, repair and grow community housing, to help end homelessness right across our province.

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

Mr. Robert Bailey: Well, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to thank the parliamentary assistant for that response. It’s great to see a government making these types of investments that will ensure Ontarians have a safe place to call home and supporting our most vulnerable.

We know many Ontarians have been struggling financially throughout this crisis, including those living in affordable housing. Will the minister please speak to what ways we are providing direct financial assistance to those in need?

Mr. Parm Gill: I want to thank the member from Sarnia–Lambton again. I am proud to say that Ontario was the first province to sign on to a portable housing benefit under the National Housing Strategy, with the historic $1.4-billion Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit. Thousands of Ontarians have already received direct monthly rent assistance payments to help them pay their rent.

This is direct money that can be used anywhere across Ontario. That means that if an individual’s location of employment changes, they can take this benefit with them and not be restricted to live in units only available in certain areas. We expect the number of people who receive this benefit to continue to grow each year. Our government will continue to focus on ensuring every Ontarian has a place to call home.

COVID-19 response

Ms. Marit Stiles: This question is for the Premier. In a letter to parents sent in April, the Minister of Education promised that no decisions on schools would be made that do not “promote the health, safety, and well-being of our children and students.” Since then, the government voted no to capping class sizes at 15 while class sizes grew more crowded, they shot down safety concerns of front-line education workers, and now we know they spent millions on political consultants while public health officials were sidelined. Only now, with over 5,000 cumulative cases in our schools, are we seeing the start—and I mean very small steps—toward asymptomatic testing of students in some areas.

Speaker, through you to the Premier: Will the government keep its promise to parents and deliver a comprehensive asymptomatic testing program so we can keep our schools safe?

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

Hon. Stephen Lecce: Mr. Speaker, we will continue to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, who has fully endorsed our plan. We have worked with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the leadership team of the command table since the spring to develop a plan that has enabled Ontario to reopen schools safely.

Putting into context the member opposite’s numbers: There is 84.3% of schools in this province that do not have any active cases at all, and this morning, for students, 99.92% of students do not have an active case and 99.87% of staff do not have an active case.

Mr. Speaker, our plan is designed with every layer of protection in place, from more public health nurses to comprehensive masking, to 2,700 more teachers, to 1,200 more custodians, to the doubling of public health nurses. Everything we can do to protect our schools: That’s what the Premier’s commitment is. That’s what we will deliver to the people of this province.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Ms. Marit Stiles: Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that no parent or guardian whose child has been exposed to COVID at school is comforted by this minister getting up in this place every single day to say, “Hey, relax, the kids are all right.” Tell that to the families at Thorncliffe.

The fact of the matter is, Speaker, we don’t yet know how COVID is being transmitted in schools. These pilot testing projects are going to help, but basing them only in areas with the highest infection rates is really missing the point. We need a clear picture of what the virus looks like in our schools across the province so that we can plan for a safe and orderly return after the holiday, one that doesn’t involve major outbreaks.

When will we see a plan to ramp up testing? Or are you going to, as a government, continue to wait and see until it’s too late yet again?

Hon. Stephen Lecce: We introduced asymptomatic testing amidst the second wave because we want to make sure that we are able to target and isolate any cases within schools of students or staff or their families that may have COVID without symptoms. We want to ensure we isolate those cases from schools to mitigate further spread. The point of asymptomatic testing is focused on the highest-risk communities with high rates of positivity to capture those who may be carrying the virus so that they’re no longer within schools.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Davenport, come to order. Member for Sarnia–Lambton, come to order.

Hon. Stephen Lecce: That’s why we launched asymptomatic testing in the first place, following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. We’ve also doubled public health nurses. We’ve also expanded investments within our schools. Just a week ago, we provided stabilization—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Davenport will come to order.

Minister of Education will conclude his response.

Hon. Stephen Lecce: We’ve provided additional funding to hire more than 2,700 teachers, more than 1,200 custodians.

Mr. Speaker, I recognize fully, as I think we all do, honestly, the great challenge of COVID-19 as community transmission rises. The government is seized to keep schools and kids safe; we’ll do that every step of the way in this province.

Conservation authorities

Mr. Mike Schreiner: My question is for the Premier. Ontarians have paid a high price this year. The pandemic has brought crisis-level financial stress to many households and small businesses, so the last thing they should have to worry about is flooding and damage to their properties.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture is asking for substantive amendments to schedule 6 of Bill 229. Over 150 organizations, including AMO and Ontario’s Big City Mayors, representing people in every corner of this province are asking the government to remove schedule 6 from Bill 229.

Speaker, we know that flooding is only going to get worse, especially since the government’s so-called environment plan is leading to a dramatic increase in climate pollution. So will the Premier listen to the people of Ontario and remove schedule 6 from Bill 229?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant, member for Barrie–Innisfil.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: My heart does go out to the farmers, and certainly the flooding that they had to experience, especially with the impacts of climate change, which is the exact reason this government is making our changes on flood mitigation. Frankly, it will help our conservation authorities treat flooding very seriously to help those very same farmers you are discussing.

Right now, those conservation authorities spend less than 20% of their budget on flooding, so if they spent a little more on flooding, perhaps that would help. To put it in context, in 2017, there were 25 conservation authorities that were spending less than 20% of their budget on flood mitigation. In fact, 10 of those 25 conservation authorities were spending even less than that; they were spending closer to 10%.

These changes are going to help conservation authorities help those farmers who are so in need of flood mitigation.

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

Mr. Mike Schreiner: With all due respect to the member opposite, the conservation authorities, the big-city mayors, AMO, literally organizations representing everybody in this province are asking the government to stop attacking conservation authorities.

