LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Tuesday 6 June 2023 Mardi 6 juin 2023
The House met at 0900.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Good morning. Let us pray.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order: the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Pursuant to standing order 7(e), I wish to inform the House that tonight’s evening meeting is cancelled.
Orders of the Day
Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act, 2023 / Loi de 2023 sur le renforcement de la sécurité et la modernisation de la justice
Resuming the debate adjourned on June 5, 2023, 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 Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate? I believe in rotation it’s the member for London West.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I am pleased to rise today to participate in third reading debate on Bill 102, the Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act. I want to begin by reflecting back on an experience that I’m sure many of us in this House shared in the fall, during the municipal election. I know that many MPPs were knocking on doors to support municipal candidates. One of the things that I heard in my riding of London West was a shared concern about community safety. People were raising anxiety about the level of homelessness in our city, about the increasing poverty in our city and the impact that this has on community safety for residents. Certainly, the official opposition believes strongly that it is important for the government to act, to invest in community safety measures, to support strong and caring communities, to make sure that the programs and services are there to improve quality of life in our communities and to keep our communities safe.
What we also heard, as I mentioned, in relation to these concerns about community safety is that a critical way to keep communities safe is to invest in community mental health supports. We need to make sure that there is supportive housing in place for people with complex needs who require wraparound supports in order to become well and to be able to function in our communities. We need programs that invest in youth, that build capacity in young people, that develop resilience, that enable people to thrive and to participate.
We also heard that there is a need to invest in alternative first responders with the expertise to respond to issues related to mental health, addictions, homelessness and school discipline; that we need to free up our police to be able to focus on what they are trained to do, which is law enforcement.
I have to say, Speaker, that in speaking to police officers in our community and speaking to residents of London West about some of the issues that we are seeing related to mental health and homelessness, we have heard overwhelmingly that what would be most beneficial is an investment in training.
I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to participate in a round table on mental health, and some of the officers who participated in that round table were members of London’s COAST program. COAST is an acronym that stands for Community Outreach and Support Team. COAST teams are in place in many communities across the province. London’s COAST team was established a couple of years ago, and it has really helped to address some of these pressing social issues in our community related to mental health and addictions. The COAST program pairs a police officer with a mental health worker to provide mental health and addiction supports when a front-line police response is not necessarily needed. The officer I spoke to—the two officers who were there from the COAST program talked about moving into the COAST program from the roles that they were doing previously, and how incredibly valuable to them the COAST training was, how incredibly valuable it was to work alongside a mental health worker and gain benefit from the expertise that mental health worker brings to an effective response to a homelessness and mental health crisis.
Unfortunately, in our community in London, the COAST program has continued to operate for the last several years on a pilot basis. There is no long-term, stable funding. There is no permanent funding to assure the organizations that are collaborating with COAST that it will be sustainable. St. Joseph’s Health Care London, the London Police Service, Middlesex-London Paramedic Service and CMHA Thames Valley Addiction and Mental Health Services have all pooled their resources to deliver this COAST program, and they are continuing to wait for a signal from this government that sustainable funding will be there to enable the long-term delivery of the program. They conducted a very, very promising evaluation about a year ago that showed significant improvement in our community’s ability to respond to mental health and addiction crises. The goals of the program are to support individuals living with mental illness through proactive intervention and follow-ups including navigation and access to local mental health services, while minimizing interactions with front-line London Police Service officers. The program pairs care workers, including nurses, social workers and paramedics, with front-line London Police Service officers, to prioritize intervention and de-escalation.
As I said, the members of the London Police Service who are part of the COAST program, who I spoke to a couple of weeks ago, talked about how incredibly valuable that training was and how they wish all front-line officers would have access to that COAST training. We know that police have become the default mental health workers in our communities. The vast majority of the calls that police are responding to are related to the mental health crisis. In fact, in May 2021, the London Police Service reported that police officers responded to 3,600 mental health calls annually. So this is something that police officers want to see. They want to see that investment in training. They want to see innovative programs like COAST that pair police officers with people with expertise in mental health and addictions so that they can respond effectively to the crises that we are seeing in our communities.
Unfortunately, that is not what Bill 102 delivers to the people of this province. There is no commitment in this bill to provide that additional training that police officers are requesting so that they can do their jobs more effectively, so that they can focus on crime prevention and responding to issues that require police intervention rather than responding as a de facto mental health worker.
In the most comprehensive review of policing that has ever been undertaken in this country, the report of the Mass Casualty Commission, which was released last year, we saw that need for training echoed again. In the case of the Mass Casualty Commission, the focus was training around sexual violence and intimate partner violence, gender-based violence. That extremely comprehensive review, in the wake of the killings in Nova Scotia, showed that training for police officers in gender-based violence, in sexual violence, intimate partner violence, is necessary to be able to support police officers to do their jobs. We also saw it in the report of the Renfrew coroner’s inquest, which was an inquest that was held into the murders of Carol Culleton, Nathalie Warmerdam and Anastasia Kuzyk in 2015—all murdered in an act of femicide by a former intimate partner. That inquest also reinforced the importance of training for police officers, for our justice system to be able to respond effectively to intimate partner violence.
Unfortunately, Bill 102 does not incorporate the learnings that we gained from the Mass Casualty Commission report. It does not incorporate the jury recommendations that were made in the wake of the Renfrew coroner’s inquest. It does not incorporate what we’ve been hearing from police officers about the value and the importance of training in mental health and addictions, effectively responding to mental health and addictions. It’s basically silent on the need for police training. What the bill does—and I want to commend the government for including schedules 3 and 5. The bill amends the Courts of Justice Act and it amends the Justices of the Peace Act to require training for judges and justices of the peace, and this training is around sexual assault law, intimate partner violence, coercive control in relationships, systemic racism and systemic discrimination. So, to its credit, the government recognized the importance of training for judges and justices of the peace, but it failed to recognize the importance of training for our front-line police officers.
Having given the government that credit, however, I also want to point out one of the things that was said about this legislation by advocates in gender-based violence. Schedules 3 and 5 in this bill are modeled after federal legislation called Keira’s Law, which required training for federal judges. Keira’s Law was a stand-alone piece of legislation. It was a stand-alone bill because it was that important to honour the memory of Keira, the little girl who lost her life in an act of intimate partner violence by her estranged father. Instead of following in the model of Keira’s Law and instead of bringing forward a stand-alone bill that could have included all of those other recommendations from the Renfrew coroner’s inquest and from the Mass Casualty Commission for a broad-based training program for everyone involved in policing and community safety and the justice system, the government decided to include schedules 3 and 5 in Bill 102, which calls into question the government’s commitment to actually addressing intimate partner violence and gender-based violence in this province.
The other issue about this bill is that it would have provided an opportunity for the government to address some of the issues that we hear about quite regularly from our constituents. Certainly, whenever there is a media story about an officer who has committed an egregious offence and is suspended with pay—this bill could have addressed that. It could have permitted the suspension without pay of officers who are convicted of serious offences. That was a motion that was tabled by the NDP during clause-by-clause on this bill, because that is something our communities want to see. There is justifiable outrage when these media stories come up about an officer who is convicted of a serious offence and yet is suspended for years while collecting a paycheque. That offends our sense of due process and fairness. This is something that could have been corrected by this government while they were opening up this bill, but they chose not to go there, which is unfortunate.
The final thing that I want to say about this bill: The other missed opportunity that this government had was to address head-on the PTSD that so many of our front-line service officers experience, and many times that is related to that lack of training, that lack of preparation that police officers need when they are responding to the kinds of crises that we see across this province.
We saw in a report from the Auditor General back in December 2021 that in the OPP there are more than 1,000 vacancies for front-line constables, which is more than a quarter of all funded front-line constable positions, and a third of those vacancies are because those officers who filled those positions are off on long-term disability because of the PTSD that they have experienced on the job. And we know that the mental health stress, the PTSD, that front-line officers have been facing over the past decade or so is continuing to escalate. In the auditor’s report, she summarized police officer deaths by suicide in Ontario and showed that the lack of support for police officers to deal with their PTSD has very much contributed to a serious deterioration in their mental health and an increase in officer deaths by suicide.
Speaker, we see this legislation as very much a missed opportunity. It was a missed opportunity to address the urgent community safety priorities of our communities by providing the kind of training that police officers want, that would benefit our communities, that have been shown to benefit our communities—as I said, with the COAST program. It was a missed opportunity for the government to declare decisively that it’s serious about addressing gender-based violence and intimate partner violence. They could have included the first recommendation of the Renfrew coroner’s inquest, which is to formally declare intimate partner violence an epidemic—because that is what it is in this province—but they chose not to. They could have looked at the extensive work of the Mass Casualty Commission and implemented some of the training that is recommended by that commission for officers, to prepare officers to respond to gender-based violence and sexual violence, but they chose not to.
So this bill, as I said, is a missed opportunity to really tackle the issues of community safety in Ontario in a meaningful way, to invest in officer training and to respond to gender-based violence and put an end to gender-based violence in the province of Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We’re going to move to questions.
Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: I want to thank the member for her comments and for speaking on our government bill. I think the member knows that this bill is a point in time of taking a piece of legislation that has to go forward to where it needs to go to do a lot of catch-up for a long period of time.
Our government has acted decisively, especially in recent months, with transformational announcements and investments, even with regard to the curriculum at the Ontario Police College—on the emphasis of the teachings, of curriculum, that will help officers prepare for their role.
I just cannot understand why members of the opposition cannot support the bill, because it makes our community safer.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I appreciate the comments from the Solicitor General.
An effective response for my community in London would have been stable, permanent funding for the COAST program. That is a program that pairs police officers with mental health workers, social workers and nurses so that they can respond effectively to the crisis of mental health and addictions that we are seeing in our city. We have a crisis that has triggered a whole-of-community response to address the escalating levels of mental health and addictions and homelessness. That permanent funding for the COAST program, which is what my community has been asking for for several years, would have gone a long way to improving community safety in London.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?
Mr. Chris Glover: I appreciate the comments from the member from London West.
Last week, we held a press conference in front of Queen’s Park here with a number of agencies and organizations that work to bring an end to gun violence. Their message was very clear: that the police alone cannot bring an end to gun violence; that we need to address the social determinants of safety, the social determinants of gun violence, which start with poverty and this growing gap between rich and poor. And yet, this government and the actions they are taking—particularly recently, the privatization of health care, where people are now being charged for their health services—is going to grow that gap between rich and poor.
What would you say to the government, to those agencies that fight against gun violence? If they really want to make our communities safe, what would be the approach they should be taking?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I want to thank my colleague the member for Spadina–Fort York for his reference to the social determinants of health. In particular, we know that housing is a human right, and housing is the social determinant on which everything else depends.
In London, we have 2,000 people on the by-name list, who are unhoused. We have 6,000 households, representing 11,000 individuals, who have been waiting, sometimes for a decade, to get into rent-geared-to-income housing, and in the meantime, they’re living in substandard housing; they’re couch-surfing. They are not able to get into that kind of housing stability that’s going to help them move forward and build their lives. Housing is where it has to start.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?
Ms. Natalia Kusendova-Bashta: This particular bill is talking about the Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act. As much as I can appreciate that the social determinants of health and the social determinants of safety include housing as well—the opposition knows very well that we’ve put forward several bills on housing, historic bills.
We’ve also put forward a homelessness prevention strategy which is working very well. In my region of Peel, we recently announced a $42-million investment in the homelessness prevention strategy. I want to ask the member, is she is aware of the funding that was announced in her region? Every single region across Ontario has received dollars for the homelessness prevention strategy. So what was the number in her region?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: In London, over the last year, we have seen an innovative, unprecedented response to the crisis of health and homelessness. We had 60 agencies, 200 individuals coming together to develop a whole-of-community response to the health and homelessness crisis. We did receive some additional funding from the provincial government—a very modest amount of additional funding; I think there was an additional $7 million for the city of London. Thank goodness we have an anonymous donor family who committed a minimum of $25 million and an additional $5 million to be matched by community in order to jump-start the whole-of-community response, because without a significant investment—much more than this province has provided—we would not be able to move forward to implement the plan.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?
Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I’d like to thank the member from London West for her excellent comments. I want to thank her for bringing forward the concerns and requests from front-line officers, especially with regard to permanent, stable funding for the COAST program.
This government ignored recommendations from budget consultations earlier this year, and they really missed the opportunity to commit to support front-line officers by funding COAST within this bill.
My question to the member: Why does COAST make sense from a mental health perspective as well as a fiscal one?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I had mentioned in my comments the evaluation of the COAST program that was conducted after one year that the pilot had been in place. The program started in 2021, and the evaluation was conducted in 2022. The results of that evaluation showed that those who are in a mental health or addictions crisis, instead of receiving a police-only response, are now receiving a skilled and compassionate approach that reduces stigma and enhances connection to appropriate supports while allowing front-line police officers to focus on the issues they were trained to focus on.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?
Ms. Laura Smith: Through you, Madam Speaker: I, like the member opposite, really appreciate—I appreciate the level of strength she has within her community.
