43rd Parliament, 1st Session

L007A - Mon 22 Aug 2022 / Lun 22 aoû 2022

 

The House met at 0900.

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

Prayers.

Orders of the Day

Appointment of House officers / Committee membership

Resuming the debate adjourned on August 18, 2022, on the motion regarding the appointment of presiding officers and revisions to committee membership.

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: I appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak to this motion. At the outset, let me just say that I believe that all of the individuals put forward as potential presiding officers are exceptional individuals, Mr. Speaker, and a lot of thought went into the decisions that were made. One of the overriding principles, of course, as was highlighted, in part, in a debate over a ruling which you subsequently made, was ensuring that the presiding officers reflect the makeup of Parliament. And I think that we’ve been successful in doing so, Mr. Speaker.

Another principle, of course, as you will know, was ensuring that the presiding officers also had, amongst their ranks, a French-speaking member of provincial Parliament. I think that we have done that. And, again, let me just say that for the officers that have been put forward, they are all people of exceptional calibre. They will do a service to this place. It will be a positive service to this place. They are more than equipped to handle the duties of presiding officers should this House, in fact, vote for them. Let me just also say at the outset that I’ll be splitting my time with the member for Ajax. I am very confident they will have the ability to do so.

I wanted to address some of the other parts in the motion, Speaker, because the motion isn’t just about presiding officers, as you know; it is also about adding people to committees. We have heard from the opposition anger and frustration about committees—people being put on committees that they didn’t ask for and how terrible that is. But let’s back up, Speaker, let’s back up. On the election, the NDP were reduced to a much smaller contingent than they are now, so by virtue of that, by virtue of how this place works—the standing orders—the NDP were only entitled to have two people serve on each of the standing committees of this Parliament, and they, in fact, lost the chairmanship of one of the other standing committees, which reverted back to the government. And, of course, the independents had to request to be put on to committees.

Now, in order to ensure a vibrant Parliament with oversight, I believe, Mr. Speaker—and I still believe, and the NDP can vote against this because they’re obviously extraordinarily upset by this—that additional members serving on committee would actually be better for Parliament, better for ensuring the quality of debate on committees and, ultimately, for accountability.

So what does this motion do besides the presiding officers, Speaker? It adds a third member to committees for the NDP, and it adds every single independent member to a committee in a field that is consistent with their critic role. I think that’s a very, very important concession from the government in order to do that. It would have been easier, frankly, not to bring this motion forward and just take two members and that be the end of it, and then we could steamroll along as we wanted. But everything that we have done since we have come into office, whether it be the standing order changes or this motion itself, has been about making this Parliament work better for the people of the province of Ontario.

I’m gratified that we have heard in some of the speeches from the opposition that, in fact, they embrace some of the changes that have been made. Let’s just go over, if we can, some of the changes that we made to committee—because it’s against their will and they didn’t want them. Well, half the NDP caucus, of course, was left off of committee. By virtue of their poor election results, half of them were left off of committee, and we keep hearing how important committees are. In fact, the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane said that this is where the rubber hits the fan, that where the government is held accountable is on committee. I agree, and that’s why we’ve added them.

Let’s look at what we’ve done, the horror of what we are proposing: the member from St. Paul’s, critic for heritage, appointed to that committee—the request was for no committee, but we appointed to that committee.

The member for London–Fanshawe—no committee requested; we have actually honoured that.

The member for Scarborough Southwest—government agencies requested. The member has been put onto government agencies.

The member for Mushkegowuk–James Bay—no committee requested. The member has been put on a committee.

The member for Niagara Centre: no committee requested, and that has been honoured.

The member for Waterloo, the finance critic: We heard this prominent in the member’s speech, that we put the member for Waterloo, the finance critic, on a committee that she didn’t want to be on. We’re forcing her. The member for Timiskaming–Cochrane, again, says, in his words—he talks about how people have better ability to do things, and when he was the finance critic, he wasn’t the best finance critic, but there’s somebody with better skills able to do it—presumably, the member for Waterloo. What do we do? We put her on the finance committee. Now, I ask you, Mr. Speaker: If the member for Waterloo is not able to do the work on the finance committee, if she’s not the best person, then perhaps they should appoint a different finance critic. It is not my job to decide who is the best critic over there; they can make that decision. In his own words, he undermines his own argument. So imagine that: We’ve put the finance critic for the NDP on the finance committee—my gosh, colleagues, the horror of it, the savagery of such a decision.

But let’s go on. The member for Oshawa was put on procedure and House affairs. The committee request was none. We didn’t have room, but we made room on procedure and House affairs. My understanding is that the member has actually been elected the Chair of procedure and House affairs.

The member for Nickel Belt is on the policy committee that she’s a critic for—request made, request honoured.

The member for Spadina–Fort York requested no committee, and we provided no committee for that person.

The member for Windsor West: mental health and addictions committee was requested, committee honoured.

The member for Ottawa Centre—committee requested, committee honoured.

The member for Parkdale–High Park: The request was to make the member for Parkdale–High Park a presiding officer. The motion reflects that.

The member for London North Centre, critic, economic development and job creation, asked to be on finance and economic affairs—request made, request honoured.

Kitchener Centre—request made, request honoured.

The member for Kiiwetinoong: request made, and, if I’m not mistaken, the member is on the justice committee—and congratulations for being elected the Vice-Chair of that committee, something that in the last Parliament would actually not have happened had it not been for our standing order changes. Colleagues in the last Parliament will remember that when we made this change, the NDP voted against it. They voted against it because they thought we were being too good to the opposition and we were being too bipartisan, and that’s not the way a Parliament is supposed to work. But we said that is the way it’s supposed to work; that’s what makes a Parliament better.

But anyway, they can argue previous decisions to their hearts’ content.

0910

The member for London West is the House leader, and she talks about all these secret meetings we have. I can tell you that there is no secret meeting with the member for London West. Every single House leader meeting we have had, we have a bet in our office of how long it will take for the member to go upstairs and speak to the media. I’ve got to admit, in the last one, I was wrong. I will give it to my assistant Patrick Kelly. He said, “They will go straight up to the third floor.” I said, “No, they’ll go up to their office first. They’ll craft something and then go.” But we were able to watch as they made that slow descent up.

There is never an opportunity where you have a secret meeting with the NDP, because their secret meeting is always a public meeting, right? That’s just it.

Interjection.

Hon. Paul Calandra: They don’t even ask the caucus, right? They just do as they like.

Now, the member for Hamilton West asked to be on the interior committee. It’s a new committee.

Mr. John Yakabuski: What committee is the member on?

Hon. Paul Calandra: Interior committee.

Interjections.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I just want to inform the House: I’d like to be involved in the conversation as well. Okay? Thank you.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, the member for St. Catharines didn’t ask to be on a committee and, because of how low their numbers were in the last election, was not entitled to be on a committee. But we put the member on the justice committee, because we thought all members should have an opportunity to play a role.

The member for Davenport was not going to be on a committee—not by my request, but by the request of the Leader of the Opposition, that we not put the member for Davenport on a committee. One could only assume that he’s a bit nervous that she might be running for the leadership and he didn’t want to do that. But either way, the people of Davenport deserve to have a member serve on the committee in this Legislature, and we made that happen by putting the member on the interior committee.

The member for Hamilton Mountain requested no committee, and we gave the member no committee. The member for Timiskaming–Cochrane says his skill set really isn’t, in a number of ways—so he requested no committee, and we gave him no committee.

The member for Thunder Bay–Superior North, Speaker—

Interjection: A brand new member.

Hon. Paul Calandra: A brand new member: They didn’t want her to serve on a committee. And by virtue of the fact that their numbers were so decimated, they weren’t eligible to serve on a committee. But how do you say to a new member who is coming here and wants to participate, “You can’t participate for the people of the north”? When this government has made the north such a priority, they wanted to take that opportunity away. So what did we do? We put that member on the public accounts committee. What better way to learn everything that happens here, to have first-hand knowledge of what goes on, Mr. Speaker, than to be on that committee?

The member for Sudbury—again, it seems like they want to ignore the north entirely. The member for Sudbury: not requested to be on a committee. We put the member on a committee. The member for Toronto Centre, a brand new member in this place, asked to be on the justice committee and is serving on the justice committee, Mr. Speaker.

And here you have the NDP arguing against adding an additional member to committee. This isn’t about presiding officers. It’s not about anything. It’s about the fact that the Leader of the Opposition wanted to exclude half of his caucus from serving on a committee. Again, it’s easy for us just to say, “Yes, no problem. We’ll let you only have two. We’ll take seven of the seats. Forget about it.” You know? It’s a lot easier for a Parliament when you have a 7 to 2 advantage. But we said no, because obviously the changes that we made in the last Parliament were reflective of making Parliament work better. This motion adds a third member, and it adds an independent to every single committee in this House.

Now, the offence goes even further, Speaker, because the opposition then said, in their speeches, they didn’t even know. They didn’t even know. The independents had no idea what committees they were going on. They had no idea. But the reality was, yes, because you know what they did? They reached out and said, “If we could, we would like to serve on a committee.” And what did we do? We said, “Okay, what is your critic role? That’s the committee you’re going to be serving on.” Makes sense to me. And then, when we reached out to the NDP, that was their list, leaving half of their critics off, leaving the northern members no opportunity to participate. We said, “No, that’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for the people of the north. We’re going to do better and we’re going to give up our seats and we’re going to ensure that the opposition have an opportunity to serve.”

Now, Speaker, they’re going to vote against this. They’re going to vote against this motion, right? Because they have some obscure thought that it’s, I don’t know, punishing their members by not allowing them to serve in this place, which I don’t get when the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane specifically says how important committees are to the process. Well, if they’re that important to the process, then surely the member would want members to serve on committee? So to the members of the NDP who were excluded by your leadership: Again, this side of the House will stand up for you; this side of the House will make sure that your constituents have the opportunity to be represented on committees, have the opportunity to talk about legislation, bring motions forward, make amendments when bills go to committee, even if your own leadership won’t.

Honestly, I don’t know what has happened to this NDP. I don’t know what has happened. They have become such an insignificant force in Canadian politics. And it’s not just here, right? It’s not just here. We’re seeing this nationally—federally insignificant. The party that once people called the conscience of the House now is nothing more than an angry group of people fighting amongst themselves. It’s not about saying no, Speaker. It’s not about saying no. It’s about tearing down, isn’t it, colleagues? It’s about tearing down, right? When you build things up, the NDP want to tear it down. That’s what they do. They have no options.

When you make Parliament better, they all of a sudden want to tear it down. It’s not even about saying no anymore; it’s about tearing it down because that’s what they’re about. They’re not about policy. They’re not driven by ideology. They’re driven by this crazy belief that if you make things worse, it helps them. So when we talk about Parliament being better, they vote against every single motion. But then, colleagues, outside of the House, or back there, they say, “Oh, thank God you did that. It was terrible, you know? We didn’t like the way it was working before. It was terrible.”

As the long-term care minister, let me digress for a moment. They tell me, “Oh, you can’t build for-profit,” but then what do they do? They come across and say, “Can you approve this home in my riding?” And then, when we approve it, they go on TV and complain that it got approved, because it’s a for-profit home. It’s not about regulation; it’s about tearing down.

Hon. Monte McNaughton: Then they go to the ribbon-cutting.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Right? Yes, then they’re at the ribbon-cutting and they take credit for it. But I digress.

I want to briefly finish off, Mr. Speaker, by talking about the Speakers again. I can’t tell you how the presiding officers—excuse me. I’m very proud of the fact that the member for Flamborough–Glanbrook will be the Deputy Speaker if this motion is passed. I think she—and I know you will agree—is a very qualified, quality individual who has years of experience holding politicians accountable as a newscaster, years of experience serving in municipal politics.

I look at the member from Ottawa–Vanier, I believe it is: a Franco-Ontarian, served on Ottawa council, a strong, independent woman.

I look at the member for Ajax: served as a school trustee for about 10 years; has done so much work in her community; won a seat in this place; is fierce, tough and will do a remarkable job in that chair, Mr. Speaker.

I also look at the member for Parkdale–High Park, who I believe is one of the best MPPs in this place, Mr. Speaker—a very, very tough riding, works very, very hard and I think is a credit to all of us. It doesn’t matter that she’s the first Tibetan. It doesn’t matter who is the first of what who serves in that chair, Mr. Speaker. What matters is, can they do the job and can they elevate this place by the fact that they’re sitting in that chair? That is the ultimate responsibility of a holder of that chair: to make sure that we elevate this place. And what did we hear from the opposition?

0920

Mr. John Yakabuski: Condemnation.

Hon. Paul Calandra: We heard condemnation of these appointments. We heard the member for Oshawa suggest that they didn’t even know that their names were being put forward as Speakers, that they were being used, and that, as women, they shouldn’t be used. Forget the fact that that’s completely and absolutely wrong, that all of the members who were put forward in this motion had the opportunity to decline or accept well in advance, including the member for Ottawa–Vanier. Forget that that is wrong. We then heard speeches about how somehow a decision was made to stop people from being in the chair.

This is where it gets ugly, because this is what the NDP does: You can’t win an election, so you try to tear down the people who beat you, try to tear down the people of the province of Ontario. Well, at some point you have to say no—and you can’t on one hand say, “I’m just a farmer who doesn’t even know where the emergency button is,” and then get in this House and say the words that the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane said, say the things that they did in a press release, say the things that the member for Oshawa and the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s were saying to try to stop us from moving forward with this motion. You can’t have it both ways.

This is one of the most diverse caucuses, one of the strongest caucuses and one of the best governments in order to get things done for people, including this Parliament. And if the opposition thinks that silly games, that press releases and speeches that try to get people angry, calling people racist, is going to somehow make a change, they have not seen the new face of the Conservative Party of Ontario. And there’s not one of us who will back down from that challenge, least of all the extraordinary women being put forward in this motion today.

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

Ms. Peggy Sattler: It certainly has been an interesting start to the 43rd Parliament, I have to say. And I also have to say that it has been a very interesting experience for me to serve in the position of House leader for the official opposition in the previous government and continuing in this government. It has been an “interesting” experience, and I use that word carefully, because it puts me in a position of trying to work with a government House leader who has absolutely no interest in ensuring that the processes of democracy function as they are supposed to in this place. I remind—

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Point of order.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order: member for Barrie–Innisfil.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I just want reference the member—imputing motive as to what our House leader would or wouldn’t do.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I didn’t hear her impute motive.

The member for London West will continue.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you very much, Speaker.

Like many members in this place and, I expect, many of the new members, in particular—many of us were sworn in in July and brought family members and volunteers to this chamber to watch this very powerful and significant moment, as we swear in to serve our constituents in the betterment of the people of the province of Ontario.

I joined the group that had come to attend my swearing-in, the volunteers who had participated on my campaign, in a tour, the official tour, of this assembly. We came into this chamber, and the tour guide pointed to two carvings on each side of this chamber. There is the carving of the eagle that faces the official opposition. The eagle represents the official opposition’s duty to hold the government to account, to make sure that the decisions that are being made by the government are actually in the best interest of the people of Ontario.

The government side looks at the carving of the owl, and that is a constant reminder to the government to make decisions that are thoughtful, that are wise, that are informed, that take into account all of the diversity of this province, the needs of the people of this province, and make good on its responsibility to do the best for the people that we serve.

I want to quote from the throne speech that opened this Parliament, Speaker, the throne speech that sets out the agenda for this government that is supposed to set the tone for how we are going to proceed in the 43rd Parliament. In that throne speech, the Lieutenant Governor, reading from the speech, said, “Now is not the time for partisanship and ideology to trump the virtues of partnership and collaboration.” I thank the Lieutenant Governor for that comment. I thank the government for including that statement in the speech from the throne. I am saddened, however, that these are mere words, and that is shown by the actions of this government, this government House leader, in terms of the non-collaboration, the non-partnership that we have seen right from the very moment we came together in this place.

I was reading the Hansard of the debate that occurred on this motion on Thursday afternoon, and I do want to thank you, Speaker, for your very measured and thoughtful ruling on the point of order that was raised by my colleague the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane as the official opposition whip. You pointed out, you confirmed exactly what the point of order had raised, that “a review of the history of the appointment of presiding officers” in this place “reveals that from 1989 to 2018”—a period of 30 years—“the House has appointed members of recognized opposition parties to the maximum allowable number of presiding officer positions. Between 1989 and 2008, where the standing orders provided that up to two opposition members be appointed, the House appointed two. And from 2008 to 2018, when the standing orders provided for up to three opposition members to be appointed, the House appointed three.”

You also noted that this motion that is before us today “represents the first time that less than the maximum number of members from a recognized opposition party has been proposed to fill presiding officer roles, the first time that an independent member has been included in the motion and the first time that the Speaker has been asked to interpret this standing order.”

I don’t envy you or the position that you are in, Speaker, as you are faced with weighing 30 years of tradition, 30 years of productive conversations between the government and the recognized opposition parties on the appointment of presiding officers. I should also say, typically, those motions to appoint presiding officers, the motions to appoint committee members are worked out in advance, through the collaboration and partnership that the throne speech highlighted, the urgency of working in collaboration and in partnership. Through that process of discussion and collaboration and engagement, the wording of those motions is agreed upon in advance, and those motions typically pass by unanimous consent because there is no need to debate, because the government listens to the advice of the leaders of the recognized opposition parties on the appointment of presiding officers. The government includes the names that the recognized opposition parties put forward for the presiding officer positions, for the committee appointments, and the government puts those names in their motion. But what we have seen in the first week that we were back and in this motion that is now before us today is the government completely disregarding the input that was received.

0930

Now, I should not say “completely disregarding.” The official opposition put forward names of the three members of our caucus who were interested in serving as presiding officers, who would have been amazing presiding officers, Speaker. One of them you served with, the member from Oshawa, who always went above and beyond—to be fair, often to the consternation of people in our caucus when we were called out by the member from Oshawa as she served in that chair. She was an exemplary Acting Speaker or Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House. She was one of the names that was put forward, and her name does not appear in the motion that is before us today.

My colleague the member for—Jill Andrew.

Miss Monique Taylor: Toronto–St. Paul’s.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes. My colleague the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s was another name that was put forward.

I heard the government House leader suggest that somehow we were disparaging the members who have been named in this motion for appointment as presiding officers, and I want to say that nothing could be further from the truth.

I read the comments from the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s, and she recognizes that the member from Ajax—she congratulates her on being a hard-working member and acknowledges the historic moment that is before us with a Black woman stepping up to the position of Speaker. That is a signal to Black girls, as was discussed in the debate, a signal to Black people across this province, that they too can serve in the position of Speaker. Now, I do acknowledge the Honourable Alvin Curling, who had previously served in that position, but this is the first time that a Black woman will serve in that chair.

But it’s not about the member for Ajax. It’s not even about the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s. It’s about the process, the history, the need for working across the aisle, the need for partnership and collaboration so that we can make things better for the people of this province.

I read the feedback on the point of order that was provided by the government House leader and some of his comments as to why he decided to disregard the names that were put forward by the official opposition—the only recognized party in this place—why he decided to disregard those names both in the appointment of presiding officers and also in the appointment of committee members. He quoted some percentages, somehow making the claim that the appointments that are included in this motion are more representative of the people of this province. He said the NDP are presently at about 24% of the seats in the House, the government is about 67%, the Liberals at 7%, and he somehow claimed that he’s applying these proportions to the names that are in his motion.

But if the government House leader wants to throw out percentages, I also want to remind this government—as people across the province, in the aftermath of an election that saw an historic low voter turnout—that when only 41% of 43% of eligible voters in this province vote for this government, they are sitting in those seats with the support of 18% of Ontarians.

So 18% of Ontarians have entrusted this government with the responsibility to govern fairly and wisely and responsibly, and what do we see? We see a first-past-the-post system that translates that 18% support into a government that holds 70% of the seats in this Legislature and yields 100% of its power. That’s what this government has done with this motion before us on presiding officers, with the motion last week or two weeks ago on the committee appointments. They have arbitrarily and unilaterally decided to exercise the power that first-past-the-post has given them: the power that they have gained because 18% of Ontarians of voting age have put them into office. They are exercising that power to unilaterally decide who is going to serve on committee.

I do want to respond to some of the comments that were made by the government House leader about, for example, the member for Waterloo. This government House leader suggests that appointing the member for Waterloo to the finance committee is somehow this government looking out for the interests of that member. But I want to remind the government House leader that the member for Waterloo had previously served on the public accounts committee. Again, she had been an exemplary Chair of the public accounts committee. The public accounts committee is a perfect fit for her responsibility as finance critic and that is the committee that she expressed interest in serving on. That is the committee that we notified the government that that member wished to participate in. And in this government-knows-best approach of the Conservatives across the way, this government House leader decides that’s not good enough. This government doesn’t care where the member for Waterloo wants to best exercise her skills, her talents, her duty to hold the government to account and ensure that that appropriate oversight is there. This government decided they were going to remove her from the public accounts committee and instead put her on the finance committee. They did that because they can, because they have 100% of the power. They have the ability to disregard the names that had been provided by the official opposition on those appointments and to put in place whoever they want.

Speaker, that is not a process of collaboration and negotiation that these extraordinary times demand of us. The government House leader today in his comments also pointed to the fact that they have added members to committee. They have unilaterally decided that certain members of our caucus should be added to certain standing committees of this Legislature. Again, I ask the government House leader: Wouldn’t it have been a better process of partnership, a better process of collaboration, if the government had come and had said to the official opposition, “Look, we want to add members to these standing committees. Let us know which of your caucus members would like to serve in that role”? That would have been the appropriate way to deal with the addition of seats on those committees. But, no, that is not how this government operates. And we saw that.

We saw that in the 42nd Parliament with changes to the standing orders at a pace that we have not seen before. The government House leader changed the standing orders more times over that four-year period—actually, it was three years that he was in that role. But there were more changes to the standing orders in that three-year period than there were in the entire 15 years up to the election of this government. And each time those standing orders changed, it was to concentrate power more and more in the hands of the government. It was to limit the ability of the official opposition, limit the ability of all non-government members to be able to have any influence on the legislative agenda that this government is pushing through.

0940

Speaker, the government House leader is quite correct: We will not be supporting this motion. It has absolutely nothing to do with the names of the people who are listed in the motion; it has everything to do with respect for parliamentary tradition, with respect for the way that this place is supposed to function, the way that the government House leader is supposed to engage with the official opposition.

I heard the government House leader talk about the fact that nothing is secret when he meets with the official opposition. You will have read the story in the Toronto Star—all of us read that story—about the meeting that was held between me and the government House leader when he suggested that the official opposition caucus vote unanimously for the preferred candidate that he wanted to see in the chair of the Speaker or else we would not be able to get our recommended candidates for presiding officers and our recommended appointments for Vice-Chairs of committees. He suggested that somehow I was being dishonourable by going public with this threat. I don’t think that threats are a good way for this place to operate. I don’t think that that’s a good way for the government to move its agenda forward. But that is the approach that this government House leader has chosen to take, and we won’t support it.

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

Ms. Patrice Barnes: I just want to remind the people at home who are watching what the motion is about. The motion, if adopted, would appoint four members to the presiding officer roles of Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Committee of the Whole House, and First, Second and Third Deputy Chairs of the Committee of the Whole House. The appointment of these positions is governed by standing orders 5(a), 5(c) and 6, which read as follows:

“5(a) At the commencement of the first session of a Parliament, or from time to time as may be required, a member shall be appointed by the House to be Deputy Speaker and Chair of the Committee of the Whole House....

“(c) At the commencement of every Parliament, or from time to time as may be required, the House shall appoint three Deputy Chairs of the Committee of the Whole House, to be known respectively as the First, Second and Third Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House, any of whom shall, in order of precedence, whenever the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House is absent or otherwise unable to act, be entitled to exercise all the powers vested in the Chair of the Committee of the Whole House, including those powers as Deputy Speaker....”

I recognize that if I am to be named, I shall very quickly need to memorize the faces and ridings of every member of this House, if I am to be one of its presiding officers. I take for granted that my own riding of Ajax is a simple one to remember, but that is my riding. I’m looking forward to recognizing, both literally and procedurally, every person in this room, no matter how many hyphens their riding may have.

Each chair in this Legislature is occupied by a politician, with the obvious exception of the chairs occupied by the Clerks, officials and the staff that keep this place running. However, each chair is occupied for the people of Ontario. These are the people whose hopes and dreams for the future of our province are personified in their elected officials. It is a sacred trust that we hold for our constituents. As the member for Toronto–St. Paul’s put in her impassioned remarks last week, to serve this House is a calling. It is a vocation.

To quote a former Speaker of the House, the late Chris Stockwell, “We are partisan by nature, we come here with political agendas, but when it comes down to decent, fair-minded individuals, I don’t think the people could have elected ... better people.”

It is my firm belief, Speaker, that we are the best group of people to legislate in this province. That is why it is important that the business conducted in this House proceeds with decorum, order and cross-partisan participation. To ensure that these aims are met, the presiding officers of this Legislature are chosen pursuant to the standing orders.

As the Speaker fairly and thoughtfully ruled last Thursday, the government motion at issue is in accordance with the standing orders. The multi-partisan representation on the slate of the presiding officers of this House reflects the neutrality, impartiality and objectivity imputed to the role of Speaker and the other officers who occupy the chair in his absence.