We know that it costs $43,000 to repair a flooded basement. In my riding, I pay $2.80 to the conservation authority to protect me from flooding. That is a deal. That is a deal that this government is taking away because they’re completely undermining the science-based and evidence-based decision-making power of conservation authorities.

So I’m asking the government: At a time when people already have so much stress in their lives, why are they increasing it by gutting flood protection in this province?

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it’s these changes—they’re not going to be gutting flooding. It’s going to actually be increasing flood mitigation. In fact, in our plan, we talk about ways to work with different sectors to prevent flood mitigation.

I’ll read some quotes from people who are trying—there’s an individual who was trying to plant trees around their home. I know the member opposite would appreciate that. But guess what they couldn’t do? They couldn’t actually do that because the conservation authority was getting in the way.

There is a municipality in my backyard who couldn’t build a drainage pipe to prevent flooding because the conservation authority wouldn’t allow them the proper permit to prevent flooding.

These are the changes we’re making to help mitigate those things, and we’re getting terrific support, actually. The Ontario Farmers Network supported our changes and said, “The Ontario Farmers Network, a farmer advocate organization” that was established in 2002, “announced today its formal support of the changes to the Conservation Authorities Act.”


Small business

Mr. Robert Bailey: My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. Mr. Speaker, Ontario’s main street small businesses have been hard hit by the effects of COVID-19. They’ve been forced to adapt to the new normal of needing PPE, implementing safety and social distancing policies, reaching customers online and planning further ahead into the future.

Will the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade outline to this House how our government has stepped up to protect and support small businesses and help them recover over the longer term?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant, the member for Mississauga–Streetsville.

Mrs. Nina Tangri: I want to thank the member from Sarnia–Lambton for the incredible work he does supporting his small businesses.

Speaker, we all know that small businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy, and our government will always be in their corner. Small businesses have made extraordinary sacrifices to keep their employees safe, their customers confident and their communities strong. That’s why we are providing the main street relief grant of $1,000 for eligible small businesses in the retail, food and accommodation and other service sectors with less than 10 employees to help offset the cost of PPE. This grant will cover the cost of buying face masks, sanitizer, gloves, sanitizing wipes and even Plexiglas dividers and temperature monitors. We encourage all small businesses who had to manage unexpected PPE costs to visit ontario.ca/smallbusiness to apply for the grant.

Our government, Speaker, is standing with main street businesses, and we remain committed—

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

The supplementary question.

Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you to the parliamentary assistant for that fulsome and informative answer. I hope small businesses and entrepreneurs across our province take advantage of the PPE grant in the weeks and months to come.

Our government understands that buying PPE today is just one challenge; helping businesses recover in the longer term is another. Will the minister outline the supports we’ve put in place to make sure our main street small businesses grow beyond COVID-19?

Mrs. Nina Tangri: For Ontario to recover, our small businesses need to recover, and their services and sales must be shifted online. Our $57-million Digital Main Street platform will help our small businesses get the job done. Businesses can now access the $2,500 Digital Main Street grant to embrace digital marketing. ShopHERE, powered by Google, will see skilled students hired to build websites and online stores for businesses. Future Proofing Main Street will allow digital marketing professionals to help businesses grow.

Through our Ontario Together Fund, we’ve provided $2 million to support 47 small business enterprise centres across Ontario to give small businesses training, financial advice and planning help. We’re also providing $131,000 for chartered accountants in Canada to develop an online financial literacy tool to help businesses recover and manage financial risks—

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

The next question.

College standards and accreditation

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: My question is to the Premier. This Conservative government has spent weeks defending their scheme to give Charles McVety, Ontario’s most vicious opponent of gay and trans rights, the right to grant university degrees at his Canada Christian College. Yesterday, Conservative MPPs did remove a section from Bill 213, but it was a section on a code of conduct for marriage officiants, which was removed after groups like Campaign Life Coalition complained it would promote same-sex marriage.

Why did the government happily amend the bill for these groups but ignored thousands of people who don’t want Charles McVety handing out university degrees?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will take their seats.

The parliamentary assistant, the member for Northumberland–Peterborough South.

Mr. David Piccini: We know that enabling legislation for private faith-based institutions has existed under governments of all stripes. We have these procedural safeguards, going to the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board. We have that, and these matter, these safeguards.

I think it’s important to remind the member of the importance of PEQAB and some measures built in. For example, in nomenclature change, organizational review, we talk—the board reviews mission statements, administration capacity, financial stability, student protections. These are available publicly for all Ontarians to see.

This process has been integral in ensuring a world-class education system for years, and it will be integral going forward. This government will stand by procedural fairness and follow the process.

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

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: My question is back to the Premier.

The member spoke about processes, but one of the processes is the committee process—and that’s to listen to the public, to listen to Ontarians.

I’d like to say that the Human Rights Code is integral here in Ontario.

The government can no longer credibly claim this is a better process. They were happy to amend their bill, but somehow they can’t find it within themselves to do the same thing for the thousands of Ontarians who said that granting McVety more power and influence would be harmful and dangerous.

Speaker, there is still time for them to do what is right, the thing that this Legislature asked them to do: admit they were wrong and stop their plans to make Charles McVety a university president.

Mr. David Piccini: On this side of the House, we are going to follow the PEQAB process. I find this very confusing, the member opposite, because it seems to me that some members on the other side do understand and value the process.

I’m going to quote the member from Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas: “As an institution within my constituency with vibrant undergraduate programs,” she goes on to say, “I urge that speedy consent be given to the PEQAB recommendation” regarding a faith-based institution and her riding’s need for a timely process.

Mr. Speaker, on the one hand, members on that side support the PEQAB process, and then on the other hand, they want government and politicians to intervene.

On this side of the House, we will—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Hamilton Mountain, come to order. Member for Waterloo, come to order.

The parliamentary assistant will conclude his response.

