43rd Parliament, 1st Session

L085B - Mon 5 Jun 2023 / Lun 5 jun 2023


Report continued from volume A.


Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 sur le renforcement de la sécurité et la modernisation de la justice

Continuation of debate on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 102, An Act to amend various Acts relating to the justice system, fire protection and prevention and animal welfare / Projet de loi 102, Loi modifiant diverses lois relatives au système judiciaire, à la prévention et à la protection contre l’incendie ainsi qu’au bien-être des animaux.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Further debate.

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: Today I rise to take part in the third reading of the Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act, 2023. I’ll be sharing my time, Speaker, with the member from Mississauga Centre.

For our government, public safety will always be a top priority. This important legislation is taking action to keep Ontarians safe. One way this bill addresses public safety is in the recruitment of additional police officers who have a secondary school diploma and by offering them free tuition. This will help police services across Ontario grow their ranks and provide more officers to effectively combat violent crime.

Since 2014, there has been an increase in the crime rate by 9%, and violent crime by 20%. The use of firearms in crimes is up by a staggering 129%. There has also been an alarming rise in car thefts in Ontario, particularly so in the greater Toronto area. In Ontario, a car is stolen every 48 minutes. From 2014 to 2021, there was a 72% increase in auto theft across the province and a 14% increase in the last year alone.

In my own community of Oakville–North Burlington, car thefts have reached epidemic proportions. The severity of the situation we face cannot be overstated. According to the Halton region police crime map, an astonishing 1,146 cars have been stolen since January 1 of this year: 324 from Oakville and 176 from Burlington. These figures are not mere statistics; they represent the distress and fear felt by countless individuals and families who have been victimized by the rampant crime.

One of my constituents had a vehicle stolen from her driveway not once but twice in the past six months. Concerned residents have taken heightened security measures around their homes, but are asking me, “What can we do to deter these criminals and protect our property?” Police services must be provided with the necessary resources, support and training to effectively combat car theft and other crimes that threaten our safety. The Solicitor General recently announced an investment of $51 million to dismantle organized crime networks and put these car thieves out of business.

Public safety in our communities will always be a top priority of our government. We will act decisively to target crime and keep people safe.

When I spoke on this bill at second reading, most of my remarks were focused on sections 3 and 5, which, if passed, will mandate education and training on intimate partner violence and coercive control for Ontario court judges and justices of the peace. I shared with this House the tragic events that led to the death of four-year-old Keira Kagan by her biological father. Dr. Kagan and her daughter Keira were victims of intimate partner violence and coercive control at the hands of her ex-husband. Dr. Kagan worried about the safety of her daughter on his unsupervised access, and when she repeatedly expressed concerns about her ex-husband’s violent behaviour, was told by one judge that domestic violence was not relevant to parenting and that they were going to ignore it.

Confronting intimate partner violence requires tremendous strength and courage. Domestic violence and its impact on victims and their children is devastating and long-lasting. Only in recent years have we begun to understand that adverse childhood experiences will have longer-term consequences on mental and physical health, including shorter lifespans.

We know that in Canada, 44% of women have experienced some form of violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and ending the relationship does not end a woman’s risk of death. Typically, intimate partner femicides are perpetuated by estranged spouses within the first 18 months of separation. Seventy per cent of children killed within the context of domestic violence were the biological children of the accused, and 24% were stepchildren. And all but one familicide was committed by a male accused. In my own community, our local shelter, Halton Women’s Place, took in 2,200 crisis calls in 2021. Over the same period, Halton police responded to 3,500 intimate-partner-violence-related calls, laid 2,000 charges and made 890 arrests.

Now, I’ve had the privilege of hearing from numerous victims about the barriers they have faced in being believed in Family Court by judges and legal professionals as well as court assessors and social workers. Courts must be better equipped with the tools to recognize the risks and warnings of IPV and the long-lasting effects on the victims and their children. It is our moral responsibility to take action and support vulnerable women and children in Ontario.

A report by the special rapporteur on violence against women and children prepared for the United Nations on April 13, 2023, addressed the link between custody cases and violence against women and children, and focused on the misuse of the term “parental alienation.” The report expressed concern about the pattern of ignoring IPV in family courts determining child custody cases.

In Canada in 2018, a study of parental alienation cases found that 41.5% of 357 cases included the assertion of domestic or child abuse. Claims of parental alienation were made in 76.8% of the cases by the perpetrator. The use of parental alienation has been used as a tactic against mothers, resulting in further trauma. In the US, where a father alleges alienation by the mother, her custody has been removed 44% of the time. In the same situation, a mother gains custody only 28% of the time.

A conclusion to be drawn is that the use of this term is highly gendered and weaponized against mothers. Psychologist Dr. Peter Jaffe, Ontario’s expert in this area, stated that it is being misused in court to negate and trivialize real abuse, and undermines the safety of children in custody and visitation with abusive parents. It’s become a battering ram—a secret weapon—to use in Family Court. There is a “presumption of contact at all cost” culture in the courts, but in truth, judges and other legal professionals in the Family Court system need to be screening for family violence.

The UN report recommended that the use of parental alienation in court cases should be prohibited and that judicial training on domestic violence, including its impact on children, should be compulsory. Today, we are taking such action. The amendments to the Courts of Justice Act and the Justices of the Peace Act will mandate education and training on gender-based and intimate partner violence for provincially appointed judges and justices of the peace. They will establish a consistent approach to educating judges and JPs about these forms of violence and long-term impacts on victims and their children.


The changes we propose today are just one of the many steps we are moving forward on. By enhancing judicial education on the nature and consequences of gender-based violence, we continue to foster public trust in our justice system.

In my concluding remarks, I would like to say how grateful I am that the government recognized the importance of my private member’s Keira’s Law motion and included it in Bill 102. This issue transcends party or partisan politics, and I wish to thank all my colleagues for unanimously passing my private member’s bill last year.

The importance of voting in favour of Bill 102 cannot be overstated when it comes to protect willing the rights and well-being of women and children. It’s a critical first step towards creating a society that values the safety and dignity and equality of all its members. By supporting this bill, we are sending a powerful message that we as a society will not tolerate violence or discrimination against women and children.

A safe Ontario is a strong Ontario. A safe Ontario is one in which every woman and child can live without fear. A strong Ontario is one in which children’s best interests and rights are protected. Together we can build that future, and I ask all members of this House to vote for Bill 102.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): The member from Mississauga Centre.

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: I rise today in support of Bill 102, the Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act, and I’d like to congratulate the member for Oakville North–Burlington for the passage of her private member’s bill, components of which are also embedded in Bill 102.

This bill brings critical amendments to the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019, which, if passed, will transform policing and other community safety and justice legislation to support modernization and help build safer communities.

I would like to start my remarks by thanking our incredible men and women in uniform. In Peel, we are incredibly fortunate to have a diverse, skilled and community-oriented police force led by Chief Nish Duraiappah and Deputy Chiefs Mark Dapat, Marc Andrews, Nick Milinovich and Anthony Odoardi. I am always proud to highlight their work on issues like combatting systemic racism in policing, on mobile crisis rapid response teams, combatting human trafficking, protecting our seniors from elder abuse and being truly, truly embedded in our communities. I’m a firm believer that a crisis or emergency should not be the first time a resident or a youth interacts with a police officer. That is why I am so thankful to Peel police for being present at various community events, barbecues, supporting various causes and serving as mentors and role models for our youth.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Peel police division 12 to celebrate Police Week in Ontario and was welcomed by Superintendent Robert Higgs and Inspector Lisa Hewison. They gave me a wonderful tour of what a day in the life of a police officer at division 12 looks like.

The superintendent indicated that the average age of police recruits in this particular division is about 28 years old. I was also interested to know the ratio of female recruits. I believe it was about 20%—so, Madam Speaker, if politics doesn’t work out, policing sounds like a wonderful option. Both police leaders indicated that more work needs to be done to encourage more women to enter the police workforce.

I had the chance to tour the entire division and meet many incredible staff: detectives, investigators, sergeants and constables. At the conclusion of the tour, what was clear to me is that they’re one cohesive team. “All for one and one for all” is what came to mind. But above all, they take great pride in the work that they do.

The superintendent showed me the division 12 alumni wall, titled, “Make every shift a legacy shift.” The wall had names of all police officers current and past as well as their badge numbers. He also told me an endearing story of new recruits searching for names of their fathers or mothers who also wore the uniform, and I saw a little tear twinkle in his eye when he was speaking of officers who left this earth but left incredible legacies behind. Service, pride, sacrifice: Those are the words etched in my mind and my heart when I think of these incredible men and women, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

Our province has been experiencing an increase in violent crime and repeat offenders and the justice system must combat these issues so that we can all live and work in safe communities. Under our government, public safety and the rule of law will always be the utmost priority. We know that our province cannot thrive if we fail to foster safe communities. We are taking action to make Ontario a safe place to live today, tomorrow and for future generations. If we want to create safe communities, we must invest in our police officers. Yes, Madam Speaker, we must do what? Invest in our police officers.

Policing plays a critical role in maintaining law and order, ensuring public safety and upholding the values of our democratic society. It is an essential pillar upon which our communities rely on for security, trust and peace of mind. Ontario, with its diverse population and vibrant communities, presents unique challenges and demands on our police forces. Our dedicated men and women in uniform serve as the guardians of our society, working tirelessly to protect us from harm and maintain social order. They are the embodiment of courage, integrity and professionalism, and we owe them our gratitude and unwavering support.

The importance of policing in Ontario cannot be overstated. Our police officers are at the forefront of combatting crime, ensuring the safety of our neighbourhoods and responding to emergencies. They face countless risks and dangers in the line of duty, often putting their lives on the line to protect ours. And too often in the recent past, many of them did not return home. Those are heartbreaking tragedies that have marked our communities in the recent past. Their presence on our streets and in our communities and at public events provides a sense of security and reassurance to our citizens, enabling all of us to live our lives free from fear.

In addition to maintaining law and order, our police officers serve as community builders and problem solvers. They forge strong relationships with our community members, fostering trust and co-operation. Through community engagement initiatives, they bridge the gap between the police and the public, establishing open lines of communication and addressing the concerns and needs of the communities they serve.

Madam Speaker, our police services strive to recruit officers from diverse backgrounds, ensuring that they can connect with, and respond effectively to, the needs and sensitivities of different and diverse communities. By embracing diversity within their ranks, police services promote inclusivity, cultural understanding and fairness in their interactions with the public. This commitment to diversity strengthens community relations, reduces barriers and fosters a sense of belonging among all Ontarians.

That is why our government is investing in our police in numerous ways. We are addressing the ongoing police shortage experienced across our province by removing barriers to recruit and train more police officers. Our government is expanding the number of recruits that can be trained each year. That means an additional 140 recruits by the end of this year and 420 more by the end of 2024.

Bill 102 also scraps the post-secondary education requirement to become a police officer. This will remove financial barriers that some recruits may face and get more officers onto our streets. These changes will protect our communities, especially during a time when police forces have reported that recruiting is a challenge. Ontario welcomes people from various walks of life, different corners of the earth and diverse experiences to become police officers. We recognize that it’s not always necessary to complete a four-year degree to become a well-rounded officer. This post-secondary requirement is nothing but unnecessary red tape that is getting in the way of police forces recruiting talented officers and doing their jobs. Ontarians must stay assured that our recruits continue to receive rigorous training at the Ontario Police College, where they will learn the vital skills and tools to keep our streets safe.

I’d like to turn to another issue near and dear to my heart. The member from Oakville North–Burlington spoke so eloquently about this. Our government is making amendments to both the Courts of Justice Act and the Justices of the Peace Act. Our changes propose offering training to justices of the peace on gender-based violence and its impact on children, families and communities. Every newly appointed and current justice of the peace will be required to take courses on sexual assault law, intimate partner violence and systemic racism and discrimination.


Training justices on gender-based violence fosters empathy and sensitivity towards survivors. It helps them understand the trauma and unique challenges faced by victims such as fear, power dynamics and societal stigma.

En conclusion, madame la Présidente, ce projet de loi apporte des modifications essentielles à la loi de 2019 sur la sécurité communautaire et le maintien de l’ordre qui, si elles sont adoptées, transformeront le maintien de l’ordre et d’autres lois sur la sécurité communautaire et la justice afin de soutenir la modernisation et aider à construire des communautés plus sûres.

Notre province connaît une augmentation des crimes violents et des récidivistes, et le système judiciaire doit lutter contre ces problèmes afin que nous puissions tous vivre et travailler dans des communautés sûres.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I want to thank my great colleagues for their speeches, specifically our member from Oakville. I just want to ask her—because when she introduced her private member’s bill, she had guests here, and I had the opportunity to meet them as well. They spoke about the significance of this act and what it’s going to do for them. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that a little bit here today and share it with the entire Legislature.

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: Thank you very much for my colleague’s question. I think we all had the opportunity that day to see that Dr. Jennifer Kagan and her husband, Philip Viater, were here. They have been advocating for many, many years now at the federal level and, more recently, at the provincial level about the need to be able to have legislation that focuses on training for judges at all levels.

Bill 233 at the federal government level has now passed through the Senate and is awaiting royal assent, and that applies specifically to federal judges, but I think that in our case, the legislation that we’re going to be passing—I hope—will be even more important because it will focus on the Family Court system, and in the Family Court system both judges and justices of the peace will be required to have that training on intimate partner violence and coercive control.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Joel Harden: I listened closely to the member’s comments on gender-based violence. These are feelings that I very much share. I’m glad to hear them championed across this House.

I do know, though, and the member’s aware of this: the issue raised with this particular piece of legislation. The Renfrew county inquest report is a public document. It’s been a public document for a long time, and demand number one of that document is that this House declare femicide as a public health emergency, as a crisis. We have yet to see the government take this step that victims’ rights organizations, that community organizations, that police officers we work with in our city in Ottawa have asked for.

I’m wondering if the member could offer some advice to her government today: Is this a step we can take as a Legislature, that we acknowledge the severity of the problem, that femicide is a scary and frightening issue we have to tackle as a House?

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: We have heard from victims and survivors of intimate-partner violence and sexual assaults that they have faced challenges in getting courts to understand the risks of this type of a gender-based violence. Furthermore, in my previous work in the last Parliament on human trafficking, I really had the opportunity to hear directly from victims of human trafficking, which we know is also gender-based violence because close to 90% of its victims are women and girls. This is one step that we taking to protect our vulnerable survivors of intimate and gender-based violence, but there is of course more that can be done.

But I really commend the member from Oakville North–Burlington because she has shown true leadership, utilizing the tools that we have as legislators to put forward a private member’s bill that is now part of government legislation. So I really congratulate her for that.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Question?

Mr. Brian Saunderson: My question is for the member from Mississauga Centre. I know the member sits on the justice policy committee, and we’ve had great discussion in here this afternoon about requirements and barriers for police officer recruits. We heard from a number of police chiefs and police association presidents that the average age of a recruit in Ontario is 29. I’m wondering if the member could speak to keeping post-secondary degrees out of the equation to make sure that we can attract recruits from a broad spectrum of society to reflect the communities that they serve.

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: What a great question. This gives me an opportunity to speak to what Chief Nish spoke about in the social policy committee when he spoke about recruits facing systemic barriers when it comes to recognizing foreign credentials, something that I’ve never thought about when it comes to policing. People like myself and my family come from different corners of this earth, and they have knowledge and skills and diplomas, and those diplomas are not always recognized here in Canada. Of course, with the work of the Minister of Labour, we have taken steps to ensure that some of those diplomas for certain professions are recognized, but what Chief Nish said is that it is a systemic barrier, these foreign credentials having to be recognized as Canadian equivalency when it comes to police recruiting. So by removing this post-secondary educational requirement, we’re opening the door for immigrants who have credentials but maybe they’re not recognized in Canada to actually enter policing without any barriers.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: First, I want to say a congratulations to the new London police chief. His name is Thai Truong. He comes from the York region. He comes with a background on human trafficking, and the member mentioned how that is tied to gender violence.

What surprised me from the member from Oakville North–Burlington’s debate was a statement made by the judge, the judge saying that domestic violence isn’t a sign of good parenting or necessary for parenting. That was surprising.

So I want to congratulate you for bringing Keira’s Law into the Legislature. But I know that there have been a couple of advocates, Pamela Cross and Margaret MacPherson. They obviously support Keira’s Law. But I was wondering why that wasn’t a separate bill, because it is such an important situation. I just wondered if you could talk about that why that background wasn’t a separate legislation but was incorporated into this legislation.

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: Thank you so much to the member opposite for that question. If I understood you correctly, you asked why the Keira’s Law motion was not a separate bill, as it was federally. Is that what you’re saying? Well, I guess the opportunity presented itself last year for us to be able to introduce the concept of intimate partner violence and coercive control through my private member’s motion, which was then voted on by the House unanimously. Now that we’ve brought forward this legislation, the Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act, 2023, I think the Attorney General felt it was an appropriate way in which to bring the issue of mandating training and education for judges and justices of the peace in this legislation. I believe it’s just the first step. We have to go further. We have to ensure that court assessors and other legal professionals are also included in that kind of training.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Trevor Jones: I’m wondering if the member from Mississauga Centre can comment on the value of life experience, integrative, experiential and lifelong learning as an effective measure to strengthen the resilience and capacity of front-line police officers to complement the formal training of in Ontario Police College in making resilient and successful police leaders.

Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: I’m a true proponent of lifelong learning. That is why I’m actually doing my master’s in nursing research: because I truly think and feel that all of us should be lifelong learners and continue learning, because once we stop learning, we stop challenging the status quo. I think the same is true for our men and women in uniform. The training they receive at the police college is just the foundation, and this is just the start of their careers. But of course, whether it’s at our Peel police or our OPP or all the police forces, they have very robust training protocols and they have continuous learning opportunities for their members. So, how does this strengthen resiliency? Well, it helps us to reinvent ourselves. We all have something new to learn—every day, I learn in this wonderful place—and so by engaging in continuous learning, I do think our police officers become stronger, more resilient and better-equipped to respond to the needs of our communities.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): A quick question.

Miss Monique Taylor: My question is for the member from Oakville North–Burlington. She talked about Keira’s Law being her private member’s bill and all of the hard work that she did on that, and she was grateful to the government for seeing how important that was to our communities and to victims going forward, education going forward.

I’m curious, though, as my Bill 74 was also a private member’s bill, and it was something that—I know while talking to many members on the opposite side, they were very much in favour of, the vulnerable persons missing alerts. Could she please give us her opinion on whether she thinks that bill should have been included in this bill today?

Ms. Effie J. Triantafilopoulos: I’d like to thank the member opposite for that wonderful question. Honestly, what I’d like to do is talk to you about the fact that ever since this issue of Keira’s Law has come to the forefront, there have been dozens and dozens of women—victims of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, coercive control—who have sent me notes, made calls and talked to me about the impact that they have faced in our court system, so—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Thank you very much.

Further debate?

Ms. Sandy Shaw: Again, it’s always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the good people of Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas. Today, we are debating a government bill entitled Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act.

Before I begin to talk specifically about the schedules in this act and some of the good things and some of the—the many, actually—shortcomings in this bill, I’d just like to put it in the context of my riding of Hamilton and the member here from Hamilton Mountain. We see the enormous amount of suffering that is in our communities. Our residents, our constituents, not just in Hamilton but in all of our communities, are struggling right now. It goes from struggling just to be able to afford groceries, to be able to afford a decent place to live, but we then we see people who actually live on the streets in our communities. There are people living in tents behind Hamilton city hall, seeking a safe place for themselves and their families, setting up what they can to actually just be able to live, to be able to sleep and feed themselves on the street.