I would like to take a moment to address remarks made by my colleague, the member from Toronto–St. Paul’s, during the debate on this motion on August 18. To the member from Toronto–St Paul’s: I thank you for expressing the reality that people of colour face in spaces like this Legislature. That reality holds true for people of any equity-seeking group, from Indigenous peoples to members of the LGBTQSA+ community. To be a member of such a group and to hold an adjudicative position, such as that of a Deputy Speaker or presiding officer, is a complex matter.

On one hand, as I stand here, proudly joined in this House by other Black members of the PC caucus as well as across the aisle, it is amazing to represent a community that looks like me. Places of decision-making should not feel unwelcome to the people whose lives are affected by those decisions. Being the first Black MPP for the highest per-capita Black population riding in Ontario is something that was too long in the making. On the other hand, being a Black person in an adjudicative capacity creates a certain amount of pressure in one’s mind. Similar to the experience of Black police officers, Black legislators face the pressure of being a representative of their race—which is highly politicized—while remaining impartial agents of the state.

Speaker, I agree with the member from Toronto–St. Paul’s in her assertion that Black people are not interchangeable. We each bring with us a unique set of life skills, life experiences and beliefs to this Legislature. Even in the PC caucus itself, our Black members do not constitute a political monolith. The member from Scarborough Centre, the member from Brampton Centre and I are fiercely independent advocates for our constituents and for our communities. That attitude holds true for every member in this House.

It holds true for the member from Flamborough–Glanbrook, who has been a recognizable face in her community for so many years. The reputation of her decorum and fairness she developed over her years in journalism, and subsequently as an elected member, will serve this House well.

It holds true for the independent member from Ottawa–Vanier. She brings impressive legal credentials and vast public sector service to this chamber. It reflects plurality of partisan affiliation in this Legislature. Hers is an important position in the Speaker’s throne.

It holds true especially for the member from Parkdale–High Park. As a member of Tibetan heritage, a scientist and a widely recognized elected official, she is ground-breaking on a number of levels.

I appreciate that the official opposition, in their opposition to the government motion at issue here, constrained their critique to procedural elements rather than the members involved. At the end of the day, we are here to do a good job for the people who elected us.

The government motion, which seeks to constitute the Deputy Speaker and the Chairs of the Committee of the Whole House, seeks to fairly represent the many views present here. It seeks to maintain proportionality between the elected members of different parties represented here today. The composition of the presiding officer slate is in accordance with standing order 6, and will provide robust, fair and non-partisan candidates.

Speaker, I respectfully disagree with the member from Toronto–St. Paul’s with regard to language suggesting Black legislators are being used as pawns in this House, as well as allusions to slavery. The member is correct in her assertion that there is no quota on Black members serving as presiding officers of this House. While I have not yet had the chance to work closely with the member, having only been elected, I know that she brings a wealth of experience and would also do justice to the role.

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As I listened to the member from Toronto–St Paul’s, I understood the hurt and the disappointment that came through in her words. This, for her, would have been an historical point in her service in the Legislature, and I empathize. Where my opinion diverges is at the suggestion of manipulation by members of my own caucus or the claim that she was stripped of this position by the government, as it was not yet hers to lose, or that I am less deserving.

I have been proud to lead anti-racism and empowering initiatives for Black and marginalized students for many years as a school board trustee; this is no secret. I’ve never been asked to leave my ethnicity or cultural identity at the door when joining the PC caucus. I have never been asked, whether explicitly or implicitly, to shy away from being Black or to fit into this government. I am proud to be a Black legislator, I am proud to represent the people of Ajax and I am proud to be part of a Parliament where a plurality of viewpoints is respected.

In my maiden speech to Parliament, I spoke about it being an unprecedented Parliament, one where more voices get a seat at the table—or in this case, in the chair. Speaker, the proposed slate of presiding officers reflects the government’s balanced approach to cross-partisanship in this Legislature. It is my hope and my fervent belief that all those who occupy that chair during this session will treat it with the respect and honour that it deserves. I appreciate the government’s point in not just looking at experience. We’ve heard that mentioned across the table. If that were the case, the previous members would not have been elected.

Thank you, Speaker, for the time.

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

Mr. Ric Bresee: I am so very honoured to stand in this House today to deliver my inaugural speech. And let me begin by congratulating you, Speaker, on your re-election. I know you will serve this Legislature well. I also wish to congratulate each of the members of this assembly. The voters have chosen you to serve. This is an awesome privilege, a tremendous honour and an incredible responsibility. I look forward to working with all of you.

As a new member in this House, I would like to express my thanks to the staff of the Ontario Legislature. From the first moment I arrived here at Queen’s Park, a little lost and not even sure where to park, the friendliness and professionalism has impressed me. I was amazed to find the security officer at the door recognized me, greeted me by name and made sure I found my way around. And I have found every member of the staff here to be absolute professionals. I must say through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Clerk, that he has built a fantastic team. They are all providing exemplary service to this Legislative Assembly, its members and the people of Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, as you noted when recognizing me, I stand in this place representing the amazing riding of Hastings–Lennox and Addington. At over 9,100 square kilometres, it is one of the largest electoral districts in southern Ontario. Driving from the north end starting at the edge of Algonquin Park in Hastings Highlands township down to the South Shore Road on Amherst Island in Loyalist township, it is more than a four-hour drive—and there aren’t many direct routes as you travel the rugged and picturesque Canadian Shield.

It is safe to say that Hastings–Lennox and Addington has some of the most beautiful countryside in Ontario. These are also the ancestral lands of the Haudenosaunee, Mississauga and Omámíwinini peoples. Since time immemorial, the Indigenous peoples have been and continue to be the stewards of the land. Notably, today, within this riding are the lands of the Tyendinaga Mohawk territory, and their First Nations Technical Institute, which teaches Indigenous students from across Canada. Indigenous-owned and governed, this post-secondary institution has 35 years of rich history and has produced more than 4,000 proud graduates.

HL and A, as we call it, is a beautiful space preserved for successive generations. But it also contains an abundance of amazing and vibrant communities. Our 18 municipalities and two counties harbour almost a countless number of towns, villages and hamlets. From Denbigh to Stirling, from Stella to Lake St. Peter, and in between, so many different communities, each with its own timeline, its own heartbeat, its own story.

I was recently honoured to be present at the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the town of Marmora as they unveiled a statue celebrating its history as one of the original mining towns in Canada. Deposits of iron ore were discovered, followed by deposits of gold, copper and silver, leading to the development of nearby settlements like Eldorado, Cordova Mines and Blairton.

We are an historic part of the country. In the village of Bath, in Loyalist township, is the Hawley House, built in 1785. Just three years shy of being the oldest building in the province, it is recognized as the longest continuously inhabited residential home in Ontario. That same year, 1785, mills were being built in nearby Napanee, which would then ship flour to the towns of Montreal and Toronto. There are many towns with histories dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when Ontario was still part of Upper Canada, and we are very proud of our historic contributions to building this nation.

So, yes, the region is both historic and industrious. Traditionally, the northern part of the riding has been heavily involved in mining and forestry, hunting and fishing, and all the related tourism that those activities bring. Further south, away from the granite of the Shield, we have a tremendous agricultural sector, from grains and orchards, to some of the best meat and dairy in the country. And beyond these sectors we have amazing cheese factories, and in more recent years, have become one of the best beer and winemaking regions in the world.

While Hastings–Lennox and Addington is home to traditional industries, it also has ties to modern transportation infrastructure, with large facilities for train assembly and testing, automotive tire production, and, most recently, I was pleased to stand with our Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade as he announced a new $1.5-billion manufacturing site for battery components for electric vehicles. HL and A is very much a part of the future of the automotive sector. Speaker, as beautiful, historic and industrious as our riding is, its greatest asset is its people. And it’s to those people today that I express my gratitude and my pledge to represent them in this venerable place to the very best of my ability.

I must make mention of the organizers and volunteers that worked with me through the election campaign. Their dedication and their efforts are an amazing testament to their belief in our democratic system. There are so many people involved in that for whom I have so much gratitude. I don’t wish to name some and miss others, so I will simply humbly say thank you to the entire team.

I will specify my appreciation for one of those volunteers: my predecessor, my mentor and my friend, Daryl Kramp. Daryl sat in this chamber during the last term of government, so many of you know him, and you know that he is, quite simply, legendary. He’s one of the few Canadians who have been elected to federal, provincial and municipal office. For decades, he was the guy that everybody knew, and everybody turned to, to get things done right; and alongside him for even longer, Carol Ann, the light of his life and a wonderful partner in all he has done. Daryl was well known for working collaboratively with all members across party lines to achieve the desired goals, and it was Daryl who showed me what it takes to be an effective and compassionate MPP. I will attempt to live up to that Kramp standard.

Speaker, I’d like to provide a little of my lived experience to describe what brought me to this House. Like many people, I grew up in a time when it was considered impolite to discuss politics, religion or money, but this was not the case in my childhood home. Our dinner table encouraged wide-ranging conversations about just about any topic, and, specifically, about the events and government activities of the day at all levels. It was through these conversations that I learned of taxation and unions and law enforcement and court systems, of economic development and health care, balancing rights and responsibilities and so many other topics. It certainly seemed to me that my father knew a lot about just about everything. It never dawned on me that many people would consider him uneducated because he never passed grade 10.

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On the other hand, my family household was a very strong patriarchy. We could discuss, but we could not oppose my father—at least not without risking a change to his temperament that would not be good for anyone. So in my childhood while I learned about government, I also yearned for an environment that would actually be open to debate, to hearing from all sides, exploring new ideas and, hopefully, coming to positive directions to move forward.

It was with this lens that I headed out into the world, and while I enjoyed and, at times, excelled in school, ultimately my own distractibility did not blend well with the structure of academia, so I did not do very well in school—at least not until many years later when I returned to achieve my post-secondary work.

In my teens, I ventured out to work. I spent much of the next decade working as a dishwasher, a cook, a telemarketer and in an array of different jobs that allowed me to support myself. I was, what we would call today, the working poor. In fact, for a brief period I was financially strapped enough that I was unable to pay my OHIP premium—for those who remember OHIP premiums. So I was without coverage under our universal health care system for about six months.

Of course, during that time, I managed to sprain my ankle. So what did I do? I wrapped it myself, I endured the pain and stayed off it for a week or so. I lost work, and I lost wages, but I understood that that loss was cheaper than going to the hospital would have been. These are choices we should not have to make, and I’m grateful that today in Ontario our government and our health minister have repeatedly affirmed our support of universal health care so that Ontarians don’t have to make such choices.

Speaker, that story is about a minor injury and a relatively young person, but I am about to tell this assembly a much tougher story, which demonstrates even more how truly grateful I am for our health care system.

In May 1995, I was joyously blessed with the birth of my second child, my beautiful daughter, Carly Jean Bresee. She was an incredible, healthy, happy child, and if you will allow a father’s loving bias, amazingly intelligent and incredibly beautiful. Carly grew up continuing to be happy and healthy, always doing her own thing. She excelled at school, she was very social and she was very active in her preferred physical activity, competitive dance.

But then in the fall of 2011, at age 16, Carly began experiencing exhaustion and lethargy. She very uncharacteristically missed school, so we thought she might have a cold or some similar ailment, but as it persisted, we took her to the doctor who ordered bloodwork. As an indicator of her great health up to that point, that was the first time since she was born that she had required bloodwork. She visited the lab on Monday and, on Tuesday, I received a phone call that I will never forget, and I certainly hope that no other parent receives such a phone call. The doctor called me directly, instructed me to take Carly to the emergency room immediately and informed me of her likely diagnosis: leukemia.

That was mid-November. Over the next few weeks and months, we learned a whole new vocabulary: ALL, neutrophils, cytotoxicity and more. We learned about the very high rates of success with certain treatments for childhood leukemia, but then the more refined test came back and we learned that this was a rarer form of cancer that would be harder to treat. After one particular treatment that had been very damaging to her and deemed not successful, I asked the oncologist what we would do next. Her answer horrified me. She said, “I don’t know.” By March, it was clear that chemotherapy and radiation would not work. The only viable option, the only hope, was a very risky one, a bone marrow transfer.

The first good news we received, and against the odds, her brother was a good match for a bone marrow transfer, so we could do the transfer treatment. We spent months here at SickKids. It was a very dark time.

During one of those dark and scary nights, I made the mistake of googling what it would cost to perform that procedure if I lived in the United States, without a universal health care system. It showed me that if I didn’t live here in Ontario, I would have been given a choice: pay $1.2 million or watch my daughter suffer and die.

Mr. Speaker, I’m not a wealthy man, and while I would have done anything to save my daughter’s life, there was no way on God’s green earth I could write a check for $1.2 million. That would not have been a choice, it would have been a death sentence. But we do live in Ontario and our health care system is amazing. And so the treatment went ahead and it was successful. Carly would live.

But, Mr. Speaker, I must finish the story. After her successful bone marrow transfer, supplied by her heroic brother, she did thrive. For the next five years she completed high school, she went off to the University of Waterloo and she studied medicinal chemistry. She wanted to do research to make better treatment drugs for anyone that had to go through what she went through. In time, she met and fell in love with a wonderful young man named Jon.

Unfortunately, at the end of her third year of university, the cancer came back, and this time it was untreatable. We lost my beautiful baby girl in September 2017. To the end, she was, and we still are, eternally grateful for the amazing care provided to her by the wonderful people at our hospitals. I miss her every day.

I want to assure this House and all the residents of my riding and across the province that I will always support and fight for universal health care. My residents have told me that they want a great health care system. They want a system that works. They want a system that they gain access to with their health card, not their credit card.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to my personal political engagement, I take you back in time a little bit to the fall of 2000. Connor and Carly were just five and seven years old. I found out that my local municipal government was going to change the format of one of our parks, change it to a manicured flower garden and community gardens—changed from the large open space, well grassed, and a place for children to play. I disagreed with that. I looked at the members of our council at the time, and realized that they were all long-time community supporters, mostly of the grandparent set, so I decided to run for a seat. It may not have been the nicest way to say it, but I started my first campaign for elected office saying that the current members had too much grey hair. I would learn to regret that choice of words. That was 22 years ago, and I was fortunate enough to be elected, and, yes, that park is still open as a play space for children.

As I started on council, I could discuss and debate many ideas, but too often I heard that we could not do this or that because the province won’t let us. So once again, I went looking for a place to express my views. For better than 20 years, I attended the AMO, the ROMA and the Good Roads conferences and signed up for all forms of committees and caucuses. I kept going back to my childhood belief that everyone wants to or should want to openly discuss new ideas, different approaches and even debate those ideas.

Now, seven elections later, I find myself here in this chamber, and honestly I am in awe and inspired by the people of all party stripes, whom I have admired. I am truly honoured to be here.

After all these years in office, I do understand that the people who vote for us expect us to speak our minds, but they also expect us to work civilly with our colleagues at the table, in the Legislature and in committee; to discuss, deliberate and debate the merits of the many ideas brought forward; and in the end, to try to get it right.

So Mr. Speaker, I pledge to speak my mind in this House, to bring to this place the comments and concerns of my constituents and to work co-operatively and collegially with all members of the assembly, regardless of the party, for the betterment of the province.

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I would like to extend that spirit of co-operation to all, to encourage inclusion for our residents, especially those who have been historically excluded. We need to recognize the contributions and the voices of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, the BIPOC communities, persons with disabilities and any other disenfranchised group. Collectively, we must strive to ensure that all people are heard. For too many years, too many of our citizens have been left out.

My lived experience is that of a white male settler. I know I have a privilege bias, and I must commit to listening to people with a different lived experience and to being an ally to them. I believe we are living in the best province in the best country in the world, but like every other jurisdiction, we have our challenges, our current and historic mistakes, issues to fix. We must be open to discussion, to debate. It’s what gives us the opportunity to grow and to change, to recognize the failures of the past and to improve upon it.

This is not to degrade the difficult and tremendous actions of those who came before us, but rather it is to stand on their shoulders, to rise above, because they built the foundation on which we stand. I look forward to working with all members of this assembly, and I’m confident that we are ready to get it done.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank my amazing family: my mother, Leslie; my stepmother, Barb; my children, Connor, John, Alice and Liam; my two grandchildren; and, most of all, my incredible and supportive wife, who is in the gallery today. It is because of their love and support that I can do this. They drive and motivate me. Through them and thanks to the voters of Hastings–Lennox and Addington, I have finally come to a place where we can have that open discussion and debate, and I am so looking forward to it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): Further debate?

Mr. Brian Saunderson: It’s an honour and a privilege to speak in this House for the first time today. I want to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-election, and I know you will serve this House very capably in your important role. I also want to congratulate all members on both sides of the aisle on their election success on June 2. It is said that the voters are always right, and from this side of the House I say the voters absolutely got it right on election day.

I particularly want to thank the hard-working voters of Simcoe–Grey for their overwhelming support. Simcoe–Grey has a long and proud history of being Progressive Conservative, and I want to acknowledge my predecessor, Jim Wilson, who represented the residents in this House with distinction for 32 years. Jim was a committed, determined and effective champion for our residents, and I can tell you that as I knocked on thousands of doors in the election, I heard time and time again how much Jim had represented our constituents. He has set the bar for effective representation in Simcoe–Grey very high. To the residents of Simcoe–Grey and to the residents of our province, I pledge to continue that tradition of committed and determined representation that Jim Wilson and, before him, George McCague and Wally Downer have established in this great riding.

Speaker, Simcoe–Grey has a population of over 152,000 and consists of seven municipalities: six in Simcoe county and one in Grey county. It stretches from Thornton in the south to Thornbury in the north, from Alliston in the west to Angus in the east. It is a growing, dynamic and diverse region that has incredible opportunities and is facing some significant challenges.

Geographically, Simcoe–Grey is blessed with an abundance of green space and natural features, as well as miles of shoreline along the southern shores of Georgian Bay. From the longest freshwater beach in the world and the UNESCO Georgian Bay Biosphere to the Niagara escarpment and the greenbelt, the low-lying hills and ridges of Canadian Shield bedrock support a rich mosaic of forests, wetlands and habitat with an incredible abundance of biodiversity.

Simcoe–Grey boasts a diverse and dynamic economy. There is a long-standing and robust farming sector in the south that goes back to the early 1800s and was one of the region’s original economic engines—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): The time for debate has expired.

Debate deemed adjourned.

Members’ Statements

Government’s agenda

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: I am grateful to stand in the Legislature today as the returning member for Niagara West. I wish to thank, once again, the voters of Niagara West for placing their trust in me to represent their concerns, priorities and values in the halls of Queen’s Park.

Throughout the campaign I listened very closely to the priorities of the people of Niagara West, and I want to ensure that those are the priorities I’m advocating for here.

Rebuilding the economy: Across Niagara West, job creators, families and workers spoke about the need to reduce taxes, invest in manufacturing and cut red tape for businesses in our communities to create good jobs in Niagara West.

Keeping Ontario open: Constituents I spoke with emphasized the need to build up our health care system, hire more nurses, invest in home care and therapeutics to support patients and their families, and keep Ontario open for good.

Keeping costs down: Across Niagara West, constituents spoke about looking forward to seeing measures such as cutting the gas tax, keeping licence plate sticker fees off their vehicles and scrapping road tolls to make life more affordable.

Building key infrastructure: From building our new hospital to new roads and bridges in Pelham and West Lincoln, to the construction of a GO station in Grimsby, new schools in Lincoln and a renovated community centre in Wainfleet, I heard about the need for continued investment in key infrastructure projects.

I look forward to continuing to work to ensure that the priorities, needs and values of the people of Niagara West are brought here. I’m thankful to work on their behalf for another four years.

Tenant protection

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s ruling that landlords cannot ban air conditioning, as access to cooling during extreme heat waves is a human rights issue. It has long been a health issue, and now it is finally recognized as a human right.

As the number of extreme heat waves increases, the right to accessible and safe housing must include air conditioning. Extreme heat makes life unbearable. It is extremely dangerous, especially for seniors and those living with disabilities. Despite empty words in 2020, the Ford government has failed to deliver air conditioning for seniors in long-term care. This government has failed seniors, time and again.

The commission grimly notes, “Extreme heat caused by climate change is killing people.”

In London, tenants like the folks at Huron Gardens have been organizing to protect their most vulnerable neighbours from extreme heat.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is now calling on this government to include air conditioning as a vital service like the provision of heat.

The Ontario NDP were well ahead of the curve, fighting to protect Ontarians from extreme heat. I look forward to supporting my colleague the MPP for University–Rosedale’s motion when she re-tables it. I encourage all members to vote in support of this motion.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): Thank you very much. The member from Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry.

Arts and cultural funding

Mr. Nolan Quinn: Thank you, Speaker. Congratulations on the election to your role.

As this is my first time humbly rising in the chamber, I’d like to thank the residents of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry for having faith in myself representing our riding and needs.

Most who know me know I am a passionate and committed advocate for mental health, both for youth and adults alike. I’d like to thank the Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, for announcing with me last week six new safe beds in my riding for people in crisis to heal and recover in a safe environment.

As we all know, fairs and events are back and thriving in our ridings. These events help with our own and our neighbours’ mental health, to be able to socialize and gather as a community. Whether it’s Canada’s oldest fair—at 211 years—the Williamstown Fair, the Avonmore Fair or the South Mountain Fair, it takes an army of dedicated volunteers to organize these important events.

Thank you to all who help bring back this sense of normalcy in our lives. My riding, as well as many others, was successful in receiving funds from the Reconnect Festival and Event Program from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to restart these important events in our communities, both economically and for the mental health of those we serve.

Employment standards

Miss Monique Taylor: I’ve been hearing from health care professionals in my riding of Hamilton Mountain about the devastation happening to our local hospitals. A local nurse reached out to my office to share her concerns. Her message, sadly, was not surprising. She told me that our health care system is falling apart before our very eyes. Our province has abandoned all health care workers. They are constantly short-staffed, working long hours with a high patient-to-staff ratio. Patient care is being put at risk due to this government’s lack of respect, and underfunding of our health care system. She asked me to call on this government to repeal Bill 124 to ensure health care workers are paid accordingly. Health care workers should be allowed to negotiate fair wages for their work, but Bill 124 is keeping them from doing that.

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I’m calling on the Premier and his government to immediately repeal Bill 124. Health care workers have been the backbone of this pandemic. They have put themselves, their own safety, the health of their families all at risk. They deserve fair compensation for their work. The Premier needs to do the right thing and repeal Bill 124 immediately.

Riding of Cambridge

Mr. Brian Riddell: I’d like to congratulate everybody on their re-election, including the Speaker of the House.

The riding of Cambridge consists of two unique communities that I represent: the city of Cambridge and the township of North Dumfries. As one of the fastest-growing areas in Ontario, the city of Cambridge is located along the 401 and is part of Waterloo region. It’s a place with vitality, innovation and quality of life. The city of Cambridge is only minutes to the regional airport in Waterloo and only 50 minutes to Toronto Pearson, depending on traffic.

The city of Cambridge was incorporated in 1973 when the three municipalities of Galt, Preston and Hespeler and the settlement of Blair were amalgamated into a single legal entity under a new name—a new name that was not really that new because Preston used to be called Cambridge Mills. Each of these communities possess a long and proud history. A healthy sense of rivalry has always governed relations among the three communities. Even today, our residents will tell the outside world they live in Cambridge and call that home, but they identify themselves from the area that they came from: Galt, Preston and Hespeler.

While the original communities had come together well in the years since amalgamation, they began life apart. As a result, Cambridge is blessed with not one historical downtown, but three, and we’re preserving this for future generations. Cambridge is well poised to continue to flourish into a prosperous city and one of the best places to live in Ontario. The region of Waterloo is one of Ontario’s fastest-growing and economically prosperous areas.

Now, welcome to the picturesque township of North Dumfries: North Dumfries is mainly an agricultural community. Its quaint location, proximity to large economic centres along the 401, as well as accessibility to the Canadian Pacific’s main rail line make the township of North Dumfries the ideal place to live, work and play—

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

Township of Armstrong sewage lagoon

Mr. John Vanthof: I would like to update the House on a potential environmental issue that’s happening right now in the township of Armstrong in Timiskaming district. Last year, a sewage lagoon for raw human sewage was approved on a former dairy farm, in the former dairy lagoon. A company from Quebec is importing that sewage. Why the neighbours found out? When the trucks started coming.

Part of the process is consultation. Many of the neighbours were not consulted at all. Had they been consulted, the ministry would have known that there was a well on the property because it was a former dairy farm. When we asked the ministry if they had looked for that well and if the consultant had looked for that well, the response was that there was no well on that property. We are still waiting for answers from the ministry, because the ministry also said it wasn’t a former dairy lagoon. Yet in the plans of the site, the lagoon was enlarged. Also, there is no actual proof that the piping that came from the barn to the lagoon was ever removed.

We are quickly losing faith, not in the consultants but in the ministry to actually protect the health and welfare of people in northern Ontario. And if they can’t do it on little projects, God knows what they’re going to do on big projects. We need their help right now to assure people that things are going to be safe.

Grand Rapids Cup

Mr. Ross Romano: Yesterday, I coached my nine-year-old son’s soccer team, the Soo City Junior United, in the finals of the Grand Rapids Cup, where we were trailing 3-0 at halftime against the BC Fire of Saginaw.