Mr. David Piccini: They don’t want to listen to the words of their own members.

On this side of the House, we will always stand by procedural fairness and stick by the PEQAB process.

Long-term care

Mr. John Fraser: My question is for the Minister of Long-Term Care. Earlier this week, we learned that the independent long-term-care commission the government appointed is still waiting for the minister to release key documents outlining the government’s decision-making process in its response to COVID-19 and Ontario’s long-term-care homes. The commission says that the continual delay in releasing requested documents is impeding its work. She would know that one of those commissioners is Jack Kitts, who was head of the Ottawa Hospital.

On Tuesday, the minister was quoted as saying that she wants to “get to the bottom of this.” It certainly doesn’t feel that way.

We know from the Auditor General’s report that the documents exist.

Speaker, through you, can the minister commit to no further delay in getting the documents to the government commission, which they need to do their work?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: We’ve committed to this since the very beginning. In fact, when we struck the commission, the point was to understand any early guidance they might be able to provide, as well as to understand what transpired with the spread of COVID-19 in our long-term-care homes. So this has been our commitment since the very beginning—to be transparent, to provide the documents that the commission requests.

We’ve given the commission greater expansion in terms of reference, and they have the ability to ask for those documents and to receive those documents. That’s what we’re in the process of doing. We’ve been giving documents and sharing them with the Auditor General, with the Patient Ombudsman. We are continuing to provide the necessary information, to our ability, while we deal with the problems in our long-term-care homes.

So we’re committed to doing this. We will continue to work with the commissioners and the commission. We understand how important the work that they’re doing is, and Ontarians have—

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

Mr. John Fraser: The minister is right: Ontarians have questions, and the commission is asking them on their behalf.

It certainly doesn’t feel like the minister wants to get to the bottom of this, and it just feels like further delays.

We remember, last winter, when this government delayed more than a month in preventing workers from working in more than one home, or raising their wages like other provinces did—or how we waited months to get essential caregivers back into the homes, or how long-term-care homes are still waiting for a plan to get people out of four-bed ward rooms and how long it took to get the Armed Forces into Ontario’s long-term-care homes that needed it.


I’ve been asking a question for three days, and it looks like that one is going to get delayed, too. I know what the outcome of that should be. I know what the outcome right now should be with your own commission, Minister. Will you commit today to no further delay in getting them the thousands of relevant documents that they need?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: We’ve worked decisively and actively during all of this. This has been an integrated effort with Public Health Ontario and with medical experts, taking the advice of our public health officials across ministries, across governments. This is a process that, although I would like it to be immediate, is not, and it takes time to coordinate. What we do in one area affects another. With our fall action plan, with the action plan earlier in April, all of these entities have been involved in this process of creating the safety and the well-being of our residents in long-term care.

This is a global pandemic. This has never been seen before in our lives. There are many, many good people working on this. The $461 million to improve the pay for our long-term-care workers, who are the heroes at the front lines of this: These measures are being worked on constantly and have been ever since the beginning. We’ll continue to do that.

Children’s services

Mr. Robert Bailey: My question is to the Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. As we know in this House, the rights of children and youth in the child welfare system and the youth justice system are found in the Child, Youth and Family Services Act. Just like most legislation, it’s hard to comprehend all the legalese and make sense of what is written. That is unfair to the kids this legislation impacts, because they deserve to know and understand their rights. It’s also important that parents and caregivers can access and read this same legislation in plain language, so that they’re able to provide the best care possible. They need to be able to get this information in an easy location that is free and accessible.

Speaker, can the minister assure this House and my constituents of Sarnia–Lambton that children and youth, as well as their parents and caregivers across this great province, will be able to learn about their rights in an accessible and simplified format?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Associate Minister for Children and Women’s Issues.

Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thank you to the member from Sarnia–Lambton for that question. I commend him for introducing a PMB this afternoon that will further support children in care. The member is absolutely right: It is incredibly important that all children and youth, especially those impacted by the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, know their rights. They need to know where to go if they have questions or concerns and they need to be able to find this information in an accessible place.

As part of the work to redesign Ontario’s child welfare system, our government created the Children and Young Persons’ Rights Resource. It is a webpage that uses youth-friendly language to help children and young people understand their rights under the CYFSA and use their voices. The key to this resource is that it is written in youth-friendly language and is easy to understand. You don’t need to be a lawyer to understand it. It also provides information on where a child or youth can go to seek help, such as the Ombudsman or mental health supports.

We want to ensure that all children and youth are able to not just hear but to know their rights, and to learn about them in a way that is easy to understand. I’m proud to continue this work to help these young people.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you to the minister for that response. The minister mentioned a child welfare redesign. This is an important undertaking. Children and youth in Ontario have not been supported as they should have been for years.

One area of importance that I was pleased to see from the minister was the Quality Standards Framework, something that was recommended in the chief coroner’s expert panel report of 2018 and developed by youth with lived experience in residential care from the report in 2017. However, similar to the CYFSA, the Quality Standards Framework is long and can be difficult to read. Children and youth deserve to know what they can and should expect in terms of care from foster parents and from children’s aid societies, and what kind of services they are able to get that respond to their culture and their identity.

Can the minister please commit to this House that she will listen and work with advocates and those with lived experience so that they know the quality of care they should be receiving?

Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thanks again to the member for the question. Every single child should have the same high quality and standards of care in the province, whether you’re in the child welfare system or not. These services should be available no matter your race, religion, sexual identity or where you live.

I can say confidently that we are working to create a youth-friendly version of the quality standards framework, putting it in plain language so that everyone can better understand what type of care is expected. Speaker, the framework was developed in consultation with district school boards, youth with lived experience, Indigenous and 2SLGBTQ partners, mental health agencies and more. We will continue to work with them to ensure that the youth-friendly version, going forward, will be beneficial to the children and youth who are impacted.