I know that this is happening in every single one of your communities across the province. It really is a humanitarian crisis. I know that you feel that way, and in the context of this bill, when we talk about the need for keeping our communities safe and we talk about the need for policing, we certainly need to understand that these are complex social issues and it’s a complex failure of the systems that keep people safe, the basic safety net and fabric of our community that is eroding right now in our communities.

With that, as we debate this bill, I hope that we keep in mind all of the people that are counting on us to pass legislation that improves their lives not down the road but, really, today, tomorrow, this week, because people are sleeping rough, people are going hungry, and our kids are struggling as well, so let’s keep that in mind as we debate this bill.

I’m going to start by saying that a couple of the schedules in this bill—I would say specifically schedule 3, which opens up the Courts of Justice Act, and schedule 5, which opens up the Justices of the Peace Act—I would say that this is a very, very welcome change. We know that when we talk about gender-based violence and we talk about sexual assault trials in this province, we can be doing so, so much better. Opening up those acts will allow for the kind of education that we expect the justice system or the Chief Justice in our province to undergo.

Very specifically, the changes to these schedules allow for the establishment of courses on sexual assault law, intimate partner violence, coercive control in relationships and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination. It also allows the chief justice coordinator of justices of the peace to consult with relevant stakeholders in the process of establishing these courses. It allows the chief justice coordinator of justices of the peace to designate courses as requirements for newly appointed judges and requires the chief justice coordinator of justices of the peace to submit annual reports about the courses and their attendance.

What we’re talking about here is training. It’s about education. This is important in any sector, in any job. When you’re working in the criminal justice, whether you’re working as a justice of the peace, as a lawyer or as a court officer, education is important. It’s also important for our police officers in this province, and I will circle back to that in a bit.

Part of the reason why this is here in this bill is because—I’m assuming it’s because—there are so many egregious examples of where rape myths and stereotypes in our court system have allowed there to be judgments that were, in my humble opinion, a failure of justice for women in this province. And so this emphasizes the point that many of us understand: that survivors of sexual assault face many barriers to justice, and a disproportionate number of incidents remain unreported for reasons such as fear of disbelief. We know that many women see other women before the courts and see the outcomes and the way that they are essentially treated in the courts, and they are fearful of reporting because of this very unfortunate experience that other women have when they try to seek justice.

The Supreme Court of Canada has condemned rape myths and stereotypes that are being used in judges’ legal opinions, but there’s something to be said about these ideologies that continue to be embedded within the law in society; these rape myths seem to persist in the most insidious ways. Judges using rape myths and stereotypes as the basis of their decision, perhaps maybe even without realizing why they are doing so, is the reason why we need to make sure that we have education in our court system, so the people that are administering justice in this province are educated and understand the impact, whether it is internalized discrimination or whether it’s just a practice of the way that they’ve conducted themselves in the court. These two schedules, schedule 3 and schedule 5, make important changes, and I support those schedules.

I would like to also talk about the importance of understanding what’s going on in our communities, and I’m going to really focus on—I talked about some of the things that are happening here in Hamilton. I think it’s important to understand that women that are experiencing domestic violence struggle to find a safe place, whether they’re waiting for a trial, for their case to be heard, or whether it’s just escaping immediate threats of domestic violence. They struggle—they continue to struggle—to find a safe place and affordable housing for themselves, and often for their children.

It’s been said—the government on the other side talked about this, and the statistics are shocking: Every six days in Canada, a woman is killed because of intimate partner violence. We had a request from the MPP from Ottawa Centre asking the government side—the Renfrew inquest made clear that their number one recommendation was that femicide was declared as an epidemic, and the reason that this recommendation is so important is that until you acknowledge a problem, it takes time to come up with the resources. But I’m here to tell you that this is a problem, and the very fact that somehow this government seems to be afraid to acknowledge, to admit or publicly declare it as an epidemic—I would just say it is kind of underscored by the funding that this government is providing to violence-against-women shelters, people that are serving women in our province and in Hamilton specifically.

In Hamilton, we have Interval House. Thank goodness we have Interval House. The work that they have done in our community, for how many years—they struggle to keep women safe, to keep children safe, despite the continued struggle to find adequate funding. Right now, Interval House—which is, as I said, a shelter for women and children who are escaping violence—is using office space, empty counselling rooms, board rooms, every space they can find to house people. Unfortunately, it sounds like our hallway medicine, where people are being treated in closets. Well, this is currently happening in Hamilton at Interval House, and I am certain the same story is true of other women’s shelters across the province.


The facility has a 22-bed capacity, but there are currently at least 31 women and children there trying to seek refuge. I would say that it’s not just this organization; Inasmuch House, the Native Women’s Centre in Hamilton, they’re all experiencing the same issues of overcapacity. They cannot house the women that need to be housed. They can’t keep the women safe that need to be kept safe, and they’re struggling with cuts to their funding and a lack of adequate funding. Not only are they struggling with funding for people that need short-term accommodation or safe shelter, these women and children are staying at these shelters for very long periods of time because there’s no other place to access affordable, adequate housing. As we know, we have a housing epidemic—not just housing but affordable housing. People are seeking shelter, and that is the exact same—it’s true for women and children escaping violence in their communities, because there just isn’t an affordable option in our community. There aren’t affordable options for women in all of our communities.

It needs to be underscored that violence-against-women shelters are funded provincially, by the province. For this article, for example, CBC reached out to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services but didn’t receive a response. So my point that I would like to make perfectly, perfectly clear is that this is your government’s responsibility: to keep women who are fleeing domestic violence, violence-against-women shelters—you talk about keeping the community safe. You’re talking about increased supports to police. In this community, they need to be balanced. You have to look after not just the first-line response, but you have to look at and support all of the people, all of the networks, all of the organizations that are playing a role in our community to keep people safe. You cannot just look at one half of the story; you have to look at it the entire picture, and this government conveniently is not discussing how they are failing women and children fleeing violence in this province by not funding the shelters that they need in emergency adequately. It really is a disgrace, I would say, that we can talk about keeping community safe, but we somehow don’t want to talk about violence-against-women shelters fundraising, struggling to keep their doors open, when that should be given when we want to people in our communities safe.

We also see in all of our communities an unfortunate increase in hate crimes all across our community, and Hamilton is no exception. I had the opportunity to talk to Hamilton’s police chief, Chief Frank Bergen, who is doing an incredible job in our community. It was at the occasion of releasing their hate crimes report for 2022. And it is unfortunate, and I wish this was not the case, but the report identifies that Hamilton police saw a 61% increase in the number of hate/bias incidents in criminal offences compared to the previous year. So in 2022, there were 174 hate/bias occurrences reported to the Hamilton police, and the majority of the occurrences were directly related to racial bias, followed by religion and sexual orientation.

Last year, the Black community, the Jewish community and the 2SLGBTQIA community were the groups most frequently victimized. Chief Bergen is quoted as saying, “Hate crimes affect our entire community. These crimes impact a sense of belonging, safety and well-being for victims and creates fear within our community.”

The police hate crime investigator, whose name is Fabiano Mendes—I also enjoyed our conversation, talking about the work that you’re doing to respond to these sad statistics. He had this to say: “While there was a rise in the number of hate/bias occurrences, the true number is likely much larger since most incidents go unreported.” We know that is true, and we can all understand the reason why.

Gustavo Rymberg, who’s the CEO of the Hamilton Jewish Federation, said, “The growing trend of anti-Jewish hate occurrences is worrying. There is a deep impact on the Jewish community that takes an emotional and physical toll. As a collective community, we must do more to stand against hate in any form.”

Comfort Afari, who is from the Hamilton Black Health Community Leaders Forum, had this to say: “While this rise in occurrences and crimes is concerning, it is encouraging that these incidents are being reported and captured. This data shows us the extent of how communities are impacted and certainly, for those communities like the Black community, we know many hate occurrences go unreported.”

Hate crime investigator Fabiano Mendes said, “When we know about an incident, we can assign the appropriate resources to make our community safer.” I just want to emphasize that his quote says “the appropriate resources,” and I think that’s the point that the official opposition have been trying to make here: that you cannot look at this complex picture of keeping our community safe and not look at it in a holistic way. Not everything is a police response.

I believe that some of the work that the Hamilton community and many of our communities will be doing to address the rise of hate crimes, the anti-LGBTQ crimes that we’re seeing particularly during Pride Month—there are many ways to respond to this. In fact, many of the recommendations that the Hamilton police have put forward—actually, all the recommendations in this report talk about working with the community, working with community groups.

It also talks about training all new recruits on understanding, identifying and investigating hate occurrences. Again, this emphasis on training and education is throughout the work that we have been seeing.

When we talk about our communities and the complexity of the issues in the communities, it is not at all possible to talk about this in a vacuum and not talk about the epidemic—the opioid crisis and the struggle with people who are struggling with their mental health.

The MPP from Hamilton Mountain talked about agencies that were closing in Hamilton. I think I just want to underscore that a street outreach program, the mental health outreach program, which has been providing mental health outreach in our community for 30 years, is closing their doors. If I could just make sure we understand, this is an agency that goes out into the street. They meet people where they’re living. They meet people where they’re struggling. This is not a place where people make appointments to deal with their mental health, which is very important. But these are the kinds of people that work on the ground.

We talk about boots on the ground; these are boots on the ground, and we are losing them. They understand intimately the struggles of people. They know their personalities. They know their stories. It’s hard to capture what this loss means for the city of Hamilton. I can only imagine that the call for police services will escalate because of this loss. How unfortunate is that?

Police have been calling for additional supports to help them do their job, and here we are cutting an organization, an agency that the police, I imagine, relied on to help them do their job better and to avoid conflict when organizations like the mental health outreach program would be able to understand clearly what the concerns are or understand the circumstances. When things look like they’re a crisis, I imagine they would be able to talk people down or to settle down the situation, rather than it escalating to a police response and an unnecessary conflict.

It’s been said many, many times: The kind of upstream work we do to prevent encounters, to prevent conflict between police and the community, is good for the community. It keeps communities safe, and it keeps police safe. It just seems like it’s such common sense, and I don’t understand why we have a government that has put this bill forward talking about supporting police with the one hand, but on the other hand is cutting the supports and the services, like violence-against-women shelters, mental health outreach programs, opioid programs, homeless programs. These are the things we need to have a society that functions as a whole. We need a balance, and it’s just shocking to see this government—I’ve been listening to the debate, and I haven’t heard any MPP on the other side talk about the need for some of these support services that we so desperately need in our community.


As the MPP from Hamilton West had said, the time really does go so quickly—

Miss Monique Taylor: You’re Hamilton West.

Ms. Sandy Shaw: I’m Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas. Hamilton Mountain; I might have said it too.

I think that I want to end really very clearly by saying it is very important that women in our community are kept safe. We support the inclusion of Keira’s Law, but I’m surprised that it isn’t a stand-alone bill. Even Pamela Cross, the lawyer and advocacy director at Luke’s Place, would have liked to see this as stand-alone legislation. It deserves that kind of attention. Dr. Jennifer Kagan and her work and the memory of Keira deserves at least that, for it to be stand-alone legislation.

I’m just going to end and say that this idea that we need to do all we can to prevent those conflicts that occur in our community that end tragically—in Hamilton, we had a young couple, one was an electrician—he was an IBEW member—and one an educational assistant. This young couple came in conflict with their landlord and they were killed by the landlord, and the police had to respond and also shot the landlord. This kind of tragedy could be prevented if we put the time and effort into doing preventative services, investments in the kinds of preventative programs that we all need in all of our communities.

I think that this bill could have been strengthened so much more if it included the kind of front-line supports to make sure of the community safety supports that we all so desperately need in our community.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: It’s very obvious that the member who spoke loves her community. I know that because I have spoken to her about how much she loves her community. But the bill that’s being debated today is a bill that takes us to a point in time; it’s not forever that we will never come forward with other initiatives for public safety. In the last two months alone, we’ve made three transformational announcements.

So again, I ask the member: Please support this bill so we can continue to work for public safety across Ontario.

I do want to say that I appreciate that you made remarks about the great chief in Hamilton, Chief Frank Bergen. He’s a great Ontarian.

Ms. Sandy Shaw: To the Solicitor General: There’s something we certainly agree on. Hats off to Chief Bergen.

I just want to say that there are things in this bill that it’s important to understand don’t build the kind of confidence that we would like to make sure that we build when it comes to policing in our community.

For example, there’s a schedule in here when it comes to the OPP that takes away the governance council. The governance council was intended to have—it’s an oversight body that was intended to have representation from all different members of that particular community so that they could have insight and confidence into how the OPP are governing. I know you know this, Solicitor General, but this is particularly true when it comes to First Nation communities. I know that Thunder Bay is not governed by the OPP, but this does your bill a disservice by taking away a governance structure that would have built confidence in the policing service in this province.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Question?

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: I want to thank the member from Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas for speaking about hate crimes. Just on June 6, London experienced one of the worst hate crimes, where a Muslim family was killed by a man driving a truck, and we’ll be honouring them tomorrow at a vigil—Our London Family Act. So it’s very important to us, and I’m sure to the government, to continue to invest to ensure that hate crimes don’t occur. As the member mentioned, Hamilton police said that hate crimes in her city were up 61%.

Can the member just elaborate a little bit more how important it is for us to acknowledge hate crimes and invest in hate crimes in order to lessen those reported so police aren’t the ones responding to those?

Ms. Sandy Shaw: The murder of that family in London is an absolute, unspeakable tragedy. I know we all feel that way in this House. Acknowledging this tomorrow will be an important joining of our hearts and souls when it comes to this kind of unspeakable loss. But we all have a responsibility to call out hate. We all have a responsibility to work collaboratively, not just with policing services but with community organizations, with faith organizations. Until we build that kind of community of people that are prepared to address hate and the root causes of hate before they happen, I fear for the future sometimes of the province of Ontario.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Andrew Dowie: I want to thank the member for her comments about the bill. I know one of the things that interested me a lot about this one is finally the modernization of the Police Services Act. When I was elected as municipal councillor in 2014, the province was already underway in talking about changes. Now we’re nine years later; the changes are finally here. It’s time to replace the current act with more modern, robust legislation that will ensure that our safety needs are actually met. I’d like to see if you’re willing to support that modernization that’s part of the bill and modernizing our public safety system, as called for in Bill 102.

Ms. Sandy Shaw: Thank you very much, member, for the question. There are so many more things that could have been included in this bill. Some of the recommendations—good work that has taken place in the province of Ontario and across the country. We had the Mass Casualty Commission that examined the murders in Nova Scotia. Their recommendation was that there needed to be more police training because of how complex issues are and how deadly things are becoming for police and for community members. That could have been included in this.

I’d just like to also add that we had the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. There were 231 recommendations. My question would be, were either one of those reports taken into account when this bill was formed? If they had, I think that this bill, in my opinion, would have been much stronger and much more supportable.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Question?

Mr. Joel Harden: I want to take us back in debate, thanking the member for her remarks, to our discussion on gender-based violence, because the Renfrew county inquest report has seized our community. It had 86 recommendations; 68 of them applied to the province; 29, according to the report we heard back from the government, are still requiring further analysis. But of the two that preoccupy me, one applies to this House, and that is declaring femicide as an epidemic, for two reasons: It’s an important statement from this House, but it’s also a potential to unleash and access resources that victims’ organizations and educational organizations need.

I’m wondering if the member could elaborate on the importance for the government to respond to this key demand put to them by the Renfrew county inquest report that will have a direct impact on our police officers.

Ms. Sandy Shaw: Thank you very much to the member from Ottawa Centre. The Renfrew county inquest: This, again, is an unspeakable tragedy, the number of women that were murdered. The work that went into the recommendations from this inquest—it’s a remarkable document. It drew on the experience of all people, whether they were in policing or whether they were front-line service providers. The number one recommendation, to my mind, is self explanatory: Declare femicide as an epidemic in the province. It’s the first step. It needs to be done. We need to acknowledge it. Just as I said earlier that we need to call out hate in all its forms, we need to call out violence against women in all its forms. Then we need to provide the supports that we need to keep women safe in this province.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: I appreciate hearing from the member for Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas. I’m just wondering: I know one of the things that I think is so important, as I believe the member would agree, is speaking with people on the front lines, hearing from those who are working in the areas that we have the privilege of helping regulate through legislation that we pass, and working in the various sectors, including in policing. I’m just wondering if the member opposite had the opportunity to speak with any front-line officers about this legislation, and what their feedback was.


Ms. Sandy Shaw: Thank you very much to the member for the question. I apologize for the name of my riding. I had nothing to do with it. If I had the power, I would change it, but Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas it is.

Yes, absolutely, always speaking to front-line officers.

I just actually would like to say that that statistic about how many people would have their car stolen in the province of Ontario—I am one of those statistics. I did have my Crown Victoria stolen, which is sort of like a police car.

I have had casual conversations with police officers. That was Officer Peters. I’ve talked to the chief; I’ve talked to Chief Mendes about the hate crimes report and the struggles we’re having with homelessness in this community. My sense is that they want to make sure that they have the supports both within the service and also within the community to do their job properly.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Very quick question?

Miss Monique Taylor: Maybe the member could elaborate on the importance of something like the victim crisis assistance program that is mandated in the province of Ontario and that this government is falling short on. How does that affect our police services?

Ms. Sandy Shaw: First of all, I’ll just give a shout-out to Hamilton. We are on the forefront often. I could be corrected, but I believe we were the first community in Ontario to have a COAST program. I know that our victim crisis assistance program was one of the first. I also know that the hate crime report that the Hamilton police put forward, they are trying to model their response to this based on the victim crisis assistance program. These are good programs. They’re well supported. There’s evidence showing that they work and they’re models that can be replicated across the province.

Police and community services will do the work whether they are funded or not because they’re in a caring, compassionate and public-serving sector. It’s unfortunate that while they will do the work—they need to be supported through actual funding from this province.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Further debate?

Mme Lucille Collard: I do want to speak briefly to this bill. It is an important bill and it certainly has struck conversations in my community. I really took the opportunity to speak with police officers in Ottawa to talk about the bill’s impact, and so, further to that, I’m speaking in support of Bill 102, which aims to make amendments to multiple acts concerning the justice system, fire protection and prevention, and animal welfare, which is also an important issue.

This bill is a response to critical issues in our society at a time when there is a lot of controversy around the role of our police services. While we strive to promote the values of fairness and inclusiveness for all of our communities, it seems important to work towards a common understanding of the role played by our police services within our justice system. To get this common understanding, let us acknowledge the significance of establishing an open and constructive dialogue between law enforcement and the community. It is of utmost importance that we cultivate a relationship built on trust and understanding. That cannot happen without creating a safe space for respectful dialogue. I would say that there is a lot of work that needs to happen on this front.

This bill mandates that the minister and the inspector general comply with specified requirements concerning de-identification and linking of personal information. By doing so, the bill would protect individuals’ privacy while ensuring that pertinent data is available for effective policing. This amendment promotes transparency, accountability and strengthens the bond between the community and law enforcement. Therefore, it is a good change.