After my best Vince Lombardi impression at halftime, our boys took to the field and within minutes had managed to score our first goal, bringing the game to within two. A new-found sense of resilience, they overtook us even after Saginaw responded with a goal of their own to restore their three-goal lead. Over the next 30 minutes, we played a full court press like you’ve never seen before. We scored four straight goals and took the lead 5-4 and, then, with just over a minute left to play, on Saginaw’s first shot in what seemed like an eternity, they scored and once again the game was tied.

Teams started prepping for penalty shots. I heard the referee’s alarm go off, and as he checked his watch and brought the whistle to his mouth in what seemed like the most harmless of plays, one of my boys kicked the balls out for a corner kick. The ref decided to let them take that corner kick even though time had expired—and you can probably guess what happened? A weird bounce and the ball was in the net. The ref blew the whistle, the game was over. We lost 6-5. We were all in disbelief. Our boys played their hearts out. They gave it their all but came short.

My favourite part of coaching kids is that there are so many life lessons that come out of it. This past weekend’s lesson is that sometimes in life, regardless of how hard you work, you just fall short, and that’s okay because you truly cannot win them all and nothing is perfect.

But as Lombardi himself said, “Chase perfection ... catch excellence.” My boys were excellent this weekend, and I’m beaming with pride because of it.

Gun violence

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: It’s always an honour to rise on behalf of my constituency in Scarborough–Guildwood, yet today my heart hurts. Gun violence is a public health issue that leaves long-term impacts on our communities. It touches all of us.

As provincial leaders, this is our problem and we must do more to break cycles of violence and help communities to heal. We know that exposure to gun violence has mental and physical health impacts that extend far beyond the victims. We know gun violence traumatizes people and leaves a trail of sorrow in its wake, and we know without access to long-term supports, it leads to generational trauma.

This past April, I was deeply concerned and saddened by a drive-by shooting that took place in Scarborough. After midnight prayers, a group was heading back to their vehicles when shots rang out and five young men were struck by bullets in a brazen attack. Fortunately, no lives were lost. However, I know from speaking with the victims and their families that the aftermath of this random act of violence still affects them and our community today.

It’s a problem that Bill 9, the Safe and Healthy Communities Act, would bridge. By declaring gun violence a public health issue, my private member’s bill would allow for trauma-informed counselling and supports for survivors. Speaker, I urge all members of this House, on September 7, to make the change that we so desperately need by supporting Bill 9.

Government’s agenda

Mr. Sheref Sabawy: Mr. Speaker, this is my first time rising in the 43rd sitting of the Ontario Parliament. I want to congratulate you on your re-election and also congratulate each and every MPP on their election or re-election.

I want to start by thanking the constituents of Mississauga–Erin Mills for renewing their trust in me. It is my honour to represent the people of Mississauga–Erin Mills, and I will take this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment, since day one, to be their voice in this respected Legislature and deliver their opinions and concerns.

The people of Ontario have spoken: Under the leadership of Premier Ford, people believe in our side of the House. They see that we are the only ones who can get it done for families, for putting more money into people’s pockets. We are the only side that says yes to building homes, yes to reducing fees, yes to reducing taxes, yes to building highways, and yes to creating a sustainable and efficient health care system that serves all the people of this great province.

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Mr. Speaker, it’s very important that the federal government raise their health care spending share to Ontario to 35% of the funding. It has been agreed over the years that just provincial funding is not enough to deliver the sustainable health care that Ontarians deserve.

We are challenging the status quo and building the province after so many years of neglect, and re-boosting our economy in the recovery from the pandemic. The people of Ontario can depend on this side of the House to always do the right thing.

Riding of Simcoe–Grey

Mr. Brian Saunderson: Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to finish what I start this time.

I rise to speak as the member for Simcoe–Grey. It’s a great honour to be here today as part of a House that is prepared to get things done and to improve lives for the residents of our province.

As the member for Simcoe–Grey, I want to speak briefly about my riding. With a population of over 152,000, it consists of seven municipalities, six in Simcoe–Grey and one in Grey county. I want to highlight this morning the ways in which those municipalities are working together collaboratively to serve their residents effectively and efficiently, something that this government has been working hard with our residents and lower-tier governments to make happen. We know that there is only one taxpayer, and I want to congratulate each of these municipalities for their initiative and their leadership.

On Friday, my colleague from Bruce–Grey–Owen Sound, MPP Byers, and I attended a meeting with the mayors and CAOs of Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Clearview, Town of the Blue Mountains and Meaford to discuss their work regionally to address issues relating to transportation and housing—issues that are very compelling and pressing for all of our residents.

Last week, both the councils of Collingwood and New Tecumseth approved the renewal of the water supply agreement that will continue and expand the supply of safe and abundant drinking water from Georgian Bay to the residents of New Tecumseth.

Speaker, these are just two examples of how my municipalities are working very hard collaboratively to provide effective and efficient governance for their residents.

Introduction of Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I am advised that constituents from Wellington–Halton Hills are here with us today: Wolfgang Stichnothe, as well as his grandsons Samuel Rogers and Jacob Rogers. Welcome to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Ms. Chandra Pasma: I would like to introduce my family, who is joining us in the members’ gallery today: my husband, Matt; my daughters, Mira and Clara; and my son, Luc. I hope members will join me in warmly welcoming them to their first question period at Queen’s Park.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I would like to introduce some visitors from the riding of Barrie–Innisfil: Moji Ahmadi and Hamid Ghaneian, the parents of our page Pania Ghaneian. Welcome.

Ms. Marit Stiles: I’m very pleased to welcome to the Legislature today and introduce my parents, Kathy and Geoff Stiles, from the great riding of Ottawa–Vanier. Thanks for coming.

Mr. Anthony Leardi: From the beautiful riding of Essex, I’d like to welcome my son, Andrew Leardi.

Hon. Todd Smith: I do have a number of people I’d like to welcome to the Legislature today: Mark Abbott, Doug Bagley, David Kroft, Daniel Cozzi, Katelyn Lockridge, Josh Clayton, Matthew Peck, Caitlyn Frost, Melonie Williams, Brayden Bagley, Kendall Garry, Lee Murdoch, Rick Koczka, Andreea Nicoara, Andrew Bull, Kelly Sander, Curtis Lockridge, Bart Adams, Mudasar Nawaz and Jess Maga. All of these people are Hydro One employees. They worked extremely hard throughout the spring and summer—when we’ve had violent storms that have made their way through the province—in restoring our power, our reliable supply of electricity.

I’d like to welcome them all to the Legislature here today and give them a big thanks, big gratitude, for their work.

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

Mme France Gélinas: Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to move a motion to allow an emergency debate on the health care crisis this afternoon during orders of the day.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Madame Gélinas is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to move a motion to allow an emergency debate on the health care crisis this afternoon during orders of the day. Agreed? I heard a no.

Question Period

Health care funding

Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question for the Premier: According to Dr. Michael Warner, the OR at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto dropped to using just two out of 10 operating rooms at 4 p.m. That’s eight operating rooms sitting empty for more than 12 hours per day.

Why is the government choosing to send surgeons, nurses and funding to private, for-profit clinics while operating rooms in our hospitals sit idle?

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

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Thank you to the member opposite for giving me an opportunity to highlight the announcement that we made with the Minister of Long-Term Care on Thursday. It’s a plan to stay open, health care stability and resistance: a five-point plan that talks about not only health care human resources but giving hospitals the additional investments that they need to make sure that when there are operating suites available we are funding them additionally.

We are doing programs that allow our paramedics to go into community and serve people in community. In my own community, on the weekend, I was approached by someone who said they had been using the community paramedicine program for years, and they love it. It is exactly what they need to be able to stay safely at home.

The five-point plan covers a number of areas that we know we can focus better on and ensure that we have the health care services we need, where we need them.

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

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Again to the Premier: In December 2021, Ontario’s Auditor General reported that ORs sit unused far more than they should. A full third of hospitals in Ontario didn’t even hit the target for operating room use. The same goes for CT and MRIs. CT scanners are used at 37%, while MRI machines are used at 56% of system capacity. St. Joe’s and SickKids in Toronto, Lakeridge Health hospitals in Oshawa and Ajax, and North Bay Regional Health Centre all shut down their CT and MRI machines by 4 p.m.

Why is this government refusing to use the operating room, CT and MRI capacity we already have?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Speaker, as I mentioned, we’ve already invested $300 million as part of our province’s surgical recovery strategy.

I only point to the Ontario Hospital Association’s comments after the Thursday announcement: The OHA “supports the strategy announced today by the government of Ontario for the fall and winter 2022-23 as it will help maintain access to health services during what is expected to be a challenging period. It is essential that all partners continue to work closely together with a ‘Team Ontario’ approach to overcome the complex, underlying issues facing the health care system. Hospitals are here to serve the people of Ontario and will continue to do everything possible to meet their health service needs.”

We will continue those partnerships.

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

Mr. Peter Tabuns: Moving surgeries and procedures to private, for-profit clinics will send surgeons, nurses, technicians and other health care workers out of our hospitals. Why is the Premier robbing from the underused public system to send health care workers and funds to private, for-profit clinics?

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Hon. Sylvia Jones: I will remind the member opposite and all parliamentarians here that we have actually added 400 physician residents to support the workforce in northern and rural Ontario. We’re launching a new provincial emergency department peer-to-peer program to provide additional, on-demand, real-time support and coaching from experienced emergency physicians and—

Interjections.

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

Minister of Health can continue.

Hon. Sylvia Jones: Thank you, Speaker. And from the Ontario Medical Association: They support the initiatives announced today by the government:

“Strengthening collaboration with government, doctors and other health care stakeholders is critical to resolving the unprecedented pressures on Ontario’s health-care system.

“‘No one group can do this alone, we must work together.’”

Long-term care

Mr. Wayne Gates: My question is to the Premier. Last week, we got to see the Conservatives’ long-term-care plan. Cruel doesn’t even begin to describe it. Hospital discharge planners have always been allowed to have conversations with patients. However, the new regulations give them power to assess a patient without consent, to send their personal information to a private care home without their consent, to discharge them from the hospital and admit them into a long-term-care facility without their consent.

Informed consent is a cornerstone of modern medicine and health care. My question is clear: How on earth did the Premier come up with this cruel scheme instead of just properly resourcing our long-term-care system?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply on behalf of the government, the Minister of Long-Term Care.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Well, the honourable gentleman is actually incorrect. Perhaps he didn’t have a chance to take a look at the bill, because had he looked at the bill, he would have seen, right in the explanatory note, that in fact consent will still be required. If he went a little bit further into the bill, subsection 60.1(7), he would see, again, that consent is still required.

What we’re doing, actually, is working with our acute care partners to finally be able to be in a position to address the challenges that have faced acute care for a very, very long time in this province. Long-term care is in a position to be part of that solution, and it’s in that position, ultimately, because of the investments that this government has made since coming to office in 2018.

So, again, the honourable gentleman is wrong. I’d be more than happy to send a copy of the bill over to him so that he can take a look at it for himself.

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

Mr. Wayne Gates: I certainly do appreciate the minister sending over the bill to me, but I just happen to have a copy in front of me. “This new provision authorizes certain actions to be carried out without the consent of these patients.” It’s right in the bill. So maybe I’ll give it to the Clerk and maybe they can send it over to you.

Speaker, this bill seeks to send seniors out of their communities to homes with open beds. Do you know which homes are most likely to have open beds? They are private, for-profit long-term-care homes with terrible records of abuse and no air conditioning in their rooms—we have 79 care homes that have no air conditioning as of this weekend—the same private care homes with PC insiders on their boards.

How can this government even pretend to care about seniors when they are literally proposing to rip them from their families? Will the Premier accept responsibility when seniors deteriorate under this scheme and get abused like they have been for a couple of years now in these facilities?

Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman is wrong. I’ll quote directly from the bill: transfers of “an ALC patient to a long-term-care home without the consent of the ALC patient or their substitute decision-maker” will not be allowed. So it is very clear that that will not be allowed.

But the member’s tune has changed a little bit since Thursday, right? Because Thursday, colleagues, he was saying that people would be forcibly removed from hospital against their will, without their consent. He said that they would be moved into ward rooms across the province and hundreds of miles away from their family and friends.

Because of the investments that we have made in long-term care, that is not going to happen, and the member knows this. He knows that we will not move people without their consent. But it allows us to have a conversation. What homes might be available to a patient in a hospital who has been discharged in and around their homes of choice while they wait for their home of choice to become available? I think that’s responsible. It is part of the solution to the acute care challenge that we faced for decades, and I’m happy that long-term care can play a role.

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

Mr. Wayne Gates: Let’s be clear: Conversation is not consent.

Speaker, 5,000 seniors have died in long-term-care homes over the last couple of years, and 40 of them died last week—parents, grandparents, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law. Under this government’s watch, we have seniors waiting in hospital because there are no long-term-care beds in their own communities. We have seniors roasting in long-term-care homes that are over 40 degrees because there’s no air conditioning in their rooms. Now the government’s own legislation says seniors will be sent to homes outside their community without consent.

When will this government admit they completely failed on this file and left seniors behind? Taking care of seniors shouldn’t be a part-time job. When will the Premier appoint a full-time Minister of Long-Term Care? Seniors deserve no less.

Hon. Paul Calandra: Speaker, I think it’s not dangerous that the honourable gentleman is wrong, because I can only assume that he hasn’t read the bill and he’s not up to speed. But what is dangerous is to be out there communicating things that just simply are not part of the legislation. Nobody will be discharged from a hospital and moved into a long-term-care home without their consent. It’s in the explanatory note, and it’s actually in the legislation itself. There is nobody roasting in long-term-care homes at 40 degrees. The Fixing Long-Term Care Act, which he voted against, ensures that that does not happen. In fact, almost 89% of our homes have air conditioning in each and every room, and 100% of our long-term-care homes are air-conditioned. That is the reality.

Here is the thing: Long-term care—we can be part of the solution. It has been decades that long-term care has placed a challenge on the health care system, but because of the investments that we have made, that they have voted against, we can be part of the solution, and we will be.

Education funding

Ms. Marit Stiles: This question is for the Minister of Education. Speaker, unfortunately, our public health care system isn’t the only sector that is being targeted for privatization by this government. Two weeks ago, the finance minister announced a new scheme that would give payouts to parents for tutoring outside of school. It’s a plan that sucks $225 million out of our public schools, far surpassing whatever this government is contributing to in-school supports for kids and giving them what I can only guess is about 50 bucks per family for tutoring services outside of school.

Speaker, through you, to the Minister of Education: How does taking money away from our in-school supports and public education, and forcing families to find help for their kids at 50 bucks a year, actually help our struggling students?

Hon. Stephen Lecce: Mr. Speaker, we reject the premise that it’s an either/or proposition. This Progressive Conservative government is going to give support to parents while increasing investments in public education. We can do both in this province, and we owe it to parents to do both. It’s so critical at a time of rising national inflation, the cost-of-living challenge—I find it a bit bizarre for New Democrats and Liberals to oppose measures even if they incrementally provide $50, $100, $200, $400, as we’ve done in the past year over the pandemic. That makes a difference, and parents in this province want more of it, not less. We’re going to increase investments for public education, as announced by the Minister of Finance, by 615 million more dollars for this September—a learning recovery plan that leads the nation with $175 million in tutoring supports for the publicly funded schools the member opposite rightfully speaks about.

We agree it is important these kids get back on track, and the most important thing we can do, in addition to the dollars, is to have a resolute commitment to keep the kids in class, and our government will deliver that for the kids of this province.

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

Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, it’s clear this is really about sucking funds out of publicly funded education and subsidizing private tutoring. At $50 a family a year, what does that actually achieve? If anybody was watching the Jays game last week, you probably saw the slick new taxpayer-funded ads for the government’s so-called Plan to Catch Up, and let’s be clear that most of that is a recap of funding that was announced last year and this new $50 tutoring support. The only problem is, we don’t even know who, how, when, or who’s going to get those support cheques, because the government hasn’t even released any details of it. So, not only are they prioritizing these one-off cheques over real investment in our kids’ schools, but they’re spending massively to convince parents that they’re doing more than they are.

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How much is the government spending on this massive advertising program to promote a plan that doesn’t even exist yet?

Hon. Stephen Lecce: It’s not lost on families watching that when the details were unveiled for the $200 investment we provide to every child—or the $400, when we doubled it—the New Democrats opposed it then, just like they will do now. They have stood up against the incremental savings our government has been able to provide for families.

Ideologically, it is consistent. After all, in the child care deal we’re now saving, on average, $4,000 this year and $12,000 by next year.

The New Democrats wanted us to omit for-profit child care because they don’t believe in choice, they don’t believe in respecting parents and they don’t believe in delivering affordability for the taxpayers of this province.

Our government and our Premier have a mandate to do that, to work with our publicly funded school boards to improve education quality, to invest more and to expect more. That’s exactly what we’re going to do by investing in a landmark tutoring expansion plan and a 420% increase in mental health. All of this is going to make a difference as we get kids in normal, stable, more enjoyable schools this September.

Long-term care

Mr. Lorne Coe: My question is to the Minister of Long-Term Care. Last Thursday, the minister introduced legislation in this House that critics have suggested will see seniors discharged from hospitals and moved into long-term-care homes in communities far from their family and friends, and against their will.

We all know how difficult it was during the initial waves of COVID-19 when family could not visit or participate in caring for their loved one in a long-term-care home.

Is the minister doing this, as critics have suggested, and ignoring the lessons of the pandemic and forcing seniors to live alone, isolated from family?

Hon. Paul Calandra: I would like to thank the member for Whitby for the question and the obvious passion which he brings to the file. I can assure the member that, of course, no such action will be taken. Consent will still be required.

Ultimately, we do understand how important it is that loved ones—family, friends, spouses, partners—are close to their loved ones in long-term care, not only because they provide assistance with day-to-day activities but because of the emotional support that comes with having a loved one nearby.

But it also reflects that the best care for somebody who has been discharged from a hospital is not in a hospital. It is in a long-term-care home. As the parliamentary assistant said, we want to turn people from patients into residents. We have the ability to do so. I’m very proud of the fact that long-term care can be part of the solution.

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

Mr. Lorne Coe: Back to the Minister of Long-Term Care: I appreciate the answer. However, regulation will be used to implement the legislation and will identify the parameters around movement into a home.

Very specifically, who will the minister be consulting in advance of establishing a regulation? How long will Ontario families wait before the minister delivers the regulations implementing the legislation?

Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, I thank the honourable member for the very important question. My parliamentary assistant, Mr. Jordan, has already begun undertaking consultations. We’ll be working with residents’ councils, family clinicians, hospitals and residents to ensure that the regulations, in fact, keep residents as close to their homes of choice as possible, and close to their family, friends and spouses.

Specific to the question, assuming that this Legislature passes this bill, we will quickly present regulations no later than one week following the passage of the bill.

Explosions in Chatham-Kent–Leamington

Mr. Jeff Burch: Speaker, through you to the Premier: One year ago this week, downtown Wheatley exploded, likely as a result of an old abandoned gas well that had leaked.

According to the Globe and Mail, months after the explosion the Chatham-Kent fire chief warned the provincial government of gas leaks and repeatedly begged for help, but the province evidently decided this was the municipality’s problem, not the province’s. There are an estimated 15,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in rural southwestern Ontario. Experts say another Wheatley is just a matter of time.

Will the provincial government take action to prevent another explosion, or will the Premier abandon rural communities to deal with this danger on their own?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: Again, thank you for the question. First and foremost, let me just thank the new member from Chatham-Kent for the work he’s been doing on this file. It is something that he addressed immediately after his swearing-in. At the same time, significant resources have been put in place to ensure that we identify and cap wells.

Frankly, we are working with our partners at all levels—municipal and the federal government—to not only identify these wells but to cap them. As I said, funding has been put in place to ensure that happens. At the same time, through the good work of the member for Chatham-Kent and, of course, the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, local businesses that were impacted by that are being supported.

More work needs to be done, but we’re well on our way to ensuring all communities are safe.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary: the member for Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas.

Ms. Sandy Shaw: To the Premier: The explosion in Wheatley flattened the downtown core and many people were hospitalized. About a year before the Wheatley explosion, there was another explosion just 10 kilometres away near Leamington. That explosion took the lives of a retired couple. Experts believe that a leaky oil and gas well may have been the cause of that explosion as well. People have died, and yet when Chatham-Kent detected a gas leak in downtown Wheatley and begged the province for help, the province dithered.

Past provincial governments have allowed oil and gas companies to walk away from their responsibilities when they abandon these wells. When will your government take action to prevent another deadly explosion like we are seeing in the province of Ontario?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Steve Clark: The government is keenly aware of the problem with the homeowners and tenants in Wheatley. Obviously, we were on the ground very early, both the Premier and Minister Rickford. On March 4, 2022, the province extended the Wheatley Residents Assistance Program to the end of the year. Wheatley residents who have not been able to return home can receive assistance costs until December 31, 2022.

So far, the honourable member should know that we’ve paid over $823,000 to help evacuated households, and additional payments are being made on an ongoing basis.

Long-term care

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: In an answer to one of my colleagues earlier in question period, the Minister of Long-Term Care confirmed that no patient in hospital will be discharged into a long-term-care home against their will, and that he understands the importance of keeping someone in long-term care close to family and friends. However, the opposition are suggesting that as part of the solution to the decades-long challenges in acute care, seniors are being forced back into four-bed ward rooms. These ward rooms were singled out by the long-term-care commission as being a serious part of the problem in the initial waves of COVID-19.

Can the minister confirm if he is considering this as part of the solution, and if so, what evidence does he have that they are now safer?

Hon. Paul Calandra: I thank the member for the question. Of course, the member served as parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Long-Term Care predating me and did a tremendous amount of work which has brought us to the position where we can actually participate in long-term care. So I thank her for that work and the passion she brings.

But very specific to her question, despite what the opposition critic is tweeting out and press releases, four-bedroom ward rooms will not be used as part of this solution.

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

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: Thank you, Minister. My follow-up to the minister is about the resources that will be available to residents who are moving into a long-term-care home following discharge from a hospital. Often patients coming from hospital require some additional assistance that is not always available in a home. For example, patients requiring dialysis must move back and forth from home to hospital for their treatment. Residents with dementia would also need special services and care.

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The minister has stated that long-term care is able to be part of the solution. Can the minister explain what additional resources are provided to improve residents’ quality of care?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: Thank you again to the member. I understand why she’s asking this question, because it is something that she worked on for four years as the parliamentary assistant on the strategic long-term-care advisory table.

What we are doing is adding $37 million in additional resources right now, and over $60 million ongoing. What this will do is look at homes and retrofit them. It’s a community partnership that we’re doing. So a patient discharged from hospital who needs dialysis: We will make sure that the home where they may go to actually has dialysis available. But we’re doing a bit more than that, too. We’re partnering up with Baycrest, which offers leading-edge behavioural services. We’re doing that, and we’re providing additional supports for behavioural services in Ontario to deal with or to assist in those instances where patients leaving hospital with dementia are in a home and require additional resources in order to deal with it.

It is really, in all honesty, thanks to the hard work of the member for Oakville North–Burlington and, of course, my predecessor the minister who undertook a lot of this work in advance of me even getting there.

Northern Health Travel Grant

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: Ma question est pour le Premier Ministre. The Northern Health Travel Grant has not been revised in years. With the rate of inflation this program does not even cover the cost of gas, let alone a hotel room to travel, for residents in northern Ontario. Patients are left paying out of pocket for their expenses or racking up credit card bills. Sadly, some people must cancel their appointments because they simply cannot afford it. What is this government going to do to help offset the costs of important medical travel and ease the financial burden for residents of northern Ontario?

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

Hon. Sylvia Jones: You know, we recognize that the residents in northern Ontario face some unique challenges because of the distances between accessing health care, particularly specialty services. The Northern Health Travel Grant is continuously upgrading quality improvement opportunities. In fact, in the 2021-22 allocation, it was $48.2 million. And most importantly for me, 96.2% of those applications were approved.

We have done things like making sure that people who have to use the northern Ontario health travel grant have the opportunity, if they so choose, to be able to have direct deposit. So if you are using the service on a regular basis, you have the ability to receive that payment back sooner as opposed to waiting for a cheque. It is an optional program, but I think it speaks to how we always want to see where there are opportunities for improvement, and we will act as a government.

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

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: Encore, le Premier Ministre: The reimbursement rate is 41 cents per kilometre and has been for many years, with the price of gas sitting around $1.90 to $2 per litre. The hotel industry has seen an increased rate of up to 30%; it’s not uncommon to pay $150 per night. The travel grant covers $100 for two nights. Meals are never included in the grant.

These medical appointments are booked because they’re necessary. How are seniors and low-income patients supposed to cover these costs? Will the government stop dragging their feet and implement a new, revised reimbursement formula for this program?

Hon. Sylvia Jones: As I mentioned in my previous answer, of course we understand the unique challenges that northern and rural residents in Ontario experience, which is frankly why we have ensured that there are now 400 new additional health care providers working in northern and rural Ontario. We’ll continue to work with our partners to improve any programs that we have in place. Those programs, such as matching an emergency room doc with a peer mentor that may have access to different skill sets—and using that to make sure that we leverage so that people in northern Ontario and across Ontario have equitable access to health care in the province of Ontario.