I’m also proud to say that we are working with our sector partners to be proposing regulatory and legislative amendments in the future. We want to ensure we are getting the best advice as this work is being phased in over the next two to three years.

Water quality

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: My question is to the Premier. It isn’t right that in a rich province like Ontario all communities don’t have clean drinking water. Neskantaga First Nation continues to have no drinking water. They have been evacuated for 45 days.

Mr. Speaker, we are not animals. We are not ghosts. We are people just like you. We should be able to turn on our taps and simply have a drink of water.

If Ontario wants to develop the north, and if you want our nations to work with you, honour Treaty 9. Bring the people clean water. Why is Ontario continuing to ignore this crisis?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader to reply.

Hon. Paul Calandra: As always, I think all of us appreciate the comments of the member opposite, who obviously has unique circumstances across his riding.

The Minister of Indigenous Affairs, as well as the Minister of the Environment, did express disappointment earlier that the federal government announced that it was not going to be meeting the targets it set with respect to water in our First Nations communities. We will continue to press the federal government to ensure that they meet that commitment, and of course, we’ll continue to work co-operatively with our First Nations partners.

The member is absolutely correct. This is something that we all need to work very, very hard on, and he certainly has my word and the word of this government that we will continue to press the federal government to meet their commitments.

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

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: It’s not fair to play jurisdictional Ping-Pong on the lives and the health of people in the north.

Back to the Premier: Speaker, it’s really important to hear these messages from the young people of Neskantaga. They say, “I don’t want to go through what my grandpa has been through for 25 years.

“Go live in Neskantaga and see how it feels getting no clean water.

“You’re welcome to stay in my house and see.”

Bedahbun is nine years old and she has no faith in government to help. She said, “I would be surprised if they fixed the water properly.“

Will Ontario do what’s right and make sure Bedahbun grows up with access to clean drinking water?

Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, the member is correct. I don’t think anybody on either side of the House is going to argue with the fact that First Nations communities across Canada, not just across Ontario, have a number of challenges that governments at all levels need to work co-operatively to resolve. It is long overdue that we do that; the member is correct.

The federal government made a commitment in working with the provinces and territories. Part of that commitment, dating back to 2015, is that it would solve the water crisis on many of our First Nations reserves. They’ve recently announced they would not be able to honour that commitment.

The Ministry of the Environment and the Minister of the Environment here did signal his intention to continue to work very aggressively and co-operatively with the federal government and with the First Nations communities to take all of the measures that the Ontario government could do to assist the federal government should they be able to honour this commitment.

I do agree with the member, and we will continue to press the federal government on his behalf.


Conservation authorities

Mme Lucille Collard: My question will be addressed to the Premier. Conservation Ontario, which represents the 36 conservation authorities, had the following to say about schedule 6 of Bill 229: “We are asking the government to withdraw schedule 6 because these are not administrative budget-related amendments but rather are significant amendments impacting public policy and for which adequate and specific public consultation has not occurred. These proposed amendments are deserving of the sober second thought provided through specific consultations and then debate in the Legislature.”

Can the minister explain why these changes have been included in the omnibus budget bill instead of being proposed in a separate bill so that they could receive the careful consideration, debate and public consultation that they deserve?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant, the member for Barrie–Innisfil, to reply.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Many Ontarians don’t have time to wait for flood protection and flood mitigation, which is why these changes are so important.

When it comes to consulting with all 36 conservation authorities, they had been consulted. They had different one-on-ones with members from the Ministry of the Environment, and, of course, we had round tables throughout the province, as well as different discussion papers that were posted online.

Many of the changes that are in the legislation the member is referring to were actually asked for by conservation authorities, because it’s not enough just to make changes later on; we have to think about changes now to help people with flooding and to help constituents who have written in to the Ministry of the Environment saying that, for example, a property owner was trying to plant 500 trees around his property and couldn’t get it done. You had someone who was trying to restore their shoreline to prevent flooding and couldn’t get it done. So it is this government that’s making the changes so those individuals can get it done, prevent flooding and help their surrounding environment.

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

Mme Lucille Collard: According to the Conservation Ontario website, only around 8% of the funding for conservation authorities typically comes from provincial funding sources. In the case of the Hamilton Conservation Authority, the board chair, Lloyd Ferguson, who I will note is also a city councillor, said that provincial contributions only amount to 2% of their revenues. Municipalities, on the other hand, generally contribute over 50% of the funding, while most of the remaining amount is self-generated.

Despite this, there is still a lot of pushback from both municipalities and conservation authorities regarding the proposed changes in Bill 229. Given that the province has invested so little in the work of conservation authorities, can the minister explain why the government should move forward with such controversial changes when they are opposed by the very people who actually are investing significantly in the work of the conservation authorities?

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: If she’s talking to conservation authorities, perhaps she can talk to the conservation authority that told her leader, Del Duca, not to override their conservation authority to plan a pool in his backyard. If they really care about the environment, they should speak to their own leader.

What’s more, if you care about conservation authorities helping to prevent flooding, perhaps the member could also know that she should encourage many more conservation authorities to spend more on flood mitigation, for example. As I mentioned, in 2017, there were 25 conservation authorities that were spending less than 20% of their budget on flood mitigation, and then 10 of those 25 conservation authorities were spending even less than that: closer to about 10%.

Again, we are focused on helping Ontarians with flood mitigation, making sure we protect our land, water and air and, of course, making sure that we’re preserving any damage on the environment when it comes to natural hazards.

Persons with disabilities

Mr. Joel Harden: Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and 60 disability organizations sent the Premier a letter today. My question is for him.