Additionally, the bill acknowledges the valid concerns some individuals may have towards law enforcement. Addressing and acknowledging these concerns is vital in building trust. To build trust, we need to see police officers in non-threatening situations where they can be appreciated as a partner among other community partners such as the firefighters, city officials, community associations, schools and advocacy groups for vulnerable people.

In a partnership connection, partners value and nurture their relationships. Each partner looks for ways to strengthen the partnership.

I personally value the presence of community police at community events. I was actually reminded at a recent event in my community—where police officers were there to lend a hand—that police officers are human beings as well. When you speak to them, they’re just a person like you and I. They just have a job to do. But I find that their active involvement in such events, like those community events, demonstrates their commitment to being integral members of the community. It would be nice to have more police officers at our community events for education purposes and to get them accepted as community partners.

Moving on, let us consider the relevance of having police officers in schools. Yes, it is controversial, as some may question the necessity of their presence in educational institutions. However, it is essential to recognize that their role is crucial in preventing various crimes, including the heinous act of human trafficking, which we’ve been talking about lately. Sadly, young people are vulnerable to exploitation, and human trafficking remains a pressing concern in our society.

By having police officers in school, we establish a visible deterrent against potential criminals. We can create an atmosphere where young people can feel secure and protected, and we can take the opportunity to educate students about the signs of those crimes.

To ensure that police officers can do their job effectively, there need to be appropriate resources, and allowing more candidates to enter the workforce is helpful. But I want to say that training is also very important.

Nous devons reconnaître que les agents de police qui interviennent sur le terrain sont souvent confrontés à des enjeux de santé mentale ou de dépendance. Ces interventions sont délicates et nécessitent d’importantes compétences qui doivent être enseignées. Ces interventions nécessitent également de bons partenariats avec nos organismes communautaires qui sont en mesure d’aider ces personnes. Ce n’est pas une solution de remplir nos centres de détention avec des gens qui ont besoin de soins.

J’encourage donc le gouvernement à travailler davantage sur ce genre d’appui pour nos services de police et nos communautés.

Before I conclude, I want to point out that I had initial concerns. Those concerns were about having high school graduates become police officers at such a young age. But these concerns have been addressed because I did speak with our police services in Ottawa, and they did confirm that the hiring process is structured in a way as to screen candidates appropriately, give them training and assign them in appropriate positions.

In conclusion, Speaker—and I did say I was going to be brief, so just wrapping up here—Bill 102 does represent a positive step forward. Through its amendments to various acts concerning the justice system, fire protection and prevention and animal welfare, this bill tackles essential aspects of our society.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Christine Hogarth: Thank you to the member for her speech this evening. Community safety is very important to all of us—to every single one of us in the House. I just want to actually mention a little bit about the changes to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act that are part of this piece of legislation, which will allow multiple deputy fire marshals to be appointed to ensure a timely response to crucial matters.

This bill is about public safety. It’s about saving lives. I’m wondering if the member opposite has any comment on the fire piece and if she will be supporting this piece of legislation.

Mme Lucille Collard: I did indicate at the outset that I am supportive of this bill. I think it contains a lot of good measures. I think that the firefighters’ increased capacity is a good thing to help. They are first responders.

Actually, I was at an event in my riding over the weekend—many events, actually—but one of those had the police services and the firefighters who were there. I had the opportunity to speak with the firefighters about the important work that they do. I did note that once, when I was younger—I was biking a lot—I did get hit by a truck on my bicycle, and the firefighters were the first responders on scene. So I do appreciate their work and the support that we can provide.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Joel Harden: Thank you to the member from Ottawa–Vanier for those comments. I’m wondering if you can elaborate for this House on some of your perspectives that we’ve been trying to bring to the floor to debate this afternoon on gender-based violence. I know it’s an issue that has seized our community. I know that city councillors Theresa Kavanagh and Ariel Troster proposed a motion to Ottawa city council asking for intimate partner violence—femicide—to be a priority. We know that Lanark county has already done this. I’ve been encouraging our friends in government this afternoon as they think about the support police officers need—the Ottawa Police Service now uses the word “femicide” when they talk about targeted killings of women. I’m wondering if you could help me persuade government that this is something they need to embrace as they consider how we support front-line police officers.


Mme Lucille Collard: Gender-based violence is really unacceptable. It is something in our society that we absolutely need to address. We’re seeing too much of this. That is why, when I talk about training for police officers, I think that it is very important, first of all, that the information is available about the offenders, and second that they have the tools to appropriately intervene in these cases so that it doesn’t get to the extreme situation that we have seen in these horrible crimes.

Definitely, femicide is something that needs the attention of this government because we have seen an increase in these crimes happening. It is an absolute priority that the government should be looking at.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Robert Bailey: Thank you to the member from Ottawa–Vanier for her dissertation there a little earlier. You sound like you’re going to support the bill. We have heard from a number of police stakeholders that they like the changes that we’ve made to the justice act. Is that one of the reasons you are supporting the act as well?

Mme Lucille Collard: Thank you for the question. I indeed alluded to the fact that I did have initial concerns with the impact of the bill, but I did my due diligence and I did speak with police officers and police services in Ottawa to validate the measures in the bill, what kind of impact it would have or if there was anything negative that they could see in the bill that we would need to try to amend. The response was that, really, they were welcoming the changes because they do need more police officers on the ground and they have a structure to make sure that police officer candidates are selected and assigned to appropriate positions and that they are trained appropriately.

While I had concerns initially, having the support of the police for these changes is something that I can support. That is why I will be voting in favour of this bill when it comes to the floor.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): There is no more time for questions. Further debate?

Mr. Andrew Dowie: It is always a pleasure to stand up in this place to represent the good people of Windsor–Tecumseh. Speaker, I move adjournment of the debate.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Mr. Dowie has moved adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

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

All those opposed to the motion, say “nay.”

In my opinion the ayes have it. I declare the motion carried.

Third reading debate adjourned.

Hazel McCallion Act (Peel Dissolution), 2023 / Loi Hazel McCallion de 2023 sur la dissolution de Peel

Resuming the debate adjourned on June 1, 2023, on the motion for third reading of the following bill:

Bill 112, An Act to provide for the dissolution of The Regional Municipality of Peel / Projet de loi 112, Loi prévoyant la dissolution de la municipalité régionale de Peel.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Further debate?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: It is my privilege to rise today for the third reading of our government’s proposed Hazel McCallion Act. As the President of the Treasury Board and, more importantly, as a representative for the city of Brampton, it is my pleasure to speak in support of this important piece of legislation. If passed, the Hazel McCallion Act is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Brampton to support the construction of more homes, create greater efficiencies, and prepare Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon for growth in the years to come, all while ensuring that we respect taxpayers in ensuring the continued delivery of high-quality services to the residents of these municipalities.

The region of Peel includes some of the fastest-growing municipalities across this country. But for far too long, Brampton, as well as Mississauga and Caledon, have not had the autonomy to make the decisions for each community in their way. For too long, the city of Brampton, for example, was ignored by the previous Liberal government. This also included a Liberal government that was propped up by the NDP, which is precisely why in this previous election our government received a strong mandate from the people of Brampton by electing the members from Brampton North, Brampton East and Brampton Centre. And I must say they are incredible representatives for our city and I appreciate all the work they do, day and night, to support and advance Brampton’s interests.

Madam Speaker, the reason we were elected in Brampton was to make sure that Brampton’s priorities made their way to Queen’s Park and given the attention that they truly deserve, and that is exactly what we are trying to do here with this legislation.

Brampton, one of the fastest-growing cities, as I mentioned off the top, has a population of just over 650,000. We’re expected to grow to about 985,000 people by the year 2051. Mississauga and Caledon are experiencing historic growth: Mississauga, with a population of almost 720,000, will grow to grow to grow to nearly a million people; Caledon is expected to grow to 300,000 people in less than 25 years.

This bill, if passed, would begin the process of dissolving the region of Peel and make Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon each into independent, single-tier municipalities, giving them the tools and autonomy they need to deliver on our shared commitments for the people of Ontario.

And as many of the members in this chamber know very well, Ontario is a prosperous and growing province. Brampton, for me, is the city I have chosen to raise a family and to live. But for too many people across this province, including in the city of Brampton, they are having a hard time finding a place to call home. In this chamber, we all recognize that we have a housing supply shortage and that it affects people in every part of the province. There is only one party, the governing party—our government, led by Premier Ford—that wants to take action and supports it by introducing pieces of legislation like the one we have before us here today.

To address the issue of supply, our government has set an ambitious plan: a goal of building 1.5 million houses for Ontarians by 2031. Brampton alone has pledged to build 113,000 new housing units to address the housing supply crisis. As a single-tier municipality, Brampton would be empowered with the tools needed to plan for the population growth, including the tools needed to build more houses and meet its commitments.

I want to reassure the members in this chamber that the approach that our government is taking is fair and transparent for all three municipalities. Residents should be assured that the process that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has proposed will ensure that front-line services, like our police, paramedics, public health, housing, water and waste water, as well as the other important services, will not be affected. In order to facilitate this dissolution, our government will establish a transition board of up to five people to facilitate this change in local government. This transition board would have individuals with a mixture of expertise and experience in areas such as municipal operations, finance, service delivery and labour relations.


Madam Speaker, I also want to take the opportunity to address questions about the financial impacts of this proposal on Peel residents. Part of the board’s transition work would be to provide a full accounting on the financial impact that these changes will have. Our government is looking forward to that full and detailed analysis, and we are committed to supporting fair and equitable outcomes for the residents of Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon. This process would help ensure a stable and fair outcome that respects taxpayers while positioning Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon for growth in the future.

This bill builds on the investments our government has made towards making Brampton a better place to live—investments like the first new medical school in the GTA in over 100 years. After years of chronic staffing shortages and budget cuts by the previous Liberal government in health care, our government made a decision to invest in the city of Brampton. With this latest new investment of a medical school, we will add 160 undergraduate and 295 postgraduate positions, which will ensure that the doctors in this province are trained right in our city in Brampton. Brampton’s new medical school will give the eager students of today the opportunity to become the skilled doctors serving our communities tomorrow, improving access and quality of care for Bramptonians; or our government’s investments to deliver a new hospital and a 24/7 emergency department and expanded cancer care centre that Brampton needs in order to make it easier for patients to access the care they need after years of being ignored by the previous Liberal government.

Madam Speaker, what is obvious to the people of Brampton is that a government like ours respects and appreciates that a growing community like Brampton needs the services that they deserve. In addition to giving fast-growing communities like Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon the tools they deserve to address the housing supply crisis, our government is also making appropriate infrastructure investments needed to keep pace with the growth that we are seeing. This will help people connect and move the people of Brampton out of gridlock and to their jobs. That’s why our government was re-elected on a promise to build Highway 413—a commitment we are truly making progress on, while members of the Liberals and the NDP say no and oppose every step of the progress that we are making.

I recently joined Premier Ford and my colleagues to unveil the completion of major infrastructure improvements at the Bramalea GO station, bringing us one step closer to delivering two-way, all-day GO service along the Kitchener line. The upgrades at this key transit hub include a brand new, accessible station, a parking garage with over 2,000 spaces and a new bus loop that will provide better access to regional GO, local Brampton Transit bus services and access to the entire province.

Madam Speaker, we may disagree on many things here in this chamber, but one thing is clear to the members from Brampton and to the members on this side of the House: After decades of being ignored, Bramptonians are finally getting their fair share. That is why it is so critical that we pass the Hazel McCallion Act. This is a historic opportunity to build on the investments that we have made in Brampton and in Peel. I am honoured to support this piece of legislation and to speak to it, as it will make our city better and it will make this province stronger.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I appreciated the remarks from the minister about this legislation. One of the surprising things about this legislation is that, as members on our side of the House have pointed out numerous times, this legislation went straight from second reading to third reading, bypassing public consultation altogether. So my question to the minister is, why did the government not feel that taking the time, a couple of days, to listen to the people of Ontario about this legislation would have been a valuable use of legislative time and a valuable exercise in democracy?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Thank you very much to the member opposite for that question. Madam Speaker, we have a housing supply crisis in this province. Our government, every step of the way, is moving forward in ensuring that we can get more houses built. Unfortunately, both the Liberals and NDP, the members on the other side of this House, have said no to every single measure we have proposed to build more housing.

Since we were elected in 2018, I believe we have passed at least eight pieces of legislation—or more, actually—under the leadership of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Every single piece of legislation that has been put forward in this House to support the building of more homes has been rejected by both of those parties. So we will take no lessons from the members opposite. Our government has a strong mandate to build houses, to improve and give everybody an opportunity to own a house, rent a house, and that is exactly what we will keep doing.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Rudy Cuzzetto: I want to thank the President of the Treasury Board for speaking on the dissolution of the region of Peel. As you know, we need three committed mayors to be there to do this for the people of Peel, to be able to separate, but how will this bill help Brampton build the 113,000 homes they need in the next 10 years?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Thank you very much to the member from Mississauga–Lakeshore. Madam Speaker, I just want to take an opportunity to appreciate the great work that that member has done in his own city. He is a true champion for the city of Mississauga. He is committed to his city. He has been advocating for good policy measures, including this one right here that we are speaking to.

Why does Brampton need this? We need the autonomy to be able to plan and build houses, to utilize infrastructure, as one of the fastest-growing cities in this province so deserves. I know that the member from Mississauga has seen his city grow, has seen his city and what they have been able to accomplish, and he has supported housing projects across his city. We also want to make sure that we have an opportunity to build more houses all across Brampton, and this piece of legislation will give us the autonomy to be able to do that.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Question?

Ms. Catherine Fife: It’s interesting to hear the member from Brampton South speak in such favour of this legislation. No one, including the provincial government, knows yet exactly what the breakup will look like or how the shared assets and services will be divided up. The province is going to appoint this five-member panel, but there is no transparency on that panel according to the legislation.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie and her city council are celebrating this win. I do think that the government thought that this might have made Ms. Crombie very happy so she wouldn’t run for the Liberals. That clearly failed.


Mayor Patrick Brown has already laid out some demands, mostly aimed at Mississauga, to make Brampton whole. Chief among Brown’s early concerns are shared water treatment facilities, paramedic stations and Peel police headquarters in Mississauga, which he said Brampton taxpayers paid 40% of the costs for.

Is the member from Brampton South not concerned, as you should be, about the infrastructure costs that this will now be downloading to the good people of Brampton?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Our government has an incredible record of building infrastructure in this province. As the member knows, I’ve mentioned in my speech about the committee and the commission that will be appointed to support this transition. But let’s make it clear: Our government has made record-breaking investments to support policing in this province while the members opposite have done the exact opposite, have voted against increased funding for the police in this province.

We have proposed Highway 413 for the city of Brampton.

Infrastructure, one of the largest infrastructure projects that that region will see, our city will see—the members opposite voted against important investments like building a new hospital in our city and a new medical school.

When it comes to building infrastructure, Mr. Speaker, our government remains committed to the people of Brampton. It’s a stark contrast to the previous Liberal government that was supported by the members opposite from the NDP caucus. And we will put our record up against anyone as to how much support and investments we will be continuing to make in the city of Brampton.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further questions to the President of the Treasury Board?

Mr. Graham McGregor: I want to thank my colleague for his thoughtful remarks in the debate here today, and for good answers to the questions.

I want to talk a little bit about trusting in the people of Brampton, because as we give Brampton more autonomy over its own decision-making, really what we’re talking about is trusting Brampton to be in command of its own future.

We, on this side—obviously, the voters of Brampton trusted our party and our government in large part due to investments, things like Highway 413. There are people who are not from Brampton, who never go to Brampton, they never drive in Brampton and they don’t want to build a bypass highway around Brampton.

Things like the second hospital, Peel Memorial Hospital: Again, people who never visit Brampton, they don’t go there, they certainly don’t get sick in Brampton, Speaker, and they voted against getting a hospital for our community.

Can the member talk a little bit about the investments that we’re making, the trust we have in Brampton, and why it’s a good idea for all members of this House to put their faith in Brampton?

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: I want to thank the member from Brampton North. Let’s talk about trust. Let’s go back almost a year to this date, when the people of Brampton put their trust in that member for Brampton North and that member from Brampton East and that member from Brampton Centre, and sent a strong message not only to the people of Ontario but to the Liberals and to the NDP that you need to support the priorities of Brampton.

What were those priorities? Those were the promises that Premier Ford made to build a second hospital, a hospital that the four previous Liberal governments cut and refused to build, supported by the NDP. It was about building infrastructure like Highway 413 that both the NDP and Liberals opposed every step of the way. It was about building a new medical school, the first one in over 100 years, to solve the health care crisis that is across this province, for the city of Brampton, which both the NDP and Liberals voted against. This was about priorities for the people of Brampton.

The member for Brampton North gained the trust of his residents and became the voice in Queen’s Park for his people, and will continue to deliver on priorities for the people of Brampton across—

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

Mr. Chris Glover: I want to thank the member from Brampton for his comments today. One of the things that this government constantly does is they say, “Oh, the NDP voted against this; the NDP voted against this.” Often, these things are in composite bills with multiple levels.

You just mentioned about voting against the hospital. I think, and it’s hard to pick out the bills right away, but the NDP actually were very supportive of having a hospital in Brampton. We’re not supportive of paying a third extra by having it financed through a P3 project just like the Eglinton Crosstown, because P3 projects cost 30% more, according to the Auditor General, and the government should be careful with the money that they’re spending. And the worst P3 project we’ve got going on right now is the Eglinton Crosstown, and this morning, the Minister of Transportation, after 12 years of construction, couldn’t even give us a completion date. So why is—

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

I’ll allow the President of the Treasury Board to respond.

Hon. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Let’s be clear, this government is supportive of building infrastructure across this province, unlike the members opposite that have voted against a new hospital in Brampton. They voted against a new hospital in Windsor. They voted against the largest hospital in all of Canada which is being built in Mississauga—over $48 billion over the next 10 years to support capital improvements on 52 projects across this province in health care. The NDP? Look at the record, Mr. Speaker—

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

Further debate?

Ms. Jessica Bell: I’m pleased to be here this evening, to rise and speak about Bill 112, Hazel McCallion Act (Peel Dissolution), 2023. For a government that is looking at getting rid of an entire level of government, it is really astonishing that we are spending such a short period of time debating this bill, given the thousands of people that it will affect in Caledon, in Mississauga—in Peel—and also the thousands of workers that do all the regional work that’s needed to save resources and to amalgamate costs, to provide the services that we need from building affordable housing to providing paramedic services, to ensuring that everyone in these regions can turn on their tap and water comes flowing and that there’s an appropriate waste water treatment system as well.

But this government made the decision not only to move this bill through extremely quickly in the Legislature, but also to skip committee entirely. So residents, mayors, planners, stakeholders and organizations weren’t given the opportunity to formally speak on this bill and express their hopes and fears and concerns about what this big divorce could look like, and how we can make sure that this separation and that this decision to get rid of a whole level of regional government is done in the fairest way possible, done in the best way possible.

And I do want to be very clear and say this on record: The intention of the official opposition was to support this bill and send it to committee so that the public, stakeholders, workers, residents and the people who will be affected by this legislation could really have their voices heard. Because when people have the opportunity to speak and share and feel like they’re being listened to, they’re more likely to have trust in this government, they’re more likely to be invested in the process, they’re more likely to be content with the outcome. But the government decided to do away with that, and this government decided to vote down debate and signal that there would be no committee hearings, nor any consultation.