Disaster relief

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

Mr. Stephen Blais: Climate change is wreaking havoc around the globe: fires, windstorms, floods all happening with a ferocity and a frequency that we haven’t seen before. Ottawa has seen two floods and three major windstorms in the last five years. That’s once-in-a-generation storms happening every single year, Mr. Speaker. But Ontario has failed to invest in infrastructure adaptation or the modernization of disaster relief programs to address the new reality.

In May, the derecho, with winds up to 190 kilometres an hour, swept across the city. There were 180,000 residents without power, some for days, many for weeks. Residents were isolated at the upper levels of apartment buildings without fresh water. The emergency response to the storm has cost the city and Hydro Ottawa up to $50 million. Three months later, despite promises from the Premier, there has still been no provincial support to the city or Hydro Ottawa.

When will the government step up, fulfill its commitments to the residents of Ottawa and compensate the city and Hydro Ottawa for the cost of this storm?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I apologize to the member. His riding, of course, is Orléans.

The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Hon. David Piccini: I thank the member opposite for his question and was pleased to join him with members of Ottawa city council to discuss climate change and the commitments that this government is taking to address and improve adaptation and resiliency through the province’s first-ever climate change impact assessment. I know my colleague will address some specifics in the supplemental, but I’d like to lead by saying that this is the first-ever climate change impact assessment this province has ever undertaken. It was welcome news by the city of Ottawa and will help build our resiliency.

To add to that, Speaker, we’ve made critical investments in stormwater and waste water infrastructure upgrades after years of neglect by the previous government, where we saw sewage spills leeching into Lake Ontario, where infrastructure was crumbling and not able to meet extreme weather events. Under this government, we’ve increased OCIF, a critical funding instrument for rural municipalities. We’ve increased funding for sewage and water to address overflow issues. We’ve launched the first-ever climate change impact assessment and we’ll continue to work with municipal partners to address this.

I’d like to thank the incredible staff at Hydro One for the work that they’ve done to address these outages—

Interjections.

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

Mr. Stephen Blais: The supplemental is to the Premier again. Some of the hardest-hit areas of Ottawa were in the rural areas: Navan, Sarsfield, Carlsbad Springs. Families like the McWilliamses, the McFaddens and the Cottons have seen utter devastation to their farms and their properties—farms that have been feeding the community in the region for generations. And they’re not alone, Mr. Speaker. Despite some nice promises from the Premier during the election, these families still don’t qualify for the disaster recovery assistance program. Why? Because the government hasn’t activated the program for the city of Ottawa.

These families have worked for generations, not only producing food but giving back to the community. Whether it’s leading the Navan Fair, which is vital to the village; whether it’s volunteer firefighting; whether it’s Hay West, these families have been contributing to their community, helping all of us for years.

During one of their darkest hours of need, when will this government step up and provide disaster relief to these families? When will their government be there for them?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Steve Clark: Ministry teams have been working with local officials since the May 21 storm event in the province. We deployed 19 provincial disaster assessment teams to assess damage both in southern and eastern Ontario.

People who were affected by the storm: Because the disaster relief assistance program for Ontarians isn’t a replacement for insurance, we obviously want to continue to encourage residents to meet with their insurance company to talk about the assessment. And we’ll continue to work with local officials.

I, like all members of this House, celebrated the work that our hydro workers have done. We’ve got a tremendous amount of municipal staff and hydro staff that have been on the ground since that May 21 event. We applaud the work that they do and we’ll continue to work with our municipal partners moving forward.

Long-term care

Mr. Brian Riddell: My question follows up on the previous two questions from my colleagues to the Minister of Long-Term Care. While I appreciate that no senior will be discharged from the hospital into a home against their will and no patient will be separated by great distance from family and friends, I am concerned about the resources being available. I’m not talking about additional funding that will be part of this, but more the availability of staff in homes that receive a senior discharge from a hospital.

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Given the staffing challenge faced across the sector, how will the minister ensure that no senior discharged from a hospital becomes a resident of a home that is understaffed? What exactly would be the point of reducing stress in the acute care sector only to add it to the long-term-care sector and put residents at risk?

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

Hon. Paul Calandra: I thank the member for the question. It’s a very good question, because we have heard some discrepancies on how this will work.

One of the reasons why we need to be able to work with families is so that we can assess what homes are available in and around the patient’s preferred choice. Does the home, as part of the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, provide the resources that are needed? Does it require the extra resources, and does it have the staffing and the care available for a patient who might be discharged? That is what this act allows us to do that it didn’t allow us to do. Again, as you know, as part of the Fixing Long-Term Care Act, nobody can be discharged into a home that does not have the appropriate level of care for the person who is becoming a resident of that home.

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

Mr. Brian Riddell: Speaker, the minister has stated that long-term care can be part of the solution to what has been a decades-long challenge in the acute care system. Part of the government’s plan includes elimination of isolation rooms that have been set aside for COVID outbreaks in-home. There are currently a number of homes across the province in outbreak. Will this policy not put these residents at risk? Is the minister declaring victory over COVID at this time when no one else is?

Hon. Paul Calandra: It’s a very good question from the member, and I appreciate it.

What the policy allows us to do is reflect on the fact that vaccinations have made such a difference in long-term-care homes across the province of Ontario. Fully 81% of our eligible residents have received a fourth dose. What we are doing, of course, is that there are currently 2,000 beds that have been set aside for isolation purposes. This policy will take about 1,000 of those beds and make them available for the acute care system, leaving in place over a thousand beds for isolation purposes. Of course, homes still have to provide an emergency plan.

To the specific question on outbreaks: There are still 167 homes, down from 197 homes, that are in outbreak. To put it into context, 34% of those are asymptomatic cases; 10% of the homes in outbreak have absolutely no resident cases, and 60% of the homes that are considered in outbreak have between one and 10 cases.

So a lot of work has been done to ensure our seniors are safe in long-term care.

Housing

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: My constituent Andrew reached out to me saying, “I make decent money as an engineer but there is no way I will be able to afford a house in the next 10 years. It makes me want to leave. Many believe that zoning and supply are the issues, but demand is artificially generated by those who are rich enough to speculate and pay cash. Their greed will never run out.”

Speaker, every housing expert notes that supply alone didn’t create the housing crisis; speculators with insider connections did.

What is this government doing to stop the rampant speculation taking home ownership out of reach for young families and tenants?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Associate Minister of Housing.

Hon. Michael Parsa: I thank my honourable colleague for the question.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to housing, supply is absolutely the issue in this House, and I’m not sure why my colleagues in opposition continuously fight that.

As a result of inaction by the previous government, we are in a housing crisis in Ontario right now and every single person in this province is feeling it, which is why, under the leadership of this minister and this Premier and this government, we are making a difference.

Last year alone, 100,000 starts started right here in this province. That’s over—

Interjections.

Hon. Michael Parsa: —13,000 of those were rental units.

When we are talking about helping Ontarians, we’re talking about housing across for every single province.

Speaker, every single initiative that we’ve put forward, the opposition has voted against. They have let the people of this province down. We’re going to fight for them every single day to make sure that life is more affordable and everyone has a safe and loving home to go to.

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

MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Again to the Premier: Although my question wasn’t answered, I’m going to ask a new question. During a housing crisis and a looming recession, this government is allowing a historic rent hike of 2.5%. This government continues to allow a rent control loophole on new units. My constituent Terrence told me this weekend how everyone he knows, including himself, is stuck living where they are now because to move, they’ll be paying more money for less housing. The prices are going up every month while rents are spiralling out of control.

Speaker, while encampments grow in every Ontario city, why is this government worsening inflation by allowing a historic rent increase?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Steve Clark: I was waiting for this member to ask a housing question because I wanted, from our government’s perspective, to find out which MPP is here today. Was it the Toronto city councillor who talked about supporting more housing construction? Or was it the Toronto city councillor who once threatened to take this government to court about consulting on the building code and the recommendations regarding the Algoma mall? Or was it—Speaker, through you—the councillor who once threatened to create her own red-light system to stop development of housing in her riding?

Over and over again, we’ve seen New Democrats not support when we want to strengthen penalties for bad landlords. We’ve seen New Democrats vote against increased support for tenants who were wrongfully evicted. Which New Democratic Party stands here today: the one that’s going to support our government when we stand up for tenants or the one that always blocks new construction?

Automotive industry

Mr. Hardeep Singh Grewal: The auto industry helped make this province an economic and manufacturing powerhouse for decades. Yet we saw the damage the previous Liberal government’s policies did to this sector. We all remember the warning from the former CEO of Fiat Chrysler, Sergio Marchionne, who said that the Liberals’ carbon tax policy risked toppling Ontario’s competitive position in the auto industry.

Today, we see the threat that buy-American policies like the US EV tax credit have on Ontario’s auto sector. My constituents are worried about the economic impacts this will have for Ontarians and the auto sector. What is this government doing to protect the auto industry in Ontario?

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

Hon. Victor Fedeli: The Premier and our team spent considerable time with US lawmakers, and we made a very solid case for what we call a buy-North America stance. And this ended with a personal visit to Washington to visit with Canada’s ambassador, Kirsten Hillman. Now we can proudly say that our team efforts paid off, as the US-only EV program is now the North American vehicle credit.

This is yet another reason that automakers and those in the supply chain will continue to invest billions of dollars in Ontario’s emerging world-class EV sector. By reversing the damage the Liberals and the NDP caused over more than a decade, we’ve reduced the cost of doing business in Ontario by $7 billion annually. And Speaker, it’s no wonder that we’ve already attracted $16 billion in EV investments and thousands of jobs over the last 20 months.

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

Mr. Hardeep Singh Grewal: Thank you, Minister.

Mr. Speaker, we remember when the previous Liberal government sent businesses running from Ontario with their costly policies. We can’t afford to lose businesses once again. We need to increase production here in our province. We need to show the world that Ontario is open for business and that we are an auto industry leader once again. The communities of Oshawa, Windsor, Brampton, Oakville, Ingersoll, St. Thomas are all leaders when it comes to auto production. We know that we can compete with the rest of the world and succeed, but this is not the case with Liberal and NDP policies.

My constituents want greater assurance that Ontario’s auto sector will be protected going forward and the new buy-America rules won’t impact our EV sector. Can the minister outline how the government is ensuring the stability of the auto manufacturing industry in the province?

Hon. Victor Fedeli: We listened carefully to what the auto industry said they needed after years of being strangled by the Liberals’ anti-business policies and their hydro mess. Our Driving Prosperity plan set out a 10-year vision for the future of mobility here in Ontario. We’re already seeing the results of our auto plan.

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Ontario’s automotive sector is in a stronger position today than it ever was under the previous government; $16 billion in transformative EV investments in 20 months did not happen by accident. This is a new era for the province and our autoworkers. We’re bringing jobs back. We’re bringing investments to communities the Liberals neglected, like Loyalist in the east, Cobalt in the north and Windsor in the west. That’s how we’re driving prosperity. Ontario’s auto is back.

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Remarks in Oji-Cree.

Good morning. My question is to the Premier. Speaker, there are multiple Indigenous-led conservation projects in Ontario. Two are in Kiiwetinoong: Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug—KI—and Grassy Narrows.

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas are a necessary tool to protect the lands and the biodiversity of the north, but Ontario law does not recognize IPCAs as a protected area. Speaker, why does Ontario have no process to enable Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Hon. David Piccini: Thank you to the member opposite for that important question. Speaker, I think it’s important that each and every action that I take as Minister of the Environment and that this government takes is done with Indigenous communities. That’s why when I heard from Chief Duquette at Dokis First Nation about important work we’re doing on adjusting boundaries, we said yes. We said yes as a government: We would work with them to address measures within the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act, to work—listening—with the First Nations community.

When Merv Cheechoo spoke with us when I was up in Treaty 9 territory and asked about greater protections for French River, we said yes. These are all actions taken by Indigenous leaders, and each and every time we’ve listened. We’ve worked with them to explore the art of the possible. But it’s important to note, Speaker, that this is led by and for Indigenous communities, and I’ll always be willing to work alongside them to achieve their goals and objectives.

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

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Speaker, back to the Premier: Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug has spent years safeguarding the watershed in their treaty territories. While these lands and waters are protected under KI laws, Ontario must also reflect this in their laws to keep resource development from endangering the lands, the waters, the animals and fish.

This government must not resist the efforts of Indigenous peoples to protect these lands, because this government—one of the ministers—has been trying, attempting, to block the ICPAs. Will Ontario support KI’s efforts to protect their lands and waters?

Hon. David Piccini: Speaker, this government will always work alongside Indigenous communities to support expanding green space, protecting water and protecting our endangered species, in the north and throughout Ontario. I reflect again upon work that we’re doing with Elliot Lake and that member’s colleague. We’re doing important work there to ensure protection and oversight of a provincial park, and we’re always willing to sit down with Indigenous leaders.

When it comes to protecting water and working together, it is this government that, for the first time ever, launched the First Nations Advisory Circle through a mandate that I issued at the Ontario Clean Water Agency. Again, underscored by the principle “never about us without us,” we continue to work with Indigenous communities to protect water in the north.

And, Speaker, it’s this government that has led unprecedented plastic-capture technology on our Great Lakes. It’s this government that is working at unlocking the potential that is the north. When I was on Treaty 9 territory, Chief Archibald welcomed the opportunity that EVs present the north to unlock the potential of this province. We understand—

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

Nuclear energy

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: Under the previous Liberal government, Ontarians experienced energy insecurity like they had never seen before. Because of the Liberals’ reckless energy policies there were families that had to choose between heating or eating. Businesses left Ontario because we were deemed to be not competitive and too costly of a jurisdiction. Worst of all, we saw the opposition publicly muse about getting rid of our nuclear capabilities altogether.

Let me be clear: We can never allow our energy system to be compromised at the expense of all Ontarians. Ontario’s nuclear energy sector provides reliable and environmentally sound energy for our entire province. The continued use of nuclear energy in Ontario will displace approximately 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Speaker, could the Minister of Energy please explain how our government is enhancing our energy strength by partnering with the nuclear sector and ensuring that the technological advancements that Ontario is pioneering are first and foremost?

Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the member opposite for the question. That’s exactly why our government is committed to a reliable, affordable, sustainable and clean energy sector. That’s why we’re leveraging small modular reactors and our first-mover status that we have so that we can untap the benefits to our economy in Ontario, in Canada and, indeed, around the world.

This past spring we announced our vision to partner with other provinces—New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan—for the deployment of small modular reactors across the country. We’re also creating new opportunities to export Ontario’s goods, technology and expertise to North America and around the world, especially in Eastern Europe.

Last week I joined OPG and one of the largest electrical utilities in the United States, the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA, to announce a collaboration that’s going to allow TVA to replicate what we’re doing with small modular reactors here in Ontario: a first grid-scale SMR. That’s why we’re going to continue to unlock the potential of SMR for our environment and our economy.

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

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: When we take a global look at energy markets, we see that Ontario’s energy leadership is needed now more than ever. Russia’s unprovoked and illegal attack on Ukraine, along with the growing instability in Asia as the Chinese communist regime attempts to destabilize that region, has left our global partners seeking a strong, stable and reliable source of energy.

Ontario can step up and show leadership and demonstrate that we are a trusted, capable, stable worldwide nuclear leader. Ontario’s nuclear ingenuity and know-how is unmatched, and our record of success is unparalleled. We just need a government that is willing to support this vital industry.

Speaker, can the Minister of Energy explain how our government will advance this nuclear technology knowledge and provide leadership to other jurisdictions? What is the government doing when it comes to showing the world that Ontario is the leader when it comes to small modular reactor technology?

Hon. Todd Smith: Ontario has a proud history, and a long one, as a trusted leader in nuclear expertise internationally. As new nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors, become more mature and commercially viable, we need to be ready to leverage our domestic supply chain—76,000 workers in Ontario; experienced nuclear operators—to make the most of this opportunity.

We also need to be ready for an increased demand for clean, reliable and affordable electricity here in Ontario. Whether it’s the electrification of our transportation sector, powering new electric vehicles, or EVs, or making green steel with electric arc furnaces, our economy is growing and it’s electrifying. Nuclear power is going to continue to be a key part of Ontario’s clean electricity grid.

As we move towards a clean energy future, it’s clear that there is no path forward without nuclear energy to get us to net zero.

Social assistance

Ms. Chandra Pasma: Denise, a 31-year-old Toronto woman, is in need of a home that can accommodate her wheelchair and is free of chemicals and strong smells because she has multiple chemical sensitivities. However, Denise can’t afford any apartment that meets these criteria because she is on ODSP. Unable to afford housing that can accommodate her disabilities, Denise has applied for medical assistance in dying. It is absolutely horrifying that anyone in Ontario should be forced to choose death because they can’t afford to live.

Will the Premier commit to doubling Ontario Works and ODSP immediately so that everyone in Ontario can afford to live?

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The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Thank you to the member opposite. My heart goes out to anyone facing difficulty in their lives, such as the individual you mention. That is exactly why our government has increased the ODSP rates to a really decades-long largest increase in this program. This is historic, and it’s not the only thing we use to support people in their time of need.

There are those who cannot work, and we support them through ODSP, through a variety of social assistance programs, the LIFT tax credit, the CARE tax credit, dental benefits for elderly low-income seniors. We’re continuing to allow discretionary benefits to be used for people in unusual circumstances. We’re working with our municipalities in that shared vision of how we improve the lives of people who aren’t able to work while creating the training programs and the job readiness programs for those who can work, and we’ll continue to do that important work.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary.

Ms. Chandra Pasma: An extra $50 a month isn’t going to get anyone housing in this market, Speaker.

Denise is not alone. Tracey Thompson, who contracted long COVID in March 2020, has recently applied for medical assistance in dying as well. Tracey, who is not even able to get ODSP because long COVID is not recognized by the program, has been clear that her application is exclusively a financial consideration. She wants to live, but she can’t afford to.

Speaker, we have reached a point in Ontario where people are being forced to choose between a quick death before the money runs out and a long, painful, slow death without financial support. Why is the Premier not taking action to address poverty?

Hon. Merrilee Fullerton: Once again, my heart goes out to anyone who’s in that situation. That’s why we’re working across government to make sure that we put in the supports needed for people in these situations. It’s exactly why anyone in this situation should also be seeking mental health supports, and I’m very pleased to say that the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions is doing just that, to create the programs necessary.

This is something they’re also working on with the federal government, to make sure that they bring forth and fulfill their commitment to the Canadian disability benefit and also the programs for the supports through the federal government but also our municipalities, understanding that partnership is so important.

Whether it’s improving access to housing across ministries, whether it’s the Ministry of Health creating programs to support people in their time of need, this is a multi-ministry effort. It is across municipal governments. It is across layers of government, including the federal government, and we’ll continue to work for solutions. This is an important area, allowing people to get the support they need, when they need it.

Fiscal and economic policy

Mr. Graham McGregor: To the finance minister: With the cost of living rising throughout the province, working people in Ontario and in my riding are being impacted by what feels like increasing prices on all day-to-day essentials. While the GTA is home to many hard-working Ontarians, it is also one of the most expensive regions to live in Canada. Food insecurity affects almost one in five Toronto households. Recently, the University of Toronto released a report that shows that nearly 16% of Canadians live with food insecurity.

As families’ basic needs continue to increase, we know that many families will have challenges, especially with a Liberal carbon tax that raises the cost of everything.

Speaker, can the Minister of Finance share what our government is doing to provide financial relief for the people of my riding and for all hard-working Ontarians?

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: Thank you to the member from Brampton North for that very good question. Russia’s war in the Ukraine, tension in Asia and inflation that we haven’t seen in four decades are driving up global prices, but this government will always be there for the people of Ontario in these uncertain times. That is why our government raised the minimum wage, and will raise it again in October to $15.50 an hour. That is why we eliminated the need for licence plate stickers and renewal fees, saving drivers up to $120 per year. That’s why we’re proposing the enhanced LIFT tax credit, providing additional relief for those making less than $50,000 a year. With this change, 1.1 million low-income workers would see an additional $300 on average in tax relief in 2022.

The best way to support workers and families is to put more money back into their pockets, Mr. Speaker, and that’s exactly what this government is doing.

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

Mr. Graham McGregor: Thank you to the Minister of Finance for the answer to that question. I would note, having served in his office prior and having to answer a lot of his tough questions, that I’m happy he’s here answering mine.

Mr. Speaker, many Ontarians, including in my riding of Brampton North, are concerned about the cost of gas, which the NDP would like us to raise on hard-working Ontarians. For far too long, we had a Liberal government, supported by the NDP, that continued to impose new tax on new tax, increasing the financial burdens on hard-working Ontario families. Because of their reckless policies, we saw how they made life more unaffordable for not only my constituents but for all Ontarians.

Mr. Brian Riddell: Shame.

Mr. Graham McGregor: It is shameful.

They brought in a devastating carbon tax that raises the cost of everything. They implemented gas tax hikes with the HST. They made life less affordable for all Ontarians.

During the last provincial election, there was even a candidate, Mr. Speaker, if you can believe it, who was a former MPP, who called high gas prices a blessing in disguise.

Can the minister please tell us how our government—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much. Minister of Finance to reply.

Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: I really am pleased by the member opposite’s enthusiasm on this issue to ask the Minister of Finance these questions.

Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, for families trying to make ends meet, high gas prices are never a blessing in disguise. This government understands that high gas prices are a financial burden on many Ontarians, taking hard-earned money out of their pockets—for families, for workers and for seniors. That’s why this government is focused on keeping costs down. That’s why this government eliminated the Liberals’ cap-and-trade tax scheme. This government temporarily cut the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre through our Tax Relief at the Pumps Act.

Mr. Speaker, the facts speak for themselves. According to Statistics Canada, the price of gas fell furthest in Ontario because of our gas tax—

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

That concludes our question period for this morning. This House stands in recess until 1 p.m.

The House recessed from 1137 to 1300.

Introduction of Bills

Publication of Mandate Letters Act, 2022 / Loi de 2022 sur la publication des lettres de mandat

Mr. Shamji moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 10, An Act to amend the Executive Council Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act with respect to the publication and treatment of mandate letters / Projet de loi 10, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le Conseil exécutif et la Loi sur l’accès à l’information et la protection de la vie privée en ce qui concerne la publication et le traitement des lettres de mandat.

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 Don Valley East care to briefly explain his bill?

Mr. Adil Shamji: In this chamber, we have the monumental responsibility of serving 15 million people across our great province. I will never forget that the people of Don Valley East have put their trust in me to be their champion and fight for them every single day. Even though Ontarians can hold us to account during elections every four years, the reality is that we are accountable every day, and my bill upholds that commitment.

The Publication of Mandate Letters Act sets out to define what mandate letters are and outlines the expectation that all letters to—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much. I’m going to ask the member to take his seat, and explain our usual procedure, which isn’t always followed by every member on both sides of the House, unfortunately, but we’re going to continue to encourage it. We’re asking members to not get into a political debate on the first reading of the bill but to read the explanatory note that has been prepared for the bill. Thank you.

Petitions

Hospital services

Mr. Jeff Burch: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the current Niagara health system restructuring plan approved by the Ontario Ministry of Health includes removal of the emergency department and associated beds and ambulance service from the Welland hospital site once the Niagara Falls site is complete, creating inequity of hospital and emergency service in the Niagara region and a significant negative impact on hospital and emergency outcomes for the citizens of Welland, Port Colborne and all Niagara;

“Whereas the NHS is already experiencing a 911 crisis in EMS, a shortage of beds and unacceptable off-loading delays in its emergency departments across the region;

“Whereas the population in the Welland hospital catchment area is both aging and growing;

“Whereas the Ontario Legislature passed a motion by” the “Niagara Centre MPP ... on April 13, 2022, to include a full emergency department and associated beds in the rebuild of the Welland hospital;

“Therefore, be it resolved that we call on the government of Ontario to work with the Ontario Ministry of Health and the Niagara Health system to implement motion 47 to maintain the Welland hospital emergency department and adjust its hospital plan accordingly.”

I proudly add my signature and forward it to the Clerk.

Optometry Services

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: It gives me great pleasure to present the following petition on behalf of Dr. Marja Salminen at Vogue Optical Masonville. It reads:

“Petition to Save Eye Care in Ontario.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario government has underfunded optometric eye care for 30 years; and

“Whereas the government only pays on average $44.65 for an OHIP-insured visit—the lowest rate in Canada; and

“Whereas optometrists are being forced to pay substantially out of their own pocket to provide over four million services each year to Ontarians under OHIP; and

“Whereas optometrists have never been given a formal negotiation process with the government; and

“Whereas the government’s continued neglect resulted in 96% of Ontario optometrists voting to withdraw OHIP services beginning September 1, 2021;

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

“To instruct the Ontario government to immediately commit to legally binding, formal negotiations to ensure any future OHIP-insured optometry services are, at a minimum, funded at the cost of delivery.”

We’ve been doing this for a year. It’s time to get this done. I fully support this and will sign it and deliver it with page Pallas.

Gun violence

Ms. Mitzie Hunter: I have a petition and it reads:

“Gun Violence Is a Public Health Crisis.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas gun violence and its devastating impact on communities is a deepening public health crisis in the province of Ontario;

“Whereas the number of firearm incidents is increasing each year, and the widespread trauma associated with acts of gun violence often goes unrecognized and untreated;

“Whereas the government must give communities the resources that they need to heal, including OHIP-funded counselling for those affected;

“Whereas the government must give funding to local public health boards for hospital- and community-based violence intervention programs;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to direct the Minister of Health to adopt Bill 9, Safe and Healthy Communities Act (Addressing Gun Violence), 2022, into government legislation.”