We had an announcement of $36 million for the Homelessness Prevention Program. I did a little research. Her riding, actually—London-Middlesex—received $22 million with respect to homelessness prevention. These are important things that actually help us build communities and create a good environment for our residents.
I was going to ask her another question. Thornhill is a very large mass and we’ve got a lot of area in our riding. The Fire Protection and Prevention Act allows multiple deputy fire marshals to be appointed to ensure a timely response to crucial matters. This will save lives—more area, more fire marshals.
Will the opposition support these changes by voting yes to our bill that will amend this issue?
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I want to assure the member across the way that I am very much informed about what is happening in my community.
There was an initial investment from the province that, following the budget, was supplemented by an additional $8 million for London-Middlesex; $1 million of that went to Middlesex, leaving London with an additional $7 million. That is funding that came after the city had developed the health and homelessness whole-of-community response. It is funding that needs to be supplemented to a much higher degree if the city is to be able to move forward with this model, innovative program to actually deal with the health and homelessness crisis that we are facing in the city of London.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We don’t have time for another question and answer. We’re going to move to further debate.
M. Anthony Leardi: C’est un plaisir d’offrir quelques mots au sujet du projet de loi numéro 102, la Loi de 2023 sur le renforcement de la sécurité et la modernisation de la justice. Pendant ce commentaire, je parlerai spécifiquement au sujet de l’annexe numéro 1, qui vise la Loi de 2019 sur la sécurité communautaire et les services policiers.
Telle qu’elle existe actuellement, la Loi sur la sécurité communautaire et les services policiers exige certaines conditions avant qu’une personne puisse se poser comme candidat au collège de police. Telle qu’elle existe actuellement, la loi exige qu’un candidat doit remplir les conditions suivantes : le candidat doit être titulaire soit d’un grade universitaire ou soit d’un grade d’un collège d’arts appliqués et de technologie autorisé à décerner le grade; un candidat peut être un titulaire aussi d’un grade équivalant à un grade universitaire ou à un grade d’un collège. Ça veut dire, madame la Présidente, que, pratiquement, les candidats qui peuvent se poser au collège des policiers sont tous des personnes qui viennent des collèges ou des universités.
J’aimerais parler de la possibilité d’inviter des personnes qui n’ont pas de diplôme d’études collégiales ou de diplôme d’études universitaires. J’aimerais expliquer ma position en parlant d’une personne qui n’a pas de diplôme d’études collégiales ni de diplôme d’études universitaires. Je parlerais d’une personne qui a simplement un diplôme d’études secondaires.
Imaginons une personne qui est allée à l’école secondaire et qui a commencé sa carrière immédiatement après avoir fini sa formation à l’école secondaire. Cette personne s’est lancée dans la vie de travail et travaille depuis peut-être 10 ans ou 20 ans ou même 30 ans. C’est une personne avec beaucoup d’expérience. Peut-être que cette personne a travaillé dans un bureau ou peut-être dans une petite entreprise où elle a dû être organisée et a dû garder bien les affaires de l’entreprise.
Est-ce que cette personne peut se poser comme candidat au collège de police? La réponse, c’est non, parce que cette personne n’a pas de diplôme d’études collégiales ni de diplôme d’études universitaires. Je sais qu’il y a des exceptions, mais ça, c’est la règle générale. Cependant, je peux imaginer que cette personne peut avoir des qualifications très importantes pour le travail policier.
Il y a des situations où les policiers remplissent des fonctions très importantes pendant une enquête, même si le policier n’est pas engagé avec les responsabilités auxquelles nous pensons traditionnellement. Par exemple, imaginons que nous avons une force de police qui est en train d’exécuter un mandat de perquisition. Ils défoncent la porte d’un appartement et ils entrent dans l’appartement. Là-dedans, ils trouvent des preuves : ils trouvent, par exemple, un sac de cocaïne, de l’argent et aussi des armes à feu. C’est évident que les occupants de l’appartement sont engagés dans le trafic de drogue. Les policiers qui sont entrés dans l’appartement ont saisi les preuves. Mais maintenant, il faut une personne qui va s’occuper de la preuve. Nous avons un nom pour cette personne : c’est l’agent de preuve.
Notre agent de preuve va s’occuper de la preuve. L’agent va marquer toutes les preuves avec un numéro et il va les mettre soigneusement dans des sacs. Après ça, notre agent va soigneusement préserver toutes les preuves et les garder dans un casier des preuves. Le jour du processus, notre agent ramènera les preuves devant le juge. Notre agent va jurer que les preuves saisies pendant l’enquête ont été soigneusement gardées sans être changées.
Notre agent de preuve doit être prudent. Notre agent doit être précis. Notre agent doit être méthodique. Mais notre agent de preuve n’a vraiment pas besoin d’un diplôme d’études collégiales ni d’un diplôme d’études universitaires.
Je vous ai donné cet exemple pour démontrer qu’il y a plein de gens qui ont de l’expérience dans la vie pour remplir les responsabilités d’un agent de police. Et en plus, il faut tenir compte du fait que tous les candidats qui se posent comme candidats au collège de police doivent subir une formation et aussi passer des examens. Le collège de police, c’est un collège. C’est exactement ça, la formation collégiale d’un policier.
C’est pour ça, madame la Présidente, que nous avons visé la Loi de 2019 sur la sécurité communautaire et les services policiers. Le gouvernement propose de modifier la loi et d’éliminer la condition que les candidats au collège de police doivent avoir un grade d’études collégiales ou un grade d’études universitaires.
À mon avis, c’est un bon changement. Il y a plein de gens dans notre société qui ont de l’expérience de vie et qui peuvent se poser comme bons candidats, mais qui n’ont pas un grade d’études collégiales ni un grade d’études universitaires.
C’est important que les candidats subissent une formation au collège policier. Ce programme de formation existe actuellement. Cela existe pour que les agents de police deviennent des professionnels. C’est une formation professionnelle.
Et c’est pour ça que nous proposons de modifier la loi pour prévoir qu’un diplôme d’études secondaires ou l’équivalent constitue une éducation suffisante pour être nommé agent de police. Si nous faisons cela, nous allons ouvrir les portes de la profession à toutes sortes de personnes qui seront de bons policiers.
Maintenant, madame la Présidente, je vais parler d’un sujet qui est lié au projet de loi, mais qui n’est pas exactement écrit dans le projet de loi. Notre gouvernement va aussi offrir la formation gratuite aux candidats. En faisant cela, nous espérons que nous allons attirer de très bons candidats au collège de police.
Le gouvernement prend la sécurité du public au sérieux. C’est pour ça que nous proposons de modifier la loi en ce qui concerne les policiers. C’est pour ça que nous offrons la formation gratuite aux bons candidats.
Je donne mon appui au projet de loi 102 et j’espère que tous les députés de l’Assemblée vont voter pour ce bon projet de loi.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We’re going to go to questions.
Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you to the member from Essex for his comments.
I wanted to ask generally, what kind of impact does the member feel this bill will have on the training of front-line police officers, especially as it relates to dealing with the increasing number of calls around mental health issues?
Mr. Anthony Leardi: That’s a good question.
This government has continued to support various programs that assist police officers when they are called to a situation where some kind of mental health issue might be identified.
This particular law opens up the doors of the police colleges to people who might not necessarily have a college diploma or a university diploma—or they might have a college diploma or a university diploma, and that’s a good thing too.
But it’s really the programs offered by this government which assist those types of calls which the member was referring to. Those calls are identified through the police call centres, where they usually identify a person who might be in mental health distress, and a police officer is sent. From time to time, that call centre might also identify another person who might be sent to that situation to help out.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The next question?
Mr. Todd J. McCarthy: My question for the member—I thank him very much for his excellent comments and participation in this debate—is specifically on the Courts of Justice Act amendment proposals in the bill.
We know that we have the Small Claims Court for civil claims up to $35,000 and then simplified procedure in the Superior Court of Justice up to $200,000. But what we’ve seen in the past is the Superior Court and judges in the Superior Court overburdened by claims that really should have been commenced or should be traversed to the Small Claims Court. This bill does address that. To the extent that it does, can the member explain how that will free up judicial resources and help clear backlogs in the Superior Court?
Mr. Anthony Leardi: I thank the member from Durham for that question. He’s a well-respected practitioner of the law, and I congratulate him on his well-respected career.
The specific provisions which he referred to are related to the Small Claims Court and the Superior Court. A Small Claims Court action is an action which involves $35,000 or less. However, there are some litigants who, notwithstanding that rule, will bring their litigation to the Superior Court for whatever motive—sometimes they are good motives, but sometimes they are not proper.
What this law provides is that when you have a claim of $35,000 or less and you seek to bring it to the Superior Court, you must first seek permission or leave from the Superior Court to do that. That should keep those claims that don’t belong there out of the Superior Court.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The next question.
Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I’d like to thank the member from Essex for his presentation.
It’s very curious that today we are debating Bill 102, when just last week Bill 91 was passed, allowing for new dog training and trialing areas—something that has been called a sport but also has been very deeply questioned by many animal rights advocates.
In Bill 102, section 6 grants new discretionary powers to inspectors. This allows the inspector to check in on animals who are in distress.
Does the member not think that rabbits, coyotes and foxes that are being tracked and likely torn apart in these fenced enclosures—does the welfare of these animals not matter to the member? Does the member not think that these animals should be checked on for signs of distress?
Mr. Anthony Leardi: The member brought up the question of curiosity, and he referred to last week. Well, do you know what I think is curious about what happened last week? For years, the NDP had a standing policy of defunding the police, and then, on a dime last week, changed it just like that and voted against their own policy. That’s what’s curious—although I do note that the gentleman member from Timiskaming–Cochrane was the only member of the NDP caucus who disavowed that policy. I have not heard any other member of the NDP caucus disavow that policy. That’s what’s curious about what happened last week.
Now we’re debating this bill this week, and it seems to me that the NDP are once again turning on a dime.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?
Ms. Donna Skelly: To the member from Essex: Recently, I was speaking with the chief of police in Hamilton, and he was commenting on how difficult it was to attract new recruits to policing. I spoke with young recruits about why they entered the force, and they said it’s very challenging when they hear comments, as we’ve heard and read, by people—for example, the member from Hamilton Centre, who tweeted some very disparaging remarks about police officers. We know that previous members of the NDP also made some very disparaging comments about police.
We also know, from a recent article in the Hamilton Spectator, that a heightened police presence actually impacts the level of crime. We saw the drop in break-and-enters in Hamilton, right across the city, because of a heightened police presence.
Can the member speak to why it’s important to reach out and provide opportunities to people who may be considering policing? They’re not always getting the support in communities—and we’ve seen that by members of the NDP.
Mr. Anthony Leardi: Policing is a fine calling, an excellent calling. It’s a calling to serve and protect. As I’ve said before and I will say again, the reason why the Leardi family can sleep well at night is because there are police officers out there doing what is necessary to keep us safe. The reason why Essex county, and specifically my community, my hometown of Amherstburg, has been routinely rated as one of the safest places in Ontario to live is because we have fine police officers. We need to praise them and thank them for their service.
I share the concerns of the member that we need to make sure that police are properly funded, notwithstanding the very negative and sometimes disheartening criticism that is levelled at our police. We need to stand up for them, make sure that they’re properly funded, and praise them for the job they’re doing.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Next question?
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Speaker, the member for Essex made his presentation on this bill. In response to a question from my colleague from Niagara, he talked about potential alternate responses to calls coming into the police for people experiencing mental health distress. I would appreciate if he could tell us what responses provided for in this bill will be made available to those in mental health distress.
Mr. Anthony Leardi: Well, I can say two things about mental health. First is that this government has made a multi-million dollar commitment to assist police officers who are experiencing mental health issues, and, I believe, if I’ve not misspoken, that investment was approximately $12 million in a treatment centre which is well-known among police officers in the province of Ontario. They need and deserve our support when they experience mental health issues.
Secondly, on the topic of mental health, when a call comes into the call centre, the dispatch centre, and the dispatch officer on the phone is made aware that there might be a mental health issue that is perhaps presenting itself in a certain emergency situation, that dispatch officer does have the resources and the authority to call in other services who can attend along with the officer if that is deemed to be a safe thing to do.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We don’t have time for another question. We’re going to move to further debate.
Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Meegwetch. Thank you, Speaker. Remarks in Anishininiimowin. Good morning. It’s always an honour to be able to stand up in this place on behalf of the people of Kiiwetinoong. It’s also an honour to be able to speak on this bill, Bill 102, the Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act. We know that there are many parts to this bill. There are amendments to the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019, as well as the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019. In the last four years since then, I’ve heard a lot of lip service from this government as it relates to policing. Some of it is good, if you live in a town or a city where there’s lots of funding and resourcing made available to your police services, but it’s not that good if you live in a First Nation, if you live on a reserve, also referred to as an Indian reserve; it’s not good for police services that are on-reserve. I know that First Nations police services need better funding from the federal and provincial governments to serve their people effectively.