In September, the government’s bioethics table for the COVID-19 response recommended which patients should be refused critical medical care if overwhelmed hospitals must ration it, but to date, the government is keeping those recommendations secret. People with disabilities have a right to know what the government is going to be thinking of doing in this life-and-death area. We hope that triage never becomes necessary, but Ontario has to be prepared.

Will the Premier keep his promise to be transparent to people with disabilities, publicize the COVID-19 plans for critical triage protocol and do what is the proper thing: make these bioethics table recommendations public?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Eglinton–Lawrence to reply.

Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you to the member opposite for the question.

The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government’s top priority. In response to COVID-19, we’ve taken action to build more capacity in our health care system and effectively managed surges and future waves of COVID-19. That’s why we invested an additional $2.5 billion, or an increase of 13% from last year, to support our hospitals throughout the pandemic and build capacity, including 3,100 new beds across health facilities.

It’s critical that I remind the member opposite that at the request of health systems stakeholders, Ontario Health and the bioethics table of the provincial command structure drafted a clinical triage protocol for a major surge in the COVID pandemic for a potential worst-case scenario due to the spread of COVID-19. To be clear, this was a draft developed for engagement and consultation and should not be used.

We’ve also asked our bioethics table to ensure that concerns and perspectives of Indigenous people, Black and racialized communities, persons with disabilities and others who may be disproportionately affected by critical care triage due to systemic discrimination are meaningfully considered and—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much. The supplementary question? The member for Windsor West.

Mrs. Lisa Gretzky: Back to the Premier: People with disabilities are not a priority for this Conservative government. They struggled before the pandemic and it’s even worse now. We’re in a global crisis, and yet this Conservative government provided zero automatic income support—not even a meager increase to ODSP or OW.

The supportive housing crisis is out of control. The wait-list is well over 20 years long. April’s daughter has developmental disabilities and has lived in a psychiatric hospital ward for two years. She is one of five individuals who I am personally aware of across the province, and I’m sure there are many more.

There are people who have been promised supportive housing. Some even had a spot held in a home, but were told by this Conservative government that there is no funding for them, so they languish in the hospital with no quality of life.

This Conservative government holds the solution and the funding in their hands, but refuse to make this right. Will the Premier make this a priority today and put up the funding needed to help April’s daughter and the other families in crisis?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.

Hon. Jill Dunlop: Thank you to the member for your question. Our government took immediate action to protect our province’s most vulnerable people and the front-line staff who care for them in residential settings. Through the COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People, we implemented measures that will help to stop COVID-19 at the door of these facilities through measures like enhanced screening and use of PPE, and manage outbreaks where they do happen, which includes enhanced testing and contact tracing.

This plan builds on our previous investments, including up to $40 million to support organizations that provide residential services, like our developmental services agencies. As well, the 2020 budget includes an investment of $30 million over the next two years to support both residential and non-residential service providers in the social services sector as they continue infection prevention and control measures.

I ask the member: Will you support our budget and support the vulnerable people and front-line workers who work hard in developmental services in Ontario?

COVID-19 response

Mrs. Belinda C. Karahalios: Good morning. My question is for the Premier. Last week, I said that the government forcing shoppers into the same place—like a few big box stores—for all of their shopping needs is a great way to maximize the spread of an airborne virus like COVID-19. Recently, 50 retailers sent a letter to the Premier and the Minister of Health reiterating my position that having customers limited to a few stores may increase the rate of spread.

The government claims to rely on science, so I ask: What does the science say about customers overcrowding and all gathering in a few stores rather than being spread out among all retailers, in terms of increasing the rate of spread of COVID-19?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The response? The Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Hon. Victor Fedeli: Thank you for the question. In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts, the province has moved Toronto and Peel region into lockdown and some regions to new restriction levels in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open framework. Speaker, those necessary measures are being taken to limit community transmission of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard our health system capacity and protect those most vulnerable.

What those businesses should be doing and what you should be telling your constituents is that there is $600 million available to them to assist in 100% of their property taxes during this period, 100% of their energy costs during this period. There is a $1,000 main street recovery grant that they can apply for. There’s a $57-million Digital Main Street grant they can apply for. I’ll address—

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

Mrs. Belinda C. Karahalios: In that same letter from the 50 retailers to the Premier and the Minister of Health, they asked on behalf of all retailers that the government allow them to reopen with reduced capacity rules.

Just yesterday, the Premier’s favourite tabloid, the Toronto Sun, published an article with data from the province that claimed that the government could only identify 106 cases linked to retail shopping. That’s 0.1% of 116,000 COVID cases to date, and that includes employees. Fitness only accounted for 206 cases; restaurants only 227 cases.

What scientific data did the government use or rely on in deciding that retail stores, restaurants and fitness centres should be closed to reduce the spread—or did the government just make it up?

Hon. Victor Fedeli: The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts continue to provide advice to our government using a wide range of criteria, and we continue to listen to them.

But again, I urge the member to talk to these businesses and let them know that there is $600 million available. There are very few who have applied for this funding so far. We need them to know that there’s $57 million. They can take their business offline and go online. They have a $2,500 grant that will assist them to put their business online and have a worldwide audience.

Speaker, these are the kinds of supplements that our government is providing to these businesses in their time of need.

Small business

Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Premier. Yesterday, the Premier admitted once again that his plan that puts big box stores first and small main street shops last was “unfair,” but then he tried to blame the province’s top doctors for giving him the advice. We just heard it again.

Speaker, we know from the AG’s report that despite what the Premier and the Conservatives say, the CMO has never been driving the province’s pandemic response. If he’s looking for someone to blame, the Premier needs to look in the mirror.

This week, businesses from across the province wrote to the Premier, calling on him to fix this unfair plan and stop making things worse for everyone not named Walmart or Costco. They’re going to be fine; Main Street, not so much. Actually, to date, as of August, in the province of Ontario we’ve already lost 13,500 businesses. The CFIB says that one in seven businesses is at risk. In K-W, on Main Street, we’ve already lost 25 businesses. They’re gone.