I will sign the petition and give it to page Tanisha.

Bait management

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: A petition entitled “Fix the Baitfish Zoning Boundaries in the Northwestern and Northeastern Regions:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the bait management zones in certain towns make it impossible for anglers to purchase live bait in their respective zone and go fishing in the area because of set boundaries;

“Whereas 95% of all stocked lakes near Hearst are situated west, and no legal option to purchase live bait and go fishing on those nice, stocked lakes;

“Whereas all the time and money spent throughout the years by government trying to stock those lakes and keep a healthy trout population for fishing enthusiasts to enjoy;

“Whereas the owners of outfitters in the region can no longer purchase their baitfish in the area with the new zoning and no other options exist by road to purchase baitfish in their zone close to the lodge;

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

“—to allow an exception or exemption option for the north, especially for towns like Chapleau, Wawa and Hearst, where two zones are separated based on the railway lines or roads;

“—to call on the Ford government and the Minister of Natural Resources to re-evaluate this new zoning regulation to make logistics possible for all anglers to purchase live baitfish and to enjoy this sport that represents our lifestyle in northern Ontario.”

I’m happy to sign this petition and give it to Zane to bring to the Clerks’ table.

Optometry services

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I want to thank all the people of Byron who signed petitions at Byron Optometry to save eye care in Ontario. The petition reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario government has underfunded optometric eye care for 30 years; and

“Whereas the government only pays on average $44.65 for an OHIP-insured visit—the lowest rate in Canada; and

“Whereas optometrists are being forced to pay substantially out of their own pocket to provide over four million services each year to Ontarians under OHIP; and

“Whereas optometrists have never been given a formal negotiation process with the government;...

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

“To instruct the Ontario government to immediately commit to legally binding, formal negotiations to ensure any future OHIP-insured optometry services are, at a minimum, funded at the cost of delivery.”

I support this petition, affix my signature and will send it to the table with page Ria.

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Optometry services

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I’d like to thank all the individuals at Campus Vision UWO who signed the following petition. It’s entitled Petition to Save Eye Care in Ontario. It reads:

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario government has underfunded optometric eye care for 30 years; and

“Whereas the government only pays on average $44.65 for an OHIP-insured visit—the lowest rate in Canada; and

“Whereas optometrists are being forced to pay substantially out of their own pocket to provide over four million services each year to Ontarians under OHIP; and

“Whereas optometrists have never been given a formal negotiation process with the government; and

“Whereas the government’s continued neglect resulted in 96% of Ontario optometrists voting to withdraw OHIP services beginning September 1, 2021;

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

“To instruct the Ontario government to immediately commit to legally binding, formal negotiations to ensure any future OHIP-insured optometry services are, at a minimum, funded at the cost of delivery.”

I fully support this decision, will affix my signature and deliver with page Pania to the Clerks.

Orders of the Day

Appointment of House officers / Committee membership

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): When we last debated, the member for Simcoe-Grey had the floor, and he can continue.

Mr. Brian Saunderson: Thank you, Speaker. It’s a pleasure to speak to the House this afternoon as the new member for Simcoe–Grey. I want to start by thanking the hard-working voters of my riding for their overwhelming support on June 2.

Simcoe–Grey has a long and proud history of being Progressive Conservative, and I want to acknowledge my predecessor, Jim Wilson, who represented Simcoe–Grey in this House with distinction for 32 years. Jim was a committed, determined and effective champion for our constituents.

To the residents of Simcoe–Grey and the residents of the our great province, I pledge to continue that tradition of committed and determined representation that Jim Wilson and George McCague and Wally Downer before him established in this great riding.

Simcoe–Grey has a population of over 152,000 and consists of seven municipalities, six in Simcoe and one in Grey county. It stretches from Thornbury in the south to Thornbury in the north, from Alliston in the west to Angus in the east. It is a growing, dynamic and diverse riding that has incredible opportunities and is facing some significant challenges.

Geographically, Simcoe–Grey is blessed with an abundance of green space and natural features, as well as miles of shoreline along the southern shores of Georgian Bay. From the longest fresh water beach in the world and the UNESCO Georgian Bay Biosphere to the Niagara Escarpment and the green belt, the low-lying hills and ridges are Canadian Shield bedrock that support a rich mosaic of forests, wetlands and habitat with an incredible abundance of biodiversity.

Simcoe–Grey boasts a diverse and dynamic economy. There is a long-standing and robust farming sector in the south that goes back to the early 1800s and is one of the region’s original economic engines. The farmers of today continue the long and proud tradition in our farming sector of hard work, entrepreneurship, resilience and innovation.

There’s a strong manufacturing sector, including companies like Honda. Speaker, the Honda plant will be producing the electric CRV in early 2023, a direct result of this government’s commitment to making Ontario a powerhouse in electric vehicle production and greening our economy.

There’s Pilkington Glass that has produced car windshields for over 50 years. Since 2018, when this government, under Premier Ford, took office, the operations at the Pilkington plant have expanded significantly, producing more windshields and employing more people now than at any time in its long history.

There’s MacLean Engineering that is producing electric mining equipment and revolutionizing the mining sector with quieter and cleaner vehicles that are dramatically improving the working conditions underground. MacLean Engineering has been in operation for over 25 years, and it’s busier now than ever before, serving clients from around the world.

There’s boutique and cutting-edge manufacturing like Isowater, producing isotopes for medical and scientific uses; and Agnora Glass, producing architectural and specialized glass for clients such as Apple and the US Federal Aviation Administration.

There is a growing tech sector establishing itself in Simcoe–Grey: companies like Switch Video, WordJack Media, Deke, Interkom, Smash Reality, Adbank and more. These companies are at the forefront of the knowledge economy, and they are changing the economic landscape of Simcoe–Grey. They are creating well-paid sustainable green jobs in a quickly growing and evolving space. To support this growing sector, the town of Collingwood recently funded the creation of the South Georgian Bay Innovation and Technology Accelerator. The accelerator is a not-for-profit organization that works to support small local businesses and start-ups through access to mentoring and financial supports.

In 2019, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business ranked Collingwood sixth in Canada and first in Ontario among the top entrepreneurial communities. Collingwood has consistently made the top 10 since 2015. This ranking is recognition of the rich entrepreneurial spirit in Simcoe–Grey that is driving the growth of an important economic engine in our region.

The tourism and hospitality sector is yet another dynamic and robust economic driver in Simcoe–Grey. With the ski clubs in Blue Mountain Village in the north and Nottawasaga inn in the south, there are many thriving and diverse hotels and restaurants of all sizes in between that attract and serve millions of visitors to the riding each year.

In 2019, Maclean’s magazine ranked two Simcoe–Grey communities in the top 25 best places to live in Canada. New Tecumseth ranked fifth, and Collingwood ranked 22nd, further recognition of the beauty of our region, the dynamism of our economy and the quality of life to be had here.

It should come as no surprise to any member of this House that the people of Simcoe–Grey are its greatest strength. Whether you were born and raised in the riding or moved here recently, you are part of an inclusive and welcoming community, a community that has strong and vibrant service clubs, recreational and sporting associations, faith-based organizations and other community groups that provide varied programs, services and supports for their members and their communities.

Speaker, in the short time since the election, I have had the great pleasure of attending numerous events in my riding that speak to the power of our communities. On June 11, I attended the opening of a new cricket club in the neighbouring community of Shelburne. On that same day, I attended the Dufferin county multicultural festival, with the brilliant motto “Unity in Diversity.” I attended a park dedication in Alliston to honour local sports hero Deanne Rose, a member of Canada’s women’s soccer team that won bronze and gold medals at the last two Olympics. On a beautiful day in July, I participated in Collingwood’s Pride parade and was thrilled to see the crowds of enthusiastic supporters, young and old.

Speaker, when I see these events and the ways that our residents are committed to and champion our communities, I see tangible and powerful proof that there is far more that unites the residents of our communities and our vast province than divides us. I hope that this fact will inform and inspire all members of this House and the people of Ontario as we conduct the business of this province.

I grew up in Toronto, in the Yonge-Lawrence area, and did my elementary and secondary education there. However, Simcoe–Grey has been a very big part of my life. I first came to the area in 1965, when my family bought a century-old one-room schoolhouse that was recently decommissioned by the local school board. It was on the 10th Concession in what was then Nottawasaga township and is now part of Clearview township. The schoolhouse quickly became our second home and a very big part of our lives, and the region became our playground. In 1990, my wife, Susie, and I were married on the old ball diamond at the back, on home plate—truly the best home run of my life.

I did my undergraduate at the University of Western Ontario, a bachelor of arts and political science, but I spent much of my undergrad on the waters of Fanshawe Lake with the Western rowing team. Rowing became my passion, and after graduating, I moved to the west coast to join the national rowing team from 1984 to 1992. I competed in two Olympics and three world championships and won a silver medal in the men’s eight at the 1990 world championships.

Speaker, from sport, I have learned many valuable life lessons, many of which I carry with me to this day. Sport, like most endeavours, requires a strong worth ethic, and while this may sound trite, it is a simple fact that often separates the gifted from the successful. In my assessment, there are two critical types of work: hard work and teamwork. There are no shortcuts and no substitutes. To succeed in sport, as in politics, you must do the work. So again, I congratulate the members of this House on your hard work in winning your seat.

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After my rowing career, I had to find a job. For those familiar with the sport of rowing, you’ll know that you spend countless hours on your butt looking backwards—skills that, while not suited for many occupations, are in fact ideal for the legal profession. So armed with the ability to sit on my butt and look backwards, I completed my law degree at the University of Ottawa and started practising law in Ottawa with the firm of Scott and Aylen. It was there that I was mentored by what I consider to be one of the great lawyers in Ontario, the late David Scott, the brother of Ian Scott, who was the Attorney General of our province from 1985 to 1990, and whose name is one of two on the Attorney General’s office building at 720 Bay. Dave was a courageous advocate who championed his clients’ interests while providing clear, concise and candid assessments of the merits of the case. He was a consummate professional who never let the heat of the trial alter his civility or his respect for opposing counsel, for the court or for the judicial process. After practising law for over 20 years, I have come to appreciate how fundamentally important these attributes are and how rarely they are embodied in one person.

Speaker, as I look at the eagle over the government side of the House, representing vigilance; the owl over the opposition side, representing wisdom; and the Indigenous carving over the entrance, representing the Seven Grandfather Teachings, I am reminded that these qualities—qualities I saw first-hand in David Scott—are essential for the workings of this House and this government.

My entry into politics was a journey that was not a straight one, and it was one that was directly shaped by my life experience, and two experiences in particular. On September 24, 1988, on a sunny afternoon in Seoul, Korea, I was in the stands in the athletes’ section with many of my teammates at the 30-metre mark of the track, awaiting the start of the men’s 100-metre final. Canada’s Ben Johnson, who was the defending world champion and world record holder, was taking on a field of talented opponents, including American Carl Lewis, the defending Olympic champion. Within the first 30 metres, Ben had established a commanding lead that he never relinquished, winning the race in 9.79 seconds, a new world record and Olympic record. Our nation and team celebrated. In less than 24 hours, the news of Ben Johnson’s positive test rocked the athlete’s village and dominated international sports news.

I remember the bedsheet hung from a balcony on the Canadian athletes’ building that read, “Hero to zero in 9.79 seconds.” The sheet belonged to Mark Tewksbury, a Canadian swimmer who would win gold four years later in Barcelona in the men’s 100 backstroke. Mark voiced the disgust and frustration of many of the athletes from Canada and around the world, but not all. For some, particularly those from the Eastern bloc countries, winning at any cost was the accepted practice.

Speaker, in the resulting commission of inquiry struck by the Canadian government to examine the use of performance-enhancing drugs, led by Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Charles Dubin, this was the main argument advanced by Ben Johnson and by his coach, Charlie Francis: To win, you needed to cheat, because your opposition was cheating. For them, the ends justified the means.

As an athlete, coach and parent, the findings of the Dubin inquiry and its impacts on international sport, from the Olympics to professional sport, I think are one of the single biggest events in the sporting world in the last 100 years. Canada stood to be counted. We changed how sport is conducted in the world. We called out cheaters, we enforced rules, and we made sure that there was an equal playing field for all, and that if you cheated, you were banned, you were disqualified, and you paid the price.

By way of contrast, in 1988, Canada did not win a single medal in rowing. The Canadian team as a whole won 10 medals—three gold, two silver and a bronze—and was ranked 19th overall. In 1992, the Canadian team won 18 medals—seven gold, four silver and seven bronze—and ranked 11th. Just to measure the impact on the sport of rowing, the Canadian team, which competed in only eight events, won five medals—four golds. They exceeded the total gold medal count from the 1988 games for the entire team. But more importantly, Canada stood for the proposition that process matters. How you do things is important. It’s not the end result; it’s how you get there. And, for that, I think Canada can stand proud in the world of international sport.

The second event I’m going to speak about: In 2012, the Collingwood council of the day sold 50% of its share in the local utility and used the funds to purchase two stand-alone sprung fabric membrane buildings for recreational facilities. The two transactions cost tens of millions of dollars and were made in very short succession and a quick space of time. The 2014 council asked questions about how these transactions were conducted and got no answers. The few answers we got were extremely unsatisfactory. So the council of the day asked the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Ontario to strike a judicial inquiry, and that inquiry was struck. Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco was the commissioner of the inquiry. Over 14 months of the inquiry, he looked into the two transactions and how they were conducted.

In November 2020, he released a report called transparency and accountability in local government. It was over four volumes and 1,000 pages, with 306 recommendations. I’m quoting from Justice Marrocco. He stated, “Undisclosed conflicts, unfair procurements and lack of transparency stained both transactions, leading to fair and troubling concerns from the public. The evidence I heard and the conclusions I have drawn show that those concerns were well founded. When the answers to legitimate questions are dismissive, spun or obfuscated, public trust further erodes.” Speaker, this is yet another powerful example that process matters—that how decisions are made is as important as the decisions that are being made. I was the deputy mayor on the 2014 council, and later mayor of the 2018 council, and I’m proud to say that the council, together with town staff, are aggressively implementing Justice Marrocco’s recommendations.

As a former ethics and business law instructor at Georgian College in Barrie, I want to share the observation of one of my students on the ethical decision-making process. She wrote that the true test is not whether you do the right thing when people are watching; it is whether you do right thing when no one is watching.

Speaker, I did not get here alone, and I want to thank my family and my campaign team for their commitment and hard work. Simply put, without their support and efforts, I would not be in this seat today.

My father, Bill Saunderson, has a long and proud history of working in the Progressive Conservative Party—from Dalton Camp to Robert Stanfield, from Brian Mulroney to Mike Harris. In fact, my father proudly served in this House as the member for Eglinton from 1995 to 1999 and was the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism before serving as Chair of the Ontario International Trade Corp. My mother, Meredith, was never far from the action and, in her quiet and highly effective manner, influenced the operations and outcomes of many leadership and election campaigns.

To my parents: I want to thank you both for your support and advice. You’ve forgotten more about politics than I am ever likely to know.

My wife, Susie, and my sons, Dylan, Max and Cole—I want to thank them for their unwavering support and understanding. They are my anchor.

And, finally, to my campaign team: You cannot know how much your support kept me going. My campaign chair, Don May, who has just undergone some very successful bowel surgery and is on the mend, and who also wants to compliment this government on the job they are doing to make sure our health care system continues to operate—and my campaign strategist Claire Tucker-Reid, who was also essential in my campaigns. I have many individuals to name, and I’m sure I will leave out a few, but I will try to do my best: Martin Rydlo, John Pappain, Brook Dyson, Pat Bollenberghe, Mike Jerry, Terry Geddes, George Watson, Ashley Boland, John Leckie, John White, Jeff Gilchrist, Foster Williams, Trish Williams, Margaret Anderson, David Anderson, Ken Burns, Kim Ellison, Alisha Johnson, Oliver Stone, Beth Dennis, Lauren Lamour, Martin Kuzma, Jack Martin, Jon Gillham, Patrick Whitten, Patricia Miscampbell, Pat Coe and Ted Woods. I want to thank all of them for their incredible efforts, and my sincere apologies if I omitted anyone.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to address the House today.

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

Ms. Donna Skelly: I’m very honoured to rise this afternoon to speak to government motion number 2, regarding my appointment as Deputy Speaker and the appointment of other presiding officers of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Speaker, during the past four years, I have admired the work that you do in your role as Speaker. You do an admirable job of maintaining order in this House, which at times can be impossible, because at times, emotions are running high and debate can get fairly rowdy. I want to assure you and other members of the Legislature that I truly understand the obligation of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker to maintain order and decorum in an impartial manner, in a way that rises above political affiliation. The roles of Speaker and Deputy Speaker are non-partisan apolitical roles, and I’m humbled to be considered to be appointed Deputy Speaker.

Many people in the House know that prior to becoming the MPP for Flamborough–Glanbrook, I spent 35 years as a broadcast journalist. Most of that time, or at least part of that time, I was able to cover stories that were heartfelt. I was born and raised and grew up in northern Ontario, as I’ve mentioned many times. That opportunity to live in northern Ontario as a young adult and to work right across Ontario in the broadcast media gave me a genuine understanding of the differences between communities across Ontario, their challenges, their strengths. It was a unique experience that I’m proud that I can bring to my job as MPP for Flamborough–Glanbrook.

Thirty-five years ago, social media did not exist, and most people relied on traditional journalism as the source for their news. I was really, really proud of the role that I played, reporting on the events of the day in communities right across, as I said, Ontario, telling the stories of the people who were about to shape our future. Some of those stories, as I mentioned, had happy endings and involved really good people who simply wanted to make a better life for themselves and for their families.

I want to share one story of a man and his wife, who I came to know and came to love: Ray Lewis. Back in 1932, Ray Lewis became the first Black Canadian Olympic medal winner. He finished bronze in the 4 by 400 at the Los Angeles Olympics. His story was compelling. It was tragic. I remember he was a porter for the railroad. When they would work and stop the train, he would get out and train by running beside the train. That was one of the ways he was able to improve his time and eventually compete at the 1932 Olympics. His wife, Vivienne, was absolutely beautiful. I spent hours with them, documenting their story, and it was one of the stories I was most proud that I produced in my time at CHCH-TV. I used to take her grocery shopping. In turn, she would make me this pound cake that I swear was the tastiest cake I’ve ever had. It was one of those stories that I’ll never forget—people who enter your life who you want to maintain a lifelong friendship with.

Another couple I came to know and love came into my life during the Bosnian war. I was assigned to cover one of the first couples that who came to Canada. They actually came to Hamilton, as refugees from Bosnia. When I showed up at their motel room, I recognized that they were about the same age as myself and my husband, and their children were the same age. The woman, the mother of this couple, of these children, spoke a little bit of English. So we chatted, and we chatted, and we chatted, and we chatted. I thought, “I can’t believe this. Here is a woman, her husband, her very young children, his brothers”—who all had worked for the Canadian government, by the way. One had worked for the Red Cross, one was a translator for the Canadian government, and one was a judge. The judge’s name was on a hit list, and they had to flee. I remember them telling me the story. It was so compelling. These men were six-foot-three, six-foot-four, and they had all packed into a car. When they got to the border to flee Kosovo, somebody recognized them at the border. His name, as I said, was on a hit list. The guard was actually a friend and snuck them out. They left with nothing. They came to Canada with nothing. I became really good friends with them. They would come to my house. Our kids were the same age; they played. Today this man, who came over here with his young family with absolutely nothing, is a family physician in London, Ontario. It’s just such a remarkable story.

These are the good stories, the good people in Ontario. Unfortunately, as you know, not all news is good news. I spent a lot of my time as a journalist, really, documenting the ugly side of humanity.

Back in the 1990s, again, I travelled to Doha, Qatar, as a young journalist to report on the Canadian troops at Canada Dry One. I absolutely love our military. I have such deep admiration and respect for any man or woman who will don a uniform and fight for their country. I assumed that sentiment would be prevalent in Qatar. You have to remember that back in the 1990s, this was in the height of very biased reporting when it came to the Gulf War—jingoism. As I ventured out into the streets while setting my camera aside and started talking to many of the locals, I was shocked to discover that we weren’t being embraced with open arms. There was another side to the story: people who were not happy that Canada had sent its troops to Doha, who weren’t pleased that the base was located just outside of Doha. It was just such an eye-opener because, as I’ve said, we were at the height of this patriotism, and I was realizing that, once again, as a journalist, there are two sides to every story. It was a side I had to tell—the side that, yes, we were very proud of our troops, but there were also other people who were questioning why we were there in Doha.

Being objective isn’t always easy, but I have to tell you again: I haven’t always been partisan. I spent a great deal of my time as a reporter covering all levels of government, from city hall to provincial government—one of the reasons I got into politics—to federal government. But we had to do it. We had to do it objectively. The story wouldn’t go to air if we showed any form of bias. I had a job to do. I had an opinion, but that opinion could not come through in the work that I was filing.

The most difficult part—I found, in my career as a journalist—of having to be objective was when I started to cover trials. I covered trials, actually, throughout my career, and some of the horrific trials, too. This was back in the 1990s. We had the Paul Bernardo murder and abduction of young girls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy. These were horrific stories that dominated our headlines and really captivated all of our attention. My colleagues—one of whom still works for me today—actually had to sit in those courtrooms and listen to those stories and still come out with an objective report.

One of the last stories I covered was the Tim Bosma murder trial. Again, your job is to report the facts as you sit and listen to the pain that his family went through as the evidence came forward when they were trying the two accused, Mark Smich and Dellen Millard.

The last trial I covered, actually, before I ventured into municipal politics was that of a young man. He was only 18 years of age, and he had been out with his friends on what we call Supercrawl in Hamilton. It’s a big deal in the city of Hamilton—probably 100,000 people walking around, a lot of people on the street. He had been out with a bunch of kids. They had a few drinks, perhaps, before they went into a bar. He was underage. He went into the bar, came out, bought a girl a rose. We often see street vendors in there, encouraging the young men to buy their date a rose, which he did. He ventured a little down the street, turned around the corner, was just in front of a Tim Hortons, and a man he had encountered earlier in the evening—a man in his fifties—fatally stabbed him. And that was it. It was horrific.

This young man was Portuguese. We had translators in the courtroom. His mother sobbed throughout the entire trial. It was gut-wrenching, and it was very difficult not to portray the pain and sorrow of all of these family members because of the absolutely unnecessary death of this young man who was simply turning a corner and walking down the street—but we had to.

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The man was convicted of second-degree murder. I remember, months later when I was politicking, knocking on doors, I ran into the accused’s sister, who was quite upset with the reporting because she felt we didn’t show the other side and who she claimed was the victim, who was actually the man who was accused in the murder of this young man.

Speaker, the reason I’m bringing these stories forward is because in the role of Deputy Speaker, in the role of Speaker, you have to be objective. I’ve spent 35 years covering many, many stories where it would be so easy to simply state your opinion, to include your opinion in something because that’s how you feel, because you’re emotionally invested in the story of the day, but you can’t. That’s not your job. Your job is to look at all of the facts, present all of the facts and be as objective as possible.

Speaker, I believe that my experience in broadcast journalism has really prepared me well for this role. As I’ve mentioned, journalists are obligated to be impartial. We are required to hear and to consider all opinions and views on all issues. As a reporter, I had to reach out, speak to people and listen to the views of all of those people who were involved in the story, regardless of whether I agreed with them or not. I wasn’t allowed to allow my own opinion, my viewpoint, my bias, to get in the way of a balanced report, and I’m very proud of the role I played in that.

When I was a news reporter, I covered Hamilton city council, which I eventually ran in, and I had to report on the opinions and priorities of the councillors of the day. I kept my opinions to myself. My views were not reflected in my public reporting. I could not be accused of being a biased reporter.

For members of the opposition who may not think that I can relate to the so-called ordinary working people, my father was a railroad engineer. My mother was one of only four women in an executive role, as a receptionist who worked at a mine in our local community, and I went on to become the leader of our bargaining unit at CHCH in Hamilton. I understood the issues that faced the rank-and-file workers, and I fought to protect their wages and benefits and to improve working conditions, especially for the more vulnerable employees, and I was often clashing with management. I know how to negotiate. I’ve sat at the negotiating table, advocating for members. I was a voice for my colleagues.

During the recession in 2008, Canwest Global was threatening to simply shut down CHCH-TV. More than 150 jobs were at stake, and I went to bat for the employees and for CHCH Television itself. I travelled to Ottawa to speak before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and a parliamentary committee to fight for CHCH and to fight for all other struggling independent television stations. I wanted to preserve local news.

Speaker, I’ve been here for four years now. I know how the legislative process works. I’ve served on numerous committees, and prior to being elected to represent the people in Flamborough–Glanbrook, I served on Hamilton city council. I did so with respect and decorum. I received a lot of pushback as, I would say, one of the few Conservatives on a very left-leaning council. I received a lot of pushback from other councillors and members of the public—pushback from people who wanted to protect their own agendas and their own pet projects—but I stood my ground and respectfully defended my decision.