In my language, there’s a name that’s very descriptive of what a policeman is. My language, Anishininiimowin, also known as Oji-Cree, is a very descriptive language. What we call a police officer is tukaanaawehnineh—that means a person who takes somebody away. That description comes from the old Indian residential school days, because the RCMP were used to take away our children, to take them to Indian residential schools. I just wanted to share that.
What many in this House may not know is that Indigenous police services are not essential services, and legal and funding frameworks are needed to change that status.
I want to sidestep a bit. I know there is a recruitment issue for police officers in parts of Ontario, particularly in the north, and I know that this bill will not solve that. I know that there are many staffing shortages in some communities in Ontario that are largely because officers are affected by PTSD. In the OPP, Ontario Provincial Police service, constables on long-term leave make up 30% of the vacancies. I believe that.
I believe that there are a lot of officers who are off right now. I was just talking to one this morning. He’s a good friend of mine. He has been an officer for about 30 years, and he’s off right now on PTSD. His name is Jerry Mosquito. He’s up in Big Trout Lake, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, this morning. About two or three Christmases ago—it was during the holidays, in between Christmas and New Year’s—we were talking on the phone in my language. After I hung up—I didn’t know what he was saying—what clicked after is that he was actually saying goodbye to me. I could hear him talk about the stuff that he was doing, how proud he was of what he was doing, but also how proud—because we’re good friends. It took me maybe an hour to call 911 on him. I was afraid to call 911 because I thought I would upset him, and me and his wife—actually, I think it was his wife who finally made a decision to call 911. It was hard. Then we didn’t talk for maybe a year after that. The OPP should be reaching out and saying, “We’re going to help you”—and make sure that you are providing the proper clinical support, the mental support that he needs.
I think we need to start hearing stories of what officers actually do to protect us. I hear the other side talk about defunding the police, but in the north we need more funding to provide that service. In my home First Nation, I think it was in 1992, 1993 maybe, when we got our first officer in the community. That’s when the Nishnawbe Aski Police Service started.
When we talk about police services in the north, currently, First Nations’ policing are funded as programs—not essential services—under the First Nations Policing Program, which was implemented in 1991 and gives Public Safety Canada the authority to administer funding, which comes from both the federal and provincial governments. Just over half of the funding, about 50%, comes from the federal government through Public Safety Canada, while the remaining 48% is funded through the Ontario government.
The First Nations Policing Program hasn’t changed much over the course of its more than 30-year lifespan. The system is broken. It maintains an unequal status quo between Indigenous and non-Indigenous policing services. But, also, I can flip it and say that it’s not broken, because it’s designed the way it’s designed to operate because that’s how oppression works; that’s how colonialism works; that’s how racism works. It’s not broken. It’s working exactly the way it’s designed to. It has always become a way of life for First Nations programming, First Nations services.
Right now, the current system basically requires First Nations police services to justify their existence, year to year to year—or for however long their policing agreement is. So First Nations police officers, generally speaking, are underpaid and do virtually the same job as an officer off-reserve.
Right now, First Nations police services are not funded to meet the adequacy standards of the OPP. The ongoing chronic underfunding affects every facet of police work on-reserve, whether it’s training, whether it’s equipment, whether it’s victim services, whether it’s employee retention or pensions. I don’t know why I call it “chronic underfunding.” It is strategic underfunding. I have learned the ways of these colonial systems that we live under as First Nations people. It’s not by accident. It’s by design.
Other provinces have made moves toward equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous police services. The province of Alberta has amended their policing law to uphold First Nations police services as essential—nope, not in Ontario; it’s a program. In the wake of the tragedy in James Smith Cree Nation, Saskatchewan is making its own set of commitments—nope, not in Ontario.
I think here, in Ontario, the amendments to the Police Services Act have stalled. In 2019, legislation permitted the province’s nine stand-alone Indigenous police services to opt into the Police Services Act in order to become an essential service, but there has been no resourcing put towards this legislation in Ontario to be able to make this change.
The legal counsel for Nishnawbe Aski Police Service noted earlier this year that this government has a lot to answer for: “The failure to act on this legislation over four years has to represent one of the longest delays in proclaiming legislation, certainly that I have ever seen. How is it that this happens to First Nations in this day and age?”
I cannot imagine any important legislation that goes to the heart of protecting people’s lives getting delayed like this in a non-Indigenous setting. It simply makes the point that when it comes to the safety of members of Indigenous communities, it simply sits on the back burner year after year after year while you have communities in crisis, you have deaths every day and communities being grossly under-policed, underserviced.
Just going back a little bit about policing, in the 1960s, the RCMP announced its withdrawal from policing First Nations in Ontario and Quebec. The change was transitional—announced in the early 1960s, begun in the mid-1960s, and officially completed when the Indian agent role was abolished in 1971. Before this, the RCMP policed First Nations.
Talking about police, the first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, got the idea for the Mounties from the Royal Irish Constabulary, a parliamentary police force the British created to keep the Irish under control.
I’m going back because I told that story about tukaanaawehnineh, a person who takes somebody away. That’s how we describe how we know what we call a police officer—a person that takes somebody away.
The role of the Mounties was to clear the plains, the Prairies, of Indigenous people. They were there to displace Indigenous people, to move them on-reserve, to move them to Indian reserves—I grew up on an Indian reserve; we became an official reserve in 1976. That was done to displace people, whether they were willing or not.
Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls talked about the RCMP this way in the findings on the right to justice:
The government of Canada used the RCMP and its predecessor, the North-West Mounted Police, to implement and enforce laws and policies designed to control, assimilate and eliminate Indigenous people. I’m not supposed to be here. We are not supposed to be here. But we are here.
You have to be able to fund Indigenous policing the way you fund non-Indigenous communities. We are not a program. The Nishnawbe Aski Police Service, treaty police and Anishinaabe police should be essential services as well.
I was here in 2019, and I spoke at length about the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act. I said this earlier, but in essence, the government passed this act that would allow First Nations police services, again, to opt into the provincial policing framework. We know this cannot be done without resources to close the gap in service standards between on-reserve and off-reserve police forces.
In March, the Indigenous Police Chiefs of Ontario filed a human rights complaint against Public Safety Canada, accusing Ottawa of ongoing systemic discrimination perpetuated by the government of Canada through its deliberate and willful underfunding and under-resourcing of the safety of Indigenous communities through the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program. Their complaint states that the government’s First Nations policing policy mandates that Canada’s own self-imposed standards for equity, requiring, at minimum, that First Nations benefit from the same standard of policing available to non-Indigenous communities—and that policing be provided in a culturally responsive manner. Ontario is responsible for that, too. Just because it doesn’t mention Ontario—you are part of the problem. Meegwetch.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Meegwetch. Thank you.
We are going to move to questions for the member.
Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: I want to thank the member from Kiiwetinoong for his insightful remarks. He’s a great educator for me on so many things in the community. He knows that our government fought very hard for pension equity. This is something that I was personally involved with. We corrected something that took decades to do.
We continue to advocate and speak with the chiefs of police in the First Nations communities, and I do so on a regular basis.
The member speaks about the urgency in getting the CSPA, the Community Safety and Policing Act, moving forward, and I absolutely agree with him. I have given this House an undertaking that we will move with dispatch to make sure that we proclaim it and enact it. My question to the member is, given the fact that we are moving the needle, will the member support this bill?
Mr. Sol Mamakwa: You weren’t here when I spoke about an OPP officer who is on PTSD. He is up in Big Trout Lake right now. He has been off for a few years. His name is Jerry Mosquito. I spoke earlier about how sometimes he calls me. He is struggling to live. I said to the Solicitor General that at some point you should reach out to him. I think it is very important to reach out to people who are struggling, especially people who have served the community and who have seen so much stuff. I encourage you; I will even send you his phone number.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Thank you.
Third reading debate deemed adjourned.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): We have no more time for questions or to continue the debate.
Wearing of pins
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Before we move to members’ statements, the member for Newmarket–Aurora has a point of order.
Mme Dawn Gallagher Murphy: Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to wear pins in recognition of June being ALS Awareness Month.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Ms. Gallagher Murphy is seeking unanimous consent to allow members to wear pins in recognition of June being ALS Awareness Month. Agreed? Agreed.
Wearing of ribbon
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): Point of order, the member for London West.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: I seek unanimous consent of the House to wear an Our London Family ribbon until the end of question period.
The Acting Speaker (Mme Lucille Collard): The member for London West is looking for unanimous consent to wear a ribbon for the London family for the rest of the question period. Agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Graham McGregor: It’s my great honour to extend my heartfelt gratitude and a warm welcome to His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj as he graces our province with his presence later this week. His Holiness is among the most respected Hindu leaders in the world today and the current spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a worldwide organization dedicated to promoting harmony.
The presence of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj marks the commencement of the celebrations for BAPS Canada’s 50 years of dedicated community service. This auspicious event will ignite a year-long festivity, allowing us to reflect upon and commemorate the remarkable achievements and invaluable contributions of BAPS to our great nation. Over the past five decades, BAPS Canada has grown to become recognized for their community service, remarkable achievements and invaluable spiritual and humanitarian endeavours in more than 150 towns and cities across Canada. We commend their unwavering commitment to lift society as a whole. Particularly, BAPS played a vital role in supporting and serving communities in need throughout the pandemic.
In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj for coming to Ontario.
We’re incredibly thankful for the impact of BAPS in making Ontario a stronger and better place to live, work and play.
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: Life has never been so expensive, and now more than ever we need real consumer protection in Ontario. People are paying more for less, and when you get gouged, ripped off or taken advantage of, where do you turn? How about the ministry’s consumer hotline? Tens of thousands of complaints, and not a single fine laid—so you get a lawyer to fight a giant industry that can crush you like a bug. It’s the classic story of David and Goliath.
Last year, I tabled a solution: the Ontario Consumer Watchdog Act—the creation of a powerful advocate who would have the back of consumers and the resources and powers to stand up to Goliath. And do you know what? The government said no. They voted on the side of Goliath.
This afternoon, I’m proud to table a new and strengthened Ontario Consumer Watchdog Act that reflects the crushing times consumers are facing. I’m calling on all members of this House to do the right thing and support this very important NDP bill to bring real consumer protection to Ontario.
Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities Fund
Mr. Rudy Cuzzetto: Recently I was proud to announce that nine organizations in Mississauga–Lakeshore have just received $969,000 through the Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities Fund. This includes $200,000 to support Armagh House, the only transitional shelter in Peel for victims of domestic violence; the new house will have double the capacity moving forward. The Embrave Agency to End Violence received $40,000. DEEN Support Services received $200,000 to help expand their program for people with intellectual disabilities. Epilepsy South Central Ontario, which is now based in Port Credit, received $79,000 to help expand their program for people living with epilepsy and their families. The Don Rowing Club received $90,000 for a safety boat and rowing shells to expand their programs in Port Credit. And as we’re looking forward to the summer festival season, the Southside Shuffle festival has received $76,000, and the Crane Creations Theatre Co. received $200,000.
Speaker, I want to congratulate these non-profits again on receiving these grants, and I want to thank them for everything they do to enrich the lives of people in Mississauga–Lakeshore and to help build a better and stronger Ontario for everyone.
Ms. Peggy Sattler: Speaker, two years ago today, my community was shaken to our core by a despicable act of Islamophobic violence when four members of London’s beloved Afzaal family were killed in a hate-motivated attack. Yesterday, the grieving family issued a statement about the profound loss they experienced on June 6, 2021, and the emptiness that can never be filled as they remembered Salman, Madiha, Talat and Yumnah for the kind, caring and beautiful people they were. Over the last two weeks, numerous events have been held in London to mark this sombre anniversary, leading up to tonight’s vigil organized by the Youth Coalition Combating Islamophobia, a group formed by Yumnah’s friends and cousins. These events, and the extraordinary coming together of our community in the wake of the attack, are helping Londoners heal from the pain of that terrible day. In the words immemorial, out of darkness comes light.
Islamophobia and racism are real and deadly. We must channel our grief and anger to ensure that no family, no community, ever has to face the horror we experienced in London.
To truly honour the Afzaal family, let us replace pain with purpose. Let us unite across party lines to ensure that no Ontarian has to fear being targeted for their faith, the colour of their skin or who they are. Let us strengthen our commitment to act through meaningful legislative change.
Speaker, love is greater than hate, and hate can be overcome.
Fort William Historical Park
Mr. Kevin Holland: I’m proud to rise in honour of a momentous upcoming milestone, and that’s the 50th anniversary of Fort William Historical Park. Over the past five decades, the park has become a cherished part of Thunder Bay’s identity—its significance resonating not only with the constituents of Thunder Bay, but with all Canadians who value the preservation of our collective heritage. The park is an example of our nation’s history, encapsulating the stories, struggles and triumphs of those who came before us, allowing us to learn from the past and shape a better future.
Elder Freda McDonald’s influence in 1976 led to substantial growth in the Indigenous Life Program and Anishinaabe Encampment, establishing accurate portrayals of Anishinaabe culture and the significance of women in the fur trade.
Beyond the cultural and educational significance, the park has made substantial economic contributions to our region and beyond. It is also important that we acknowledge and applaud the dedicated staff, volunteers and community partners who have played a pivotal role in ensuring that this landmark continues to thrive through their commitment to historical accuracy, authenticity and a memorable visitor experience.