Mr. Speaker, we know what businesses need. They told us: They need and they deserve direct financial support. What is this government waiting for?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Hon. Victor Fedeli: Well, Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to reiterate the exact direct government support. As I stated a moment ago, $600 million, up from $300 million, is available. Every one of those businesses in the Toronto and Peel region in the lockdown can have their entire energy bill paid for every day that they’re in lockdown. They can have all of their property taxes paid for in that lockdown. They can apply online for a $1,000 PPE grant. There are 60,000 of them available; we’ve only heard from 1,350 of those businesses so far. There are 60,000 available.

There is a $57-million program available to help them go online. There is a rent subsidy that pays for a tremendous percentage of their rent. There is a wage subsidy that pays for a tremendous amount of their wages.

We need these businesses to go online, register and get the money flowing. It’s there. It has been committed to them.

Business of the House

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader has informed me that he has a point of order he wishes to raise.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, in accordance with standing order 59, I wish to outline the status of business for next week.

On Monday afternoon, we will be debating Bill 229, which is an act to implement budget measures.

On Tuesday, Bill 229.

On Wednesday and on Thursday, we will be having the opportunity to debate two motions which the government will soon be bringing forward, which I’m sure the honourable members across the way will be very excited to see.

On Monday, we will be dealing with private members’ business, ballot item number 44, standing in the name of the honourable member from Cambridge; on Tuesday, ballot item number 45, from the member for Ottawa South; on Wednesday, ballot item number 46, in the name of the member for Toronto Centre; and on Thursday, ballot item number 47, standing in the name of the member for Oakville.

Deferred Votes

Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 sur la reconstruction et la relance en Ontario

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

Bill 222, An Act to amend various Acts in respect of transportation-related matters / Projet de loi 222, Loi modifiant diverses lois à l’égard de questions relatives au transport.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): We now have a deferred vote on a motion for closure on the motion for third reading of Bill 222, An Act to amend various Acts in respect of transportation-related matters.

On December 2, 2020, Ms. Mulroney moved third reading of Bill 222. Mr. Calandra has moved that the question now be put.

The bells will ring for 30 minutes, during which time members may cast their votes on Mr. Calandra’s motion that the question now be put. I’ll ask the Clerks to prepare the lobbies.

The division bells rang from 1156 to 1226.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The vote on the motion for closure on the motion for third reading of Bill 222, An Act to amend various Acts in respect of transportation-related matters, has been held.

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 56; the nays are 15.

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

Ms. Mulroney has moved third reading of Bill 222, An Act to amend various Acts in respect of transportation-related matters. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

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

All those opposed will please say “nay.”

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required, the bells will ring for 15 minutes, during which time members may cast their votes.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Point of order.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Government House leader?

Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, if you seek it, I’m sure you’ll find unanimous consent to apply the votes from the last vote to this vote.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Same vote? Same vote.

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 56; the nays are 15.

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

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

Third reading agreed to.

Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 modifiant la Loi sur la responsabilité des occupants

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

Bill 118, An Act to amend the Occupiers’ Liability Act / Projet de loi 118, Loi modifiant la Loi sur la responsabilité des occupants.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The bells will now ring for 15 minutes, during which time members may cast their votes. I will ask the Clerks to prepare the lobbies.

Interjection: Same vote.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Same vote? I heard a no.

The division bells rang from 1229 to 1244.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The vote on the motion for third reading of Bill 118, An Act to amend the Occupiers’ Liability Act, has been held.

The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 56; the nays are 9.

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

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

Third reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): There being no further business at this time, this House stands in recess until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 1245 to 1300.

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on General Government

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

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Mr. Peter Sibenik): The committee begs to report the following bill as amended:

Bill 213, An Act to reduce burdens on people and businesses by enacting, amending and repealing various Acts and revoking a regulation.

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 November 25, 2020, the bill is ordered for third reading.

Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills

Mr. John Fraser: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Mr. Peter Sibenik): The committee begs to report the following bills without amendment:

Bill Pr35, An Act to revive 2257248 Ontario Inc.

Bill Pr36, An Act to revive Castleform Holdings Inc.

Bill Pr38, An Act respecting 62 Grimsby Phantom Squadron Sponsoring Committee.

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

Report adopted.

Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Ms. Catherine Fife: I beg leave to present a report on Climate Change: Ontario’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, volume 2, chapter 3, 2019 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and move the adoption of its recommendations.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Ms. Fife presents the committee’s report and moves the adoption of its recommendations.

Does the member wish to make a brief statement?

Ms. Catherine Fife: As Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, I am pleased to table the committee’s report today, entitled Climate Change: Ontario’s Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, volume 2, chapter 3, 2019 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Tabuns, who regularly served as a substitute member on the committee during this review, as well as the permanent membership of the committee: France Gélinas, who is the Vice-Chair; Deepak Anand; Jill Andrew; Toby Barrett; Stephen Blais; Stan Cho; Stephen Crawford; Christine Hogarth; Daryl Kramp; and Michael Parsa.

The committee extends its appreciation to officials from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The committee also acknowledges the assistance provided during the hearings and report-writing deliberations by the Office of the Auditor General, the Clerk of the Committee, and staff in the legislative research service.

With that, I move the adjournment of the debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

Debate adjourned.

Introduction of Bills

Fostering Privacy Fairness Act, 2020 / Loi de 2020 renforçant l’équité concernant la vie privée

Mr. Bailey moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 237, An Act to amend the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 / Projet de loi 237, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2017 sur les services à l’enfance, à la jeunesse et à la famille.

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 Sarnia–Lambton like to give a brief statement explaining his bill?

Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you to the House. This bill is all about fairness and equity and treating people equally. We’ll go into more detail when we do introduce the bill, but it’s about sealing records in the possession of the ministry, a service provider, lead agency or child protection, and it will treat everyone the same, like young offenders, so I’m looking forward to the bill and looking forward to hearing the debate in the House.


Conservation authorities

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: I would like to thank the residents of Beaches–East York for having collected this stack of petitions and signatures very safely but very quickly over the last few days.

My petition is entitled “Remove Schedule 6 and Schedule 8 from Bill 229.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas conservation authorities are the only governing body in Ontario with jurisdiction over watersheds, enabling them to provide critical services to Ontarians through the management of hazards such as flood control and water quality;

“Whereas conservation authorities emerged as a necessary response to poor planning, for example building on flood plains, that led to drought, deforestation, erosion, increased flooding, and loss of life and property in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel;

“Whereas Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities have already had funding slashed by 50% in April 2019, compromising their capacity for flood management;

“Whereas schedule 6 of Bill 229 undemocratically concentrates power in the hands of the Minister of Natural Resources, allowing developers to appeal conservation authorities’ decisions directly to the minister, who then has sole discretion to overturn them;

“Whereas schedule 8 of Bill 229 proposes to permanently exempt logging companies from endangered species laws, which threatens to hasten the decline of creatures such as woodland caribou;

“Whereas these proposed changes were brought forward in an undemocratic omnibus budget bill, thereby overriding our right to comment under the Environmental Bill of Rights;

“Therefore, we the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to remove schedule 6 and schedule 8 in their entirety from Bill 229.”

I will be affixing my signature to this petition and getting it to the Clerk.

Education funding

Ms. Marit Stiles: It gives me great pleasure on behalf of my constituents to present a petition that was presented to me by Nigel Morton. It reads as follows:

“Demand a Safe Return to Schools.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a real risk to our communities;

“Whereas the Ford government’s failure to provide the funding or the plan needed to ensure our schools are as safe as possible means that kids are returning to crowded classrooms and buses;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to create an action plan that includes:

“—funding to ensure smaller, safer classes of no more than 15 students;

“—hiring thousands more teachers, educational assistants, custodians and support workers;

“—paid sick leave and parental leave in any modified return;

“—increased funding for busing, protective … equipment, school repairs and cleaning;

“—action to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racialized and Indigenous students and students from low-income backgrounds;

“—real collaboration with front-line education workers, students, parents and school boards through a COVID-19 recovery school advisory group.”

I’m very pleased to sign this petition, and I’ll be passing it on to the Clerks to table.

Small business

Mr. Michael Parsa: I have a petition labelled “Pass Bill 215, Main Street Recovery Act, 2020.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario’s downtown businesses have experienced much of the negative economic impact of COVID-19; and

“Whereas our downtown businesses are small mom-and-pop shops, employ local citizens and invest in our communities; and

“Whereas our main street businesses have faced unique challenges through the COVID-19 pandemic; and

“Whereas in that same vein, these businesses face particular challenges such as costs associated with acquiring personal protective equipment and expanding their e-commerce capabilities; and

“Whereas if passed, the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020 would offer a grant of up to $1,000 for eligible main street small businesses, connect them with Ontario’s 47 small business enterprise centres, help them grow their businesses online, and establish Ontario’s small business recovery web page to provide single-window access to small business supports;


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

“That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario vote on and pass Bill 215, the Main Street Recovery Act.”

I fully, fully support this petition and will send it down after I sign.

Conservation authorities

Mr. Percy Hatfield: Good afternoon. I have a petition entitled “Protect Local Conservation Authorities.” Speaker, it’s a really long one, but I’ve edited some of it so I don’t take up too much of your time this afternoon.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario…:

“Whereas” schedule 6 in Bill 229, the Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act, “introduces a number of changes and new sections that could remove and/or significantly hinder” the role of conservation authorities “in regulating development, permit appeal process” and in the reviewing and the “appeal of planning applications;

“Whereas we rely on the watershed expertise provided by local conservation authorities to protect residents, property and local natural resources on a watershed basis...;

“Whereas the legislation suggests that the minister will have the ability to establish standards and requirements for non-mandatory programs which are negotiated between the conservation authorities and municipalities to meet local watershed needs;

“Whereas municipalities believe that the appointment of municipal representatives on CA boards should be a municipal decision, and the chair and vice-chair of” authority boards “should be duly elected, and municipalities require a longer transition time to put in place agreements with conservation authorities for non-mandatory programs, and the” duty of members clause “contradicts the fiduciary duty of a CA board member to represent the best interests of the conservation authority and its responsibility to the watershed…;

“Whereas municipalities value and rely on the natural habitats and water resources within our jurisdictions for the health and well-being of residents...;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to ask:

“—that the province of Ontario work with conservation authorities to address their concerns by repealing or amending changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act;

“—that the province of Ontario delay enactment of clauses affecting municipal concerns;

“—that the province ... provide a longer transition period ... for non-mandatory programs to enable coordination of CA-municipal budgeting processes…; and

“—that the province embrace their long-standing partnership with the conservation authorities and provide them with the tools and financial resources they need to effectively implement their watershed management role.”

I fully agree. I’m going to sign it and send it with the usher down to the table.

Conservation authorities

Mr. Mike Schreiner: I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

“Whereas conservation authorities play a vital role in protecting Ontario’s forests, wetlands, wildlife habitats, and other natural heritage features; and

“Whereas conservation authorities utilize scientific, evidence-based decision-making in their land use planning and permitting decisions in order to protect such natural heritage; and

“Whereas undermining conservation authorities’ powers will have devastating effects on our environment, putting communities at risk from flooding and other climate change impacts; and

“Whereas the government recently introduced Bill 229, and schedule 6 of the proposed legislation will reduce the power of conservation authorities and allow the minister to override conservation authority decisions;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to remove schedule 6 from Bill 229 and preserve the integrity of the Conservation Authorities Act.”