There has been a lot of discussion in this House recently about the importance of diversity and representation, and I am truly honoured to be appointed Deputy Speaker. I believe I have the background and experience to do the job well. I’ve been recognized for my work in advocacy in my hometown of Hamilton. I was recipient of the YWCA Woman of the Year in politics. And I never miss an opportunity to encourage women to run for political office. I served on the National Advisory Board for Canadian Culture. I’ve served on many local boards, such as Banyan Community Services, a not-for-profit organization serving at-risk youth and people with disabilities.

I’m a strong voice for my community, and I’ve been there championing local causes. I’ve been promoting initiatives that offer people skilled training, because I believe it’s the path to getting a better, well-paying job. I have assisted manufacturing firms in their bid to grow their business. I’ve been a voice for job creation in Hamilton and right across Ontario.

I’m both honoured and humbled by this appointment as Deputy Speaker. I promise you I will be fair and impartial. I will respect the integrity of this House. I will respect the role of each and every member of this House. I will respect parliamentary traditions, which include the right to be heard. I understand that debate can get very emotional, and I admire my colleagues, who are passionate about the issues that are most important to them, but in my role as Deputy Speaker I will ensure that debate is conducted in a respectful, courteous and civil manner. I will do my best to treat each member fairly. I will listen to each member respectfully and objectively.

This is my second term serving the people of Flamborough–Glanbrook. I’ve been in this House now for over four years, and I understand that members have differing views on issues. We all come from differing backgrounds, cultures and experiences. I’ve been in the thick of it. When the debate turns contentious—and heated at times, in fact—you have called me out on a few occasions, Mr. Speaker, but that’s because I’m passionate about the issues that I believe are important to people across Ontario and to people in this House. But, Speaker, you were doing your job. You were maintaining decorum and order in this House.

Speaker, if this motion is passed, I will be honoured and grateful to sit in the chair to serve as Deputy Speaker of the House.

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

Hon. George Pirie: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in this House to deliver my inaugural speech today. I’m honoured to represent the people of Timmins.

I want to recognize the historical connections of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit nations to this land. I was the first mayor of Timmins to acknowledge the traditional territory before the council meetings in Timmins, and today I would like to acknowledge the people of Mattagami First Nation who are part of Treaty 9 and have traditional territory in Timmins.

I would like to start, Mr. Speaker, by thanking my family for their support and encouragement throughout my journey to become a member of provincial Parliament. Thank you to my loving wife, Debbie; my children, Shaelah and Stewart, and their spouses, Lance and Alicia; and our grandchildren, Ella, Alivia and Charlie.

I’d also like to thank my campaign chairman, Gaetan Malette, who was the architect of my campaigns as mayor for Timmins, and certainly the architect during the campaign for MPP here.

I have deep roots in Timmins. My father was born in 1920 behind the mill of the Dome mine, very close to a place called Little Italy. My father’s parents arrived in Porcupine to farm, not to mine. Both the Stewart family and the Pirie family were farmers from the Ottawa Valley. The Piries arrived in Canada in the late 1800s, and the Stewart family arrived in the middle of the 1700s—both families from Scotland.

My grandparents came up north from the Ottawa Valley to farm; they, however, were not the first. The TNO railway was constructed to get to the farming areas of the Lesser Clay Belt and Great Clay Belt of northeastern Ontario. The TNO, you may not know, but it’s now called the ONR. The railway was built to join the trans-Canada rail systems in Cochrane. It was envisioned that Cochrane would grow to be the size of Winnipeg, with good reason, as there are 10 million acres of arable land in the Great Clay Belt, more than Manitoba.

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Cochrane has been a rail centre for quite some time. You may not know this—everybody knows that Tim Horton is from Cochrane, but his father was a railway man, and he worked along the railroads. It may be of a little bit of interest that Conn Smythe started his career before the First World War—I guess he was rebelling, with his father—and he had a homestead just to the west of Cochrane. He gave that up; it was a bad idea. He sold that, and the individual he sold that farm to, unfortunately, died in the great 1916 forest fire. So I guess we’re very lucky that Conn decided to move out of Cochrane.

Cobalt: As the railway was being developed, they found silver in what is now Cobalt. Cobalt was by far the largest silver camp in North America, making the bonanza deposits in Nevada small, in comparison. These deposits in Cobalt at their height produced 40 million ounces of silver a year—a huge production. These discoveries quickly led to the rush of exploration in Gowganda, Elk Lake, Larder Lake, Swastika, Kirkland Lake and the Porcupine.

Cobalt was the reason why the Haileybury School of Mines was established, which is still one of the campuses of Northern College. These campuses also include Kirkland Lake, Porcupine and Moosonee. Moosonee is the only campus on a saltwater coast in Ontario. Yes, we have a saltwater coast in Ontario.

Moose Factory was established by the Hudson’s Bay Co., which was formed on May 2, 1670. For a time, James Bay was a flourishing centre of international trade. The trade went north to the coastal communities and from there to Europe.

I have maps from the early 1800s, where northern Ontario is far better-mapped than southern Ontario. Lakes in my area, like Night Hawk Lake, Frederick House Lake and Porcupine Lake, are well-mapped and have the original Indigenous names. They were the original trading routes that the Indigenous people used to get into the coastal areas.

Early mining maps show clearly the trail from Fort Matachewan and the very upper reaches of the Montreal River. This was one of the original ways the Indigenous people travelled to get to the northern coastal areas from the Ottawa and Montreal river systems to the Mattagami and Moose systems to bypass Abitibi River, which was treacherous through the Abitibi Canyon. Those sites now, of course, have all been harnessed by hydro and are generating millions of kilowatts of power a year.

An Indigenous man by the name of Stephen Lafricain was the last factor of Fort Matachewan, and he was instrumental in the discovery of gold in Porcupine. Stephen’s father was Jamaican, and his mother was Inuit. He was born in Labrador around 1830. An interesting anecdote is that he served with the Union forces in the Civil War. In that time, well-to-do individuals could buy out of their services, and Stephen took up that opportunity. He ended up working in the fur-trading industry with Hudson’s Bay, and his earliest trips in Porcupine were around the 1880s. As you could expect, he knew the region very well.

While wintering in the Night Hawk area, Harry Preston came to know Stephen over a couple of winters. In that period, Stephen told Harry where to find gold in Porcupine. Harry Preston was a member of the Wilson party, which discovered the Dome mine—the Big Dome, as we call it. The Dome mill is still operating and will continue to operate for quite some time. It is where the ore from the Borden mine, Canada’s first all-electric mill, is being processed.

There is L’Africain Avenue in Matachewan, and perhaps someday we’ll have a street in Timmins named after Stephen in the Porcupine. But I digress.

By 1920, my grandparents had left farming because mining was simply the best economic opportunity in the region, with mines being found on a regular basis. My grandparents raised five children: four boys and one girl. The youngest, my Uncle Bill, lives in London with his lovely Jean. Jean will be 88 years old soon. My Aunt Jean was also Jim Prentice’s aunt. Jim was, in my opinion, perhaps the best Prime Minister we never had. Mr. Prentice’s career intertwined with mine somewhat, particularly with Indigenous affairs, and he and I became good friends.

Mr. Prentice’s father was Eric, or Doc. At 17, Eric, or Doc, was the youngest individual ever to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was the older brother of Dean. Dean, in the off-season, used to come and visit his dad and mom who were the custodians for the Dome public school and lived in the school. Dean played for the New York Rangers, and it was a thrill for all of us young kids when Dean showed up.

My dad started to work at the Dome after he finished his grade 13 at 16. He did not see much need to advance his education as, in 1936, thousands of men were lined up for jobs in mines out of Porcupine and, quite frankly, he did not, nor did his family, have any money to go on to university. He often told stories about thousands of men lined up for one job at the Dome. So he stayed at the Dome and worked there. He started at 16 with the kid bull gang; you couldn’t work underground, but you could work on the surface. He married my mother before leaving to go to war, and the only place he ever lived outside of a mining village, up until he retired, was during his tour of duty in the Second World War.

My mother’s family was British. They weren’t English—my grandmother was very strident on that—they were British. My grandfather was born in London. He was 15 when he joined up to join the First World War. He decided—when he got into France and he was in the trenches, he thought that wasn’t such a good idea. He told his commanding officer that he lied about his age. The commanding officer said, “You’re out of luck. You’re going to stay there,” and he had to stay there. So he survived the First World War.

He met my grandmother while he was going through the discharge process. My grandmother was one of 28 children—not all of them survived, as you can imagine. Both grandparents were Roman Catholic. Because of the number of kids in my grandmother’s family, she was raised by an uncle, as my grandmother used to say, who had some means, and she was raised in Bath, England.

When my grandparents got married, they flipped a coin to see if they would immigrate to Australia or Canada; Canada won. They started their life in Canada, living outside of Guelph on a farm. Again, better economic opportunities appeared in the form of a job in an auto plant in Oshawa, and that is where my mom was born, one of five girls and two boys.

The Depression arrived in 1929. My grandfather would not go on the dole, as he called it, so when he lost his job, they simply closed the door, leaving everything as it was. They moved north to a little place called Larocque, which was on the ONR line. My mother would tell us how she felt when they left their house in Oshawa, containing her bedroom with her dolls and her dollhouse, with only their suitcases and just simply shut the door behind them, leaving her, as a six-year-old little girl, devastated. They spent the first winter in a sod hut on the side of a hill, attempting to earn a living farming. He realized quickly that there were better opportunities in Porcupine, and they moved there.

Again, life was very tough. They found a place to stay in an old bunkhouse at the Little Pet Mine south of the Dome Mine, in the bush with only a dirt floor. Again, my mother used to tell us stories: They had to strip the moss off the rocks to seal the cracks between the timbers to try to stay warm in the winter and keep the bugs out in the summer. I cannot imagine what my grandmother thought about that, as a young woman who was raised in Bath, England. My grandfather worked in the boiler rooms in Oshawa and, as such, he found work in the powerhouse at the Dome and was given a house in Dome-Ex, and that’s where my dad lived as well. Life began to get a little bit easier.

My parents started to date, and if you can imagine this, because my grandparents on my mother’s side were Roman Catholic and my father’s grandparents on his side, of course, were Protestant, they would get into fist fights, once again proving that children are smarter than their parents, if for no other reason than they are able to leave the parents’ bias behind.

My dad and mom married before my dad entered the navy and learned his trade as an electrician there, serving as a chief petty officer on a corvette. My father worked for the Dome for 47½ years and was the chief electrician there. My parents never owned their own home, but they raised seven children, two of whom were born during the war—my older brother and older sister. All of them were successful.

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My father, mother and all of my siblings felt very, very proud of the fact that they, obviously, spent their early days in these little towns called Dome and Dome-Ex, which revolved around mining. Our lives just simply revolved around that. Our outdoor rink was right beside our house. We literally lived on the outdoor rink during the winter. We skated across the laneway to the rink in the morning, and we kept our skates on over lunch as Mom put carpets down over the kitchen floor. In the summer, we had tennis courts, ball fields, soccer fields.

Mining was intertwined with our lives on a daily basis in these villages. In the wintertime, while playing hockey on outdoor rinks, we counted the skips of ore hoisted to the surface, and in the summertime the doors were opened to cool the big hoist room motors, and as such we could actually see the Lilly controllers spin and hear the signals calling out indicating what levels the men wanted to go to. We had an elementary school, Dome Public School, and a grocery store and curling rink.

We kept time by the Dome whistle, which was a steam whistle that announced shift changes and noon-hour. Once a year at New Year’s, at 12 midnight, it rang for two minutes. It also used to ring every November 11 just before 11 o’clock, just to announce to all the workers that, of course, there was Remembrance Day. It also rang when there was trouble in the mines, a sound which caused the hair on the back of your neck to stand on end.

We and everyone who ever lived there felt that it was the best place in the world. Mining was just great. The career was a great way to live. My son feels the same, and he is now the fourth generation to work in the mining industry, in Porcupine at the Dome site.

So with this description of the mining life in Porcupine, it was a real shock to find out early in my career that the mining industry were the bad guys. I lived in a mining community that did progressive reclamation well before there were any regulations to do so. We were excellent corporate citizens with full social licence from the communities to operate, and yet we were the bad guys. In the movie Avatar, the mining guys really are bad guys, but they had no resemblance to the mining guys I knew of. We all seemed to be tarred with the same brush, and it troubled me.

In my career, I was lucky enough to travel all around the world, taking part in every facet of the mining process, including exploration, mine development, front-office activities and as an executive. The mines of the world are never found in resorts; they are found in the middle of countries, and that’s why I’ve travelled to the interiors of many countries across the world. I’ve seen the grinding poverty in South Africa and in Manila. I have worked through the political instability of Latin America and Venezuela. I have worked in developing countries like Papua New Guinea. We operated mines in Tunisia, and we closed mines there as well. But in every community that we operated in, in every country, we saw how mining elevated the standard of living, including Indigenous communities here in Timmins and in Canada. Whenever I arrived back home in Vancouver or Toronto, I felt blessed that we lived in a country like Canada that was democratic, and also a country of peace and prosperity. I was proud to work in the Canadian mining industry.

Mr. Speaker, I saw how through using industry-leading practices like revenue-sharing agreements, the five signatory nations of the Musselwhite agreement lifted the standard of living in all of these communities, to the point that other Indigenous nations were asking us to explore in their territory. I know the tremendous potential of revenue-sharing agreements and the power of economic reconciliation.

I’ve worked with Wahgoshig Resources, the economic development arm of Wahgoshig First Nation, and formed a diamond-drilling company building capacities and competencies. As the WFN lifted their standard of living, they built better housing and health clinics, all because of the development on their traditional lands and taking advantage of the mining opportunities then.

I know how enlightened the Critical Minerals Strategy is, with its promise of economic advancement and transformation to a green economy, matching the mineral potential of the north and the economic might of the south. We cannot achieve our climate goals without developing these critical minerals. We are no longer the bad guys; as I said, we cannot be green without mining.

I know this government believes in mining for all the right reasons, and its actions to make things happen have been proven by Côté Lake, which languished for 17 years despite the backing and support of the local Indigenous partners prior to this government appointing a senior environmental officer to steer this project through. It’s a critical mass of ounces, 20 million ounces—that’s a world-class deposit.

That’s why I felt so grateful to walk into the chamber in the magnificent homage to democracy and peace here in Ontario. I will admit that when I walked through the doors in this Legislature, it was an overwhelming experience. My brothers and sisters felt the same way because of our family’s rich history with mining in Ontario. The fact that I was walking down these stairs was an honour because of what Canada and Ontario has to offer.

Our country is blessed with solutions to the problems we experience in our communities, but I know things still aren’t perfect. We have 41,000 people in Timmins, and I know that number was on the downward trend. I’ve seen how economic challenges can lead to poverty, as well as mental health and addictions crises. At any given time, 95% of our homeless in Timmins are from the coastal communities. From my experience in the mining sector, I know the mining sector can provide solutions to our most serious problems by building communities and creating career paths that lead to prosperity.

Developing mines provides opportunities for Indigenous communities to participate and become leaders as we develop the green economy. Just last week, I participated in an honouring ceremony with the Chief of TTN, Bruce Archibald; RoseAnne Archibald, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations; Alison Linklater, Grand Chief to the Mushkegowuk; and Victor Linklater, Deputy Chief of NAN. These are the leaders of the TTN community, a community that is fully supportive of the Canada Nickel project just to the north of Timmins and is participating as an owner.

This is how you achieve economic reconciliation. This is a green project, and the ore is hosted in serpentine which absorbs CO2. The TTN own the power transmission and, as such, I said during the ceremony that TTN is helping in solving the climate crisis. Mining is the solution to the climate crisis. I’ve always said you can’t go green without mining. Additionally, every parent wants their children to have a better life than they did. These projects allow this to happen.

Timmins is a vital economic engine of northeastern Ontario, but we can do better. We need to continue to open more mines and create opportunities for all people to enter the workforce and succeed, and for the Indigenous people to participate in economic reconciliation. We have to keep developing our agricultural sector to support our Mennonite community, who are rapidly redeveloping dormant farmland.

We have a government that is going to build the infrastructure we need to support new mines and resource development, including building roads to the Ring of Fire. That’s exactly what we have in Premier Ford’s government.

I look forward to serving the people of Timmins in my capacity as MPP and serving the entire province as Minister of Mines.

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

Mr. Graham McGregor: Thank you for the opportunity to rise in this House.

I’d like to thank the voters of Brampton North for putting their trust in me to be our community’s voice here at Queen’s Park.

Given it’s the first time I’m speaking, I’d seek the consent of the House to speak a little about my life, my family, my riding and what drove me to politics.

Brampton North is a riding made up of several incredible neighbourhoods in—as you would expect from the name—the north end of Brampton. We have my neighbourhood of Heart Lake, home to many families who moved into Brampton in the 1980s and 1990s. Heart Lake is blessed with a vibrant natural ecosystem and with beautiful trails and wetlands built into the neighbourhood, like Loafer’s Lake and Etobicoke Creek. Just to the north of us, we have Snelgrove, which is kind of an unofficial part of Heart Lake, depending on who you ask. Snelgrove lies at the very north end of our riding and is known for the iconic water tower at Mayfield and Hurontario.

If we look east of Highway 410, we have the neighbourhood of Springdale. Springdale is a bit of newer neighbourhood in our city, home to beautiful parks, our local hospital—Brampton Civic—the Trinity Common shopping centre, and is also home to many new Canadians who have come to our country in pursuit of a better life. Brampton could not be any luckier, Mr. Speaker.

The impact our new neighbours have in making Brampton a place we should all be proud to call home is significant. We truly have some of the strongest, brightest and most humble. Ontario is a place where it doesn’t matter where you come from, who you love or how you choose to worship God; everybody has a place here, and everybody deserves a chance to succeed.

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Interjections.

Mr. Graham McGregor: And I’d remind my colleagues in the House this is a participation sport, Mr. Speaker.

On the northwest end of Springdale, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we have our very own Rosedale Village. This is a seniors’ community with its own golf course, shuffleboard and events centre. It is also one of the best places for young up-and-coming politicians to receive either sage advice or a firm kick as required. Last, but certainly not least, we have the very north end of old Bramalea—specifically M, N, J and P sections. These are some of the oldest homes in my riding and have some of the features like Professor’s Lake in P section or Mackay’s Pizza in M section. Anybody who grew up in Brampton would know they have the best stuffed Jamaican patties, certainly in the city—some would posit, the entire known universe.

Brampton is one of the fastest-growing communities in our province and in our country. We have one of the most diverse cities in the world and also one of the youngest populations of any major city in our country. You can certainly see this reflected in myself and my colleagues the honourable President of the Treasury Board, the member for Brampton East, the member for Brampton Centre and the member for Brampton West. We are a young, diverse, hungry team who are ready to fight tooth and nail to get things done for our residents.

It’s a privilege to represent the beautiful neighbourhoods and people of Brampton. It is the honour of a lifetime, and the responsibility that that privilege carries is not lost on me. I know that I would not be in a position to carry this responsibility without the love and support of my family: my father, Duncan; my mother, Lesley; my brother, Calumn; my sister, Alanna; my partner, Emily; our dog, Charlie; my niece, Olivia; my nephews, Conor and baby Shea; my quite large group of cousins, uncles, aunts; my living granny, Cathy McGregor; and my three other grandparents who are no longer with us today but I know would be very proud to see me in the House today.

My granddad James McGregor, was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was an incredibly gifted jazz musician, playing in bands in Edinburgh’s vibrant nightlife of the day, and actually accomplished and performed his mandatory service in the band in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. If anybody in the House has had the opportunity to hear me sing, either in English or in Punjabi, that all came from the musical knack of my granddad, and I’d humbly submit to the House that sometimes I wish a little bit more of that talent rubbed off on me—but then I guess I wouldn’t be doing this.

My granddad James passed away from Alzheimer’s. His family misses him everyday. My immediate family—my uncles Rob and Brian, my uncle Al, my aunt Diane—we all miss him very dearly.

My granny Cathy McGregor—maiden name Cathy Cool—was born in Montrose, a small town on the east coast of Scotland. I owe my granny for my budding sense of humour and my love of McDonald’s French fries, as well as for what my family affectionately refers to as the “Cool glare.” We are blessed to still have my granny with us. She lives in Manchester, near my uncle Rob and my uncle Brian. I know she’ll be watching this speech with immense pride. My granny is also hard-of-hearing, so I’ll look at the camera and just say, “Granny, turn the volume up and put the subtitles on and keep the headphones in. I love you very much.”

On my mother’s side: My grandpa David Hamilton and his wife, Ella Hamilton, came to Canada from Belfast, Northern Ireland. My grandpa came here in the 1950s, actually, on a boat down the St. Lawrence River. He got a job digging roads at the city of Toronto and eventually became a union member at CUPE. He established himself here in Toronto, in Canada, and then flew back to Belfast to fly his family back over to Canada. He had a strong work ethic, and to this day, I still remember a lot of the advice that he gave me. I have a tendency to try to carry too many things at one time, and my grandpa would have called that “a lazy man’s load.” He would have said, “Go back and forth,” and I even heard his voice running in my head last week, as I tried to cart out my garbage bin and my recycling bin at the same time and kind of stumbled over myself. I could hear him in the back of my head calling me a lazy man, and, like all things, he was right. If he wasn’t right, he damn well would make sure that you knew he was right.

We remember my grandma Ella Hamilton for always being the best-informed person at the dinner table. She was well read, intelligent and opinionated. My grandmother had to leave formal education earlier than she would have liked to in order to support her family. She always instilled in her children and her grandchildren a passion for lifelong learning and for doing the right thing.

It’s tougher than I thought it would be, guys.

Speaker, actually, if you had asked my grandma while she was with us, she would have told you that she always knew her grandson would get elected but that he was serving in the wrong party. That’s because both my grandparents on my mom’s side were staunch NDP supporters.

Interjection: Nobody’s perfect.

Mr. Graham McGregor: That’s right. And that’s one of the reasons I do enjoy sitting on this side, beside my NDP colleagues; the other reason, of course, being that so many of their supporters voted for me in this election for what they felt was the abandonment of the working class in this province.

Mr. Speaker, if you knew my grandma and my grandpa, they would have enjoyed that partisan jab and probably would have put me in my place quite handily.

They both left us in recent years. They also left six children, 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren—an incredible legacy—and we all miss them very dearly.

My father, Duncan, came to this country at the age of 15, back in 1968. He loves sports. He was a pretty good soccer player in Scotland, which meant, when he moved here, he was a fantastic soccer player at the time, although I think our boys and girls now would give him a bit more to think about. My dad became a big hockey fan when he moved here, and can you believe that in 1968, when he moved here, he was ecstatic that he had a Stanley Cup-winning team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, to support? I apologize to all members of this House for any bad fortune that my dad brought with him and would just acknowledge that he also made his children Toronto Maple Leafs fans. We all suffer with you in solidarity—although I do have my parade float out in the garage. I’m ready to bring it out in about October after we win a couple of games. I’ll see all you guys out there.

My dad is a great salesman, a mediocre handyman and a halfway decent golfer when he gets out of his own head. More importantly, he’s a tremendous mentor, coach and father, and he has instilled in me the importance of showing up when it matters. I can count on two hands the amount of hockey or soccer games of mine that he missed growing up, and my sister would say the same thing about her figure skating events. He has a saying: It doesn’t matter what you do the night before; you always wake up for work, and you always wake up for golf. His actions also show that you show up when it matters for your kids.

My mother and he were in the stands here during the swearing-in, and I know that they’re watching this on the legislative TV channel right now as well.

Hi, Mom. We’ll talk about you next.

My mother, Lesley, moved to Canada when she was two years old and grew up in a household with five siblings fighting over only one bathroom. If anyone has met my mother, you know she is always the smartest person in the room, and dare I say, the smartest person even when she’s not in the room. My mother taught me and my siblings to work hard, think for ourselves and, most of all, be kind to others. She taught us to always look after your family and to remember what is actually important in life.

As children, we always think that our parents are superhuman, and we don’t think anything can faze them or move them. It was only when I became an adult and grew up that I realized exactly how much my mother has been able to overcome in her life. The amount of emotional strength and intelligence she has shown is what led her children to be able to have such great lives ourselves.

She began working as a secretary in a small chemical company but rose up the ranks to become a general manager and then eventually bought out the company, Cromac chemicals, where she still works with my father and serves as the president. My mother is a boss in every sense of the word when it comes to her family and when it comes to her small business. She continually inspires me to keep pushing forward and demand excellence from myself and from those around me.

My parents moved to Brampton to raise their family, and that is where I was born, at the former Peel Memorial Hospital. We’ll get back to that in a minute. As I mentioned, I grew up in a neighbourhood called Heart Lake. Growing up in Heart Lake, one thing I quickly realized was how far behind Brampton trailed compared to other large cities in Ontario. I mentioned before, Brampton has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the entire country. It’s currently the ninth-largest in all of Canada. Seeing this great diverse community that I’m proud to be part of be ignored year after year under prior governments not only confused me but hurt me. I grew up here. My neighbours are good people, and they deserve the same level of care as everybody else in Ontario.

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For over 15 years, the former Liberal government neglected us by closing our hospital—Peel Memorial—attacking our manufacturing sector that so many of us work in, and failing to invest in critical highway structure, like Highway 413.