So we had no choice but to vote no to this bill, because it was rushed, it continues to be rushed, it was very poorly communicated. Even though this bill will affect over 1.5 million people and it will have tremendous effects on services, workers, the environment, the quality of services people have and potentially how much taxes they pay to have their services delivered. It’s a significant bill.

Now we heard from the government House leader the other night after 10 p.m. that they were shutting down debate on the time allocation motion to shut down consultations which is very important. And then he went back to his riding in Markham and talked to people about it last week and maybe he bumped into somebody at the grocery store and said, “Hey, what do you think about dissolving the region of Peel?” and they said, “Sure, why not?” and he said, “Okay, fine then.” And he thinks that’s what consultation means.


I don’t know, but I wouldn’t call that consultation. For a bill as significant as this, it requires more than just a casual conversation in the supermarket or a few phone calls to a few people to meet this bar of what appropriate consultation looks like. Because you want to get it right, yes? You got into politics because you want to get stuff done, you want to have a good legacy, you want to be proud of what you accomplished. In order for that to happen, you have to talk to people. We don’t know everything. Our job is to listen and learn, to chart a course forward, to include everyone as best we can. I don’t see the government doing that today, or yesterday or the day before.

There will be no public hearings or opportunities to improve the bill. Once again, the government is demonstrating that it doesn’t care that much about what people think, especially if people think a little differently than them. It doesn’t care so much about workers think and it really isn’t treating municipal government with the respect that we believe municipal government deserves. I think that is a real problem.

I do want to share, in my time this evening, some of the comments that we have received from stakeholders and organizations, and also comments that have been published in the news, to make sure that the government members opposite are aware of some of the concerns and the issues that people were raising.

The first stakeholder that I do want to raise is CUPE Ontario representatives. The reason why we have raised the issue of CUPE representatives again and again is because they are the ones who could be losing their jobs because of this process, or they could have their jobs fundamentally changed, contracted out. They don’t know; that’s why they are scared. That’s why they want answers. They want to be included in the process and right now they don’t feel like they’re being included in the process at all.

There are over 4,000 CUPE workers in Peel. Since this government won’t take the time to listen carefully and thoughtfully to workers, I’m going to use part of my speaking time to read out a press release that was sent out by CUPE Ontario. They said that restructuring Peel is not a solution to the affordability crisis, which is an important point, because often this government likes to use the big issues of the day—housing, affordability—to ram through pieces of legislation that will do absolutely anything to address the issues of the day, such as housing and affordability. I fear that this is one of those bills, I really do. I really fear it’s one of those bills.

This is what CUPE says: The union “will advocate for better services and workers’ rights.... At a time when the people of Ontario are concerned about an affordability crisis, it’s hard to understand why the Ford Conservatives are prioritizing municipal restructuring” when we’ve got so many other bigger issues that we should be dealing with in Ontario.

Why proceed with municipal restructuring when inflation is at record highs, when it costs 25 years to save up enough money for a down payment, when the average rent in Toronto for a two-bedroom is $3,000 a month? There are so many big issues. Why is getting rid of a fourth tier of government a priority right now? I’m having a hard time understanding that as well, and so does CUPE.

I’ll go on: “As elsewhere in Ontario, residents in Peel care about the government’s impact on the quality of their lives.” This is Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario. “People care about affordable housing, they care about protecting public health care, they care about the quality of public transit in their cities. They don’t care about what level of government is providing services.”

“Hahn says that as the province moves ahead with restructuring, the union will work with its allies to ensure that Peel residents continue to access quality public services provided by public sector workers and thwart any attempts towards privatization.”

That’s a genuine fear. This government has shown a great deal of enthusiasm for privatization—so has the former Liberal government—and we’ve seen the consequences of moving forward with privatization with the delivery of the failed Ottawa LRT project. It doesn’t even run in winter, or so I’ve heard from the member from Ottawa Centre—unbelievable, an LRT built in Ottawa that doesn’t run in winter. And now, we have the sad, sorry saga of the Eglinton Crosstown. I hope that the Eglinton Crosstown does not become Toronto’s Ottawa LRT project; I really hope it doesn’t. But when I hear the Minister of Transportation get up and say she has essentially lost control of the project, she’s got no idea when it’s going to be completed, she keeps talking about safety, which implies that the trains aren’t safe yet—and then we hear all these stories in the news about stations that are already being built having to be rebuilt and the concrete is being jackhammered up again or that the tracks are too close together or too far apart or they’re just not properly aligned. My goodness me, that is not good. I’m worried about that.

I am also worried about that because we gave the largest taxpayer-funded bailout to this private consortium of companies—not just once, but I think we’ve done it three times—in order for them to meet new extended deadlines. We paid them a whole lot of money, after they threatened to sue us, on the hope that they would finish the project late. And they didn’t even finish it late. Now we’re waiting—we don’t even know how long we’re going to have to wait for that train project to be completed. My goodness me. That is privatization at its best and worst, honestly. It’s such a flaw.

I think about the Spadina subway extension and how that was built. The government likes to say that nothing got built before they somehow miraculously, mysteriously arrived on the transit file. It did, actually: The Union Pearson Express got built, and then the Spadina subway extension got built as well. The Spadina subway extension—there was no crisis there. It got built. Thank you, public delivery.

Anyway, CUPE workers are understandably very concerned about any attempts to move forward with privatization, as am I. This is Salil Arya, the president of CUPE 966, which represents 2,000 members employed by Peel region. He “says he is worried that workers were not factored into the decision to dissolve the region, at a time when investments in workers (and by extension services) are essential.

“‘Peel residents need better and more effective delivery of public services, not less,’ he says, citing the example of precarious workers in a Peel long-term-care homes affecting quality of care for seniors. ‘It’s a perfect example of workers being left out of the conversation. And without workers, you can’t provide services.’”

This is extremely important now, because we have a worker shortage in Ontario, and we have a huge inequality problem as well. It’s high time that we listen to workers.

Fred Hahn “notes that politicians have been focused too heavily on taxation when discussing the breakup of Peel, without addressing the complementary piece on quality of services.

“‘Politicians like to preach the gospel of lower taxes without explaining how that impacts people,’ he says. ‘No one wants to pay for health care with their credit card. Similarly, no one wants a lower tax bill at the expense of poor road maintenance, or not having an ambulance arrive in time.’”

That’s a really important issue right now because of Bill 23. The Conservatives made the decision to give developers a big developer fee reduction—all for-profit developers, all developers—because most of the reduction in developer fees is coming from the requirement that developers no longer have to pay any funding towards housing services and shelters, and there’s a reduction in how much fees developers pay towards parkland. In fact, the Conservatives have not even approved the development fee reductions that could go to non-market housing yet, even though the minister likes to talk a good game about that’s what he’s doing it for. It hasn’t even been approved.


The challenge that we see with Bill 23, which really gets to this issue of taxes and services, is that Bill 23 is going to cost taxpayers about $5 billion because that’s what the developer fee reduction is going to amount to. What that means is that taxpayers all across the GTHA and beyond are going to have an increase in the property tax bill between 2% and 7%, and they’re also going to get a reduction in services, because municipalities understand that taxpayers can’t pay that massive property tax hike that would be needed, so homeowners are getting the worst of both worlds: They’re getting a property tax hike and they’re getting service cuts at the same time. That’s the Conservatives’ legacy with Bill 23.

Understandably, workers in the Peel region are saying, “Hey, hold on, we also need to think very carefully about this as well when we’re thinking about what’s going to happen with this breakup between Peel, Mississauga and Caledon. What does this mean for taxes? What does this mean for service quality?” Again, none of these questions have been answered; they can’t even be formally asked—no time for committee, which is a pity.

I’ll read more from Fred Hahn: “‘Ford likes to say he respects front-line workers. If that’s the case, he should appoint union representatives to the transition board,’ says Fred Hahn. ‘It’s workers who provide the services that Peel residents rely on, from waster collection and infrastructure maintenance to the delivery of social services. And so they must have a say in how these services are managed in the future.’” That seems like a pretty reasonable request. It effects their livelihood and their jobs.

The Conservatives, they haven’t made any amendments to this bill, which means that the transition board is going to consist of a maximum of five people—who knows who they’re going to be, but a maximum of five people to get rid of an entire level of government with no formal public consultation within a period of about 10 days—seven? Not long; certainly not long enough.

The member for Niagara Centre spoke with Salil Arya, the president of CUPE 966, and what the president told the member from Niagara Centre was that after speaking to his members over the weekend, they all remember the Premier going around during COVID and calling them heroes. These are front-line workers, and they remember the Premier doing that. The reason why this is important is because members of CUPE 966 lost several members to COVID, long-term-care workers who are still dealing with COVID to this day in these long-term-care homes, and they’re disappointed by this government’s actions.

During COVID, they stepped up, went into long-term-care homes, delivered services during the worst of the pandemic. When many people were at home waiting for services and products to be delivered to them, these people stepped up and went out and kept society running, government functioning, water being delivered, electricity being delivered. They were our heroes and they remember the Premier calling them heroes. Now they wanted us to send a message saying they are disappointed with this government and they’re concerned about what will happen to them, and the cause of their concern is a complete lack of consultation. I’m also concerned.

I want to conclude—I’ve talked a little bit about the lack of consultation, I’ve talked a little bit about the genuine fear that the elimination of a regional level of government could lead to privatization and a contracting out of services, which could have an impact on service quality. It could lead to higher taxes, which is a real concern.

I want to speak a little bit about affordable housing just to conclude. The reason why I want to speak about housing and affordable housing is because in Bill 112, like many of the other bills that this government has introduced, it is used as this example, this reason, to justify drastic and dramatic changes: “We need to solve the housing supply crisis, we need to solve the housing affordability crisis, so get out of the way; this justifies everything. It justifies getting rid of the greenbelt, justifies getting rid of a regional level of government. It justifies bringing minority rule into the city of Toronto. It justifies all that.” Well, there’s no evidence to indicate that getting rid of a regional level of government is going to lead to the construction of more affordable housing. There’s no evidence, and this government hasn’t provided any evidence at all. They’ve got a lot of talking points, but people want to see the evidence. This is about people’s lives.

I also very much urge this government to just pause. The reason why I say “just pause” is because I don’t think that Peel is going to be the only region that’s impacted by the elimination of regional government, or Mississauga or Caledon. Hearing the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing talk, I fear that the elimination of upper-tier municipalities in Durham and Halton and Niagara and Simcoe and Waterloo and York is up next. That’s really drastic and I hope your elected officials in your regions, the residents in your areas if you represent any of these areas, are speaking to you and saying, “Look, hold on”—

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

We’ll now have questions to the member for University–Rosedale related to her speech.

Mr. Lorne Coe: Thank you for the presentation. Going forward, you’ll know in reading the legislation that there are some aspects that remove duplications, primarily in the application and approval process. Having served for the better part of 13 years on an upper-tier council and lower-tier council, that has been a major impediment in a lot of ways to getting construction of houses done. This legislation would empower our municipal partners to get homes and infrastructure built faster and an incentive, also, for our non-profit and private sector partners to continue to invest.

Does the member opposite not agree—and I know that she represents a Toronto riding and we’re talking about Brampton and Mississauga and Caledon—that a shorter, less complex approval process—we’re talking about planning and development—

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

I’ll allow the member for University–Rosedale to respond.

Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Whitby for your question. Of course we need a faster approval process for housing projects, especially when we’re building affordable housing projects and projects in great need. The challenge I see with this bill is that you don’t need to eliminate an entire level of regional government in order to speed up the planning process. There are better ways, less drastic ways to achieve your goal than doing that.

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

Ms. Catherine Fife: Thank you to the member from University–Rosedale for addressing some of the core issues that we have with this legislation. She talked a lot about consultation, and you’ve heard this in the House before: When you actually do your due diligence on consultation, then you get legislation right. I think we all care about getting legislation right in this House.

However, this government has a pattern of behaviour. They did not consult with the people of this province during the last election on privatizing health care. They did not consult on removing development charges for infrastructure, which actually would help in the building of housing. And they are further disrespecting municipal partners who’ve actually said to this provincial government, “We want to partner with you, but don’t remove our resources in order to get the housing built.”

To the member: Do you think that this legislation about dissolving Peel is even about housing and can you speak to the motivation of this government?


Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Waterloo for your question. I’m very skeptical that this bill is really about building new housing. I see it more as a power grab. Conservative governments over time like to consolidate power and really reduce the democratic processes on a local level. We saw it with Harris. We’ve seen it with the strong-mayors bill. And I fear that we’re seeing it again with Bill 112, especially if the government is going to move forward with what I fear, which is a move to eliminate or reduce the power of regional government in other regions across Ontario—York, Durham, Simcoe, Niagara. I have a lot of fears about that.

In committee, there was a member of the public who came forward and said, “I characterize this government’s behaviour as moving fast and breaking things.” That has really struck a chord in me, because I see this government introduce a bill, then they pass it, and then there is this massive amount of backlash because they realize there are unintended consequences. I fear that Bill 112 could be another example where there are these unintended consequences that this government didn’t think through.

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

Mr. Andrew Dowie: I thank the member for her speech detailing the concerns with this bill. I know it doesn’t apply to my home community, but certainly my previous municipal council experience taught me a lot about land development and the process involved. In our case, we had the Essex county planning approvals as well. It added a lot of time and another appeal mechanism, which just delayed, certainly, high-density housing projects from being approved.

The proposed legislation, if passed, will give local legislators in Ontario’s fastest-growing municipalities autonomy to prepare for Ontario’s future growth and deliver on local priorities such as building housing. I wanted to ask if the member agrees that local municipal leaders chosen by Ontarians—like I once was—should have barrier-free access to developing their communities based on local needs.

Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Windsor–Tecumseh for that question. As a Toronto member, I would certainly like Toronto to be given the freedom that it has been asking for to run its own democratic processes and to have less say—or to have the land tribunal have less say over meddling with its official plan.

We’ve also been very clear that we’re very much in support of Ontario meeting its 1.5 million housing target over the next 10 years—we do have a housing supply shortage—but I also firmly believe that municipalities should be treated with respect. I don’t see this bill treating municipalities with respect, especially since you didn’t take this bill to committee.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Next we will have the member for Spadina–Fort York.

Mr. Chris Glover: I want to thank the member from University–Rosedale for her comments today.

We were just talking about it—you had mentioned that somebody in committee said that the pattern of this government is to move fast and break things. The pattern of this government is actually to undermine our democratic rights in this province and undermine our democratic rights to municipal governance, in particular. One of the things they’ve said about this bill is that when these municipalities are separate—Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon—they’re going to strip the people of those cities of their democratic right to majority-vote democracy at the municipal level. They’re going to impose the strong-mayor powers.

What do you have to say to this government about their disrespect for the democratic rights of the people of that region?

Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Spadina–Fort York for your question. I know you deeply care about democratic processes, as do I.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has repeatedly implied that they are looking at bringing the strong-mayor powers to other regions across southern Ontario, including the Waterloo region, the Niagara region, the York region, the Simcoe region. That’s very concerning. It’s very concerning because we’re a representative democracy, we believe in majority rule, and that means passing votes with 51% support or more. Having just a third of city councillors decide the future direction of a city is not the kind of democracy that meets the level of healthiness. We have a higher standard than that.

I really urge the Conservatives to take a good hard look at their dismissal of democratic norms and democratic processes, because—

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

Ms. Christine Hogarth: I was interested when the member talked about treating municipalities with respect. All three mayors from Peel came to this chamber and watched as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing tabled the legislation. They were all in agreement that it was something their constituents wanted them to moved forward with, in partnership with the province. Would the member opposite not agree that we ought to listen to these mayors and allow the people of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon to chart their own destinations?

Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Etobicoke–Lakeshore for your question. You brought up the word “listen.” Yes, listening is very important, which is why we have called again and again for Bill 112 to go to committee, so the residents of Mississauga and Brampton and Caledon can speak, can share their concerns, as well as stakeholders and planners and organizations.

When the Conservatives don’t listen to people, things get broken—people get harmed, services become more expensive, taxes go up.

I’ve got some concerns that the unintended consequence of Bill 112 is that the people of Caledon and Brampton and Mississauga could end up worse off, and that—

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

We’ll continue with the debate. Further debate?

Mr. Lorne Coe: I’m pleased to join the debate on Bill 112. I served as a Durham regional councillor for seven years—that’s an upper-tier government, as you know, Speaker—and six years on the Whitby local council, prior to being elected as the member of provincial Parliament for Whitby–Oshawa in 2016. You’ll also know that I worked as a civil servant in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for a period of time, and other ministries at Queen’s Park. I offer that as a way of context as I move through my remarks here this evening. I bring that base of knowledgeability to the discussion of the legislation, what’s in it, why it’s strong, and why it needs to be done.

In reading the proposed legislation, it’s clear to me that our government is committed to working with municipal partners to ensure they have the tools and autonomy they need to deliver on our shared commitments to the people of Ontario, including addressing the housing supply crisis.

According to Statistics Canada, at the time of the last census, in 2021, Mississauga had a population of almost 720,000, Brampton had a population of more than 650,000 people, and Caledon had a population of just over 76,500. By the year 2051, Mississauga is expected to grow to 995,000 people, Brampton is expected to be home to approximately 985,000 people, and Caledon is expected to be home to 300,000 people. A single-tier municipality—these municipalities—would be well-placed to reduce duplication of local government and address their unique housing infrastructure and service delivery needs.

I add that perspective not only as a former municipal councillor and regional councillor, but I lived for a period of time in Brampton and Mississauga.

Our proposed legislation, if passed, would provide stability and fairness throughout the dissolution process, prioritize respect for taxpayers and value for money, and ensure front-line services and workers can continue—can continue—without disruption.


Now, to assist with that process, Speaker, the province would establish a transition board of up to five people to facilitate this change in local government and, if needed, oversee the financial affairs of Peel and its lower-tier municipalities to help ensure prudent financial stewardship until the solution. The transition board would help implement the province’s clear expectation that the affected municipalities would work together fairly and in a spirit of partnership in order to ensure value for money and efficient high-quality services for taxpayers. Where there are shared assets and services, the dissolution process would help ensure an equitable outcome for all residents that preserves their access to municipal services regardless of location.

The board would provide recommendations to the province to help Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon prepare to become single-tier municipalities on January 1, 2025, when the proposed changes, if passed, would come into effect. Our government, Speaker, expects local services to continue with no impact on residents. The transition board will advise the province on how services should be addressed when dissolution takes place on January 1, 2025.

Speaker, I’m pleased that our government can help in a manner that addresses the need for a modern and efficient local government system, one which recognizes the unique characteristics and needs of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, and the destination of choice, understandably, by many newcomers. These municipalities have to be prepared to house and accommodate all those expected newcomers, and that’s less than 30 years away. That requires not only housing, but infrastructure like roads; pipes for water, wastewater and stormwater; libraries; schools; parks; fire stations and more transit. Speaker, they all need to be planned and, yes, built.

These municipalities have to start getting ready now, but sometimes there are barriers that cause delays and raise the costs of building the infrastructure and the homes we need. These barriers include complex land-use policy, with two layers of planning authority and lengthy planning approvals for new housing.

Speaker, during the introduction of my remarks, I referred to my 13 years on municipal councils. Of those 13 years, for 11 of those I was the chair of the planning and development committee for the town of Whitby. I can tell you about the complexities of that planning and development process as it related to the town of Whitby having to be consistent with our official plan and with the overarching official plan of the region of Durham.