Let us work together across party lines to ensure that landmarks like Fort William Historical Park remain a treasured source of education and celebration.
And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Clerk for his service to Ontario and the members in this chamber and wish him all the best in his retirement.
Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters / Royal Hamilton Yacht Club
Ms. Sandy Shaw: During constituency week, I had the pleasure of visiting the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton as they hosted an open house for HATS, the Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters. HATS is a not-for-profit organization working as part of the solution to the unhoused crisis in Hamilton. Their vision is to create a village of small, heated cabins to provide transitional housing and support services for residents living on the street. I had the chance to tour a charming tiny cabin and to meet so many devoted volunteers, such as Tom Cooper, the director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction; Kim Martin, the executive director of the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton; and Julie Shea, the director of Centre, an arts organization that created a fantastic 3D model of the HATS village.
HATS has already raised more than $300,000 and has support services lined up from various community partners. HATS has the funding, the resources and the partners in place. They are now working to find a site.
Thank you for your compassion and devotion to helping others in our community. Hats off to HATS.
And there was no place more beautiful to be this weekend than on the shores of Hamilton bay at the most westerly point of Lake Ontario. It was a pleasure to participate in the annual sail-past and to recognize the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club for achieving silver in the Clean Marine eco program. The Clean Marine eco program is an environmental program that encourages environmental practices associated with recreational boating across Ontario.
Congratulations once again to Cindy Brown, Susanne Broe-Vayda, Paul Vayda, and Ross Munro, chair, of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club environment committee.
Vaughan International Film Festival
Ms. Laura Smith: June is here, which means the five-day Vaughan International Film Festival is fast approaching. Now in its 11th year, the Vaughan Film Festival, or VFF, offers public screenings, scholarships, industry events and panels to support experienced and aspiring filmmakers.
Lauren Pappas, Paolo Calzini and Daniel Fusco are students at St. Elizabeth Catholic school in Thornhill, whose films are featured at the VFF this year. Lauren’s film titled Influenced is about a teen influencer and the realities of that. Give Back, Paolo’s film, is a story about a young woman who helps out a friend in need. The VFF offers a platform for independent creators to share their short films and further excel within the industry, giving them an opportunity to reach over 20,000 people. Arts and culture events like the VFF enrich our lives and stimulate economic growth. And it would not be possible without artists like Lauren, Paolo and Daniel, who contribute to our community.
I want to thank the sponsors and the volunteers and the creative mind who started the project, Mr. Antonio Ienco.
I invite the extended community to come join us on June 19 at the VFF to celebrate filmmakers who bring the communities together and put Vaughan and Thornhill on the international stage.
Mr. Rob Flack: It is my honour today to rise to salute all those who fell and served in the greatest invasion in history, on June 6, 1944, known to most as D-Day. One regiment, the 1st Hussars, was the only Allied formation to reach its objective on D-Day. Later on June 6, 2 Troop, C Squadron, led by Lieutenant William McCormick, reached the objective of the Caen-Bayeux highway before having to return to the Allied line of advance that was significantly behind their spearhead.
Mr. Speaker, I hope all of Ontario joins me in saluting the 1st Hussars and their garrison cities of London and Sarnia. We salute their service and sacrifice in one of the greatest battles in history.
I’d also like to recognize the MPP for Sarnia, Bob Bailey, who has attended these sacred sites in Normandy. Well done.
As the Supreme Allied Commander said on the eve of the invasion, “The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching toward victory!”
Let it be known here and evermore that victory’s ascent came from southwestern Ontario.
The 1st Hussars motto in Latin is “Hodie Non Cras,” or in English, “Today Not Tomorrow.”
God save the King.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Mr. Robert Bailey: To the member for Elgin–Middlesex–London: Yes, 12 years ago today, I was on Juno Beach with the 1st Hussars. Thanks for reminding me about that.
My statement today is important, as well. It’s celebrating the initiative of June 1, when we kicked off ALS day. The month of June is officially ALS Awareness Month in Canada. I’m proud to show my support today for the approximately 3,000 Canadians living with this devastating disease.
ALS is a relentlessly progressive, fatal motor neuron disease that eventually leads to the loss of the ability to move, speak and breathe. This disease can move with startling swiftness. Four out of five people die within two to five years of their diagnosis. The compounding impact on families emotionally, financially and psychologically is tremendous. The people and families affected by ALS measure time not by months or years but by loss—loss of function and loss of life.
As members of this Legislature, we have an opportunity throughout June to show our support for people living with ALS across Canada and demonstrate leadership on important health issues that affect this community.
I want to extend my best wishes to the Canadian ALS community for June ALS Awareness Month and acknowledge the tremendous work done by the ALS Society of Canada to change what it means to live with this unrelenting disease.
I encourage everyone to take the time to learn more about this devastating disease and how you can make a difference in the lives of people living with ALS. Learn more about ALS at www.als.ca.
Now is the time to work together towards a future without ALS.
Introduction of Visitors
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): In the Speaker’s Gallery this morning, we have a very special guest, and that is Teresa Lohan. While most members will recognize her, all members are definitely familiar with her work, which allows our assembly proceedings to be broadcast each day.
Teresa graduated from Ryerson University, now Toronto Metropolitan University, in 1990 and has been working at the Legislature as part of the broadcast and recording service ever since, most recently as operations manager. She’s now set to retire after a remarkable career here at the assembly, which included navigating significant changes in the world of broadcasting and narrating the Legislature’s Canadian Screen Award nominated production entitled, Women Should Vote: A Short History of How Women Won the Franchise in Ontario.
Teresa, thank you so much for your dedication to serving Ontario’s Parliament as part of the broadcast and recording service, and we wish you all the best in your retirement starting this summer.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’d like to welcome a former member of the Legislature who is back visiting with us again, who was the member for Parkdale–High Park in the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Parliaments: Cheri DiNovo. Welcome back, Cheri. It’s great to have you here.
Mr. Sheref Sabawy: I would like to welcome Pastor Ankur Narula and Pastor Sonia Narula, who are in the galleries today. They lead one of the largest churches in India, with many followers around the world, including many in Mississauga. I thank them for their service and welcome them to the House.
I also would like to welcome Pastor Nida Anwar Fazal and Pastor Anwar Fazal, who lead Eternal Life Ministries, one of the largest church ministries in Pakistan, and Isaac TV network. Thank you for serving the community. I welcome them in the Legislature. Thank you. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: I’m very proud to introduce the following people, and there are a number of them, so please bear with me. I want to welcome: Rev. Deana Dudley from the Metropolitan Community Church; Rev. Jeffrey Dale from the United Church of Canada; Rev. Junia Joplin from the Metropolitan Community Church; Barbara Dobrowolski, who is the president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association; Rev. Brent Hawkes, who is the pastor emeritus from the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto; of course Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo, United Church of Canada; Bishop Andrew Asbil from the Anglican Church of Canada; Rev. Stephen Milton from the United Church of Canada; Rev. Anne Hines from the United Church of Canada; Rev. John Joseph Mastandrea from the United Church of Canada; Ael Spence from the United Church of Canada; Rev. Ralph Wuske from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada; Rev. Bob Faris, Presbyterian Church of Canada; Rev. Alexandra Gilmour, United Church of Canada; Rev. Morgan Bell, United Church of Canada; Rev. Maggie Helwig, Anglican Church of Canada; Rev. Michiko Bown-Kai, United Church of Canada; Intern Pastor Victoria Featherstone, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada; Laura Gallagher-Doucette, United Church of Canada; and my wife, Farrah Khan.
Mr. Adil Shamji: This morning I’d like to welcome to the House Emerson Maxwell from OPSEU, who works at the Ontario Science Centre, and Jason Ash and Shakhlo Sharipova, both community leaders from my riding.
Hon. Doug Downey: I’d like to welcome Marcel Atunwa and Cameron Lucas, both with my constituency office and here in Queen’s Park for the first time.
Mr. Joel Harden: I want to join my friend from Toronto Centre in welcoming an inspiring group of clergy here who gave an incredible press conference. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Also, my friend Michael Wood, one of our small business leaders here and a champion for mental health in this province: Michael, good to see you here today too.
Ms. Laura Smith: It is with great pleasure that I welcome to the House some students from St. Elizabeth Catholic School and their parents. They are part of VIFF, the Vaughan International Film Festival, and they’ve contributed to that. I’d like to present Paolo Calzini, filmmaker and student; Roberto Calzini, his father; Adrianne Calzini; and Annalisa Calzini, his sister.
I’d also like to introduce and congratulate Lauren Pappas, filmmaker and student, and Sandra Pappas, her mother. Welcome to the House.
Miss Monique Taylor: I have some guests in the House today from OPSEU representing youth correctional workers. We have Joe Davies, David Farrugia, Jeff Tynes, Johnathan Guider and Jim Reilly. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Charmaine A. Williams: It’s a pleasure to welcome to the House Waseem—I call him “Wicky”—Iqbal and Tim Iqbal, both from the beautiful riding of Brampton Centre. Active members of the community for over 15 years, Tim is a past president of the Rotary Club, Sheridan Internationally Trained Professionals Network chairperson, executive director for Extending Seniors Horizons and so much more. Thank you both for coming today to the House.
Mr. Wayne Gates: I’d like to welcome to Queen’s Park Charlene Heckman from Fort Erie, Joy Russell from Fort Erie, Debra Chapman from Fort Erie, Heather Kelley from Ridgeway, Margaret Baskerville from Fort Erie, and Suzanne Hotte from Jordan Station. Welcome to Queen’s Park. I’m looking forward to the press conference at noon.
Mr. Billy Pang: I would like to welcome Paul Au and Aileen Li, who are the parents of our page Christopher Au, from Markham–Unionville. Christopher is also the page captain today. Thank you, Christopher, and welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Kaleed Rasheed: I would like to welcome my team members from the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery. I have Erica, Matteo, Laura, Ellen, Praveen, Jeffrey, Mariah, Rhea and Sandra. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Jill Dunlop: I, too, would like to introduce my second family, my staff who are here from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities today. Thank you for everything that you do to support me, but more importantly the students, families and schools of Ontario.
Mr. Anthony Leardi: Sitting in the west gallery, please welcome a student from the beautiful riding of Essex, Danielle Brindley. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Hon. Michael S. Kerzner: From the riding of York Centre, I want to welcome the Hernandez family, Danny, Danilo and Dennise; the Dela Cruz family, Genevieve, Adam and Carmela; and an incredible individual who has been the founder and leader of the Taste of Manila, a hallmark in our riding of York Centre, part of representing the largest Filipino diaspora community in Canada, my friend Rolly Mangante. Welcome to the Ontario Legislature.
Mr. Brian Saunderson: It’s my pleasure to introduce a resident of Simcoe–Grey, Michael Kogan, who is the proud father of page Solomon Kogan, who is page captain today. Welcome.
Mr. Todd J. McCarthy: It’s my pleasure to welcome to the House today Susan Goode, an educator for 23 years both in the public system and the founder of GlenOak Academy, an independent school in Mississauga. Through her work, she assists children with acquired brain injuries as well as Indigenous children and youth. She is the steward of a pilot project for the Batchewana First Nation in Sault Ste. Marie in terms of her not-for-profit organization. Welcome, Susan Goode.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I just noticed the time. Assuming there are no objections, we’ll continue. Member for Barrie–Innisfil.
Ms. Andrea Khanjin: It’s my pleasure to welcome a great member of my team in my constituency office—and songwriter—Debbra Davidson. As well, a great member of my team Svetlana Barkan and her daughter Natalie Barkan are joining us here today. Lastly, Rose Bostakian is also joining us today, the daughter of Mendana. Thank you very much. Welcome.
Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: I know the member from Brampton East is not here, but he has asked me to introduce his constituents from Brampton East: Baljeet Kaliravna, Sushila Kaliravna, Neetu Pounia, Sachin Panwar and Anshul Kaliravna. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
Mr. Robert Bailey: I’d like to welcome John and Mac Barry to Queen’s Park today from London, Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes our introduction of guests. I recognize the government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to allow members to make statements in recognition of June being Pride Month, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group and five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Calandra is seeking the unanimous consent of the House to allow members to make statements in recognition of June being Pride Month, with five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s loyal opposition, five minutes allotted to the independent members as a group and five minutes allotted to His Majesty’s government. Agreed? Agreed.
I recognize the member for Toronto Centre.
MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: In June, as we gather across Ontario in municipalities in recognition of two-spirited, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex equality, I wish to extend a happy Pride Month to all those community members and all Ontarians who embrace and strive for acceptance and love in the name of human rights.
The overall story of Pride in our province and nation is one of progress, resilience and advocacy. The first official Pride parade in Canada took place in Toronto in 1981, known then as “Toronto gay pride day.” It started as a modest gathering of 1,500 brave individuals who showed up to demand basic human rights and respect.