I view politics as a public service, and service to the public is exactly why I chose politics as a profession, because I knew my community needed representation that would stand up for our neighbours and stand up for our residents.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve said this to some of my staff and campaign staff: I think I’ve done almost every job in politics—middle management and below—that you can think of when it comes to partisan politics. During my time working for the Minister of Red Tape Reduction when he was a federal member for my area in Brampton, I would put labels on envelopes. I would carry his bags. I remember I got a big promotion one time where I got to go through the main email account and click the flag on the emails that were important and delete the ones that were not important.

I also had the pleasure of managing the campaign in 2018 for the member for Brampton West, where we won a riding that had not gone PC in many, many years, and we won it by 490 votes.

I had the pleasure of working on the staff of two other members of this House. The Honourable Minister of Finance—I’ll always remember working to support him as he delivered the 2021 budget, where we invested in a new medical school for our community in Brampton and the re-investment in turning Peel Memorial back into a second hospital for our residents.

Thank you, sir, for allowing me to do that and for your fierce advocacy. In many ways, my election and the election of my colleagues in Brampton, I think that was one of the biggest proof points that this government had our city’s back—was in that budget. It was an honour to serve with you, sir.

Most recently, I worked for the Honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Certainly, as a millennial Canadian, I would like to commend the minister for his work to get more shovels in the ground and get houses built quickly. The housing crisis is one of the biggest issues facing my generation in this country. The minister is a complete class act, and working for him for a year, I learned a lot about how to be a good parliamentarian and how to be a good public servant.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t speak about the former member for Ajax, Rod Phillips. I had the privilege of serving in his office when he was the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Minister of Finance. I’d like to thank him in this House for his mentorship. I wish him all the best as he pursues a private life.

Mr. Speaker, I am in this House to be a voice for Brampton North and specifically a voice for Heart Lake, a voice for Snelgrove, a voice for Springdale, a voice for Rosedale Village, a voice for the M, N, J and P sections. I stand on the shoulder of my family, who have loved and supported me, and the other shoulder is the mentors who have helped shape me and my career.

Brampton North is a riding, as I’ve said in this House before, where we are simply tired of waiting. We’re tired of waiting on the highway in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 410 to get home to see our families. We’re tired of waiting in the Brampton Civic waiting room, where incredible staff are beleaguered by the demands of our growing and aging population. And we are catching up from 15 years of a lack of critical investment in our city. We’re tired of the studies and the committees and the working groups; we demand action. We demand a government that gets things done. That is exactly what we are here to do. That is exactly what I will be doing as their voice here at Queen’s Park, as the member of provincial Parliament for Brampton North, so long as I am able.

As mentioned about my NDP grandparents, growing up in a family where we didn’t always agree has helped shape my politics. I look at the former member for Brampton North, Kevin Yarde. Kevin and I didn’t always agree on policy, but what we did and do agree on is standing up for our residents and fighting for our community.

Mr. Speaker, outside of this chamber there is not an NDP Ontario and a PC Ontario; it’s just Ontario.

In my PC riding, we have a thriving natural ecosystem with Etobicoke Creek, Loafer’s Lake and Professor’s Lake that requires a whole lot of conservation.

And in NDP ridings like my colleague from Niagara Centre’s, I’m sure they would prefer that the government’s hands stayed out of their pockets too.

When I think about what an Ontario looks like that we want to build together, and the responsibility that we all have as parliamentarians, I think about record-level investments in hospitals to support our health care system, which has been neglected for far too long. I think about bringing and welcoming and attracting talent from other countries and harnessing the talent that we have in our own country to fill almost 400,000 unfilled jobs that we have here today. I’d like to thank the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development for his work on that file, as well. That number, about 370,000, was actually a lot smaller when I started as a candidate. I was nominated in about October, so I think when I first said that number, it was around 280,000, give or take. The skills shortage, the labour shortage in our country and in our province is only getting worse, and we need to take firm, decisive action to make sure that we’re working for workers—workers like my grandpa, who was digging roads at the city of Toronto; workers like the auto workers at the Stellantis plant who are starting the new EV production of the EV SUVs, due in large part to and thanks to this government’s billion-dollar investment in the community.

We all have a responsibility to stand up for workers, especially standing up for new Canadian workers. Growing up in my family and in my community, we always wanted to make sure that when somebody came into our home, we made them feel welcome. Well, we’d be remiss if we invited people into our home but we didn’t build any highways for them to drive on, if we didn’t build hospitals for them to go to when they got sick, if we didn’t invest in manufacturing jobs and opportunities so that they would be able to have a place to work.

That is exactly what I am here to do as the voice of my community of Brampton North. Certainly, that is what our party and our government are here to do, as the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. I pledge to my residents to always use my voice to stand up for my community. I am eternally grateful for their support.

I pledge to always put workers first, to fight for better health care for our city, and to fight for better infrastructure and stand up for families who are going to work every single day and trying to get back to their families every single night. With the highway infrastructure and the transit infrastructure we’re going to put in place, we’re going to extend family hours, we’re going to shorten rush hour and finally give my community, which is a community that is very tired of waiting, a reason not to wait any longer.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues and I thank you for the time today to speak a little bit about myself, my community and my family. I look forward to continuing to serve with you all in this House and this Parliament.

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

M. Stéphane Sarrazin: C’est un privilège et un honneur de me lever ici en Chambre aujourd’hui, en présence de mes collègues députés, pour faire mon discours inaugural.

Je veux prendre l’opportunité de me présenter. Je suis Stéphane Sarrazin, Franco-Ontarien, fier député de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, ancien maire de la municipalité d’Alfred et Plantagenet et président des comtés unis de Prescott et Russell.

Le 2 juin dernier, j’ai eu la chance et le privilège de me faire élire dans notre belle circonscription dans l’Est ontarien, où j’y demeure depuis ma naissance. J’habite dans un village qui s’appelle Alfred, un village qui est situé sur la vielle route 17 transcanadienne et qui était nommé la capitale de la patate frite du Canada à une époque. Le nom du village provient de l’honorable Francis Eugène Alfred Évanturel, qui a été président de l’Assemblée législative, ici même, de 1898 à 1902, le seul président francophone de l’Assemblée à ce jour.

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J’imagine, monsieur le Président, que sa chaise était au même endroit que la vôtre. On peut, de nos jours, visiter l’église du village d’Alfred pour voir la chaise originale de l’ancien président, plus au moins. On peut aussi voir la photo du Président Francis Eugène Évanturel parmi celles des anciens présidents ici même à Queen’s Park.

Je suis ici aujourd’hui grâce à l’aide de plusieurs personnes, et j’aimerais profiter de cette occasion, ici même, pour les remercier, en débutant par ma conjointe, Chantal, qui est là. Chantal est toujours là pour me supporter dans tout ce que j’entreprends. Le travail de député est semblable à celui de maire. Sans aucun doute, Chantal fera une excellente dame de député, car elle a été une mairesse exceptionnelle pour la municipalité d’Alfred et Plantagenet. Je voulais te remercier, mon amour, d’embarquer avec moi dans cette nouvelle aventure.

J’ai deux filles, Rebecca et Vanessa—14 ans et 18 ans—qui ne sont pas ici aujourd’hui, qui semblaient avoir quelque chose de plus important à l’horaire. Vous savez, à l’âge de 14 ans, 18 ans, on a beaucoup de projets. Elles devront sacrifier la présence de leur père pendant les prochaines quatre années. Elles devront partager leur temps avec plus de 100 000 résidents de la circonscription de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell. J’imagine que les avoir avec nous pendant quelques semaines à Toronto, les emmener faire du magasinage dans les boutiques du centre-ville, pourrait compenser pour le manque de temps avec leur père.

Merci à mes parents pour m’avoir transmis plusieurs valeurs, comme celle d’avoir le désir d’aider les gens de ma communauté.

J’aimerais remercier aussi les 10 maires des comtés unis de Prescott et Russell et de la municipalité de Glengarry Nord. Je vais les nommer :

—Paula Assaly, qui est maire de la ville de Hawkesbury;

—M. Robert Kirby, maire de la municipalité de Hawkesbury Est;

—M. Pierre Leroux, maire de la municipalité de Russell;

—M. Normand Riopel, maire de la municipalité de Champlain;

—M. Daniel Lafleur, maire de la municipalité de Casselman et président des comtés unis de Prescott et Russell;

—M. Yves Laviolette, maire de la municipalité d’Alfred et Plantagenet, celui qui m’a remplacé suite aux résultats des élections provinciales en juin dernier;

—M. François St-Amour, maire de la municipalité de La Nation;

—M. Mario Zanth, maire de la municipalité de Clarence-Rockland;

—M. Jamie MacDonald, maire de la municipalité de Glengarry Nord; ainsi que

—Mme Carma Williams, « deputy mayor » de la municipalité de Glengarry Nord et présidente—« warden »—des comtés unis de Stormont, Dundas et Glengarry.

C’est en majorité l’idée et l’appui de ces 10 maires qui m’a incité à me présenter comme candidat aux élections provinciales. Ces 10 collègues de travail qui sont devenus des amis proches ont mis leur confiance en moi, et j’en suis très reconnaissant. Je vous promets que je saurai bien vous représenter ici à Queen’s Park. Juste pour vous dire—croyez-le ou non—la grande majorité de ces maires étaient réunis avec moi, avec plusieurs personnes et des journalistes dans une salle communautaire, pour suivre les résultats durant la soirée des élections du 2 juin dernier.

J’aimerais aussi remercier les membres de mon équipe qui ont travaillé sur ma campagne électorale :

—M. Mathieu Dumont, gérant de campagne;

—M. François Bossé, directeur financier de la campagne de l’association de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell;

—M. François St-Amour, président de l’association du Parti conservateur de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell; et

—mes spécialistes en communication, Ghyslain Hotte et Maxime Hupé.

Merci aussi à tous les membres de l’association locale. Merci à tous les bénévoles qui ont travaillé lors de la campagne. Certains d’eux étaient des amis, des voisins, des membres de la famille. Tous étaient là pour me venir en aide.

Je voudrais remercier les députés provinciaux de ma circonscription qui m’ont précédé. Il y a encore des gens de l’équipe de l’Assemblée législative qui me font part de comment c’était plaisant de travailler avec M. Jean-Marc Lalonde, qui est maintenant à sa retraite en tant que député mais qui est encore très impliqué dans notre communauté. J’ai eu la chance de m’entretenir avec M. Lalonde lors du tournoi de golf, vendredi dernier, de notre député fédéral. Il fêtait ses 87 ans. Il est encore très actif dans la communauté.

I would also like to thank all of my Glengarry–Prescott–Russell constituents, all these supporters who voted for me and have confidence that I will be a strong voice here at Queen’s Park. I want to reassure you that I will do my best to give you the representation you deserve, which is the representation you did not get for the last four years.

Mes chers électeurs, chères électrices, je suis très reconnaissant de votre appui qui nous a mené à une victoire le 2 juin dernier. Beaucoup d’entre vous ont voté pour la première fois pour un candidat et non pour un parti politique, et sachez que je m’engage à travailler fort pour vous et notre belle région de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, qui, pour les gens qui ne savent pas, débute à la frontière de la province du Québec, à environ 40 minutes à l’ouest de Montréal, et qui s’étend jusqu’à la ville d’Ottawa. En fait, c’est approximativement 100 kilomètres de bord riverain de la rivière des Outaouais qui nous sépare de nos voisins québécois.

Beaucoup d’opportunité dans la circonscription de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell : nous sommes situés entre Montréal, Ottawa et Cornwall, à proximité des autoroutes 401, 417 et des frontières de l’État de New York. Dans notre région, on voit souvent des familles où il y a un conjoint qui travaille à Ottawa et l’autre travaille à Montréal. Certains de nos villages à l’est d’Ottawa ont connu une croissance résidentielle incroyable dans les dernières années.

Beaucoup d’opportunité pour les entreprises, en plus d’être une grande région agricole : plusieurs personnes, sûrement de mes collègues ici, sont des consommateurs de nos produits tels que le fromage St-Albert, qui est reconnu pour ses « curds », et aussi la bière Beau’s, juste pour en nommer quelques-uns.

Quelques belles activités ont lieu dans certains de nos villages. Les Glengarry Highland Games dans le petit village de Maxville, le Beau’s beer Oktoberfest à Vankleek Hill, le festival country de Wendover, le Festival de la Curd de St-Albert et plusieurs foires agricoles.

Notre circonscription est située dans l’Est ontarien, qui est la plus grande région francophone de l’Ontario. J’aimerais dire à ces francophones que nous continuerons, avec l’aide de la ministre des Affaires francophones, l’honorable Caroline Mulroney, à travailler à améliorer les services aux francophones pour plusieurs années à venir. Je remercie la ministre Mulroney et son équipe pour le travail incroyable qui a été accompli durant les derniers quatre ans.

L’université francophone de l’Ontario a ouvert ses portes à l’automne 2021 à la suite d’une entente entre le fédéral et la province. Ce même leadership a également permis la création de la Fédération des gens d’affaires francophones de l’Ontario, qui fournit un espace de réseautage important pour les entrepreneurs, les commerçants et les chefs d’entreprise de langue française. En même temps, Sarnia est devenue une région désignée en vertu de la Loi sur les services en français, et plus d’écoles primaires et secondaires de langue française ont été construites à travers la province. Sans oublier : la première modernisation de la Loi sur les services en français en 35 ans, l’octroi de la gouvernance par et pour les francophones à l’Université de Hearst et le financement de nos organismes et de nos petites entreprises francophones.

Je veux mentionner que j’ai la plus grande admiration pour la ministre Mulroney, et félicitations pour le travail qu’elle et son équipe ont accompli.

J’aimerais partager avec vous une expérience que j’ai vécue à ma première visite ici à Queen’s Park, le 15 juin dernier. Probablement beaucoup d’autres nouveaux membres ont eu la chance d’arriver ici, puis d’avoir cette expérience-là. Je sors du taxi qui m’avait transporté de la station de train Union Station jusqu’ici à Queen’s Park. Je me dirige à l’entrée principale avec un bagage, n’ayant pas accès à ma chambre d’hôtel avant 16 h, un peu curieux à savoir comment j’allais me présenter à ces agents de sécurité. En montant les marches, les agents s’adressent à moi en français. Ils me disent : « Bienvenue, monsieur Sarrazin, et félicitations pour votre victoire. » Mais quelle belle surprise de voir ces gens qui ont pris le temps d’étudier la liste des nouveaux élus pour nous souhaiter la bienvenue. J’étais vraiment très impressionné.

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Par la suite, on m’offre un tour guidé avec un guide francophone qui m’explique les moindres détails du bâtiment et de son histoire. Nous entrons ici même dans la Chambre de l’Assemblée législative, puis à ce moment-là, nous voilà en présence d’un guide qui offre une visite à un groupe d’élèves francophones assisté de plusieurs enseignants. Piqué par la curiosité et croyant que personne ne savait qui j’étais, je demande à la guide si je peux poser une question. Ma question avait pour but de savoir de quelle région de l’Ontario provenait ce groupe d’étudiants, mais avant même que je pose ma question, l’employée de l’Assemblée législative, qui est la guide, prend la parole en s’adressant aux visiteurs et leur dit : « Je vous présente M. Stéphane Sarrazin, député de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell, une des plus grandes circonscriptions francophones de la province. » Bien, vous ne pouvez pas savoir à quel point j’ai été surpris et submergé d’émotions. C’était très gentil de la part de ces employés-là. Je voulais dire un merci spécial aux employés de l’Assemblée législative d’être tant attentionnés à travailler avec les membres élus. Je voulais les remercier pour ça.

Now to my MPP colleagues, I would like to apologize in advance to you and the Legislative Assembly translators as I will often slip some English words while speaking in French. Donc, I believe that is the reality of many Franco-Ontarians, especially in the northern Ontario region. We call that “franglais.” I admit that it will be fun to see many of you, the members, quickly grab the headset to get translation when I address you in French. I am assuming that you all could have guessed from the start that I was a francophone, and you noticed my French accent, of course.

A lot of my English colleagues make some incredible efforts to communicate with me in French and many of them would really like to learn to speak French. Ces gens-là, on les surnomme des francophiles. A francophile is a person who admires francophones and their language, and I would like to tell you, my colleagues, that I’m very thankful for that.

Like I was mentioning earlier, as a mayor and a warden, I had the opportunity to sit on many councils and committees. I was involved with Prescott-Russell economic development, Prescott-Russell tourism, public works, social services, a long-term-care facility, emergency services, the local police board, a conservation agency, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and the Eastern Ontario Agri-Food Network. I believe I was very fortunate to be involved with many organizations over the past years and be able to better understand our challenges in the riding.

I’m proud to be part of a team of great people who are all here for the same reason, which is to serve their constituents. An MPP’s responsibility is one that no one should take lightly. I am really impressed by the team, and I’m positive that we will work together to get a stronger Ontario.

Comme mentionné lors du discours du trône, notre province, notre pays a connu durant les dernières années des situations sans précédent. Nous avons de gros défis à relever, et les citoyens s’attendent à ce que les membres du gouvernement travaillent ensemble pour y arriver.

L’inflation est au plus haut niveau. Les chaînes d’approvisionnement sont fragiles à la suite d’une pandémie mondiale et la guerre en Ukraine—de grosse conséquence sur le portefeuille de nos citoyens et nos entrepreneurs. J’ai confiance que notre gouvernement sera fiscalement responsable et remettra l’Ontario sur la voie de la prospérité.

Encore une fois, j’aimerais terminer mon discours en m’adressant aux citoyens de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell. Je serai là pour vous représenter en tant que député pour les prochains quatre ans et je vous remercie pour votre confiance. Merci beaucoup.

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

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: Point of order.

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

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: Today is a special day. I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to an amazing, caring and beautiful individual. Happy birthday, Alia.

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

Mr. Brian Riddell: Again, I would like to express my gratitude for being in this beautiful chamber. I keep looking at these lights and ceilings and can’t take my eyes off it. I love the fact that the people of Cambridge gave me the trust to elect me to sit in this room with this esteemed group, everybody on both sides of the aisle.

This morning, I started talking about Cambridge, a place with vitality, innovation and quality of life. That’s my city part of my riding. I also have a countryside of my riding called North Dumfries township. It’s picturesque. It’s mainly agricultural. Its quaint location and proximity to many large economic centres along the 401—and, like Cambridge, the 401 doesn’t run exactly through it but very close to it. It’s also at a main rail hub with Canadian Pacific that runs through Cambridge also.

North Dumfries is named after a Scottish settler—and I’ve got a little bit of Scottish history beside me, but Riddell is also an old Scottish name. It’s a scenic area that wraps around the city of Cambridge, and it’s located on the south end of the region of Waterloo. The township’s population is about 10,500—not big—with Ayr and Branchton being the largest communities, and settlements of Roseville, Clyde and Reidsville, as well as the Greenfield Heritage District. It’s a peaceful retreat with the countryside charm of rolling hills, ponds, rivers and trails. It’s a go-to destination if you want to have some recreation and relaxation.

People in the riding, whether it’s on the street or in a restaurant or in a campaign office or knocking on doors, would ask me why am I getting into the world of politics. I would tell them, “I’m a lifelong resident of the area, and I’ve always wanted to get involved and make positive change.” And that’s my credo: make positive change.

I’m going to steal from Will Bouma right now. I believe in treating people how I’d like to be treated and leaving things better than I found them.

I have a crazy background. I started off going to school for photography for three years. I worked for the Edmonton Journal and hated it. I saw a side of life that our esteemed member on the other side was mentioning about news, and it just wasn’t for me. But my dad was an electrician. My grandfather was involved with Tender Tootsies slippers, which I’m sure maybe your moms wore at one time.

I was raised around factories, so I thought, “I’ll be a millwright.” I went to school for that and started working at a company in Cambridge called Dresser Industries, building oil rigs. Then I started getting promoted up. They sent me to school for industrial engineering, where I graduated from Conestoga College. Then I did my degree at Wilfrid Laurier and the University of Chicago. And then somehow, I got into working black-box projects for General Motors, Ford and Toyota. I was one of the first people to be sent over to Toyota City in Japan. It opened my eyes like you would not believe.

As that industry started to shut down and move a lot to the States, I got into tire companies. I was the assistant manager of quality of Uniroyal-Goodrich up in Kitchener. We were bought out by Michelin. They looked at me and said, “We’re making you a field engineer,” so I used to go all over Canada, place tires in various facilities and then just report on them to the engineers in Clermont, France and in Greenville, South Carolina, just on their progress. But a lot of my friends from U-G ended up going over to Bridgestone. When I finished at Bridgestone, I was one of the national sales managers, and I thought it’s time to retire.

I was fooling myself. I can’t sit still. I love working. So I got into teaching. I went back and I was a professor at Conestoga College, teaching creative industries. I love that too, but I’ve always wanted to get into political life. I remember an MP in Cambridge named Max Saltsman who had business dealings with my father. He took us up to Ottawa and gave me a tour of the Parliament buildings, and I got bit—just like a tick, only I didn’t get Lyme disease from it.

Part of the thing that was bothering me: The past Liberal and NDP governments left the province in a mess, and I just wasn’t satisfied with that situation. I put my name out there and got a call on New Year’s Eve, of all days, that they’re interested in me being a candidate in Cambridge, so I went for it. About four months after that, I talked to the Premier. We got along, and I thought, I want to do this. But I had a big problem. The New Blue Party was formed in Cambridge, and everyone in this room knows what that is, and that was going to be my biggest challenge, I thought.

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Basically, the riding association was destroyed. I had to rebuild that. I had great help from a lot of people. Peter Tudisco was our president. Dr. Matt Stubbings was my campaign manager—a lot of you know Matt; an amazing person. And probably the best person I had to deal with was my wife, Suzanne. She became my CFO. John Wright was my vice-president. Rob Leone, who sat in this chamber too, was on my board. And I had a guy named Nicholas Ermeta, who’s a councilman in Cambridge. He knocked on 10,000 doors for me. I have hobbies. I was a baseball coach. I’m a ski race coach out of Glen Eden, so my knees are gone. How this guy did 10,000 doors, I’ll never know. But in total, we knocked on over 16,000 doors, which was amazing.

There were all these hard-working people who believed in our cause, who were willing to go out there and donate their time, their money, and ultimately their votes to make this happen, and I will never forget them.

I would like to thank MPPs Mike Harris, Will Bouma and Monte McNaughton for helping me out too.

One of the largest advantages I had over other vying candidates—and it was kind of interesting—our campaign office was beside a Dairy Queen. In June, it was getting a little hot. May was hot, and everybody liked going to Dairy Queen. So that was my advantage. I used it for door-knocking schedules so they could have a break on a hot day.

Our government, under Doug Ford’s leadership, has been blessed with a second term and is working hard to correct all those issues and move forward with innovation, growth and prosperity for all Ontarians. I would like to mention a few of those examples that intrigued me—things that have been done and are going to be done:

—the spending of over $1 billion building five transmission lines to address electricity needs;

—$91 million to help electric vehicles and chargers to become more accessible;

—spending $3.5 million over three years, starting in 2022-23, to support over 3,000 hospital beds;

—$2.8 billion over the next three years to make temporary wage enhancements for PSWs;

—$142 million to recruit and retain health care workers in underserved communities;

—investing an additional $114 million over three years in skilled trades. Working with Monte on visiting Conestoga, the new campus, was invigorating;

—making Ontario the electric car manufacturing leader in North America, and I think that’s where we’re going;

—$91 million to help make electric vehicle chargers more accessible—I mentioned that already;

—introducing a new science and technology curriculum;

—spending over $40 billion in the next 10 years on hospital infrastructure. My colleague here from Brampton North mentioned the Peel hospital being shut and then reopened. The fact that we’re building the first medical school for doctors in over 100 years is amazing;

—spending $124 million over three years to modernize clinical education for nurses;

—$42 million over two years to support the expansion of undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in Ontario; and

—reducing barriers to make it easier and quicker for foreign-credentialed health workers to begin practising in Ontario.

It just goes on and on. I could probably talk about this for an hour, but I’m not going to.

I want to go back to what I said earlier. The people of Cambridge have put me in this honoured role. I am deeply honoured, and I will do my best to bring their voice forward in this chamber.

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

Mr. Nolan Quinn: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and congratulations on your election to the role.

I’m excited to be standing in this historic chamber representing the constituents of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry—a dream come true, something that I did not expect or hope for until much later in life, a true privilege I’ll never take for granted.

First, I’d like to thank the previous member, Jim McDonell, respectfully referred to as Jimmy or Gentleman Jim to anyone who worked with him. Both of those monikers proved how hard Jim worked creating relationships with all members of this House, regardless of party. I can only hope to be seen in such a positive light after my time in office. Jim worked tirelessly for the residents of our riding, not only during his 12 years as MPP but prior, with his many years in municipal politics. I have big shoes to fill to carry on the legacy of good representation for our riding. I’m blessed to have inherited a solid Progressive Conservative movement from Jim.

Next, I’d like to thank the strong leadership of Premier Ford and the rest of my colleagues for allowing me to be part of this team and to get things done for the people of Ontario. I’m honoured to be a part of the 43rd Parliament of Ontario.