For those people who wished to build in the town of Whitby, there was another level of frustration as well. They would have to bring forward official plan amendments at the local level and they would also to bring forward official plan amendments at the upper-tier level as well. I know MPP Saunderson, who also has had a distinguished municipal career, understands very precisely the challenges that brings to municipal decision-making, and the impacts as well.

So when I talk about barriers, they’re real. In the eight municipalities, for example, that build the region of Durham, they have those inherent frustrations everyday going forward, and those frustrations are not dissimilar in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. They live and breathe it every day. Don’t underestimate that.

This legislation will remove those barriers and lead to more effective planning and development as it relates to building badly needed housing in that particular area; meet the needs of that growing population that I spoke of earlier. You understand it; you understand the pressure points.

Calls for the dissolution of the two-tier structure among Peel, Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon have been heard for years. The government House leader spoke earlier a few days—it goes back 25 years; 25 years we’ve been talking about it. We talk about a lack of engagement. That process has been going on for 25 years on this topic. It’s real, it’s happening, has happened, continues to happen in all those areas. I still have relatives in Brampton.

The time is ripe now for these large municipalities and fast-growing communities to have the tools and the autonomy they need to support growth and build homes in the years to come. I’m proud to be a member of the government that is ready to partner with them and support them and all other municipalities in Ontario as work to help build 1.5 million new homes by 2031.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Thank you. Members, please be seated.


Mr. Matthew Rae: Thank you to my great colleague from Whitby for his remarks. I’m just wondering if my colleague could elaborate a little bit more on his time on regional council in Durham. I know he contributed a lot to the municipal politics there, and I just want him to expand on that.

Mr. Lorne Coe: Leading up to my conclusion in the 11 years that I spent as chair of the planning and development committee, I stepped back and read this legislation over the weekend and had some discussion with some of the people whom I served with on regional council but, in particular, the people on Whitby town council going forward.

We talked about the proposed changes, if this legislation’s passed, related to removing barriers. I said that when you live that, you’re on the council and making decisions affecting quite literally people’s lives, these types of changes will make a difference. They’re long-lasting; they’re generational. We’re doing the right thing at the right time, and the effect will be known for generations.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Joel Harden: I listened with rapt attention to the member from Whitby. When he was talking about his experience municipally, I can only imagine that a key part of that experience was municipal workers.

I had the occasion recently to go to the CUPE Ontario convention in this great city, and I spoke to many municipal workers who were there, all of whom told me that with respect to this particular piece of legislation their unions had not been consulted. I know all of us who made it to this building today, we made it here thanks to a CUPE worker who looked after the roads, picked up recycling and the garbage in this place, who looked after the electricity in the city. We are here in this building because of a CUPE worker.

I’m wondering if the member could explain to this House why municipal workers who are critical to the success of municipalities in Peel were not consulted on this legislation, and will he commit today to consult those CUPE workers who make Ontario a great place to live?

Mr. Lorne Coe: I spoke a little bit earlier in my remarks about the transition board and the role of the transition board, and part of that process would be that—and you would expect this—the transition board will analyze and provide recommendations to the province on matters such as labour relations, reviewing regional bylaws and disentangling regional services, reviewing regional and lower-tier finances and their financial sustainability and exploring new property tax arrangements, amongst others.


It’s also going to oversee the financial decisions of all four municipalities, including directing them to not proceed or take steps to modify or undo certain decisions if they’re not in the public interests of the future single-tier municipalities. But again, what they’re going to do is also look at labour relations issues.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Quick question.

Mr. Chris Glover: I’ll ask this question as quickly as I can, then. I want to thank the member from Whitby.

One of the concerns that I have with this government is that they keep undermining our democratic rights at the municipal level. The government has said that when Peel region is dissolved, they may give the mayors of the three municipalities strong-mayor powers. Strong-mayor powers mean that the mayor can govern with only one third of the council votes.

So my question is, are you going to be stripping the people of Mississauga and Brampton and Caledon of their right to majority-vote democracy at the municipal level?

Mr. Lorne Coe: I knew that question was going to come, right? You knew that question was going to come. We know that when there’s—


Mr. Lorne Coe: Well, here’s the reality: Facts matter, don’t they? Facts matter. We know that when there are shared assets and services, municipalities should be treated in an equitable and fair manner whereby all residents, regardless of where they live, are respected and have access to excellent services. That’s why the transition board would serve the ultimate goal of an amicable and fair dissolution process that respects taxpayers. That’s what we’re about: respecting taxpayers. And, Speaker—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Thank you very much.

Further debate?

Ms. Catherine Fife: You know, I hate to cut off a Conservative member on any day, but we have to do what we have to do at midnight sittings.

Before I start my comments on Bill 112, I just want to give a shout-out to my mom and my Aunt Pat. They’re outside Napanee. They’re watching. I’m pretty sure they may actually be the only people who are watching. But my Aunt Pat actually has really fallen victim to the court system that is backlogged, so my mom is there supporting her through that and through, really, a trying time—so, sending love your way. You’re going to need a little bit more than love—maybe a little bit of justice, because they go hand in hand.

I also want to say, I’m going to be asking some of these finance questions of the Minister of Finance tomorrow during SCOFEA because we finally get the chance to go through the estimates process. I’m looking forward to spending all day asking these questions. It’s one of those things that I actually enjoy a lot.

I also just want to send condolences, actually, to the Brampton members. There was a devastating fire in the community yesterday. I watched it this morning. I drove in very early, so at 4:30 in the morning I watched it. There really is an issue around housing and accommodation in Brampton. The interviewer deciphered that five families sometimes are living in one home. This is leading to very unsafe living conditions, especially when cooking is involved. And the fire that happened late yesterday—one person did die, and two other folks are in hospital, so we’re wishing them well.

The problem with this basement fire that happened in Brampton is that these are not legal housing situations. There’s only one way in and only one way out. That is something that actually has to be dealt with by this Legislature. We would love to see a housing bill come forward by the government around oversight in these housing accommodations, because the prices for housing obviously are an issue. The government will come back and say, “Well, this is just about supply.” But we will say it’s also about affordability and attainable housing. If we could come together on this one issue, I think that that would instill a lot of trust in this entire process.

It’s interesting, though. Just for context, Bill 112, the Hazel McCallion Act, is dissolving the region of Peel. This has had a really interesting trickle-out effect to the rest of the province. I’ve been here for 11 years. This last year felt like almost 11 years in total, I have to say—


Ms. Catherine Fife: Thank you, Effie, for laughing.

But I want to say that in all of my years here, some legislation has moved very quickly; some of it was haphazard. I mean, we really tried to slow down some of the damaging legislation that the Liberals had brought in, especially when it was privatizing hydro. We’re all feeling the impact of those decisions. I think that that is the lens that I want to talk to my fellow colleagues in the House today about, because when legislation comes to the floor of this place, it should be well researched. It should have some data. It should be informed by the history and the context of the people who we’re elected to serve.

Those hydro decisions are going to play themselves out. This government has had five years to address some of the energy questions that are a bit of a hangover, if you will, from the Liberal government. Certainly reading over the weekend that Ontario is one of the only jurisdictions that will be facing brownouts this summer should be of concern to all of us. We went through that with the Liberals; we don’t want to see it again under this government. It’s devastating for so many people who we’re elected to serve.

So the mismanagement of the energy infrastructure in this province is worth your consideration. I’m just putting that out there, okay? Because it’s a serious, serious issue, especially for those long-term-care homes and those hospitals, especially when we brought forward legislation which would ensure that apartment buildings had generators, so people who had disabilities would be able to get out of their building. What a concept, really.

I also want to give out a special shout-out to the former member from Essex, Taras Natyshak. Today he was on the picket lines of Windsor Salt. He was talking to those members. He was like, “What is going on?” It’s over 100 days now. Come on. You guys talk about mining; this is salt mining. Let’s make sure that those miners and those workers aren’t walking a picket line, that they’re going to work, they’re earning a paycheque, they feel respected. This is a major part of the economy in southwestern Ontario, so whatever my colleagues can do to encourage the current member from Essex, the Premier and the Minister of Labour to get back to the table—these are good people walking the line.

Taras told me that he heard some pretty emotional stories today on that picket line of people who are really hurting. They want to get back to work. They want a fair deal. Let’s get Windsor Salt back to the table, as our member from Windsor West has said on many occasions.

I do want to talk about Brampton for a little bit, because, I’ve already said, I have family who live in Brampton. They are very concerned about a number of issues in that riding, in that area. It is diverse, it is growing and it is changing, and that change can be very, very beautiful, because as we always say in this House—sometimes it doesn’t always play itself out—diversity in this province is our strength. We need those immigrants to come in. We need those skills and those opportunities to be fully realized in this province.

My concern, and our concern that has been articulated by our critic and our fellow members around Bill 112, is that consultation has been so limited—I would say actually stifled—on this bill. I will note that the city of Brampton is having their own town hall on the 8th, so this week—what day is it? I think it’s Thursday.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: Yes.

Ms. Catherine Fife: So they’re going to do their due diligence. They want to hear from the citizens in Brampton. It’s a telephone town hall. They have shared and articulated—and it’s well documented, and I know the members from Brampton will have heard this—that there’s a genuine concern around taxation and what this means to the citizens of Brampton. This was a fly-by-night sort of decision, I feel.


The former mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, had a very strong and emotional relationship with the Premier of the province. The current mayor, Bonnie Crombie, has been asking for her autonomy. And autonomy is great. Listen, we truly support municipalities. We know—and having been elected municipally even at the school board level—that’s a very accountable level of democracy. It truly is, because you’re in the grocery store, you’re in the community and people share what they think. But on this bill, having seven hours and 29 minutes of full debate at second reading does not meet the marker for accountability. It truly does not. People want to have their voices heard on this, and we should do our due diligence as legislators to listen to those voices so that the act itself bodes well. It’s a good framework or a map for how this dissolution will happen.

When you leave gaps in legislation—and I’ve seen this over the years with the Liberals. I mean, major gaps. They used to have to bring back pieces of legislation because they forgot a word, right? And language matters; words matter. So what I would say to the members is that not taking this piece of legislation to committee may not bode well. If we’re all truly concerned about Caledon and Brampton and Mississauga and all of their citizens receiving the services that they’ve come to rely on, then we should do our due diligence.

The rushing of this piece of legislation causes us in the official opposition concern. I haven’t heard too much from the independent members on this, but I will say that at this town hall—I think that the Brampton members should attend if they can, because you’ll hear some of those—where the rubber hits the road around health care, around infrastructure, around waste water. These concerns are valid concerns. They need to be reassured throughout this entire process.

I will say AMO also has been very vocal with this government. I’m thankful for the work that AMO does. We’re all going to be in London this year. I’m looking forward to that dialogue around how infrastructure happens in Ontario, because, in our view, when the government moved forward with Bill 23 and removed those development charges as a tool that municipalities have, they actually stifled and reduced the chances of building housing. And make no mistake about it, we are in a housing crisis.

There seems to be a lot of noise on the outside of where this housing can happen when the government’s own affordability task force has said that we have enough land to build housing within those urban boundaries. Bill 97 already passed today. This breaches almost 10 year of public consultation on housing in Waterloo region.

If we don’t get this bill right, if we don’t get this legislation correct, this actually will have a trickle-out effect across to other regions. Waterloo region—of course, I’ve represented Waterloo for the last 11 years, and amalgamation is always a constant topic, right? There’s people who believe in the regional level and then there’s people who believe in the smaller, municipal autonomy issues because they want that direct connection with their democracy.

There is value in having a regional planner in such a large urban area. For us, it has meant that there has been a comprehensive, consistent strategy around protecting our aquifer. We are the largest municipality in Ontario that relies on the aquifer for source water. There has been no evidence whatsoever that this government has given any consideration to the hydrological studies that need to happen to make sure that we don’t contaminate that water source. Because if that actually happened, if the stress on that aquifer, on the Waterloo moraine, was so profound, that would absolutely wipe out our entire region. The stakes are high; they really are.

What I’m hearing from people in Waterloo region is that they’re watching this decision very carefully, and they are concerned about the speed and the pace and the lack of details in the decision-making process. And I say that to all of you in good faith. I would have loved to have seen this bill come to committee. I’m not sure why the government chose not to because, at the end of the day, people would come and they’d say, “Yeah, less government. Yes, no higher taxes.” They would give us the feedback, and probably, they would give you some good feedback, the way that these committee meetings have gone.

So at the end of the day, the process matters. It matters that we get it right. And the lack of consultation and due diligence is problematic, actually, for all of us in this House, because it undermines the trust in our democracy, and I say that in good faith.

I also am genuinely worried about the people in Brampton, for instance, because the Brampton mayor and the mayor of Mississauga are in an all-out War of the Roses divorce fight right now. And divorces can go well. I’ve heard of this happening, divorces going well. I haven’t actually witnessed it first-hand, per se. But there are sometimes divorces—people come to the table and they say, “Do you know what? We don’t want to put the children through this angst, this pain. And we can be adults about this.”

Right now, the mayor of Brampton is calling for a significant amount of funding from the mayor of Mississauga because the mayor of Brampton has looked at the books, has opened the books up to the province and said, “Listen, we’ve already invested this much in Mississauga’s infrastructure. So where is the deal here?” The mayor of Brampton actually has gone so far as to say, “You wouldn’t feel so good about somebody stealing something from you.” That’s a strong word, right? They feel they are losing in this dissolution of Brampton, of Mississauga and of Caledon.

Now, already, municipalities are in a little bit of a situation here, because AMO has already said that because of Bill 23 and the loss of development charges, municipalities will be out $5 billion in revenue shortfall from Bill 23. They’ve calculated. They’ve shared it with the minister. I hope that he has taken some consideration of that. And the Peel report said Bill 23 will cost the region $2 billion to $6 billion in lost revenues and they will need to raise property taxes by at least 25%. So it feels like the government is saying, “Do you know what? If we don’t have Peel regional government, then we’re not going to see this rise in taxes.” However, Brampton has also said, in response, “We will need to raise property taxes by 80% due to Bill 23.”

So what I think we have some issues with is that the government talks about housing. You’ve actually said this bill is about housing—it doesn’t mention housing. It doesn’t have a strategy or road map to how that housing will be funded. Because municipalities can sign on to those public relations sort of directives and put out a press release, but if they don’t have the infrastructure funding, the housing will not get built.

And this is actually happening in Waterloo. A subdivision in the city of Waterloo—I live in uptown Waterloo. They have paused on an 800-house housing development because they don’t have the money for the roads, they don’t have the money for the parks, and they certainly don’t have the money for the schools. So having a cooling effect when we’re in the middle of a housing crisis is really working at odds. You’re putting up a barrier to the very goals that you talk about. And this doesn’t help the confidence in this Legislature, in this government, and it certainly has a cooling effect, also, on the economy.

I want to mention very quickly, because where the money is going or not going is really a matter of priorities. Having been on public accounts for years now and actually having had an opportunity last week to meet with OLG and the Deputy Minister of Finance and talk about where the priorities of this government are playing themselves out in, it was really shocking to learn that through the so-called contract negotiations with private casinos, OLG is forgiving those contracts, thus far, to $3.3 billion. By this year end, the government of Ontario will have been financing private casinos to the tune of $5 billion.


Now, I ask you—we can disagree on a lot of things. I think that we’ve proven that time and time again. What I will say to you is that if you had the choice of building affordable housing, attainable housing, public housing, just like the $202 million that you put in this last budget—you should times that by 10, even by 20. That would alleviate all of that pressure on our health care system, education system, justice system.

And why in Ontario are the taxpayers subsidizing the building of private casinos? That has to hit a nerve at some point.

At the end of the day, budgets are moral documents. Every piece of legislation that you bring before this House tells a story about where you’re prioritizing, who you’re prioritizing, how you see the province of Ontario growing and thriving. Right now, the legislation that is before us is a deeply flawed piece of legislation. The people in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga are looking at tax hikes. This government could set out a road map or, at the very least, release some of the reports that have been done about dissolution, about amalgamating, about having single-tier municipalities run their own infrastructure. Do they have the capacity to do so? Do they have the funding to do so? Because the infrastructure obviously doesn’t stop between Brampton and Mississauga. Right now, between the police and the paramedics and the waste water, you are going to have a sloppy mess. And the lack of transparency on this five-person council, if you will, that is appointed by the government does not instill a lot of confidence. I’m pretty sure that this will probably come out in the town hall that the city of Brampton is doing. They are doing their due diligence.

I ask the government truly, in all sincerity, why not just slow it down to get it right? Because if the goal is to build more housing and to serve the people of Mississauga and Brampton and Caledon, this piece of legislation fails undeniably.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: I always appreciate hearing from the member for Waterloo. I listened to her contributions this evening to debate very carefully and I appreciated her raising the concerns that she had around it. It’s important for the role of the opposition to be fulfilled. I respect that.

I know that, like Niagara, in the Waterloo region, the province has indicated there is interest in appointing a facilitator to have a conversation with local municipalities and with local councillors about what the structure or practices of those municipalities should be to better provide the services that people expect today and into the future. I’m just wondering if the member for Waterloo would be interested in sharing with the House what she wants to see happen in the Waterloo region when that facilitator comes and visits.

Ms. Catherine Fife: I’m not going to speak about myself in the third person because that’s weird. But I will say that I would love to see the report that taxpayers paid for. They paid almost $200,000. There was a study. It was a feasibility study and it was conducted by, I believe, the former mayor of Kitchener, Carl Zehr. We can’t FOI it. It’s under cabinet confidentiality. But that lack of transparency, I would say to the member, really causes a distrust that people have with government—federal, provincial, municipal as well. Having the data, having the information actually leads us to create better, stronger communities.

I’d like to get a chance to read that report. I’d like to see what the ROI is on divesting, or dissolution. How would you work through those complex relationships with paramedics, with police, with fire? These are good questions. The answers are there. They’re somewhere in a report that we can’t have access to.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

MPP Lise Vaugeois: Thank you to the member from Waterloo for your comments. I have some confusion about what the government really thinks about municipalities. On the one hand, today we’ve heard quite a bit about autonomy, how we should respect the autonomy of these what will be then separated municipalities. But earlier, we heard about how council members can’t be trusted to vote for the best interests of their municipalities and conservation authorities can’t be trusted and that we’ve now got these super-duper mayors who can make decisions on behalf of their municipalities with only one-third of the vote. I wonder if you could explain to me this contradiction between autonomy and not trusting the municipalities?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Thank you for the question; it’s an excellent question. I think it speaks to this new culture here at Queen’s Park. For many years, municipalities have been creatures of the province, yes, but there has always been a very respectful give and take in that relationship: The municipalities make their cases to us and we advocate for certain projects, be they infrastructure, environment or climate change or even health care.

AMO has said very publicly that they have never seen such a divisive approach with municipalities—and remember, these are duly elected people. They have been elected by their communities, right? I know from the city of Waterloo—I have very good working relationships with all those councillors—that they are desperately trying to figure out what your next move is. The inconsistency in policy application, again, has a cooling effect. We’re arguing for more open, transparent and trustworthy relationships with municipalities.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Brian Saunderson: I thank the member opposite for her comments on this legislation. I note that the region of Peel was created in 1974, the same year that the city of Mississauga was incorporated. At the time, it had a population of 334,000, so roughly half with Mississauga and half with Brampton. The theory at the time was you needed the bandwidth of an upper-tier government to help lower-tier municipalities manage significant assets. At this point in time, we’ve seen an evolution in the communities where they no longer require that assistance. If you look at the taxpayers’ dollars, there’s only one taxpayer. Would the member not agree that it’s time to re-evaluate the system these governments have chosen—and the mayors were here—to divide the region and become single-tier municipalities so that they can control their destiny and manage their tax dollars?