Over the years, this tiny, Toronto-based pride day has now grown in size and significance. Today, Pride is now one month long, and Pride Toronto’s marquee Sunday march is now the largest one in the world, outranking the heavyweights of São Paulo, Madrid, New York City, Berlin and London, UK.
If the government wants to grow social cohesion, equality, the creative class, jobs, tourism and the GDP, then I suggest that this House gets behind immediately reinstating Pride Toronto’s full funding and then properly funding every single local Pride in Ontario.
Speaker, I would be remiss in my remarks today if I did not mention that I’m a proud member of the 2SLGBTQI community. I benefit from the hard work of those who came before me, including Rev. Cheri DiNovo, United Church minister and former member of provincial Parliament for Parkdale–High Park.
Under her leadership, the Ontario NDP passed into law more pro-2SLGBTQI legislation than any other party in Canadian history, including Toby’s Act, which added trans rights to the Ontario Human Rights Code in 2012; the Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act, which banned conversion therapy for youth in 2015; Cy and Ruby’s Act, which established parental equality for 2SLGBTQI parents in 2015, which meant that I did not have to adopt my son when my wife gave birth to him, which would have been a demeaning and laborious task; and of course, the Trans Day of Remembrance Act in 2017.
Yet, despite these important gains, Pride is starting to look and feel a little bit different this year. We’ve seen an escalating rise of hate and vitriol being directed at our community members, specifically the trans community and drag artists. Religious fundamentalists and right-wing extremists, many of whom share white supremacist tendencies and values, are showing up at libraries, schools, restaurants, municipal councils and places of worship. Pride celebrations and LGBT communities are seeing the costs of security, as well as insurance, rise, largely due to those threats.
A small minority of publicly funded Catholic school boards are now refusing to fly the rainbow flag, despite having done so in previous years. This is why I’m so proud today that we are joined by 20 clergy members and Christian faith leaders who are representing 500 more who are not here today. From right across Ontario, they represent the five-largest mainline churches: the United Church and Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist and Lutheran churches. They represent 70 municipalities in Ontario, from Toronto to Marathon, Sarnia to Ottawa, who have signed a unity statement calling for love and acceptance, calling for the affirmation of the 2SLGBT community, calling upon our House and this government to raise the rainbow flag across every single publicly funded school in Ontario. I thank them for taking the time to speak up. I thank them for being here today, asking us to do better, compelling us to uphold our obligations in the act that binds education and the Accepting Schools Act. I thank them for all their hard work.
I recognize that it’s not just the 2SLGBTQIA community that is under attack, Speaker. I recognize that Muslim and Jewish communities are also under attack. We’ve seen right here in Ontario the dark rise of hatred. We’ve seen that they’re targeting these religious as well as 2SLGBT minorities. We recognize that, in 2021, there was a 67% increase in incidents linked to hate towards a person’s religion and that, in Ontario, an over 107% rise in hate crimes against sexual orientation.
Pride Month should be joyful and we will continue to hold onto that. We are never going to let that go. I want us to rise and fight for human rights together. I want us to be able to understand that every single human being should have dignity and respect. Let’s stay united against hatred and bigotry. Let us be courageous in our advocacy to ensure that all Canadians can live free from hatred and discrimination.
Happy Pride Month, Speaker.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Next, I’ll recognize the member for Guelph.
Mr. Mike Schreiner: It is an honour to rise to celebrate Pride Month. June is a vital month to celebrate Pride and to advocate for the human rights of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in every community in this province. I’ve had the privilege of marching in many Pride parades in communities of all sizes across Ontario over the years and I’ve always been inspired—inspired by how people come together to show solidarity and allyship with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. It is essential, now more than ever, that we honour and celebrate the history, struggle and resistance of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community: resistance to anti-2SLGBTQIA+ violence, hate and systemic injustice that we are sadly still confronting today.
Pride is about coming together and standing up for change, resisting oppressive norms and creating space for every person to be seen, heard, cared for and included in our province. It takes so much strength and courage to combat hate with love, to confront violence with solidarity and to overcome injustice with pride. Thanks to the activism of 2SLGBTQIA+ community, we can be proud of how far we have come as a province. But, Speaker, let’s be honest: We must also acknowledge that there is so much more to do.
I’m especially concerned about the rise of hateful, targeted attacks on trans folks in Ontario and across North America and the pushback on 2SLGBTQIA+ symbols in some corners of society today. It is a reminder that we, as elected officials, have a special responsibility to push back against hate in our words, our actions and our laws. All of us in this House, regardless of party, have a special responsibility to push back against hate and to ensure that we build inclusive, caring communities that embrace 2SLGBTQIA+ neighbours.
I want to thank the faith leaders who are here today for having the courage to stand up and speak about how we care for each other. To everyone in Ontario, have a safe and happy Pride.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Ottawa–Vanier.
Mme Lucille Collard: We are proud to celebrate Pride Month alongside our 2SLGBTQIA+ friends and neighbours. This month and every other month, we have an obligation to uplift our communities that have for too long had their voices diminished.
During Pride Month, we celebrate the strength, achievements and diversity of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. With continued discrimination, it is vital to come together and show the beauty and talent of this community while advocating for a more inclusive future for all. Let’s use Pride Month to ensure that the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is seen and heard, so that our friends in future generations, who too often face barriers in letting their true selves shine, might see themselves represented as leaders and role models in their community. That’s what Pride is all about.
The parades are fantastic and the community spirit is inspiring, but most importantly, it’s a chance for us to make everyone feel welcome. Pride Month is a time to reaffirm our support of the community, which has long been an integral part of who we are. Let’s raise our voices so others might see them and feel safe. To all my friends, happy Pride, be safe, be happy and always be yourself.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Hastings–Lennox and Addington.
Mr. Ric Bresee: I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize Pride Month in Ontario. This is an opportunity for all Ontarians to come together to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community that has been so important to the cultural fabric and economic prosperity of our province. They’ve brought so much joy, colour and love to the province of Ontario.
Ontario is a place that values and is strengthened by equality, diversity and inclusion. It is a place where people from all walks of life come together to build a society and to build a home that celebrates the uniqueness of each individual. Pride is a shining example of this unity, a celebration that reminds us of the progress that we have made and the work that still lies ahead.
Our government has been helping, protecting and promoting diverse Ontarians since day one and we will continue to do just that. That’s why we’re proud to support so many 2SLGBTQIA+ organizations, not only in Toronto but across the province, such as North Bay Pride, Ottawa Pride and Stratford Pride. I was honoured to be a part of the Pride event in the town of Napanee in Hastings–Lennox and Addington just this last weekend.
Each year, we support the work they do to help empower and celebrate community and foster a more inclusive province. We’re also rolling out additional resources, like the Anti-Racism and Anti-Hate Grant and the anti-hate security grant, which will help protect community spaces for organizations that serve vulnerable communities and the anti-racism movement.
This month, Ontarians will proudly wave our rainbow flags, a symbol of pride and resilience. These colours represent the diversity within the community and the countless struggles that they have faced and overcame. They represent the strength and the courage of individuals who have fought for their rights and paved the way for a more inclusive society.
In honour of the many battles fought and being fought to ensure the acceptance of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and Ontarians, we will continue to celebrate the freedoms that have been earned through the dedication and activism of countless individuals who have fought for justice and equality, many of whom are in this room.
Pride is more than a celebration; it is a reminder of the ongoing journey towards freedom, acceptance and understanding. It is a call to action for all of us to stand up against hate, discrimination and prejudice. It is an opportunity to educate ourselves and others and to build bridges of understanding and empathy.
From arts and culture to politics and business, LGBTQ+ community members have enriched this province in countless ways. They have inspired us with their creativity, leadership, resilience and hope. They have shown us that embracing diversity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do; it is the key to our collective growth and prosperity.
As we come together to celebrate Pride Month in Ontario, let us remember that our work is not done, that all members of this House can agree there is no place for hate in Ontario, and we all must stand up against homophobia, transphobia and all forms of discrimination. Our government will continue to work together with the community to promote equality and inclusivity in our schools, our workplaces and our communities.
So today, let’s take this opportunity to celebrate love, acceptance and pride. Let us cherish the progress we’ve made and look forward to the future with hope, optimism and determination. Together, we can build a stronger Ontario where everyone is welcomed and accepted, regardless of who they are or who they love.
Anniversary of attack in London
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’ll recognize the Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.
Hon. Michael D. Ford: Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the House to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the memory of Salman Afzaal; his wife, Madiha Salman; their daughter Yumnah, and her grandmother Talat, who were victims of a senseless act of Islamophobia and terror that took place in London two years ago today.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Mr. Ford is seeking the unanimous consent for this House to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of the memory of Salman Afzaal; his wife, Madiha Salman; their daughter Yumnah, and her grandmother Talat, who were victims of a senseless act of Islamophobia that took place in London two years ago today. Agreed? Agreed.
Members will please rise.
The House observed moment’s silence.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Members will please take their seats.
Forest firefighting / Climate change
Ms. Marit Stiles: This question is for the Premier. Speaker, yesterday, the federal government confirmed that Canada is headed into the most severe fire season that our country has ever seen. Here in Ontario, wildfires are raging throughout the province, including in northern and eastern Ontario where the threat to life and property is very real. Centennial Lake, near Calabogie, is the latest area to be evacuated as a fire there grows out of control.
We know that natural resources, staff and local fire crews all around the province are working hard to contain the spread of the fire. Can the Premier update the House on what the government is doing to protect people and communities during this emergency?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Hon. Graydon Smith: Thank you, Speaker, and I’m proud to say Ontario is an internationally recognized leader in wildfire management, and our staff are, of course, currently working all across the province to ensure the safety of people and communities.
Speaker, we know that the investments that we’ve made in increasing spending in wildfire preparedness have been warranted, and we have been increasing spending since we had that opportunity to when we took government. Our aviation and forest fire emergency services crews are in the air with airplanes and water bombers, in the air with helicopters, on the ground with firefighters, and Speaker, I can assure this House that every day, in all locations that we are battling forest fires, they are doing one heck of a job.
Speaker, we’re proud to share our resources with other jurisdictions when needed and we’re proud to ask for assistance from other jurisdictions when needed. We work to ensure the safety of people throughout Ontario with our partners in Canada and internationally.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Thank you, Speaker. In Ottawa today, people woke up to an eerily dark sky as the forest fire smoke blotted out the sun. The air quality there is the worst level on Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index. It’s so bad that people are asked to stay indoors. There are high-risk warnings issued for Belleville, for Cornwall, for Gatineau, for Kingston and for Toronto and all across the northeast.
Speaker, with the most severe season ever forecasted, does this government recognize the connection between this worsening weather and the climate crisis?
Hon. Graydon Smith: Speaker, again, the preparation that we put into wildland fire season is immense, and the investments that we have made to ensure that we can properly attack these fires is considerable. And Speaker, I want to point out that it’s not just the folks that are on the front lines, it’s our emergency operations centre in Sault Ste. Marie monitoring the fire situation throughout the province, coordinating response, setting provincial priorities and ensuring that we have an appropriate amount of resources. It’s those that are watching the forecasts and making sure that we are continuously and carefully reporting conditions and sharing this information, again, with our partners throughout Canada. We, as I mentioned, share in mutual aid agreements with partners that are our provinces and with countries internationally to make sure that we keep each other safe.
Speaker, we are definitely invested in keeping Ontarians safe, and I want to thank all the men and women that are doing so right this moment for the people of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The final supplementary.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, I think we’re all thankful and thinking of the first responders and all the people that are being evacuated, but what the minister is missing is that these fires and these air-quality warnings will worsen as the climate crisis deepens. And this government is not taking action to help. In fact, their actions are making it worse. One of this government’s first actions was to rip EV charging stations right out of the ground. They’re carving up the greenbelt, a massive carbon sink. They blew hundreds of millions of dollars cancelling over 700 renewable energy projects. This government is taking Ontario in the wrong direction on the climate crisis. To the Premier: Why did this government weaken their own climate targets?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.
To respond, the Minister of Energy.
Hon. Todd Smith: I think it’s important for the opposition to know exactly how clean and green and reliable our electricity system is in the Ontario jurisdiction. That’s one that’s going to allow us to remove megatons of emissions from our system in the future. By ensuring that we have a clean, reliable system in Ontario, one that only emits about 3% of our total emissions in the province, and by keeping the price reliable and affordable, we are going to see emissions reduced in other parts of our sectors, more emitting parts of our sectors, like our transportation sector.
It’s why we’ve seen multi-billion-dollar investments in our EV manufacturing facilities. It’s why we’re seeing manufacturers now moving to electrifying their processes in Ontario, which is going to remove emissions from our system. It’s why we’re seeing our steelmakers moving to green steelmaking with electric arc furnaces. It’s ensuring that the price of electricity in our province is affordable. That will move more people to electrify their processes, making our environment here in Ontario even cleaner and greener than it is today at 90%.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, I didn’t hear the words “climate crisis” there or “climate action,” again.
Anyway, my next question is to the Premier. This week, the Toronto Sun reported that Metrolinx has over 30,000 pages of documents that relate “to the issue of whether some rails for the Eglinton Crosstown project were improperly installed and need to be fixed.”