I’d like to thank my family for allowing me to live out this dream of representing Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry. They’re here today, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you to my wife, Kim, a passionate elementary school teacher. Without her, none of this would be possible. Kim thrives to make a difference in the lives of young children she teaches. Kim is the foundation of everything I do. Thank you, Kim, for taking care of everything at home while I’m away, while also being a successful elementary educator.

To my children, Norah, Nolan Jr. and Nevyn, thank you. Thank you for sharing the time with your father as young kids for the betterment of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry and the province of Ontario. I hope to show you, with hard work and determination, anything is possible.

To my parents, Karen and Frank Quinn, thank you for instilling in me the importance of community involvement at an early age. As long as I can remember, my parents taught myself and my four siblings the importance of giving back to our community, both with our time and financial contributions where possible. My mother and I would frequently go door to door, fundraising for heart and stroke, cancer and many other charitable endeavours when I was only knee-high. My father has volunteered his time for decades, helping many charities on the board of directors and with their bookkeeping and other duties. Now retired from working, he spends many hours helping our local church, St. Andrew’s parish and in the historic cemetery.

To my campaign team that made this possible, thank you. My campaign manager, Adrian Bugelli, kept the campaign focused, organized and on track—not only keeping the campaign on track, but also me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m hard to keep in line.

Thank you to the campaign office staff of Tanya McVey and Vincent Blais, who worked tirelessly with all the volunteers. Some of the key volunteers—and hopefully I’m not forgetting anyone—are Amanda and Dan Brisson; Marcel Booyink; Jimmy Duncan; Sam McDonell, who is Jim’s nephew; Rick Marvel; Pierre Roy; Jason Setnyk; Steve Densham; Geraldine Fitzsimmons; and Gerry Boyce. To the dozens of other volunteers who helped with signs, calls and door-knocking, it is greatly appreciated. This could not have happened without your time.

Thank you to all the supporters who helped fuel this win, whether it was support, funding or words of encouragement.

My riding of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry consists of the city centre of Cornwall and the counties, with many historic villages and towns scattered throughout. The city of Cornwall’s slogan is “A World of Possibility,” and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry’s slogan is “Where Ontario Began.” Our area has a rich and vibrant history, filled with Franco-Ontarian heritage and Indigenous culture and tradition. Located along the mighty St. Lawrence River, my riding is strategically located beside the border with the United States, our nation’s capital and the province of Quebec. Our neighbours in Akwesasne have lived on the land for centuries, passing down native teachings and tradition from one generation to the next. Akwesasne is an important partner, both culturally and economically, both in the past and in the future in eastern Ontario.

Cornwall began as a United Empire Loyalist town named New Johnstown, originally settled in 1784. It was used as a garrison town in the War of 1812, with the crucial Battle of Crysler’s Farm just a short distance away. Some historians state that the Battle of Crysler’s Farm saved the nation of Canada.

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The city of Cornwall housed the first industrial facility to be electrically lit in Canada, under the guidance of Thomas Edison, in April 1883. Cornwall, Akwesasne, and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry were permanently altered when the R.H. Saunders dam was built, flooding many villages—lost villages, as they are called—to make way for one of the largest hydroelectric dams in Ontario and Canada, which was built between 1954 and 1958. Dozens of villages were picked up and moved to make way for the flooding of the river. Queen Elizabeth took part in a royal visit to the area to marvel in the engineering feat of the seaway, the relocated towns because of the flooding, and the power project in 1959. Her visit literally energized our riding.

With a large industrial past, Cornwall has transitioned from a mill town of one square mile, for a short time as a telemarketing region, and now as a distribution hub employing thousands for multinational companies—truly a world of possibility.

Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry has played an important role in the history of Ontario. It’s where Ontario began in Upper Canada. The Honourable John Sandfield Macdonald—as we all know, the first Prime Minister, or Premier, of Ontario from 1867 to 1871—was born in St. Raphael’s West in Glengarry county. He died in Cornwall, Ontario, and rests a kilometre from my family home in St. Andrews West. He lies across the road from the historic Quinn’s Inn restaurant, which was my grandfather’s general store and Sandfield Macdonald’s stagecoach inn stopover that he built in 1865—built right before he became Prime Minister of Ontario. In the same cemetery that he is buried is the prolific Canadian explorer Simon Fraser, with the location of his farmstead on the road I currently live with my family.

Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry is known for our strong agriculture background. Agriculture is a way of life for many citizens I represent. Whether it’s farming, cash crops, raising beef cattle or producing milk, our region is helping to feed the province, the country and the world. Many youth in our area are raised and work on the farm, including many of my close friends.

Before I start on this next paragraph, I just want to mention that I believe this may be the most times Dairy Queen has been mentioned in this House, after MPP Riddell—because I own a Dairy Queen.

The day I was called and asked to put my name forward for the PC Party nomination, I was heading home on the train from Burlington, Ontario. I felt the world was telling me to move in this direction. Being from eastern Ontario, I will be travelling by train quite frequently to Queen’s Park. I was heading home from my last meeting on a Dairy Queen Canada franchise advisory council—a council I sat on for three terms, totalling six years, representing stores in eastern and northern Ontario. Prior to terming off the board, I learned so much on that council about the politics of working hard for your region, but also working with other regions to make things happen—a true give-and-take to achieve success.

The relationships I have built helped me to have a stronger voice for my region. I thank my close franchisee friends for helping me with that—Michael Liber, Laird Lister, Terry Burnett, Trenton Beday, Rob Clemens, Gary Allen, Terry Smith and Sherry Schaap, who actually owns the Dairy Queen up by Wasaga Beach—as well as corporate leadership Candida Ness and Peter White for showing me the ropes of good governance and representation. I am a stubborn person and I’m very persistent, so they helped chisel me away a little bit to get a little bit more user-friendly, teaching me how to work together and get things done. Those work friendships will last a lifetime, and I’m forever grateful for the lessons and advice they gave me over the years.

Another area with the Dairy Queen Canada leadership councils I have thoroughly enjoyed and learned a great deal from was the supply chain council. The strong leadership group of Jeff Planden and Zhaleh Golwalla have helped with mentorship and advice, both personally and professionally.

Although this is my first venture into politics, I’ve always had a keen interest in the provincial and federal political sphere. Many debates—or arguments, as my mother would say—around our kitchen table about politics during my teenage years were quite common and prepared me for the debates that will take place in this historic chamber in the years to come. Being the youngest of five children, quite often I had to be patient to be heard about my political views with my siblings, some who lean in different directions.

My father and myself, fiscal Conservatives, have always supported Conservative governments, candidates and philosophy. Prior to this election, my experience helping to campaign was helping to deliver lawn signs for my federal MP, Eric Duncan, and that didn’t go too well, with myself running out of gas as we were too focused on political conversations and getting the signs delivered. Today, there’s no reason to run out of gas with the new cars we have. Eric’s executive assistant, my campaign manager, Adrian, delivered gas in a jerry can, which we still laugh about; both will not let me forget that any time soon.

My father has spent decades as the chief financial officer for Conservative campaigns in our riding, both federally and provincially, including previous member Jim McDonell’s three terms in office. My father was one of the first phone calls I made after I was approached by the EDA, to bring him out of CFO retirement for my possible campaign. He reluctantly said yes, but he also stated that the provincial auditing is a lot easier than the federal one, so I think that might have been partially the reason why he decided to sign on. As we all know, financials and the numbers are the most important piece, whether it’s a business or an election. A heartfelt thank you to my father for being part of this journey, something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Many other confidential calls were made to trusted community leaders, to see if I was off my rocker to think I could run a successful restaurant, be active in raising a young family and be an effective politician. One phone call to Sean Adams, a local lawyer and important philanthropist in our community, stood out to me. Sean’s father was also a lawyer and community leader. Many years ago, Sean and his father were at a charitable fundraiser and Sean was asked by his father to read the room: Who would he want to work with on an important community cause or fundraiser if one were to arise?

Mr. Adams told his son Sean, after they both scanned the crowd, that he would always want to work hand in hand with the people in the crowd who looked like they had too much on their plates, not the attendees who looked like they were always having too good of a time. His father stated that the people who take on too many projects or keep themselves busy with many projects are the ones who you know can handle the pressure and are able to effectively multitask. That was part of the story that Sean shared with myself. I’ve always taken on too many projects or endeavours, as most will tell me, so his words really hit home. He made be believe I was not crazy to think I could take the challenge on of representing our riding while running a business and raising my children.

My wife, Kim, is a major contributor to this being possible, and that cannot be understated. With my many years working seven days a week at the restaurant, and now this role, my mother reminds me weekly of Kim being a saint for being by my side. Thank you.

Another one of those many calls went out to my oldest brother, Cameron, who lives here in Toronto with his family. He was excited that I was thinking of putting my name forward for the nomination. Again, I asked him if he felt it was possible to manage it all with young children. As everyone in this chamber and those who came before us know, we sacrifice our time with family and friends in our roles for the betterment of our communities.

My personal plan was always to possibly run when I had more life experience, and my brother knew that. His response was that you’ll always sacrifice, whether now when they are young, when they are teenagers or when they are married with children. We all know our children grow quickly, and the time when they are little goes fast. He, as well as many others, told me not to wait.

Other conversations for confidential advice were had with my restaurant managers, as I truly needed their blessing before I put my name forward, and with my other siblings, some close friends and MP Eric Duncan, as well as MPP Jim McDonell.

I’ve spent many years with our local United Way in Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and Akwesasne, first as the campaign chair for two years—which was right when Kim and I got married, so there was no honeymoon; I still owe her that—and directly after as a board member. I finished my time on the board as the president for two years. I quickly realized that the need was always greater than we could fulfill with any of the charities under our funding. My experience with the United Way made me appreciate the impact we can have in the short time we are on this earth. Impact is the main reason I chose to run in this past election.

I recently spent time on my local Children’s Treatment Centre board of directors. The mandate of the centre is to look after the well-being of children who have been physically or mentally abused. The centre helps the siblings and the parents cope with trauma as well. This centre has been developed from the community, for the community. Angelo Towndale and Sean Adams have been the heart and soul of this important charity for many years.

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I grew up as a shy and awkward youth. Many around me are shocked when I tell them that I’m an introvert nowadays. As a child, I had a slight speech impediment and could not pronounce my Ls. Tagging along with my brother, Tremain, to deliver papers and collect funds, quite often I was asked by the paper customers at the door what this little boy’s name was, to which I would reply, “No one.” I was obviously trying to say Nolan, but shy, awkward me, that is not what would come out. On many occasions the adult at the door would burst out laughing and say something along the lines of, “This boy’s name is ‘no one’”—talk about making a shy kid even more introverted. As I age, I have embraced all of my shortcomings. As most will say, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, it will be a long life.

About 10 years ago, my restaurant won an award with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cornwall and District. We proudly won big business of the year at the gala which, if memory recalls, was the 40th anniversary of the organization, so many were in attendance. When I accepted the award, I had no prepared remarks as I was not aware that I was actually receiving it. When I got on stage, I spoke about the importance of the organization with mentoring youth. I explained to the crowd, probably a few hundred supporters, how important youth mentorship is to help both young boys and young girls gain life skills with their matches. Somehow I connected the youth mentorship theme with the fact that I could not tie a tie and I told the crowd that, even with my father showing me dozens and dozens of times. Since that night, I get many grown men who have not forgotten that moment and quite often come up to me at events after having a few drinks to bravely tell me that they will teach me how to tie a tie. This memory has allowed me to connect with many strangers that I would normally not, sharing a laugh about one of my many weaknesses.

To all the young kids who feel they don’t fit in, are not the smartest student or are just shy, just know that hard work can get you anywhere. I worked my way up from the cleanup kid at my own restaurant who was too shy to serve customers and just cleaned bathrooms and the parking lot, to the manager to owning the restaurant and now a provincial MPP.

My mother would always state two quotes to me growing up. One was that most people don’t like to youngest child in the family as she believed they could be spoiled or have bad attitudes, and she would not let that happen, and I think those are better words than what she used to say, but she was darned that was not going to happen under her watch.

The second quote I will carry from my mom is that God has given you the talents and ability to achieve things others have not and not to waste it.

I am not going to stand here today and say I’m the smartest, most athletic or best looking, as I am not any of those. To be honest, I’ve had about 12 concussions playing sports and broken many bones. But I will proudly state and try to instill in my children, who are here today, that if you work hard and put the extra effort in that most are willing not to do, you can achieve things others may not be able to do.

Everything I do in my role as an MPP in the coming years needs to be appreciated in 20 years by my children, Norah, Nolan Jr. and Nevyn. In the future, if they’re embarrassed of me in my previous role in provincial Parliament, I know I would have failed as MPP for Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry.

I will finish today with a quote from one of the best Prime Ministers, in my opinion, that Canadan has ever had, Brian Mulroney: “I believe in judging people and governments by results, not myths.”

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Ernie Hardeman): Further debate?

Mr. Trevor Jones: It’s a privilege and honour to address this House as the member for provincial Parliament for Chatham–Kent–Leamington. I want to offer my sincere congratulations on this important role. I also want to congratulate all members on their elections to this historic place in our 43rd Parliament. I acknowledge how proud I am to serve alongside those who chose to dedicate their energies to selflessly serve the betterment of the people of this beautiful province.

As recently as last week, a member here spoke eloquently on the unique and diverse skills elected members of this Legislature bring to serve Ontario. We’re all the products of a diverse set of social, familial, economic and geographic influences. For many reasons, certain people, places and events stand out in our lives and serve to more strongly shape the people we become.

At various points in my journey to this House, I became acutely aware of the many remarkable people I’m indebted to for sharing their time with me, for their mentorship and for believing in me. The commitment I make is to work tirelessly, to the best of my ability and with uncompromising integrity in the service of others. I learned to generously share of my experiences in the hope that it might benefit and improve the lives of others.

I came from a place where you had to earn trust and demonstrate mastery of skills to make decisions of consequence. This is nowhere truer than in this very House, where together we work, debate and ultimately make decisions of great consequence that impact the communities across Ontario.

My story begins at a small family farm in Leamington, near the entrance gates to Point Pelee National Park. Here, the rich earth, being former marshland, is that distinctive, beautiful black loam that grows vibrant onions, carrots, celery and leafy greens. This is where my mother’s amazing Ukrainian family made their home when they immigrated to Canada from a war-torn Europe. My mother, Nellie, is the youngest of 10 and one of only two children born here in Canada to Peter and Minodora Wolf.

From our tiny farmhouse, I could look out my window across the onion fields and see my baba’s house. To this day, I can still vividly recall the heavenly smells from her cooking in that kitchen. This is probably why, in my first formative years, while my parents were busy working, I apparently had the habit of trying to escape their supervision to join my baba in her kitchen for her cabbage rolls, perogies and other homemade treats.

My dad, Paul, worked in a small auto parts factory in Leamington. After his shifts, he would join my mom and her family on that busy little farm. On one occasion during harvest, I succeeded in traversing those fields, alone, barefoot and supervised only by our loyal golden lab retriever to join my baba for lunch. After a frantic call on the party line, which people from rural Ontario will remember, quickly yielded my location, a young Paul and Nellie Jones kept a much closer eye on their adventurous son, who was of course protected from any criticisms by his Ukrainian grandmother.

Our Jones family has Welsh and early American origins, and also made Leamington their home. Attracted to the stunning shores of Lake Erie and the stable, well-paying job opportunities at places like the H.J. Heinz Company, the Joneses lived alongside their dear friends from the Robinson family in a string of small lakeside homes. I am fortunate to have so many fond memories in the company of my great-grandparents, Sidney and Blanche; my lovely grandparents, Joe and Glenna; and our extended family and friends.

At the time, our little lakeside home was well out of town limits, and we were surrounded by orchards, fields and the big waters of Lake Erie. My only sister, Melanie, and I both learned to drive well before 16 years of age in those very fields, and swam nearly every summer day by carefully navigating the rocky makeshift stairs down the cliffs to the waters. Melanie remains one of my best friends and supporters to this day.

The blessing of first being surrounded by pristine marsh fields and then Lake Erie had a lasting impact on me. Since my extended families lived alongside one another and shared our backyard spaces and views of the lake, summer barbecues, bonfires and informal gatherings were a regular phenomenon.

At one such gathering, the Jones gentlemen, most of whom served actively in their younger years as sailors in the Royal Canadian Navy, were trap shooting. With strict safeguards in place that would rival modern military shooting ranges, my grandfathers, great-uncles and father sought out to see if young Trevor, who was the last of their namesake, could shoot. Nervously, I shouldered both rifles and shotguns, and failed to see how this operation worked. I could not actually see the front sight, and I had no idea what was happening to cause this explosion and launching of said projectiles.

After a short evaluation and diagnosis, the result was that I appeared to be left-eye dominant, despite being right-handed. Now, by shouldering the firearm on my left shoulder and closing my right eye, I marvelled at how I could see every bullet travelling to its precise intended destination at the centre of targets, and smashing clay traps as they flew swiftly across the sky. The revelry from the Jones men could not be contained as they continued to test my new-found skill with more and more difficult challenges, and I continued to exceed their expectations. I even surpassed the scores of these senior seasoned marksmen.

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Nevertheless, my mother, sister, grandmothers and aunts were far less amused at this and thought I should not be unduly influenced to pursue any hobby or career path that involved firearms of any kind. I was able to appease them for a time, as my early interests were focused on sports, student government and community service.

After graduating from Leamington District Secondary School and understanding that I’d be self-funding any postsecondary education, I chose the University of Windsor to study political science and history, which was a pleasant surprise to my parents, even though I elected to live away from home in residence on campus. I also joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a reservist to help fund my education and carry on our important family tradition of duty.

The community feel of that campus in Windsor, the small classes and engaged professors, certainly contributed to my success and had a lasting positive impact on my life. This is where, despite serious political opinions to the contrary, I met one of my early mentors, friends and life-long professional champions. The first term paper I completed for the Honourable Howard Pawley, my first-year professor, was returned to me with so much red ink on it I surely felt he’d failed me. Much to my surprise, there was a bold “A” on the last page and a handwritten note to “See me” for a visit during his office hours. I took the opportunity and began a lifelong friendship with the kind diplomat who never tried to temper my deep beliefs in fiscal conservatism, but rather offered glimpses into the value of understanding and appreciating opposing perspectives.

After completing undergraduate studies, I pursued graduate work in a unique international program between the University of Windsor and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. This opportunity was both academically and culturally enriching, as I crossed the border each week to study immigration law and history under the brilliant John J. Bukowczyk, who celebrated my addition to his American graduate class with funny Canadian trivia, maple dip donuts and even rounds of one-dollar Molson Canadian pints—after class, of course—to amuse my American colleagues.

Downtown Detroit, its rich history, sports teams and music, has also had a tremendous influence on me throughout my life. As a student of history surrounded by fascinating architecture and one of the most powerful cities of North America for a time, I was fascinated by the decisions lawmakers made and the impacts these decisions had on the world.

Inspired to serve our communities honourably, I entered Ontario’s public service after graduate school as a front-line member of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. This is where I’d meet my future wife, Najet, this beautiful Lebanese girl from my hometown of Leamington, who was completing her science studies at Western and working as a student. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Ministry of Transportation, or the MTO as we called it, and it was there I became inspired to serve our communities in a different way.

On a warm, humid summer night on Highway 401 in Essex County, I had just finished completing an inspection of a large commercial motor vehicle with several serious safety violations. I had motor oil on my face and grease on my orange coveralls and calmly explained to the driver he’d need to undertake serious repairs before continuing. The driver looked me in the eye and shook my hand and thanked me. He stated he wished all law enforcement officers he encountered could be so respectful, professional and courteous. When I returned home that morning, I had an idea and discussed it over breakfast with Najet and our fussy, beautiful blue-eyed baby son, Nico. I thought about our service, and service to the communities and ways I might be of better service.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I was standing at attention with a razor-sharp Stetson on, carrying out my first duty as OPP valedictorian, carefully reading out the names of the police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty at the Ontario Police Memorial, only a few steps from here.

As a sworn provincial police officer, I was blessed to learn from and work alongside exceptional leaders from all corners of our province. As far north as Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug—KI—to the western Ontario provincial community of Pikangikum and our National Capital Region, downtown Toronto and as far south as my home communities of Chatham-Kent, Leamington and Peele Island.

As a young police officer, I competed for and successfully earned a position with the OPP’s emergency response team to support a mandate that included canine support, containment, search and rescue, VIP security, witness protection, and complex evidence searches.

My time as a front-line member and, later in my career, as a supervisor offered me very unique insights into better understanding people and peacefully resolving conflicts. Although many of my police colleagues laughed and marvelled at my ability that I maintained since childhood to shoot accurately at great distances even while running fast, I am most proud of my accomplishments in our communities where I was able to bring calm while offering empathy, respect and order to people who somehow found themselves in trouble.

Growing up in a vibrant food-producing area of southwestern Ontario, surrounded by productive fields and the protected spaces of modern greenhouses, I always took note when working in other communities that for various reasons had less access to fresh food, and an early notion of food security and access began to nag at me. Around this very time, I was here in Toronto participating in a training program at the Rotman School of Management, I had the privilege of working with the amazing team of Rose Patten, Jim Fisher, Jen Riel and Roger Martin, who challenged their students to think differently about the problems we encountered.

Inspired by people I met from all across Ontario and drawn to more actively participate in the political process, I answered this challenge and sought out an opportunity to learn new skills and apply the ones I’d acquired in policing. I felt both a nervous energy and a quiet contentment when I returned to my farming roots to support local agriculture producers and ensure Ontario remained a global leader for food security.

After almost five years of working with world leaders in agribusiness and building a strong professional network and business IQ, my journey led me here, as your colleague and the advocate for Chatham-Kent–Leamington.

My home was the ancestral home of the Ojibway, Odawa, Potawatomi, Huron-Wendat, Caldwell and the Delaware Nation at Moraviantown on the Thames, and many other Indigenous peoples. Today, my home is also the home of 110,000 people across 3,000 square kilometres in communities that stretch along the northern shores of Lake Erie, from Leamington to Pelee Island, Staples, Comber, Tilbury, Stoney Point, Wheatley, Merlin, Chatham-Kent, Blenheim, Ridgetown, Kent Bridge and Highgate.

Like many parts of Ontario, we welcome thousands of tourists each year. We’re diverse communities whose early settlers were from the UK, Italy, Portugal, Lebanon, Germany, the Netherlands, Ukraine, India and Pakistan. Today, we represent people from every part of the world.

Chatham-Kent–Leamington is an agriculture and economic powerhouse, the historic home to food producers, unique technology companies, freshwater fisheries and manufacturing plants. As a global leader in the production of safe, reliable, nutritious foods, our farms, greenhouses and orchards in Chatham-Kent–Leamington provide thousands of economic opportunities for local and international agriculture workers, who work very hard to directly support our economy and their own families. What led me here is my love of people and my passion for food security, public safety and economic opportunities for everyone who wants to work hard and contribute to the greatness of Ontario.

Speaker, there is nowhere more evident than this very House and from our throne speech that we will rebuild Ontario’s economy. We’ll keep costs down, build highways and key infrastructure like our vital three-highway link from Leamington to Windsor, work for workers by investing in our skilled trades—something that’s happening right now at St. Clair College and in Ridgetown college—and have a real plan to stay open, to have reliable, domestic supply of PPE from producers like Harbour Technologies in my riding of Chatham-Kent–Leamington.

This most recent and most challenging opportunity was only made possible because of the unconditional love of my wife, Najet, a caring and brilliant high school science teacher and vice-principal; our sons, Nico, Alex and Sam Jones; my parents, Paul and Nellie; Gabe and Claudette Andary; my extended family, including Paul and Melanie Mastronardi, Kristina and Aaron Zimmer, Chuck and Jessie Andary, and our nieces and nephews, Annika, Milla, Skye, Macey, Alex and Nathan.

I want to thank my lifelong friends for their guidance and support, including Kelly Robinson, Mark Dunford, Cale Armstrong, Chris Vince, Mark Quenneville, Stew Douglas, Mark Rogers, Chhieu Seng, Tony Tannous, and Ian Barr.

I owe a debt of gratitude to my exceptional campaign team led by Susan Liovas, Kellie Jo Whittaker, Michael Bondy and Sarah Weaver; my special advisers, including the Honourable Darcy McKeough, Doug Sulman, Mike Schlater and Neil Wood; our key supporters and champions that are far too many to mention by name.

I want to thank our Premier, Doug Ford, for his leadership and for believing in me. I want to extend my warmest thanks to the Honourable Ministers McNaughton, Thompson, Dunlop and Todd Smith for offering their friendship, support and advice throughout my campaign.

Finally, I offer my sincere thanks to Chatham-Kent–Leamington for the privilege of serving you and for placing your trust in me. Be assured, I will work tirelessly for all residents with the honour, duty and integrity that you deserve.

I look forward to working collaboratively with all members in this House and will stand shoulder to shoulder alongside our communities to deliver a mandate that builds more homes, brings better paying jobs and builds highways, hospitals and critical infrastructure to return Ontario to its rightful place as a world leader and innovator in business, manufacturing and agriculture. This was the dream that brought my family to Ontario from Wales and Ukraine, and the dream that brought all our families here. This is the dream I want for my sons and for all our children. Together, we will make this a reality.

Report continues in volume B.