Ms. Catherine Fife: I started off this 20-minute speech by talking about the divorce between Mississauga and Brampton and Caledon. Ironically, in 1974 my parents were getting divorced and so it’s a little bit personal for me. But I will say that, based on the feedback from the town hall that the city of Brampton has put out, “While Mississauga city council and Mayor Bonnie Crombie have long sought independence from the region and applauded the decision, Brampton’s elected officials have raised several concerns.

“‘The city will be highlighting how Brampton residents have supported Mississauga’s growth through the region of Peel since 1974, and outline the costs and expenses the city expects will be reimbursed with the dissolution process,’ added the city in the release.”

The people of Brampton want those same answers. The government, however, is silent on that reassuring component and clearly they’re still seeking that transparency.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Chris Glover: I want to thank the member from Waterloo for your comments today. I’m going to continue on this theme of democracy. The fundamental principle of democracy in a parliamentary system is that we pass legislation here through the majority vote of elected members of the Legislature, and that’s how an act is created and that’s how laws are created. And then the government, the minister, has the power to pass rules to implement those acts through regulation.

But this law, this bill actually has a Henry VIII clause—it was nicknamed the “Henry VIII clause”—that allows the minister to call out a regulation to change the legislation, to change acts regarding Mississauga and Brampton and Caledon. What is the impact of this on the democratic process and the democratic rights for the people of Peel region?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Thank you very much for the question. I want to say, as a blanket comment, this is a very patriarchal relationship now that the province has with municipalities: “You will do what we say or we will open your books.” There is an inherent level of punitive language that is used now with municipalities, especially smaller ones. I want to say that the mayor of Caledon—because I didn’t get to her in my comments—said, “As mayor of the town of Caledon, I am expressing my serious concern regarding the fast-tracking of” the bill. “And, in alignment with our GTHA small urban” municipal partners, “I am asking the province for more time to understand its implications and the consequences to our town’s future....”


I was just in Caledon, a beautiful place of the world; absolutely. But their tax base will not be able to support the infrastructure for the growth that the province wants, so you are leaving them out to fail if you don’t support them and make them whole.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Graham McGregor: Thanks to my colleague from Waterloo for her thoughtful comments on the bill today. One of the things that I got out of the comments was that change can be scary. Change and modernization can cause a lot of anxiety for the residents. As a Brampton resident myself, I understand that. But one of the things that really eases a lot of that anxiety for me is the approach that we’re taking as a government, and that’s to set the direction where we want to go, so we’re clear where we want to get to but we lay out the steps to get there. We know that we don’t have all the answers for the nitty-gritty details. January 2025, about 18 months from now, is when we’ll be presenting the full plan with all the details involved, and that will leave a lot of time before the next election—more than a year and a half. I’m just wondering if the colleague has any thoughts—does that need to be longer? Should it be two elections from now? What does she think?

Ms. Catherine Fife: To my colleague from Brampton North: I know that he cares about Brampton. We care about Brampton too, and we want to make sure—


Ms. Catherine Fife: The member from Brampton North is heckling me.

In the last election, you didn’t tell the people of this province that you were going to privatize health care. You didn’t tell them that you were going to take away their funding mechanisms to actually support infrastructure. So it’s really not about timing; it’s about transparency.

Make sure that all the facts are on the table, because that’s how Brampton and Mississauga and Caledon are going to hold this government to account next time.

Actually, I will say in all transparency, we saw how well that went for the Liberals, and then they completely got wiped out because of hubris and arrogance.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Further debate?

Mr. Brian Riddell: It’s my honour to speak on behalf of the government’s proposed Hazel McCallion Act. Bill 112, if passed, will begin the process of dissolving the regional municipality of Peel and make the municipalities of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon independent. The proposed legislation honours the late, great Hazel McCallion, who advocated for greater autonomy for the city of Mississauga during her 36 years as mayor. I remember meeting her a few times, and she was a wonderful woman.

The region of Peel includes some of the largest and fastest-growing municipalities in Canada, and they are poised for significant growth over the next decade. Our government is supporting this growth by cutting red tape and improving efficiency while maintaining and improving the high level of local services that the residents expect.

As single-tier municipalities, Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon would be in a position to reduce duplication in local government and address the unique housing infrastructure and service delivery needs.

Speaker, our legislation, if passed, will provide stability and fairness throughout the dissolution process, prioritize respect for taxpayers and value for money, and ensure front-line services and workers can continue without disruption.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing would appoint a transition board of up to five people to facilitate this change in local government and, if needed, oversee the financial affairs of Peel and its lower-tier municipalities to help ensure prudent financial stewardship until dissolution. The transition board will be composed of individuals with a variety of expertise, including municipal operations, finance, service delivery, housing and labour relations. If this legislation is passed, the minister would act quickly to establish a transition board so that members can get started on the important task ahead of them.

The region of Peel provides a range of services for Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, such as police, public health, roads, social services, water and waste water. The transition board would work closely with Peel region to ensure the public interest is protected as the transition to new local government structures begin to happen. The board would provide recommendations to the province to help Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon prepare to become single-tier municipalities on January 1, 2025, when the proposed changes, if passed, would come into effect.

Throughout the transition, our government expects local services to continue, with no impact on the residents. A transition board would advise the province on how services should be addressed when dissolution takes place in January 2025.

Speaker, Ontario is committed to work with our municipal partners to ensure they have the tools and autonomy they need to deliver on our shared commitments to the people of Ontario, including addressing the housing supply crisis we have today. Bill 112, if passed, will ensure continuity and efficiency at the local level to deliver on shared provincial-municipal priorities, in particular the building of 1.5 million new homes by 2031.

The municipalities that make up the region of Peel currently have 1.5 million residents and are expected to grow to over two million by 2041. These municipalities have collectively agreed to housing pledges totalling 246,000 new homes by 2031: 120,000 in Mississauga, 113,000 in Brampton and 13,000 in Caledon. I will point out this legislation has the support of affected municipalities and will position these large and fast-growing cities for future growth.

Speaker, the political leaders of Peel region have long requested this change, stretching back to the late Mayor McCallion. Similarly, Premier Ford has long indicated he supports this outcome, and he is keeping the commitment he has made. Our government is delivering on the promise because it is essential that these large and fast-growing municipalities have the ability and the tools to deliver for their people, especially when it comes to housing.

I would stress that there’s no adjustments to municipal boundaries as part of our government’s proposed changes.

The dissolution of Peel, with nearly 1.5 million residents and over 9,000 employees, needs to be done in a way that is prudent and builds in the time and expertise to get it right. Where there were shared assets and services, municipalities would be treated in an equitable and fair manner, whereby all residents, regardless of where they live, are respected and have access to excellent services.

Dissolution on January 1, 2025, allows the time needed to resolve complex matters and seek the transition board’s advice, including the allocation of assets, liabilities, contractual obligations, services, governance and employee relations.

Speaker, on May 18, when the Honourable Minister Steve Clark announced the Hazel McCallion Act, Bonnie Crombie, mayor of Mississauga, said:

“This is a historic day for the people of Mississauga and for our future. I want to thank the minister and the Premier for answering our calls for an independent Mississauga.

“As Ontario’s third-largest city that’s home to 100,000 businesses and the province’s second-largest economy, we’re ready to stand on our own two feet and make our own decisions about the future of our city. An independent Mississauga will allow us to be more nimble when it comes to responding to the housing crisis, increase efficiencies, reduce duplication and save residents time and money. This process will take some time and we are committed to ensuring” that it continues to have the essential services that the people of the region of Peel expect.

Speaker, the people of Ontario and their government want to respect and support efficient administration of local governance; recognize that municipalities should be empowered with the tools needed to plan for population growth, including the tools needed to build more housing options, and should work together fairly and in good partnership with neighbouring municipalities; understand that safe communities and the delivery of effective front-line services is a key pillar to local government, including preserving front-line workers. They should appreciate the importance of value for money and high-quality service delivered in an efficient manner to taxpayers; acknowledge that where there are shared access—assets; I’ve had a long day—and services, municipalities should be treated in an equitable and fair manner whereby all residents, regardless of where they live, are respected and have access to excellent services.


In the coming weeks, the province will name regional facilitators in the upper-tier municipalities of Durham, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe, Waterloo and York. These facilitators will be tasked with reviewing whether the upper tier of regional government continues to be relevant to the needs of community or whether the lower-tier municipalities are mature enough to pursue their dissolution. When regional governments are still required, the facilitators will make recommendations on how they can move more effectively, respond to the issues facing Ontario’s fastest-growing municipalities today, particularly when it comes to meeting municipal housing pledges and tackling the housing crisis.

Our government is committed to helping communities grow and prosper. We are committed to making our province the absolute best place to live, work and raise a family, and Bill 112 speaks to those commitments.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member from Cambridge for your presentation. It has been a long day for everyone.

I have a question. I’m going through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing estimates briefing book, and I do notice that the Conservative government is looking at bringing strong-mayor powers to other municipalities; it says so in the estimates book. What other municipalities will be having undemocratic strong-mayor powers imposed upon them?

Mr. Brian Riddell: Currently, I don’t have that information, so I cannot give it to you. But the facilitators will be looking at the regions that I mentioned, and they will be making a decision at that time.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I know we’re all very eager to ask our lovely colleague from Cambridge many questions because he gave an excellent speech.

But I just want to ask him, since he’s been and around politics for a number of years, and he has lots of different expertise: From his perspective of everything that he has heard from his constituents—I mean, this bill may not be specific to Cambridge but actually has many ripple effects in the governance of all of Ontario in how it can get more things accomplished and more things built. I know he deals with a lot of affordability issues, like here, where I represent, Simcoe county, the ripple effects. If you don’t build more in the GTA, that has ripple effects to all of our ridings, because if you don’t build up the GTA, that means people are going to drive until they qualify. That means driving up house prices, whether it’s in Simcoe or in Cambridge—and to ask him what he’s hearing from his constituents.

Mr. Brian Riddell: I think in the period between now and when things start to happen, a lot of things are going to be worked out.

And to comment on the honourable member from Waterloo, there has been all sorts of conversation about Cambridge and Kitchener and Waterloo, but that’s just speculation at this time.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

MPP Lise Vaugeois: Thank you to the member from Cambridge for your remarks. It is going to take time for the process to work through. I’m wondering why there’s such a reluctance to have it go to committee. What’s the rush? Why not open this space so that people have the opportunity to raise their concerns, tell you that they love it, tell you that they hate it, whatever—have an opportunity to participate democratically?

Mr. Brian Riddell: I think they’re going to have enough time to talk to the members in involved areas and give their comments.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Question?

Mr. Graham McGregor: I want to thank my colleague and my seatmate from Cambridge for his contribution here, a really thoughtful speech that he put together, talking about why he’s going to be supporting this bill.

I’ve got a lot of affection for Cambridge and for Waterloo region. It’s a great place. Actually, a lot of people from Brampton fleeing the housing prices, ironically, get out to Waterloo region, lots of friends out there—although I hear the housing prices in Waterloo region have skyrocketed as well. One of the things about Brampton—look, the city of Brampton itself has a larger population than the entire region of Waterloo, the region of Durham, the region of Niagara—I could go on—and that population is only going to get bigger. Could the member explain why it might be a good idea for such a large municipality like Brampton to have more autonomy in order to command its own destiny?

Mr. Brian Riddell: With the size of the population of Peel region—like I mentioned, 1.5 million and it’s growing to over two million—it’s only right that they should make their choice on their own destiny of what they want to do with their governance. I just think it’s a great plan, and I think it’s time for that split.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Further debate?


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): The member for Spadina–Fort York.

Mr. Chris Glover: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I appreciate the enthusiasm of my member from Waterloo, but I think she already spoke on this bill not too long ago.

Ms. Catherine Fife: I can speak again.

Mr. Chris Glover: Ah. I’m sorry. I thought you were going to steal my spot.

Anyway, it’s a pleasure. Wow, it’s 7:45, and so it’s—

Interjection: I thought I was tired.

Mr. Chris Glover: Yes, I am tired. Okay, I know. I’m looking at the clock, and yes, it is. It’s late. We’re having a late-night debate here tonight on the Hazel McCallion Act, the dissolution of the region of Peel into three separate municipalities: Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. We just passed the one-year anniversary of this government’s second term in office, and I will say it has been one heck of a year.

It started off with Bill 3, and I will say this government has a record and the record falls into a couple of different categories. One is the privatization of public services and the sell-off of public assets. The second is the attack on democratic rights, and when this government was elected a year ago, that’s exactly what they started with. They started with an attack on democratic rights. They never mentioned it in their election platform, but the first thing they did was bring in Bill 3, and Bill 3 brought in strong-mayor powers. It gave the mayor of Toronto and Ottawa the power to set the budget—

Mr. Joel Harden: We didn’t want it.

Mr. Chris Glover: What’s that?

Mr. Joel Harden: Ottawa didn’t want it.

Mr. Chris Glover: Ottawa didn’t want it, no; apparently John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, did want it—to set the budget, to appoint committee chairs, to appoint committee members, to hire staff, senior staff. So what it really did is it stripped the elected councillors of a lot of the powers that they had. And it was nicknamed the strong-mayors bill, but it wasn’t really “strong mayors;” it was actually “strong Premier,” because it gave the Premier a lot more power over the municipalities. What it did is it allowed the mayor to pass legislation or to veto any bill that interfered with provincial priorities. The provincial priorities were not specified, but for whatever counted as a provincial priority, basically, it gave the mayor extreme power over the democratic rights of the municipalities to override any decision that’s made by the majority of the elected councillors.

Let’s see. Now, this government is committed to building 1.5 million homes, and that is something that we in the opposition are also committed to. But there are two questions that I have that I want to discuss. The first one is, with this dissolution of the Peel region, are taxes going to go up? And will it restore local democracy? My fear on the democratic piece is that it’s not going to restore local democracy. In fact, it’s going to further infringe on local democracy.

The way the bill is written, there are no public consultations, there’s no committee hearings, so this is being rushed through the Legislature. We are recessing on Thursday for the summer, and this is going to probably be the last piece of legislation that we pass before we do recess for the summer. The people of Mississauga, of Brampton and of Caledon are not going to get an opportunity to have a say in this bill or on the process that it sets out for the dissolution of their region. In fact, the word “consult” does not appear in this bill. In fact, what the bill does is, it gives the government the power to appoint a transition board, and they don’t say who will be on it. Will Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon each be fairly represented? That’s an important question that is not answered.


How will this transition board make decisions? Again, it does not say. Will the residents of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, who are paying for this transition, for this dissolution, get the details? Will they find out? Will there be a requirement to publish the findings on the costs and the benefits and the risks here? The answer is no. In fact, this bill sets out or has in it what’s nicknamed the “Henry VIII clause.”

The way the Legislature works is that we in the Legislature—there’s 124 members elected from across the province—vote, and by a majority vote make legislation, pass acts and modify those acts, and then the ministries and the minister have the power to make regulations to implement the will of the Legislature, to implement the acts that are passed.

This bill actually has a power in it, a clause in it that gives the minister the power to modify acts, the power to modify legislation that has been passed by this Legislature. This is a real concern for anybody who cares about democratic process, because what is the limit on it? Is it just a minor change, or can the minister make major changes? The purpose of parliamentary democracy is that when the government wants to make a change to legislation, there has to be some transparency. The government has to come in here, they have to present the bill, there have to be three readings of the bill, there have to be votes after the three readings and then the Lieutenant Governor proclaims the act—the proclamation.

So there’s a process here, but this bypasses all of that. It bypasses the parliamentary democracy that we have with this Henry VIII clause, and that’s a real concern. It builds on the last five years of this government’s attacks on our democratic rights in municipalities across the province, and I’m going to back a little bit just to provide some context here.

In 2018, when this government was elected, again without announcing that they were going to do it in their election platform, they changed the number of seats in the Toronto election from 47 to 25. They also cancelled the election of four regional chairs, and they did this in the middle of the campaign period. So some of the people who were running sued and the city of Toronto said this is illegal; this is an infringement on the democratic rights of the people who are running in the election. It’s an infringement on the rights on the people of the city of Toronto.

It went all the way to the Supreme Court. In 2021, the Supreme Court came back. The decision from the Supreme Court is one that didn’t get much publication and it really should have because what it said is that, in Canada, we do not have the right to democratic municipal elections. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives us the right to democratic federal and provincial elections. That’s under section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But municipal elections? It’s silent on it. The decision of the Supreme Court was a 5-4 split decision, and the ruling was that no, we do not have that right.

So this government, when they came back in, when the Conservatives got elected again in 2022, last year, they saw this power and they started to use it immediately. Again, in the middle of Toronto’s municipal election in 2022, they passed what they nicknamed the “strong mayors,” but it was actually the “strong Premier’s” legislation. We were again in the middle of an election campaign period. We were electing a mayor and 25 city councillors in the city of Toronto and they changed the rules by which that mayor and those councillors would be governing, in the middle of the campaign period. They figured they could do it because the Supreme Court said we do not have—Canadians do not have—the right to democratic municipal elections. That’s a real concern.

The other thing that has come up—I want to stay on this issue of democratic rights. The other legislation that this Conservative government passed in the last term was Bill 307. Bill 307 restricted the power of people and organizations to pay for advertising, from one year to six months before an election. This was an increase. Before there was restriction of six months before an election, but this increased it to one year.

It went to court. It went to the Superior Court of Ontario, and the Superior Court ruled that this actually is an infringement on the rights of people to free speech. It’s an infringement on our charter right to free speech.

The government brought back that legislation and they used the “notwithstanding” clause. And people in this country and, I think ,the vast majority of us—and I will be honest, I didn’t really understand what the “notwithstanding” clause did until I became an MPP and really started looking at it and this government started using it. The “notwithstanding” clause allows the government to pass legislation that overrides our rights under sections 2 and 7 through 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 2 is our fundamental freedoms: our freedom of speech, our freedom of thought, our freedom of religion and our freedom of association. So all of these—any government in this country, any provincial or federal government, at any time they want, can override our fundamental freedoms, our freedom of speech, our freedom of association. This government has done that four times. They’ve used the “notwithstanding” clause in four different pieces of legislation.

The other thing: Sections 7 through 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? That’s our legal rights. If we are arrested, we have a right to a lawyer without delay. We have a right to be charged and to know what the charge is. We have the right to be brought before a judge within 24 hours—all of these legal rights. We have the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. Torture is disallowed by that charter, sections 7 through 15. The “notwithstanding” clause allows governments to override those legal rights. Again, this is a real concern.

So when you have a government that’s used the “notwithstanding” clause four times, that has twice changed the rules of Toronto’s municipal elections in the middle of the election period, and then you have this piece of legislation coming before us that has a Henry VIII clause in it that allows the minister to change legislation without coming back to this House, it’s a real concern. I think the people of Mississauga and Brampton and Caledon should be concerned.