If the Eglinton Crosstown public-private partnership has a defective rail system, that’s about as serious a problem as you get. The minister refuses to take responsibility for the Eglinton Crosstown P3 fiasco, and instead of giving the public the information and the clarity that we deserve, we’ve gotten only finger-pointing and gaslighting. Does the Premier think that’s acceptable?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Transportation.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for her question. We have been very clear, Mr. Speaker. Our government is focused on building out the most efficient and effective transportation network that Ontarians need and deserve. We’ve focused on building highways and roads and bridges and public transit to address the infrastructure deficit that was left behind by the previous Liberal government. We inherited a contract from the previous Liberal government that was signed back in 2011, and we are working within the confines of that contract to deliver on the Eglinton Crosstown.
The line is 98% complete. Testing is ongoing and the Crosslinx consortium is now completing all remaining work. This includes addressing all and any rectifications that are needed so that the line is reliable and safe for transit riders and transit operators to use when it opens for service.
Our government has been clear from the beginning. We want to make sure that the line is safe for all. We will not rush it. We will not interfere. When politicians interfere with transit projects, then the problems of the Ottawa LRT ensue. We have been very clear; we will get this done. We take responsibility—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Supplementary question.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Speaker, it’s not interference. You’re a minister of the crown; it’s your responsibility. It’s called leadership.
Speaker, it’s not just Ontarians waiting for the Eglinton Crosstown. People across the GTA are fed up. Once again, last weekend, GO bus riders travelling from Brampton to Waterloo were left behind at Bramalea station because not enough buses were made available to meet demand. The Minister of Transportation has been or should have been aware of this problem for months, but again, the minister refuses to take responsibility for the mess that she has orchestrated.
To the Premier: Why is he allowing this minister to leave dozens of GO riders stranded in Brampton?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Well, I’m sorry that the Leader of the Opposition is having trouble understanding when I say we take full responsibility for the entire transportation network, including the Eglinton Crosstown and GO rail expansion.
GO rail expansion is a key priority for our government and we are committed to delivering on it. GO rail expansion, GO bus service, all of our GO Transit services are a core element of our transportation network. But when we put forward plans to provide these critical, essential services for Ontarians, the Leader of the Opposition votes against it.
Metrolinx is working closely with mayors of municipalities, with stakeholders, to understand what their needs are. We provide service updates on a regular basis to make sure that we can meet transit riders where their needs are. We will continue to listen to municipalities and to local transportation stakeholders, so that we can continue to deliver the service that they need.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for Brampton North will come to order. The member for Waterloo will come to order.
Start the clock. Back to the Leader of the Opposition.
Ms. Marit Stiles: Instead of building transit, what this government is building is a legacy of public money wasted on private companies botching a transit system that doesn’t work. If riders don’t have confidence that a bus is going to arrive on schedule to get them to their destination on time, they will not take transit. Confidence in the transit system depends on the Minister of Transportation.
My question is to the Premier, who is sitting right there, and I hope he takes this question. Does the Premier still have confidence in this minister?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.
Hon. Doug Ford: To the Leader of the Opposition: I have total confidence in my minister. I have total confidence that the minister is responsible for building the largest transit project in North America. As you sat on your hands and as the Liberals sat on their hands—spending $30 billion, again, building the largest transit system in North America.
As the minister said, we will take responsibility for the disaster we inherited, but guess what? The Eglinton West is four to six weeks ahead of schedule, on time, on budget. The Yonge North extension is on time, on budget. Scarborough is getting a subway for the first time in the history of this province, and we’re going—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members will please take their seats.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The House will come to order.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.
Start the clock. The next question.
Ms. Jessica Bell: My question is to the Premier.
A new report by the National Bank of Canada shows that home affordability in Ontario has reached alarming levels. In Toronto, you need to earn $235,000 to buy a home. In Hamilton, you need to earn $220,000 a year to buy a home.
The Conservatives are not fixing the housing crisis; they’re making it worse. It has never been more expensive to rent or buy a home.
How expensive does housing have to get for the Conservatives to recognize their plan is not working?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To respond for the government, the Associate Minister of Housing.
Hon. Nina Tangri: I want to thank the member from University–Rosedale for her question. However, the NDP’s fact-free rhetoric does absolutely nothing to help first-time homebuyers actually achieve their dreams. While they complain from the sidelines, it is this government that is taking concrete action. Our government has a bold plan for attacking the housing supply crisis and bringing affordable housing within reach for all Ontarians.
Speaker, our plan is working. We’ve seen record purpose-built rentals in the past two years, and record housing starts. We doubled the adjudicators on the Landlord and Tenant Board.
We’re not going to take any lessons from the NDP, the no-development party, on building houses in this province.
We’re going to continue to work hard for all of the people of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Ms. Jessica Bell: Back to the Premier: This government has been in power for five years, and it’s very clear the government’s plan is not working.
Not only has the dream of home ownership gone up in smoke, but Ontarians can’t even find an affordable place to rent. The latest report by rentals.ca has just come out, and rent for available apartments continues to skyrocket. In North York, rent is up 24% year over year; in Scarborough, rent has gone up 30%; in Brampton, it’s up 30%; and in Markham, it’s up 30%. There is nowhere affordable left for people to live.
Once again, this is my question to the Premier: How bad does it have to get for the Conservatives to change course and seriously address the housing affordability crisis that we have in Ontario today?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. Members will please take their seats.
The Associate Minister of Housing.
Hon. Nina Tangri: Once again, thank you for the question.
The NDP’s sudden concern for housing affordability rings very hollow to us. For years, they did absolutely nothing but talk about these issues from the sidelines. They voted, once again, against the housing supply action plan, which is delivering the highest number of rental units in Ontario’s history. And, surprisingly, they voted against protecting tenants from renovictions and wrongful evictions.
While the NDP proposes more taxes and study after study, our government is going to cut red tape, we’ll build more housing supply, and we’re introducing real solutions that will make a meaningful difference to Ontarians struggling with affordability. We’re not going to be lectured by the party with no credible plan, with a track record of inaction. We’re going to keep working for the people of Ontario. It’s time they stepped up and represented their constituents, as well.
Mr. Trevor Jones: My question is to the Premier.
All Ontarians are shocked, angered and deeply disturbed by the recent news that convicted murderer and sex offender Paul Bernardo is being transferred to a medium-security prison. Bernardo is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping, torture and killing of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, as well as admitting to sexually assaulting numerous other women. He truly is the living embodiment of evil.
Justice Patrick LeSage, the judge who convicted Bernardo to life in prison, stated that Bernardo is a dangerous, sexually sadistic psychopath, and should have no right to ever be released. This is why there is something truly troubling in the discovery that Bernardo has been quietly moved from his maximum-security prison to a reported open-campus medium-security prison.
Can the Premier please add his voice and demonstrate strong leadership by standing with all Ontarians and with the families who were victimized by these crimes in raising our concern to the federal government and Correctional Service Canada?
Hon. Doug Ford: I want to thank the member from Chatham-Kent–Leamington for his question, and also for his advocacy, and for being an OPP officer for so many years—to come down here and serve.
My message to Leslie Mahaffy’s and Kristen French’s families is, our heart breaks for you. Our heart breaks for you that you have to go through this once again, relive an absolute nightmare. And we will always, always have your backs.
As for this scumbag Bernardo, he should rot in hell. He should rot in a maximum-security prison for the rest of his life. This guy doesn’t deserve less restrictions, employment opportunities—believe it or not—or freedom to wander around.
I’m going to quote the correctional services commissioner: “We want Canadians to have confidence in our decisions.”
Well, Commissioner, I’ll tell you, no Canadians have confidence in your decisions. You should step aside, step down or be fired.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.
Restart the clock.
Mr. Trevor Jones: Thank you to the Premier for your sincerity, your strong support and your powerful words.
Once again, can the Premier please provide his support and leadership in calling on the federal government and Correctional Service Canada to take the right action, respect the French and Mahaffy families, and hold Bernardo truly accountable for his heinous crimes?
Hon. Doug Ford: I’d like to thank the member again.
As I mentioned, I don’t even like using his name, Mr. Speaker—and sorry for the language, but he’s nothing but a scumbag. This SOB needs to be in jail 23 hours a day, in maximum-security. The crime was the most heinous crime in Canadian history. He tortured, he raped and then he murdered these two young girls. The pain the families are going through again should never be seen, ever, in the history of Canada. When we sentence someone to a life sentence, that means a life sentence in jail, maximum-security, 23 hours a day. As a matter of fact, I’d go one step further: That one hour he’s out, he should be in the general population. That’s what should happen to this SOB, as I said. Never have Canadians seen a more heinous crime than what he committed.
MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Five days ago, a Niagara Catholic District School Board trustee compared the flying of the rainbow flag to that of flying the Nazi flag. This hateful comment was made one day after the Minister of Education suggested to the school boards to “celebrate Pride in a constructive, positive and meaningful way to affirm 2SLGBTQ students.”
My question to the minister is, since the Niagara Catholic board won’t uphold their responsibilities in the Accepting Schools Act, will he now show the leadership that the clergy here are asking for today, who ask that he issue a ministerial order to direct all publicly funded schools in Ontario to raise the rainbow flag for Pride Month?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: I share the member opposite’s deep distress by those vile comments from that public officeholder.
I think one of the messages that was celebrated by all parliamentarians at Pride is the context of words and actions. I think we must hold ourselves to higher standards, because young people and students at our publicly funded schools are looking up to us—particularly our school board trustees.
When this issue arose, I commented on and condemned it, saying, “To draw a parallel to a universally reviled symbol of hate and fascism is disturbing. We need our members, our trustees, our elected officeholders to do better in standing up for human rights for everyone and that includes, most especially, the LGBTQ community who’s facing some of the highest rates of violence and bullying in our schools.”
I have asked every school board in Ontario—public and private, English and French—to celebrate Pride and the universal message of acceptance and love for all, and I expect them to do so this month.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam: Regrettably, those words are simply not enough.
Today, we are joined by clergy from many Christian denominations who have come here today to share a message of unity and love for the 2SLGBTI community. Their Pride Month unity message has been signed by over 500 clergy and lay leaders in Ontario, representing 70 municipalities. These Christian leaders are asking us to be loud and clear and to take decisive action to ensure that 2SLGBT people, especially students, are safe in schools.
The Premier has boasted about marching in York Pride, yet he won’t take action to mandate safe school environments for 2SLGBTI students, families and teachers.
Does the Premier not realize that by refusing to raise the rainbow flag at all publicly funded schools, his declaration of support in marching in the York Pride parade rings hollow and performative?
Hon. Stephen Lecce: Mr. Speaker, I believe it is so important for political leaders to show up at Pride, to be visible at Pride. For all the faults, we live in a pretty special place in this province, where it is mainstream amongst our political leaders to be present and to celebrate Pride. Honestly, thank God I am a Canadian in this country, where we have that sense of unity in purpose. I acknowledge and I appreciate that there’s more progress to be made.
We just heard these remarks from our friends and colleagues across the way. I assure the member in the clearest terms, we have directed and expect publicly funded schools to celebrate Pride meaningfully and symbolically and to stand in solidarity.
Every child must be safe. It is our expectation that every child will be safe in a school, and I’m prepared to work with all members across party lines to ensure that children feel affirmed, respected and safe in a publicly funded school.
Mr. Logan Kanapathi: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
Before our government was elected, sadly—Mr. Speaker, very sadly—our auto and manufacturing sectors were in disarray. Hundreds of thousands of auto and manufacturing jobs fled the province, leaving Ontario unprepared to lead the charge on the future of electric vehicles. Thanks to our government’s efforts, Ontario auto is back, and this next generation of the sector will be a catalyst for economic growth. In order to ensure that this prosperity continues, we will need to focus on training people for the jobs of the future, including those in our growing auto sector.
Will the minister please tell us what our government is doing to introduce students to opportunities in the auto sector and beyond?
Hon. Victor Fedeli: Ontario has attracted $25 billion in auto and EV investments in just two and a half years, and now we need to ensure that our future workforce has the skills needed to fill the jobs of the future.
Colleges, like Canadore College in my hometown of North Bay, are opening zero-emission training centres, because soon, you won’t need a mechanic—you’re going to need an EV technician.
We’re also investing $6 million through our Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network, and that will support 14 innovative education projects connecting kids from K to 12 and post-secondary students to the province’s EV sector.
The Future Workforce Program bridges the gap between students and the EV industry while reducing the stigma of skilled trades.
Speaker, as we continue to grow Ontario’s world-class auto supply chain, we’re now going to need the workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?
Mr. Logan Kanapathi: Thank you, Minister, for this answer.
We know that our government has demonstrated its ability to attract and land a string of landmark auto manufacturing investments in just a few short years.
And it is great to hear that we are setting the stage for the next generation of Ontario autoworkers. But we need to ensure that there are also current opportunities for the province’s autoworkers. Would the minister explain how our government is creating these types of jobs for the autoworkers in Ontario?