I wholeheartedly support this petition, will sign it and send it to the table.

Economic reopening and recovery

Mr. Dave Smith: I have a petition entitled “Petition for the Next Phase of Ontario’s Action Plan.”

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas nobody knows for certain what direction the pandemic will take or what direction our economy will take. We need to be prepared for anything; and

“Whereas the people of Ontario deserve transparency about the public finances—especially given these extraordinary circumstances; and

“Whereas there are countless examples around the world of jurisdictions who have let their guard down and who are paying a steep price. Our government is determined to avoid those mistakes;

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

“Pass Bill 229, the Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020, so that:

—funding is provided to hospitals to make sure they have the resources they need to protect Ontarians;

—jobs and businesses are supported by putting at least $200 in the hands of every parent and creating a new tax credit to help make the homes where seniors live safer;

—property taxes and job-killing electricity prices for the businesses that create jobs across Ontario are reduced.”

I’ll sign this petition and send it down to the table.

Injured workers

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I have a petition signed by London-area injured workers and their allies, and it is called, “Workers’ Comp is a Right.

“Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas about 200,000 to 300,000 people in Ontario are injured on the job every year;

“Whereas over a century ago, workers in Ontario who were injured on the job gave up the right to sue their employers, in exchange for a system that would provide them with just compensation;

“Whereas decades of cost-cutting have pushed injured workers into poverty and onto publicly funded social assistance programs, and have gradually curtailed the rights of injured workers;

“Whereas injured workers have the right to quality and timely medical care, compensation for lost wages and protection from discrimination;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to change the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to accomplish the following for injured workers in Ontario:

“Eliminate the practice of ‘deeming’ or ‘determining,’ which bases compensation on phantom jobs that injured workers do not actually have;

“Ensure that the WSIB prioritizes and respects the medical opinions of the health care providers who treat the injured worker directly;

“Prevent compensation from being reduced or denied based on ‘pre-existing conditions’ that never affected the worker’s ability to function prior to the work injury.”

I fully support this petition. I am proud to affix my signature and will send it to the table.

Firearms control

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I have a petition from constituents from my riding of Scarborough–Guildwood.

“Petition: Ontario Must Declare Gun Violence a Public Health Crisis and Pass Bill 129.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas all Ontarians have the right to live in safe and healthy communities;

“Whereas gun violence is a public health crisis requiring action from all levels of government;

“Whereas Doug Ford and the Conservative government are not taking sufficient measures to address the root causes and long-term impacts of gun violence on survivors and communities;

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

“That the Legislative Assembly of Ontario declare gun violence a public health crisis and pass Bill 129 into law.”

I agree with this petition. I’ll sign it, and I will provide it to the usher.

Education funding

Ms. Marit Stiles: I’ve got a very heavy pile of petitions here to present today, and I’m presenting these on behalf of Emily Hollis, who I think is one of the signatories. It reads as follows:

“Don’t Increase Class Sizes: Preserve the Kindergarten Teaching Model and KIP.

“Whereas Ontario’s model for kindergarten, which includes a teacher and designated early childhood educator, is based on international research and created by experts, educators and partners in the field, and has been shown to provide lasting benefits for children’s reading, writing, numeracy, self-regulation and social skills; and

“Whereas larger class sizes negatively impact the quality of education, reduce access to teaching resources and supports and significantly diminishes teacher-student interactions…;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Ministry of Education to commit at the central bargaining table to reduce class sizes, maintain the current teaching model of kindergarten, and reverse all budget cuts to the TDSB.”

I’m happy to [inaudible].

Transportation infrastructure

Ms. Rima Berns-McGown: My petition is entitled, “Neighbourhood Safety During Metrolinx Construction.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Metrolinx construction is utilizing the parking lot belonging to Forward Baptist Church located on Wildwood Crescent at the top of Kingsmount Park Road to house construction vehicles and as a construction access point from present until 2024-25;

“Whereas Metrolinx will be using this parking lot and staging construction along the rails from time to time until 2024-25;

“Whereas the community residents of Kingsmount Park Road, north of Gerrard and Wildwood Crescent, recognize the need for increased rail transit;


“Whereas the residential area immediately surrounding the construction access point is a quiet residential area which includes over 40 children as well as a busy city park; and

“Whereas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many residents are working from home and staying home as much as possible and construction noise will interrupt sleep and work schedules;

“Whereas Metrolinx does not plan to have a noise barrier for a one-kilometre section on the south side of the tracks, from a section from roughly Ladykirk until Monarch Park Avenue;

“Whereas utilizing a residential area to house a large construction site will lead to increased traffic; and

“Whereas construction will impact local trees and wildlife along the rail corridor and in Small’s Creek ravine;

“Therefore we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to require that Metrolinx rail construction:

“—abide by city bylaws;

“—post an emergency 24-hour contact number at the construction site;

“—provide a construction schedule to residents, particularly for overnight construction;

“—limit overnight construction as much as possible;

“—construct a noise barrier as the first stage of construction rather than the last;

“—limit and enforce idling on site;

“—prioritize the safety of residential streets with traffic-calming measures on the northern section of Kingsmount, additional signage and radar speed display signs to be installed for the duration of the construction;

“—take all measures to protect surrounding trees and make a commitment to replant an additional 50% of trees along the rail corridor and/or edge of the parking lot;

“—include a noise barrier between Ladykirk and Monarch Park Avenue; and

“—take all possible measures to protect the biodiversity of Small’s Creek ravine.”

Thank you very much. I agree with the petition, will be affixing my signature to it and getting it to the Clerk.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes our time for petitions this afternoon.

Report continues in volume B.