The other piece of legislation that this government passed—I’ll go back to this past year. In December, this government passed Bill 39. Bill 39 overrides the right to majority-vote democracy in our municipalities, in Toronto and in Ottawa and any other jurisdiction that they want it to apply to. They are calling it strong-mayor powers. In the city of Toronto, for example, we elected a mayor and 25 city councillors. Usually you would need 13 votes to pass a bylaw at the city level. With Bill 39, the mayor and one third—so only eight city councillors—can pass legislation, even if the other 17 councillors vote against it. That is the power that this government has said they want to give to the mayors of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon after the dissolution of the region.


I think the people of Mississauga, Caledon and Brampton, of Peel region, should be deeply concerned about the impact of this legislation on their democratic rights. They should be deeply concerned that they do not have the right to any transparency in this dissolution process.

The final thing that I want to talk about is, in Peel region, are taxes going to go up with this? In 2019, Deloitte did a study and they estimated that the dissolution of Peel region would cost $1 billion over 10 years to maintain existing levels of service. That makes sense, because any change is going to cost money. The purpose of a region is to actually save money.

I lived in the city of Oshawa when Durham region was created. The idea of Durham region being created was actually to save money; that instead of having separate police forces, there would be one Durham regional police force, there would be one fire department. there would be one service that’s dedicated to sewage treatment and water treatment. So by scaling up, you would actually be able to save money.

Mississauga and Brampton are probably large enough to manage their own services, but is Caledon? What will the dissolution mean for Caledon? I think the people of Caledon should be concerned, and they should have some questions, and they should have an opportunity to ask those questions in a committee hearing of this legislation. But they’re not being given that opportunity, because this government has disrespected the democratic rights of the people of this province many times, and they’re disrespecting their rights by not allowing or not having committee hearings on this bill here.

The other reason that I think taxes are going to go up is Bill 23—this is the “building fewer homes slower” act that the government passed. When Bill 23 was passed, Bonnie Crombie said that it “will be a big hit to your wallet.” She was speaking to the people of Mississauga, noting that the average property tax could go up by 5% or 10%, or approximately $300 to $600, just to pay for the downloading of the costs of development fees to taxpayers. The way it’s supposed to work is that development is supposed to pay for development. If a developer buys a piece of property and they want to build houses or condos on it, then they have to pay for the roads and the sewers and the transit and the schools and all the other services that are going to be needed for that area. That way, the cost of that expansion is not downloaded onto the existing taxpayers. But the way Bill 23 exempted the developers of those development charges and downloaded them onto the existing taxpayers—the estimate for Peel region over the next 10 years is $2 billion, so this is a $2-billion gift from this Conservative government to developers, from the taxpayers of Peel region. That is a real concern for the people of Mississauga, of Brampton and of Caledon.

I’ll just read a little bit more about Bonnie Crombie: “The legislation reduces and exempts fees developers pay to construct affordable housing, non-profit housing and inclusionary zoning units. While waiving fees could encourage more housing to be built, Crombie argued that nothing in the legislation guarantees that they would not be passed on to homeowners.”

This is one of the arguments this government was making about Bill 23. They kept arguing that the development charges—whatever it is; $50,000 or $100,000 on a development, on a house—are actually passed on to the homeowners, but that doesn’t make sense, because these are for-profit developers. They don’t discount. If they get a taxpayer-funded handout for $50,000 or $100,000 in development charges, they don’t pass that on to the homebuyer. They sell the home at the highest possible price. So Bill 23 and the downloading of taxes doesn’t actually save anybody any money. It’s a gift from taxpayers and a gift, in Mississauga and Peel region’s case, of $2 billion to developers that taxpayers are going to have to pay for with what Bonnie Crombie estimates as a 10% increase to their taxes. And she writes, “None of this is fair to our property taxpayers or our residents.”

I have two main questions for the government: Are taxes going to go up in Peel region to pay for this dissolution? And from the way the legislation is written, it seems that the people of Peel region will see their democratic rights—their right to democratic municipal governments—further eroded by this legislation.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Graham McGregor: I want to thank my colleague for speaking on the bill. It was great to hear him talk about concern for the taxpayer, because I’ve also heard the colleague talk about the benefits of the carbon tax—wasn’t concerned about taxes going up there. When we lowered income taxes for the lowest-income earners with the LIFT tax credit, he voted against that. When we lowered the gas tax, he called that a waste of money. When we gave licence plate stickers back to people, he called that a gimmick.

But I did have a lot of time to talk to Peel taxpayers about this bill. It was introduced May 18. We had the constituency week after. Some of the Peel taxpayers that support this bill are, obviously, the mayors of Mississauga, Caledon and Brampton; the members for Brampton East, Brampton Centre, Brampton North, Brampton South; the Mississauga members and the Caledon members.

Could the member tell me some of the Peel taxpayers he’s consulted with since May 18 on this bill that are educating his decision to oppose it?

Mr. Chris Glover: I wonder if the member from Brampton North is concerned that people will begin to question his integrity because he accused me of saying two things, in his question, that I have never said. I have never made those statements in this House.

And he also said—I mean, this is one of the ploys that the Conservative government uses. They say, “Oh, the NDP voted against this. They voted against this.” Well, most of the things that we’re voting against are in the budget, and it’s a budget that underfunds health care or education, so of course we vote against it. And then the government members say, “Oh, the NDP voted against something that was actually, maybe, possibly even good in the budget bill.”

So, I wonder if the member from Brampton North is actually concerned about his own people questioning his integrity when he says things like this and uses these rhetorical devices.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Question?

Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Spadina–Fort York for your presentation this evening. One thing that concerns me about Bill 112 is that there is no requirement for the government to get the approval of any of the municipalities, and there is no requirement for the government to even consider their viewpoints. And I see this is an example of one of the many reasons and examples of the Conservative government not treating municipalities with respect and not treating democratic processes with respect.

What do you think this government’s track record is with treating democracy and democratic processes with respect?

Mr. Chris Glover: It’s a good question. The dissolution of Peel region, that’s something that needs to be looked at. But this bill is a major power grab for this government over municipalities, and that’s a real concern. The Henry VIII clause is a real power grab that they are rushing this through the Legislature without a committee hearing, without the people of Peel region having an opportunity to come here and say what they would like to see in the dissolution or how it might happen or what their concerns are or what they would like to come out of this. There’s that undemocratic process.

I think the people of Peel region should be deeply concerned about this legislation and the way it’s being rushed through, and the fact that we are debating it at 10 after eight on Monday night when, probably, not many people are watching.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Ross Romano: To the member, just a follow-up to your previous rebuttal—or response. You were speaking about our government’s budget bill and how there were parts of that that you weren’t in favour of, and that’s why you and the NDP voted against said initiatives, notwithstanding there were some really good things in there. That’s what I gather you were getting at.


But I’ve also heard in the past you referenced the former Liberal government and some bad decisions. I know you weren’t around at the time when a number of your colleagues with the NDP voted on successive budgets in favour of the Liberal budgets. I can appreciate, again, you weren’t there at the time, so in fairness I understand that you weren’t the one who voted in favour of those Liberal budgets, but your party did. So are you saying, based on your response to the former member, that your party had it all wrong when they voted in favour of the Liberal budgets?

Mr. Chris Glover: I can’t speak to the Liberal budgets because, as you said, I was not here. But I can speak to the recent Conservative budget, and the recent Conservative budget underfunds both our health care and education systems.

I know the Minister of Education keeps boasting about the highest level of funding in the history of the province, but it’s not keeping up with inflation. What that means, for example, in the Toronto District School Board, the 600 public schools in Toronto, is that 420 staff are being cut. That’s why we voted against this government’s budget. I know the government will say and the government members will say, “Oh, the NDP voted against this or that in the budget.” We voted against underfunding our education system, and we voted against underfunding our public hospitals and our public health care system.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Joel Harden: I want to thank my friend from Spadina–Fort York for those remarks. I’m wondering if you could help me understand—I asked earlier in debate. I had occasion to speak to a lot of municipal workers at the recent CUPE Ontario convention, and they’re very concerned that this very shadowy present transition committee the government is proposing for this is going to mean the cuts of a lot of municipal worker jobs. So far as I know, the folks in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon are relying upon safe drinking water, safe streets, electricity that works thanks to those municipal jobs. The last time I remember this government running into a major problem was when they decided to take on CUPE education workers last November and thought they could push them around. It didn’t end up working out very well for the government.

So I’m wondering if you have any advice for the government and this transition committee about how they should treat the CUPE members that serve those municipalities with respect and make sure that they do not bring the province to the brink of disaster for a second time.

Mr. Chris Glover: The legislation that the member from Ottawa Centre is referring to is the legislation that stripped education workers of their fundamental freedoms and their legal rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms using the “notwithstanding” clause.

The other piece that was in that legislation: It also stripped education workers of their right to be free of discrimination from this government under the Ontario Human Rights Code. That bill gave the government the power to discriminate against education workers who were predominantly female and disproportionately people of colour. They actually put into the legislation, “Not only are we using the ‘notwithstanding’ clause to strip people of their legal rights and their fundamental freedoms, we’re also going to strip you of your power to be protected from discrimination by the government.” The government gave themselves the power to discriminate against those education workers.

If I were the municipal workers in Peel region, I would be deeply concerned with a track record like that—

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Thank you very much. Quick question.

Hon. Stephen Lecce: I reflect on the member opposite’s comments. I think what I’m hearing is that the solution for New Democrats to all the challenges of society is bigger government, more politicians. The reason why I say that—and it’s comical perhaps, but let’s reflect on one of the first bills that this House looked at. The member from Ottawa was present. I appreciate the one from Toronto was not. But the New Democrats at the time opposed cutting city council in half on the basis that it’s an affront to democracy, and yet council seems to be rather efficient. So I guess my question in short is, help me understand logically why the solution is not fewer politicians in the room, empowering local communities to make decisions, when the mayors themselves—certainly in Mississauga and in Brampton, but most particularly in Mississauga—have urged the government for dissolution. Is the greatest expression of democracy not listening to the people that we’re supposed to serve in the communities we represent?

Mr. Chris Glover: I agree with the Minister of Education’s last statement: The greatest solution to the importance of democracy is listening to the people. The government did not listen to the people when they reduced the number of seats in Toronto’s election from 47 to 25, and the reason that was such a big problem—for example, in my riding of Spadina Fort–York, I’ve got the fastest-growing riding in the country, so far as I know: 8,000 people per year. We have 150—I know this government keeps saying that they’re trying to build housing. The city of Toronto has actually been very efficient at building housing. We have 150 developments under way in my riding, and that’s been fairly consistent through the last decade. So the city of Toronto was actually functioning quite well, thank you, before this government decided to strip Torontonians and other people across the province of their democratic right to municipal elections.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Thank you. Further debate? The member from Simcoe–Grey.

Mr. Brian Saunderson: Thank you, Madam Speaker—


Mr. Brian Saunderson: That’s a great applause. I’ll now sit down.

I want to thank everyone for hanging in there and staying long enough to hear my comments. It’s certainly a pleasure tonight to rise on behalf of my residents in Simcoe–Grey to speak to Bill 112, which I think is a very important piece of legislation. It’s also a very important part of the evolution of our communities and our regions in this province. We’ve heard great discussion tonight about financial responsibility and sustainability. As it’s been said many times on this floor, there’s only one taxpayer, and I’ll come to that shortly.

I want to start off by saying that this government is committed to working with our municipal partners to ensure that they have the tools and autonomy they need to deliver our shared commitments to the people of Ontario, and that includes addressing this very critical housing supply crisis.

It is very fitting that the title of Bill 112 is the Hazel McCallion Act, 2023. Hazel was elected as mayor of Streetsville in 1969, and when Streetsville became part of the newly incorporated city of Mississauga in 1974, she ran for mayor in 1978, and that was an office she held until her retirement in 2014 after 12 terms and 36 years. Hurricane Hazel was a champion of her community and a long-time advocate of the dissolution of Peel region and Mississauga becoming a single-tier municipality.

As my colleague from Whitby referenced, I spent eight years working in Collingwood on municipal council but also in our upper-tier government of Simcoe county. The two-tiered government mechanism is important, but it has its place. In my context, in Simcoe county, there are 16 municipalities, the largest of which has a population of approximately 40,000. So the regional government—well, it’s a county government in our case—plays a critical role in ensuring there is oversight in some areas, like planning, but also it’s a flow-through mechanism for much of the funding that comes through the province for Ontario Works, ODSP, hospitals, housing seniors and many critical aspects like that. The real message in that is that each of the municipalities does not have the bandwidth to do these things on their own. They rely on the upper-tier government to provide resources and help with the funding for provincially funded programs.

But when we go back to the idea that there’s only one taxpayer, AMO’s own numbers indicate that, as of 2021, if you take every tax dollar that our residents pay, whether that be federal and provincial income tax or municipal property tax, if you condense it into one dollar, 48 cents of that dollar goes to the federal government and 44 cents of that dollar goes to the province. That leaves eight cents of that dollar for our municipalities to run the services they provide: snowplowing, garbage removal, road maintenance, maintaining capital assets and having asset management plans. So if you look to municipal governments, you will often find they’re the most efficient level of government because they have to stretch that eight cents to cover all of their costs. And in the context of a municipality that has less than 50,000, an upper-tier government is a critical piece of the puzzle.

But when we look at the statistics, when Peel region was formed in 1974, there was a combined population of all three municipalities of approximately 335,000. That is half the population of Brampton and half the population of the city of Mississauga. So what you see there are municipalities that did not have the bandwidth or the financial resources to operate as a single-tier municipality. Almost 50 years later, these municipalities have grown to a point where they are now capable of doing that. They have the bandwidth in staff and they have the resources, or the means to do it. By eliminating the upper-tier government, that will then be focusing all of the tax dollars, all of the eight cents on the dollar that they get, down to the lower-tier municipalities to enable them to carry out and be responsive to the needs of their municipalities.


Those municipalities, like Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton, have the bandwidth to determine what is in the best interest of their communities. They have the most responsive level of government and they don’t need the assistance of an upper-tier government. It’s efficiency in terms of tax dollars, it’s efficiency in terms of staffing, and it’s the type of efficiency that we need to find to help our municipalities stretch that eight cents per dollar to cover all the needs for their growing communities.

It’s been covered many times in the discussion tonight, but I think it’s worth repeating that as single-tier municipalities, these municipalities would be well-placed to reduce duplication in local government and address their unique housing, infrastructure and service delivery needs as they move forward in these challenging times with inflation and with addressing health care, housing and all that flow from that.

This legislation, if passed, would provide stability and fairness throughout the dissolution process, prioritize respect for taxpayers and value for money, and ensure front-line services and workers can continue without disruption. The real key point in there is the respect for taxpayers’ dollars and the value for money. We are finding ways to stretch that efficiency by giving those single-tier municipalities the ability to determine at their council table what their municipalities need, where they need it and when they need it, and to allocate the resources they need to do that.

Currently, the region of Peel provides a range of services for Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon such as police, public health, roads, social services, water and waste water. To help assist in the transition, there will be a transition board that will work closely with Peel region to ensure that the public interest is protected as the municipalities transition to new local governance structures. The province expects local services to continue uninterrupted with no impact on residents. The transition board will advise the province on how services should be addressed when dissolution takes place on January 1, 2025. The process sets out a long on-ramp and allows the municipalities to work with the transition board to ensure there is a fair and equitable outcome that responds to the needs of local residents, respects taxpayers, increases efficiency and supports an amicable and effective dissolution.

We hear reference across the floor to this being a divorce. I don’t think it’s a divorce; I think it’s an evolution. I think what you’re seeing is the children moving out of the house. You’re seeing Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon have the opportunity to start out and forge their futures independently of what was previously an upper-level government that acted as a parent. Now these municipalities have grown to the point where they’re ready to move out. This is not a divorce; this is an evolution. This is growth. This is much-needed development in our municipal process.

Dealing with the transition board, it would provide recommendations to the province to help each of the municipalities prepare to become single-tier municipalities. This is part of a process that doesn’t just end with Peel region. In the coming weeks, the province will also name regional facilitators to assess the upper-tier municipalities of Durham, Halton, Niagara, Waterloo, York and Simcoe county, which is the single county that is included in this process. It will not all respond in the dissolution of the upper-tier government. There may be other ways that we can increase service delivery to make sure that our taxpayers’ dollars are being respected and stretched out to cover the increasing burden on our local municipalities.

What we are looking to do in this exercise is to find efficiencies to respect the taxpayers’ dollars, to make sure that our municipalities have the ability to grow and develop as they see fit where upper-tier governments are no longer necessary. Where an upper-tier government is still required, it will look at how service delivery can be modified to make sure that the tax dollar is being stretched and that the services our residents expect and need will be provided on the most cost-effective basis.

Madam Speaker, it is my belief, after eight years on Simcoe county council and serving the residents of Collingwood, that evolution in how we are governed is a critical part of the efficiencies process. We need to stretch tax dollars. We need to ensure that our residents are getting services in the most cost-effective and efficient planning process. This bill, in my submission, is part of that process. Giving Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga the ability to move out of their parents’ house and govern their own circumstances is the way to go.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Lorne Coe: That was an excellent presentation. I’d like my colleague to talk a little bit more about the functionality of the transition board and what is anticipated in terms of the effect of that transition board.

Mr. Brian Saunderson: I want to thank my friend from Whitby for the question.

We know that in regional government there are shared assets and services, and municipalities should be treated in an equitable and fair manner to make sure that all residents in each of the municipalities are treated with respect and have access to excellent service.

The transition board would serve the ultimate goal of an amicable and fair dissolution process that respects taxpayers and protects the existing services. It would analyze the recommendations on such matters as labour relations, reviewing regional bylaws and disentangling regional services to ensure that it is the most amicable, fair and efficient resolution.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you to the member for Simcoe–Grey for your presentation. I heard talk about respecting municipalities, listening to municipalities, listening to residents and constituents. Why not take Bill 112 to committee? What’s the rush?

Mr. Brian Saunderson: Thank you for the question.

I think what we saw when the mayors were here, as well as the regional chair, was that this is a process that was supported by each of the municipalities and in fact has been on the table and asked for for many years.

I think this offers us an opportunity to dissolve the regional government, give the single-tier municipalities the powers they need, and to work through it with the transition board and with the municipalities in a way that is responsive to their needs and gives us lots of runway to do this by January 1, 2025.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I’m glad the member from Simcoe–Grey did bring the Simcoe county perspective to the Legislature here. I know we’ve been caught up in other debate, but I just wanted to ask him, from a Simcoe county perspective, what are the lessons we can learn from municipalities and cities that haven’t actually opted in to the county model? We certainly have examples of that in Simcoe county and perhaps why—and how that has worked really well for them, and on top of which many of those municipalities, be it in the county or not in the county, still benefited from the Municipal Modernization Fund so that they can grow and grow their infrastructure and grow their efficiencies and go to the very point that the member spoke about, which is respect for taxpayer dollars. I’m just wondering if you could bring that perspective to the floor.

Mr. Brian Saunderson: Thank you to my colleague from Barrie–Innisfil.

The Simcoe county model, which I think dates back to the seventies, has served us very well. The municipalities continue to grow. I think what is interesting about the Simcoe county model is that we have two separated cities that also participate in aspects of the Simcoe county governance, including health care, ODSP, long-term care, and transition housing. So there are ways that that system has evolved to accommodate and work with other cities that are separate and distinct in other regards.