Hon. Victor Fedeli: Speaker, last week, we were very excited to attend the Canadian Collision Repair Academy open house in Milton. This state-of-the-art body repair training centre was the result of an industry collaboration between Volkswagen, Audi and this academy. Together, these companies have established Canada’s first dedicated body repair training centre for electric vehicles right here in Ontario. Before this, those specialized EV body repair technicians were all being sent to the US for training. But thanks to our government’s success in rebuilding Ontario’s auto sector, CCRA has re-shored those training jobs right here to Ontario. Now over 750 technicians will be trained and certified annually at this first-of-a kind facility.
Our plan to build Ontario is working.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: My question is to the Minister of Energy.
Last week, I asked the minister what he was going to do to protect people from the risk of power outages this summer. That same day, hours after the minister told me that everything was fine, wonderful and under control, 8,500 people in Kanata–Carleton lost their power, apparently because the local grid couldn’t handle the heat.
The minister needs to take action now to ensure we don’t face much larger outages this summer as people deal with climate-driven extreme heat events. Will he take action?
Hon. Todd Smith: Mr. Speaker, what happened in Kanata last week was a distribution-level temporary issue with Ottawa hydro. The utility there, the LDC, has indicated that they’re going to repair the piece of equipment that was faulty that day so that this type of outage doesn’t happen again. But I can assure my ambulance-chasing friend over there that the provincial grid had more than enough power to meet the needs of the province on that very, very hot day. It was a record-setting day in Ottawa, to be sure, but we had a lot of excess energy that day.
I can assure all the members of the Legislature of one thing: If that member were in charge of our power grid, we wouldn’t have our nuclear supply—8,500 megawatts on that day that was there, at almost 100% of its capacity—and we wouldn’t have the natural gas fleet, which is our insurance policy, because not only is he against nuclear, he’s against natural gas as well.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: I want to go back on this. I listened to the minister last week. I listened to him today. I’ve heard about how wonderful things are, how he has things in hand, and how now no one else can do as well as him.
Well, this year he may get the chance to give exactly that same explanation to frail seniors whose air conditioning cuts out because the grid can’t handle the demand. Maybe he’ll get a chance to talk to corner store owners who lose freezers full of food because the power isn’t there. Maybe he’ll get talk to seniors who are overheating because the grid can’t keep up.
Closing his eyes, pointing fingers in every direction, claiming that he’s in great shape isn’t going to make the problem go away.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Government side, come to order.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: —what is his plan to protect people this summer from potential outages?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.
The member for Niagara West will come to order. The member for Sault Ste. Marie will come to order. The Member for Brampton North will come to order. I want to hear the response from the Minister of Energy.
Start the clock.
Minister of Energy.
Hon. Todd Smith: I’m ready to deliver a response to you, Mr. Speaker.
While the member opposite clutches his pearls and pretends that the world is coming to an end, I can assure him that because of our consistent support for our nuclear grid, the refurbishments that are under way, on time and ahead of schedule, on budget—this member would not have those workhorses, those dependable baseload emissions-free power suppliers that we have in our province every single day.
At the same time we’re investing in new technology, a small modular reactor, that isn’t going to just power our grid; this is an SMR that’s going to be adopted by jurisdictions around the world to help them do what we’ve done in Ontario, and that is, reduce emissions and provide baseload power on a daily basis, 24/7, that the world can rely on. This is a great Ontario nuclear—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. The next question.
Mme Lucille Collard: My question is for the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
Numerous families, including Sarah and her son Félix Demers, in Ottawa–Vanier are facing unreasonable challenges with the Ontario Autism Program. Sarah started the process to get help for her son three years ago, but she came across multiple barriers and wait-lists. As a result, her son Félix, who is now five years old, has aged out of programs in school. These children are being left behind.
What measures has the minister taken to address the wait-lists, ensuring timely access to essential support services for children with autism spectrum disorder?
Hon. Michael Parsa: I thank my honourable colleague for the question. I’d be more than happy to address it. Unfortunately, this member would have to also communicate to her constituents that when their party was in power, they failed the families and people of this province. Under the previous government, 8,500 children and youth were receiving services. Today, 40,000 are receiving services. Why is that? Because while they neglected families, under the leadership of this Premier—he doubled the funding of the Ontario Autism Program. This year, we increased that funding by an additional 10% to make sure more children and youth continue to receive these services. More children and youth are now receiving not just one service, as under the previous government; they have multiple pathways to services.
We will continue to make sure those families are supported so that no one is left behind under the—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. The supplementary question.
Mme Lucille Collard: Well, Félix is five years old, and this government has been in power for five years, and he’s not getting any help from you.
Families face significant uncertainty while waiting for support from the autism program. Families are receiving no assistance and no communication as to when they might be able to get help.
Sarah told me, “We have now been waiting years for help, during the most vital years of our son’s developmental stages and just remain on the OAP’s wait-list as a generic number.”
The lack of communication is distressing and unacceptable. The least the government could do to reduce the distress of those waiting families is to establish a user-friendly communications platform through which families could at least track the progress of their applications.
What steps will the minister take to ensure that families, including Félix’s, have transparent and timely access to information regarding the status of their applications?
Hon. Michael Parsa: Again, I thank the honourable colleague for the question.
I think my colleague would know that since being honoured and appointed to this role, I have met with families, I have met with groups and organizations every single opportunity I have gotten. Why? Because we said from the beginning that we’re not going to leave people behind, which is why we doubled the funding.
The Ontario Autism Program was developed by the community for the community. That’s the program that we’ve implemented. Some 8,500 children were receiving services under the previous government. Now more than 40,000 children are receiving services—and not just one service. Children, as soon as they’re transitioned and they have registered on AccessOAP, have multiple pathways to service immediately, like foundational family services, caregiver-mediated early years support, the entry to school program—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the member for Hamilton Mountain to come to order.
The next question.
Mr. Graham McGregor: My question is for the Minister of Transportation.
The people in my riding of Brampton North have been negatively impacted for years by the dithering and delays from the previous Liberal government when it came to supporting critical transportation projects like Highway 413. Supported by the NDP year over year, the Liberals ignored action that should have been taken to build Highway 413 in favour of listening to downtown environmental activists who don’t live in Brampton, never visit Brampton and claim they know what’s best for Brampton.
The reality is, over the coming decade, Ontario is expected to grow by more than two million people, and the fact is that we need to build the necessary infrastructure to keep up with our growing province.
Brampton is a beautiful place, led by its diversity and its people, and no matter how much the opposition disagree, the people of Brampton deserve a new highway.
Can the minister please explain what our government is doing to support the people of Brampton by advancing transportation infrastructure with Highway 413?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I thank the member from Brampton North for the question. He is absolutely right; the people of Ontario and Peel region spoke loud and clear when they re-elected our government with a historic larger majority. They want to see Highway 413 built, and our government is delivering on that commitment. The opposition members who continue to oppose this critical project are obviously individuals who do not live in Brampton or, quite frankly, they just don’t care about Brampton.
Speaker, it seems that every time our government supports projects that make life easier for the people of Ontario, the members opposite find some reason to say no.
Our government highlighted infrastructure projects like Highway 413 in our budget because we know that these are vital to our government’s overall plan for job creation and economic growth.
The people of Ontario can be assured that our government is committed to building important infrastructure, and this includes Highway 413.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Graham McGregor: Thank you to the minister for her response and for her friendship to my community. The minister’s advocacy and support clearly demonstrate that our government is not content with the status quo when it comes to investing in critical transportation infrastructure.
Highway 413 is essential not only for the people of Brampton, but it’s essential for the overall prosperity of Ontario. Clogged roads don’t just keep people from getting from place to place; they trap transportation trucks from getting goods to market. They cost Ontario’s economy more than $11 billion every single year. Once completed, Highway 413 would help goods travel faster to and through the greater Toronto area, significantly boosting Ontario and Canada’s economy.
More than $785 million worth of goods per day move on Ontario’s highways, making the transportation system the backbone of our economy.
Can the minister elaborate on what our government is doing on highway infrastructure to support our province’s economy?
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I want to thank the member for emphasizing the real importance of getting Highway 413 built and what it means for local communities, but really for all of Ontario. Our government is critically aware of the importance of Highway 413, because we know it will grow our economy and it will support a growing Brampton and a growing Peel region.
Our roads and our highways are critical for keeping goods flowing across the province. An efficient transportation network is key to supporting our economic growth and also to unlocking our economic potential.
Mr. Speaker, we know the consequences of not building Highway 413, and we are determined to make sure that we reverse course on this. We are going to move forward to address congestion, to ensure the efficient transportation and movement of goods. Our government is committed to building critical infrastructure, because it is a solution to accelerate Ontario’s economic growth and our prosperity. Highway 413 is not only a fundamental piece of infrastructure; it is a key part of Ontario’s success and our future.
Mr. Terence Kernaghan: My question is to the Premier.
I recently met with the Sisters of St. Joseph, who reached out to me to voice their deep, profound disapproval of this government’s Bill 60 and privatization of our health care system. The sisters want government members to stop, listen to their conscience, learn from history and immediately repeal Bill 60. Will this government do just that; listen to your conscience, hit the brakes on greedy profit-making in health care and ensure that every dollar the government spends goes to patient care and not private shareholder pockets?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
Hon. Sylvia Jones: I hope that when you met with the sisters, you also reinforced and highlighted the investments that are part of a $48-billion capital build that includes St. Joseph’s health care centre and a facilities redevelopment in that community. I hope you also highlighted to the sisters that the London Health Sciences Centre also has a facilities redevelopment plan in the works, and we’ve expanded the stem cell transplant unit in the city of London.
We are making the investments with publicly funded hospitals who are showing us that they can innovate and do things differently, to make sure that we are serving the people of London and all of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Mr. Terence Kernaghan: Speaker, through you: The sisters are sharp, they’re insightful, and they are well aware that it is necessary in Ontario to have publicly funded and publicly delivered health care.
Sister Mary Giedemann of the Sisters of St. Joseph provided me a letter when I visited. She was worried about how these new private clinics would “rob the system of doctors, nurses, technologists, respiratory therapists” and penalize the poor. Sister Mary also wrote: “It also displays [Premier] Ford failing to keep his promise that privatized surgeries and diagnostic service were not his plan.”
Will this government listen to Sister Mary, keep their promises and repeal Bill 60 so that no one makes money off of someone else’s illness?
Hon. Sylvia Jones: Speaker, I have to say, as a result of passing Bill 60, we have some of the most innovative programs able to be expanded in the province of Ontario. We have surgical and diagnostic centres operating in the province of Ontario, but clearly, our hospitals need help.
To quote Allan O’Dette of the Ontario Medical Association, Bill 60—we believe it will free up hospital resources to focus on emergency, acute and complex cases, while relieving some capacity issues that are big, and they are real.
We know that the waiting lists cannot stay where they are. We understand that the status quo is not an option in the province of Ontario. We are making the investments to ensure that we have not only robust hospital capital expansions but also the ability to have surgical and diagnostic centres expand across Ontario.
Green power generation
Mr. Mike Schreiner: My question is for the Premier.
As the climate crisis worsens and smart investors worldwide rush to renewables, Ontario risks being left behind in a cloud of carbon pollution. Global investment in the clean energy transition hit $1.1 trillion last year—$500 billion in wind and solar alone. Why? Because they are the lowest-cost sources of generation. Yet, over the next decade, your government is planning to ramp up expensive, dirty gas plants, increasing climate pollution by 400%, and increasing costs for people to cool their homes and keep the lights on.
At a time when we face a climate emergency, why is the government choosing high-cost, dirty gas plants when smart global investors and businesses around the world are choosing low-cost wind, solar and water power?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): To reply, the Minister of Energy.
Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks very much to the member opposite for the question.
Quite the opposite: We’re investing in clean, non-emitting generation here in our province, like our nuclear facilities which are on time and ahead of schedule—those big Candu reactors at Darlington and Bruce—and potentially extending Pickering as well, where we get 60% of our clean, non-emitting electricity every day.
We’re investing in the largest procurement in Canada’s history in battery storage facilities. These are going to be located across the province to support all of the growth that we’re seeing in Ontario right now. Under the Premier’s watch, we’re seeing multi-billion dollar investments every day on an EV strategy.
I will point out that the member opposite loves his renewables. There is a role for renewables. But last Thursday, during the hottest day of the year, when it comes to solar, 14% of the solar capacity in our province showed up. If this member was in charge of our grid, we would have brownouts—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Supplementary?
Mr. Mike Schreiner: Speaker, you’ll notice that the minister completely refused to answer my question of why they’re going to ramp up dirty gas plants that will put our climate stability at risk and put business investment in Ontario at risk. But don’t take my word for it; take the Minister of Economic Development’s word for it. The minister continually talks about the fact that Ontario has a competitive advantage because we have a 94% clean grid. But sadly—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.
I couldn’t hear the member for Guelph.
Restart the clock.
The member for Guelph.
Mr. Mike Schreiner: I think the members want a clean grid. Unfortunately, under this government, our grid is now below 90% clean, and it will get dirtier with their plan to ramp up expensive, dirty fossil gas plants that will destroy the province’s competitive advantage with having a clean grid, putting jobs and investment at risk and making the climate crisis worse.
Speaker, through you to the minister: Will the government maintain Ontario’s clean-grid competitive advantage by abandoning their scheme to ramp up dirty, expensive gas plants and commit to a clean grid by 2030?
Hon. Todd Smith: What we’re committing to is keeping the lights on in Ontario; the same cannot be said for the member opposite from the Green Party, nor the member opposite for the NDP. And we remember the mess that the Liberals made when they were in charge of our electricity file.
According to our system operator—I asked them last year what it would mean if we were to phase out gas in our system. They said it would be $100 extra per family per month—that’s more than a hydro bill—and it would result in brownouts and blackouts in our system. That is what the member opposite is advocating for. We’re not going to be doing that.
We’re going to make sure we’ve got the power that’s there so that we can continue to see the record, multi-billion dollar investments that the Minister of Economic Development and the Premier are bringing home to Ontario from other jurisdictions. They’re doing it because we have a clean grid.
We are going to ensure the power is there when residents go to turn on their lights in the morning and manufacturers are set to build—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much. The next question.
Mr. Ric Bresee: My question is for the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development. June 1 marks the start of National Indigenous History Month, a time to celebrate rich traditions, heritage and the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across the province and across the country. We look forward to many cultural activities and events planned for this month.
With 133 First Nations in Ontario, there are many vibrant communities that are located from Windsor in the south to the northern shores of Hudson Bay. Indigenous communities contribute significantly to Ontario’s economy, with many thriving businesses across a variety of sectors.
That’s why it’s vital that our government remains committed to building and maintaining strong relationships with First Nations and Indigenous partners. Speaker, will the minister please share how our government is working with Indigenous communities to build a stronger Ontario?
Hon. Greg Rickford: I thank the member from Hastings–Lennox and Addington for the question. It is also National Indigenous History Month, and yesterday we were reminded of that by the member from Kiiwetinoong in his member’s statement, and I appreciate his reflections. There’s always more work to do.
But over the course of this month, we’ll have an opportunity to reflect on some of the painful legacies in this country’s history with respect to Indigenous people, but also focus on the opportunities. Those are the things this government has been focused on over the past five years. We’ve made progress, and that was reflected in our discussions yesterday with the Premier, a number of my cabinet colleagues and my parliamentary assistant.
Mr. Speaker, there are a number of events across this province for us all to participate in. I’ve sent out a caucus package. Anybody from the other parties who is interested in events that are in their area, feel free to reach out to me, and we’ll be happy to provide those to you.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Mr. Ric Bresee: Thank you to the minister. With so many activities planned for this month, that will provide for opportunities to learn about the diverse histories, cultures and experiences of Indigenous people who helped shape this province. Just two weeks ago, I was honoured to attend the landing celebration at the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. We all benefit from being involved.
As we continue to build partnerships with our Indigenous communities, our government must strive to acknowledge, understand and address their concerns. Our province is enriched because of the accomplishments of Indigenous leaders and communities. First Nations and Indigenous communities deserve only our best and respect when it comes to working together as part of the reconciliation process to ensure a prosperous future for everyone.
Speaker, can the minister please explain what actions our government is taking to engage in meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples?
Hon. Greg Rickford: We start out by addressing the opportunities, by focusing on the opportunities that exist for young Indigenous peoples from communities across this province to gain important and meaningful job opportunities, to help build their communities, to work effectively with Indigenous leaders on things like settling land and flood claims at a historic pace.
Sitting down with the Chiefs of Ontario and setting up a prosperity table led by Indigenous political and business leaders; matching the funding through the Indigenous Economic Development Fund for them to do things like supply chain mapping, to encourage access to capital for Indigenous-owned and -operated businesses: In the past business quarter, we saw a 19% increase in the resources going to Indigenous communities in northern Ontario, to ensure they have the tools moving forward for a prosperous Indigenous community.
Northern air service
Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Remarks in Anishininiimowin. Good morning. My question is to the Minister of Transportation.
Speaker, you know we have a transportation network as well in Kiiwetinoong. There are 24 airports in Kiiwetinoong, and these airports are owned and operated by the Ministry of Transportation. Airports are critical in the north, critical infrastructure, especially during medical, police and evacuation emergencies—they’re actually lifelines. But if you ask air carriers they say that flying in the north is like flying in the 1950s, because we still have gravel runways, and that’s not acceptable. They’re only 3,500 feet. When is this government going to improve the safety standards of northern airports in Kiiwetinoong?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Transportation.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney: I thank the member opposite for his important question. Northern, remote and regional airports provide a vital transportation link in northern Ontario, and our government has been focused since day one to support transportation in the north.
We’re committed to making sure that airline carriers and passengers have safe and reliable operations available to them, and that’s why our government provides millions of dollars every year to support remote airport operations. This includes funding to facilitate improvements of runways, the replacement of garages, as well as terminal buildings. And we’re continuing to work with the federal government to provide additional funding, over $5 million to phase 3 of the Remote Air Carrier Support Program, which was announced in April of last year.
Mr. Speaker, this issue is national in scope. We work closely with the federal government to take steps to address the challenges that remote airports face, and I thank the member opposite for the question because it’s an important one. Our government’s going to continue to work with local members as well as with the federal government to address the challenges.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question?
Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Speaker, it’s not an understatement to say that our community members’ lives depend on reliable and timely air service and access to goods. For example, if you go from Kasabonika Lake to Winnipeg return, do you know how much it is? It’s $3,200—return. In Webequie, last week, someone contacted me about the cost of gas. Speaker, a litre of gas in Webequie is $4.59—$4.59 per litre. The high price of gas is related to the type of planes that can deliver gas.
We need better runways to improve delivery of goods. When is this government going to make the runway improvements needed for better delivery of goods?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Minister of Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs.
Hon. Greg Rickford: As my colleague mentioned moments ago, Mr. Speaker, we are there with investments to ensure that those runways—I’ve landed on every single one of them—are safe for cargo and for people.
But I might say to the member opposite a couple of important points. It was his party that decided to support a carbon tax and fuel surcharges that are driving up those costs. It’s that member opposite who voted against our initiative to reduce the cost of fuel for planes flying into the remote communities. And, so far, we have not been encouraged by the member opposite or his party to build the kinds of corridors that would provide reliable road access into many of our northern communities.
Now, if that member opposite wants to rally around that, planes cannot take in the kind of infrastructure that would put those communities in a better position from a perspective of health, social and economic development—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
The next question.
Mr. Dave Smith: My question is for a fellow member of the Smitty committee, the Minister of Energy.
Last week, the minister announced the Peak Perks program, an energy-efficiency initiative brought forward by our government. This innovative program provides families with the opportunity to lower their energy bills while also receiving a cash incentive. However, beyond households looking for relief on energy costs, affordable energy remains a serious concern for businesses and municipalities across our province. In order to support the continued economic growth of businesses, it’s vital that our government continues to provide measures that will help them to conserve energy, reduce costs and improve productivity.
Can the minister please explain how our government is supporting businesses in Ontario to save money on energy costs?
Hon. Todd Smith: Thanks to the member for the question. It was great to be at ecobee on Toronto’s waterfront last week to announce the Peak Perks program and to talk about it here in the House as well. This is a program, Mr. Speaker, that’s going to save residents even more money by saving more energy, and it’s also going to save the equivalent of $650 million to our Ontario electricity grid.
But that’s not the only program we announced last week, Mr. Speaker. As part of the government’s $342-million expansion to energy efficiency programming in Ontario, we’re launching three new and enhanced energy efficiency programs for businesses and municipalities that are also going to help them save energy and drive down their costs and save the grid some dollars as well.
You’ll remember, Speaker, the Liberals drove a lot of jobs out of the province, and they raised electricity prices considerably during their time in office. We’re saving businesses and families money.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary question.
Mr. Dave Smith: It’s great to hear about the many energy initiatives and supports brought forward by our government that are helping Ontario’s hard-working families, municipalities and businesses.
Speaker, back in 2003 when the previous Liberal government came to power, Ontario had one of the lowest electricity rates in North America. By the time they were kicked out of government, their legacy was Ontario having one of the highest electricity rates in North America, and that destroyed Ontario’s energy advantage.
I know our government has been working hard to rebuild our energy sector and is committed to bringing jobs back to our province and to making life more affordable. That’s why our government must deliver results. Speaker, can the minister please elaborate on the benefits and advantages of these energy efficiency programs provided by our government for businesses—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. The Minister of Energy can reply.
Hon. Todd Smith: We’re also supporting targeted programs like our greenhouse program. There’s a lot of expansion planned for greenhouses in southwestern Ontario, which is incredibly important. We’re also saving money on energy bills for other businesses and municipalities, as I mentioned; hospitals as well can take advantage of these cost-saving programs. This includes the saveONenergy retrofit program. Over $200 million of funding is dedicated there; up to 50% of energy efficiency retrofit programs in this latest program through the IESO.
These programs are going to mean annual electricity savings equivalent to powering approximately 130,000 homes every year and reduce costs for consumers, as I mentioned, by $650 million by 2025. These programs are very important, Mr. Speaker. They’re a win for the people of Ontario. They are a win for the climate—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you very much.
Miss Monique Taylor: My question is for the Premier. Youth correctional workers and transfer payment agencies under the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services are not receiving the same rights and protections as their counterparts in OPS. These workers are not covered under WSIB, but OPS workers are. These workers are not covered under the Ontario first responders act or have the same protections and tools that OPS workers do even though they handle the same youth.
Both groups of workers receive government funding and do the same job, yet they are not being treated as such. Can the Premier commit today to eliminating systemic inequities and ensure all youth correctional workers receive the same rights, benefits and protections?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government House leader.
Hon. Paul Calandra: I think the member opposite knows that the government is always looking at ways of improving conditions for the people that work for us.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. That concludes our question period for this morning.
Hazel McCallion Act (Peel Dissolution), 2023 / Loi Hazel McCallion de 2023 sur la dissolution de Peel
Deferred vote 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 Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Call in the members. This is a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1204 to 1209.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.
On June 1, 2023, Mr. Clark moved third reading of Bill 112, An Act to provide for the dissolution of The Regional Municipality of Peel.
All those in favour of the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.
- Babikian, Aris
- Bailey, Robert
- Barnes, Patrice
- Bethlenfalvy, Peter
- Blais, Stephen
- Bouma, Will
- Bresee, Ric
- Byers, Rick
- Calandra, Paul
- Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
- Coe, Lorne
- Collard, Lucille
- Crawford, Stephen
- Cuzzetto, Rudy
- Dixon, Jess
- Dowie, Andrew
- Downey, Doug
- Dunlop, Jill
- Fedeli, Victor
- Flack, Rob
- Ford, Doug
- Ford, Michael D.
- Gallagher Murphy, Dawn
- Gill, Parm
- Grewal, Hardeep Singh
- Hardeman, Ernie
- Harris, Mike
- Hogarth, Christine
- Holland, Kevin
- Hsu, Ted
- Jones, Sylvia
- Jones, Trevor
- Jordan, John
- Kanapathi, Logan
- Kerzner, Michael S.
- Khanjin, Andrea
- Kusendova-Bashta, Natalia
- Leardi, Anthony
- Lecce, Stephen
- Lumsden, Neil
- Martin, Robin
- McCarthy, Todd J.
- McGregor, Graham
- McNaughton, Monte
- Mulroney, Caroline
- Oosterhoff, Sam
- Pang, Billy
- Parsa, Michael
- Pierre, Natalie
- Pirie, George
- Quinn, Nolan
- Rae, Matthew
- Rasheed, Kaleed
- Rickford, Greg
- Riddell, Brian
- Romano, Ross
- Sabawy, Sheref
- Sandhu, Amarjot
- Sarrazin, Stéphane
- Saunderson, Brian
- Schreiner, Mike
- Scott, Laurie
- Shamji, Adil
- Skelly, Donna
- Smith, Dave
- Smith, David
- Smith, Graydon
- Smith, Laura
- Smith, Todd
- Surma, Kinga
- Tangri, Nina
- Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.
- Wai, Daisy
- Williams, Charmaine A.
- Yakabuski, John
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): All those opposed to the motion will please rise one at a time and be recognized by the Clerk.
- Begum, Doly
- Bell, Jessica
- Burch, Jeff
- Fife, Catherine
- French, Jennifer K.
- Gates, Wayne
- Gélinas, France
- Glover, Chris
- Harden, Joel
- Kernaghan, Terence
- Mamakwa, Sol
- Pasma, Chandra
- Rakocevic, Tom
- Sattler, Peggy
- Shaw, Sandy
- Stevens, Jennifer (Jennie)
- Stiles, Marit
- Tabuns, Peter
- Taylor, Monique
- Vanthof, John
- Vaugeois, Lise
- West, Jamie
- Wong-Tam, Kristyn
The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 75; the nays are 23.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I declare the motion carried.
Be it resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.
Third reading agreed to.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): There being no further business at this time, this House stands in recess until 3 p.m.
The House recessed from 1213 to 1500.
Afternoon meeting reported in volume B.