I think what you’re seeing here is that as we evolve, what we are undertaking here is an examination of how our regional governments and how our county operate, to look at ways that we can find either governance efficiencies or service delivery efficiencies. Both are integral in respecting the tax dollar.


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

MPP Lise Vaugeois: Thank you to the member from Simcoe–Grey for your remarks. I’m wondering if you can guarantee that costs will not go up for these municipalities as they move to create three separate systems within each city. Right now, they’re sharing many services, but it’s going to now be divided up. To me, that means a lot more money, so I’m wondering if you can guarantee that taxes are not go up for these cities when they are separated?

Mr. Brian Saunderson: It’s a good question, and I’m not going to pretend to be able to forecast the answer.

But what I would say is this: Right now, residents in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga are paying two levels of municipal taxes. They are paying to their municipal council and they’re paying to the regional government. If you compress that, then you give the municipality more resources to do what’s necessary as we move forward with the evolution—I think of efficiencies in service delivery. There is certainly the issue of cost. There is also the issue of the autonomy, being able to accomplish what they think is in the best interest of their residents and also, at the end of the day, answering to the taxpayer.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Matthew Rae: It’s my pleasure to rise to ask a question of my great colleague from Simcoe–Grey. I appreciate his remarks this evening at 8:30 p.m. in the Legislature. It’s wonderful to be here doing good work for the people of Ontario and the good people of Peel region—


Mr. Matthew Rae: I’m happy to be here; I’m not sure about the member from Waterloo.

I wanted to ask the member specifically a question around—as the member for Barrie–Innisfil mentioned—Simcoe county. As part of the proposals, our government is providing the opportunity to appoint facilitators for York, Niagara, Durham, Halton, Simcoe and Waterloo and look at those municipalities, their upper and lower tiers as well. So I was just wondering if the member from Simcoe–Grey could expand on why Simcoe–Grey in particular was specifically chosen for this assessment.

Mr. Brian Saunderson: Yes, I want to thank my colleague for the question. I think Simcoe county was chosen as the only county because right now it’s got a population of about 375,000 which by 2031 will be well over half a million. We are a release valve for the GTA. We are growing exponentially. We have a number of growth nodes under the provincial planning policy statements. I think of what we went though in my last term on council was not just a governance update but also looking at our service delivery, and so I think those are two critical aspects of having the facilitator: looking at your governance model—are there efficiencies to be found there—but more importantly on the service delivery front, because that’s really where the majority of your costs come from. So are there ways that we can stretch our tax dollars to make sure our residents are getting better services?

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Joel Harden: To the member from Simcoe–Grey: I listened to your family metaphor with rapt attention, ready to leave. I’m curious, though—and I’m trying to get a member from the government to answer this question—I did have occasion recently to talk to a number of municipal workers at the CUPE Ontario convention, and they are very concerned that this particular bill is going to lead to major job cuts in the three municipalities we’re talking about here.

Any functioning family of which I’m aware requires communication between the family members when major life steps are about to take: say dad’s about to retire, daughter or son is about to go off to some post-secondary adventure. You wouldn’t want somebody to be leaving the home without any idea of how things are going to work, and certainly the people who keep the lights on in these three communities, who process all of the recycling and trash, who keep the road safety working for all these different places. Why would any functioning family behave in a way where the kids aren’t even consulted?

Mr. Brian Saunderson: Look, when we are talking about efficiency of tax dollars, what we’re looking to do is serve our residents and the taxpayer and we have to be cognizant of how those tax dollars should be spent. Through the transition process, those issues will be addressed on a micro level. But what we’re really looking to do as a family, as a household, is look at how we can find efficiencies, how we can stretch our tax dollars so that we can provide better services to our residents.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Matthew Rae: I’ll be brief because I know we’re almost out of time. I was just wondering—obviously there is no silver bullet, unfortunately, to the housing crisis that we’re currently facing in Ontario. I know our government has tabled significant legislation under our last mandate, and now under this mandate the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing continues to table legislation to get more homes built. I was wondering if the member from Simcoe–Grey could elaborate on how these changes would help our government reach our goal of 1.5 million homes by 2031.

Mr. Brian Saunderson: The short answer is, it gives each of the municipalities absolute control of their growth and where that’s going to go, how they’re going to do it, densification, all sorts of elements that will impact the outcomes.

I would also like to address quickly the development charges, because that has been discussed a lot tonight. Development charges are not charges that build municipal roads, put in sewer lines and put in street lights. Those are all done as part of the building process and those costs are passed on to the residents. Development charges go into the municipal coffers to handle issues that arise out of growth, and there are only specific items that they can be spent on.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Further debate?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I rise this evening to participate in the debate on Bill 112, the Hazel McCallion Act (Peel Dissolution), 2023. This is the third reading debate on this bill, and I have to say, Speaker, normally, the third reading debate process is the part of the legislative process that I enjoy the most. The researcher in me loves to review the Hansard transcripts of what was said in committee about the legislation and bring those comments back to the floor of this chamber when we are debating the legislation in the third reading stage. Unfortunately, this bill, Bill 112, did not go to committee. This bill went directly from second reading debate in this Legislature to a time allocation motion debate to speed up the legislative process, and here we are at third reading debate without any opportunity to understand how the citizens of Ontario feel about this bill.

I’ve heard members in this place tonight say there is consultation happening on this bill, that members are back in their ridings, members from the Peel region are back in their ridings, and they’re talking to people in grocery stores, they’re having casual conversations at the drug store or wherever, just asking, “What do you think about the dissolution of Peel?” Now, that may be a form of public input, but it is nothing like what we would expect in this place. There is no public record of that kind of consultation. There is no transcript of the input that was provided by the public and received by one of the government members, or members on all sides of the House who may be talking to constituents about the bills that we are debating in this place. That’s a problem, when there is no public record about what people feel about the legislation that is being pushed through.

That really is the fundamental basis for our opposition to this bill. Our critic, the member for Niagara, said very clearly—he stated on the record at the beginning of third reading debate that the intention of the official opposition was to support this bill and send it to committee so that the public, including stakeholders, workers, residents, the people who will be affected by this legislation, could have their voices heard and we could discuss changes and additions to the bill that would have improved it and increased the level of public trust in the process.

That is a very important point. The whole premise of democracy, the bedrock of democracy, really, is public trust. You have to have the trust of the public that the decisions that are being made in this Legislature are fair and transparent and have the public interest at heart. We don’t have that understanding because we never got that opportunity to hear from the citizens of this province.


I know that members on the government side will say, “Well, the three mayors and the regional chair all supported it.” That may be the case; in the media conference just when the legislation was tabled, we saw some level of agreement among the mayors of Mississauga and Brampton and Caledon that this bill should move forward.

But, certainly, when the idea was first floated, we did not see that same kind of unanimity among those three municipalities. In fact, what we saw was a mayor, the mayor of Mississauga, who was delighted that this project that she had been championing for years was finally coming to fruition. We heard, from the mayor of Brampton, some very serious concerns about the cost implications for Brampton. And we heard, from the mayor of Caledon, some anxiety about what this is going to mean for a municipality—the small size of Caledon compared to the very large municipalities of Brampton and Mississauga.

So that is one thing that the government can say to support this misguided process that they have decided to push through, that they had the support of the mayors. But Speaker, there are a lot more people who are affected by this legislation: workers, for example. In the region of Peel, there are 10,000 municipal workers, including paramedics and police, CUPE workers, workers who provide a wide range of shared services. Across those three municipalities within the region, there is a broad array of shared infrastructure. There are water treatment plants. There are emergency services, as I mentioned: police and paramedics. There are health programs. There are long-term-care facilities. There are services for seniors. There is child care support. There is garbage collection and recycling. There is water and water treatment. There is road maintenance. There’s housing and shelter.

All of those services are shared by those three municipalities, and all of those services are delivered by municipal workers. Those municipal workers have a very direct stake in this legislation. They had something to say that would have benefited the government to hear, if the government had provided that opportunity, even one or two days, for some public input.

I know, for example, CUPE: I mentioned 10,000 municipal workers in total. I believe that there are about 4,000 of those workers who are represented by CUPE Ontario. CUPE president Fred Hahn stated that:

“CUPE has the in-depth granular knowledge of the region that would be an asset to the transition board that will be set up to execute any migration of services to constituent municipalities. Including a CUPE representative on the transition board would give the government access to decades of knowledge on municipal reform, not least of which is how to harmonize workers’ collective agreements which straddle across the three municipalities. An appointment to the board would channel one of the region’s greatest assets—its workers—to this complex process.”

CUPE is just one example of an organization—a union—that would have taken the opportunity to appear at public hearings and share some of their thoughts on this bill and how the government should proceed. I, for one, believe that we should not close our ears to what unions like CUPE have to say. We should be open to hearing from as many voices as possible, as many diverse perspectives as possible, in order to make sure we are proceeding in the best possible way. But as I have said before, the government chose not to do that. The government chose to bypass public input altogether, and here we are with third reading on this bill—only hearing from those three mayors.

Now, one of the things the government has stated several times in relation to this bill is that it is necessary to help the government achieve its goal of the 1.5 million homes over the next decade. That’s an interesting claim, Speaker, but we have never, never once heard it backed up with any kind of information as to how exactly this bill is supposed to help jumpstart the government’s housing plans.

In fact, it is quite difficult to imagine how housing applications could possibly be streamlined and expedited and processed more quickly when we are looking forward to a several year period of transition; when planning departments across the three municipalities will be in transition, when the regional planning services will be in transition, I really have a hard time understanding how this could possibly help speed up the development of housing in the region.

The other thing that we have heard from this government is that municipalities like Brampton, which is worried about having to carry a significant financial burden as a result of this dissolution, the government has said Brampton shall be made whole. Now, we have heard the government talk about municipalities being made whole before. We heard it in the context of Bill 23, and AMO, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, has estimated or has actually gathered together all of the information from all of those 444 municipalities that they represent as to what the fiscal hit that Bill 23 represents on those municipalities, and AMO has told this government that it’s going to be $5 billion to make those municipalities whole, and yet the government has known this for months. They introduced a budget in the spring that could have taken those steps to make municipalities whole, and yet was silent on what kinds of financial support were going to be available to help municipalities deal with the consequences of Bill 23.

In my own community of London, the city of London is looking at a $100-million revenue hole because of Bill 23, because of the loss of development charges. When a municipality like London is facing that kind of revenue hit, when Brampton is worried about the cost that dissolution may represent to them, it really undermines a municipality’s plans to move forward in the best interests of the people of that municipality.

Going back to London, like many municipalities, like Mississauga and Brampton, London has recognized homelessness as a crisis, as an emergency in our city and in response to the seriousness of that emergency, agencies across London came together—60 agencies, 200 individuals, the hospitals were at the table, the police were at the table, businesses were at the table, social service agencies were at the table. They developed a very innovative—they call it the whole-of-community response: London’s health and homelessness strategy, a whole-of-community response. That whole-of-community response was fortunate because we got a very significant financial donation from an anonymous benefactor who committed $25 million to start that process of implementing the whole-of-community response. But it’s going to require a significant financial investment from the provincial government as well.


At the same time as we’re looking at getting that provincial investment, we’re also having to deal with the reality that we’re $100 million short because of Bill 23. The consequences of not being able to proceed in a meaningful way, the consequences of not being able to provide housing stability for the people who live in our communities are dire. In London, we have at least 2,000 people who are on the by-name list of people who do not have housing. We have 6,000 households who are waiting for rent-geared-to-income units, and those 6,000 households represent 11,000 people in our city, some of whom, depending on the size of the family, can wait up to 10 years in order to access a rent-geared-to-income unit. Cities like London, cities like Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon have to take action to deal with these realities, and being saddled with the consequences of government legislation that would set back their fiscal situation is not going to help move them forward.

Speaker, I just wanted to share a couple more thoughts about what else the government could have benefited from if they had held public input on this bill. We heard from Harminder Dhillon, who is an organizer with Engage Peel. He said that he’s very concerned that dissolution will mean weaker responses to environmental issues like dismantling conservation authorities and building Highway 413 through Caledon and Brampton. He said, “This is a typical conservative philosophy, just sort of divide and rule. It’s a local decision and then you sort of pit one against another. We had a voice of Peel; now we’ll have three voices.”

If there’s one thing that Ontarians know since 2018, since the people of this province elected a Conservative government, it’s that our environmental protections cannot afford to be further undermined. We have seen the most anti-environment government ever in the history of this province. One of its first actions was to eliminate the Office of the Environmental Commissioner. They cancelled green energy projects, they ripped out electric charging stations—the list goes on. They have completely shackled the proper role of conservation authorities in protecting our environment, in ensuring that we’re not developing on critical wetlands. The protection that’s provided by the greenbelt in order to preserve agricultural lands—they have completely disregarded the environmental protections and safeguards that Ontarians have treasured for years. Weakening the response of a region like Peel to environmental issues is further jeopardizing our province’s ability to deal effectively with the climate crisis that is before us.

Speaker, I just want to say, in conclusion, that in some ways it is not really surprising that this government has launched yet another attack on municipal governance. We’ve seen an obsession with meddling in municipal affairs. We saw it in my community, in London, when the government just all of a sudden—ranked ballots were no more despite the very successful municipal election that London had held using ranked ballots. We saw it with the decision to cut the size of Toronto city council in half even if it meant using the “notwithstanding” clause. There are a lot of municipalities that are very concerned about what is next for this province. We heard from my colleague the member from Waterloo some of the concerns that have been raised in her region. We hear it from the members from the Niagara region. There is a real concern, Speaker, when these kinds of fundamental changes are undertaken without the kind of public input that is necessary to make sure that the decision is sound, that it is informed by the experience and knowledge of people who could improve the decision.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Graham McGregor: I want to thank the member for her presentation and her speech. I listened intently.

I note that the member is the chief whip of the opposition and wants the bill to go to committee. Now, I sit on the heritage committee, where the housing bills go. I remember, recently, we did clause-by-clause on Bill 97, which was a very important bill put forward by the House. If you look at the Hansard, the public record there, you will see a lot of 7-to-2 votes on that committee: seven votes from the Progressive Conservatives, one vote consistently from the member from University–Rosedale and one from the independent member from Beaches–East York. It’s probably unparliamentary to comment on why that might be, but I guess I’d just ask the whip, if we did bring it to committee, would the members actually show up and vote, or would we have two missing votes from the NDP, like we did on the last bill that we put forward?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I think that the fundamental benefit of having bills go to committee and getting public input is that the input that is received becomes part of the public record; there is a permanent transcript of what people thought about what the government was doing. And I assume that the member was referring to amendments that were debated by committee. I have to say, I have rarely seen bills that are debated in committee, amendments that are proposed that actually reflect the input that was brought to committee. Very, very rarely, if ever, has the government listened to what has been said and moved appropriate amendments. But at least we have a public record if those bills go to committee.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Thanks to the member from London West for her 20 minutes on Bill 112. She talked about municipalities. In 2018, the Ford government suddenly cancelled regional chair elections in Peel, York, Niagara and Muskoka. At the same time as the cancellation of regional chair elections, Minister Clark announced a review of regional governments in Halton, York, Durham, Waterloo, Niagara, Peel, Muskoka and Oxford.

Former Waterloo regional chair Ken Seiling—I want to correct my record; it was not Carl Zehr; it was Ken Seiling, the former regional chair, and Michael Fenn who were subsequently appointed as special advisers to do this review. After doing the work, after paying for the work, after doing the study and finding the data, this report has never been released. We can’t even FOI it. This is the kind of lack of transparency which instills a distrust of the Conservative government of Ontario.

I’m asking the member for London West, how do you see this playing out when people don’t have all the information that they need?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I appreciate the question from my colleague the member for Waterloo. And yes, absolutely: When government announces that there are going to be reviews of regional governments—in this case, it was Halton, York, Durham, Waterloo, Niagara, Peel, Muskoka district, Oxford county and the county of Simcoe—when they make that announcement, when they launch a process to appoint special advisers to conduct their review but they keep the results of the review secret, it really does raise some legitimate questions in the minds of Ontarians. Why are the results of the review being kept from the people?


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Andrew Dowie: I always appreciate the opportunity to discuss municipal government. It has been my world for the past eight years prior to the last year. I see there are, I think, six members of the government caucus who were in municipal government as well. So when we’re discussing municipal issues, I’d like to think that we all bring our experience. I see many former mayors among our caucus who have been dealing with provincial governments for a long, long time. I have to say, when I saw the three mayors of Peel region sitting here next to one another, it was interesting, to say the least. They watched as the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing tabled the legislation, and they were in agreement that something needed to be done for Peel region, for their constituents. Therefore, I would ask the opposition, would we not listen to the mayors elected by the members of those municipalities and resolve the issue, allow the people of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon to chart their own destinies?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you to the member across the way from Windsor–Tecumseh. Certainly, having the support of the mayors was important. As I said, the official opposition was prepared to support this legislation at second reading, assuming that it would go to committee to have the more fulsome examination that committee would provide, because there are many more voices who should be listened to as this legislation is being considered. For example, those 10,000 municipal workers who work in those three communities, they and their unions should have had an opportunity to come to committee and to share some of their concerns and their perspectives on what’s in this legislation and how the dissolution should move forward.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Chris Glover: I really appreciate the comments from the member. The thing in this legislation that actually gives me the most concern is the Henry VIII clause, which gives the government the power to change acts, any act, regarding the municipality of Peel region without coming back to the Legislature. They can do it through regulation. That is an incredible amount of power that the minister has. Should the people of Peel region be concerned about this power grab and this undemocratic use of legislation?

Ms. Peggy Sattler: Thank you to my colleague the member for Spadina–Fort York for raising that concern. One of the issues, of course, is that we don’t know which statutes the government could use that power to modify. It could be something minor, but it could be a lot more significant. Without having any parameters on how that power could be used—the power to bypass the Legislature, amend an unspecified statute without having any safeguards—it does raise huge concerns about what the government will do with that power that it now has given itself under Bill 112.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Questions?

Mr. Lorne Coe: A little while ago, we had all three mayors here in the chamber when the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing made his announcement, tabled the legislation. They were all in agreement that this is something their constituents wanted: to move forward in partnership with the province. It’s partnership; that’s what they agreed to do. Now, would the member from London West not agree that we should listen to the local mayors and allow the people of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon to chart their own destinies?


The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Government members, come to order.


Ms. Peggy Sattler: To the member for Whitby: I have to say, I have answered that question already. I have stated very clearly that we saw those three mayors, just as you did, and on that basis we were prepared to support this legislation through second reading. But when the government decided that all they needed was the go-ahead from those three mayors—that they didn’t need to listen to one other person, they didn’t need to talk to any one of those 10,000 municipal workers who will be affected, they didn’t need to provide an opportunity for any of those 1.5 million residents of Peel to come to committee or to send a letter to the committee—that was a problem. And so, Speaker, that is why we will not be supporting this legislation through third reading of the bill.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): There’s no more time for questions. Further debate? Further debate?

Mr. Clark has moved third reading of Bill 112, An Act to provide for the dissolution of The Regional Municipality of Peel. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.

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

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

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

A recorded vote being required, it will be deferred until the next instance of deferred votes.

Third reading vote deferred.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): Orders of the day? The government House leader.

Hon. Paul Calandra: No further business.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bhutila Karpoche): There being no further business, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.

The House adjourned at 2107.