40e législature, 1re session

L034 - Wed 4 Apr 2012 / Mer 4 avr 2012



Wednesday 4 April 2012 Mercredi 4 avril 2012




















































AMENDMENT), 2012 /

The House met at 0900.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): May we all pray, please.



Hon. John Gerretsen: Good morning, Speaker, and good morning to everyone here on such a beautiful, sunny day like this morning. It’s my pleasure to ask that government order G13 be called at this time.


Resuming the debate adjourned on April 3, 2012, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 13, An Act to amend the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters / Projet de loi 13, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l’éducation en ce qui a trait à l’intimidation et à d’autres questions.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Further debate?

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak on this very important bill, Bill 13, An Act to amend the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters. The short title of this bill, Speaker, is the Accepting Schools Act, and that is how I will be referring to this particular bill.

Speaker, this is my second term in this great Legislature. It’s five years that I’ve been serving the people of Ontario, and particularly the people of Ottawa Centre, and I would argue that at least in my short time in this Legislature, of all the laws, bills and issues we have debated and discussed, this particular matter, this particular bill, is by far the most important one that I have been engaged in. This bill represents hope. It represents hope for thousands and thousands of children and young people in this great province of ours. This particular bill represents hope for those children and young people who are in our schools and are bullied on a daily basis. This bill represents hope for those adults who have been victims of bullies and are out of our school system now but still carry the scars of bullying. Some of them have the courage to come out and speak against bullying, share their stories and try to inspire others so they can also continue with their lives, and some don’t.

Speaker, this bill is hope for parents, for members of families whose children are bullied—and there are, unfortunately, many in our province—especially those parents who have lost a child of theirs, a child who took his or her own life because of bullying. They will all agree, unfortunately, that there have been too many in our province.

Therefore, it is incumbent on us—no ifs and buts about this—that we need to deal with the issue of bullying in our province, and we need to have an action plan on this very important issue now. This is not a matter for the future. This is not an issue we should delay our action on, because our duty and responsibility as members of this Legislative Assembly, our fiduciary duty to the people of Ontario, especially to the children and young people of this great province, requires that we deal with the issue around bullying now.

I think I stand in very good company. All members of this Legislature recognize how important it is that we have strict laws, that we have an action plan in place now dealing with bullies. More importantly than the 107 of us who are elected, the people out there, the members of our community, the people of Ontario are demanding of us that we have an action plan, that we have policies, that we have laws now that deal with bullying. So the stars are aligned. We are all on the same page. Now what we need to agree on is that action plan. What we need to agree on is our resolve, our will to take action, and that’s what leadership is about. That’s the kind of leadership all of us have to demonstrate by working together.

Speaker, my riding of Ottawa Centre is a diverse riding. It’s a riding made up of many, many communities. It’s a riding made up of young and old, a riding made up of people who have lived in that community for a long, long time and those who just arrived in Ottawa yesterday. We are blessed to have a very diverse community that we call Ottawa, and particularly Ottawa Centre.

I also have a very diverse community in terms of a large LGBT—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered—community that lives in Ottawa Centre, a community that is extremely active in not only promoting the well-being of members of the LGBT community, especially youth, but also the community at large, which is active in our schools, which is active in our neighbourhoods, to ensure that we live in a vibrant place. Collectively, we all work together to ensure that our community, our neighbourhoods are safe places to live.

When I’m out there and talking to them about Bill 13, they want action on Bill 13 now. They are very supportive of Bill 13 and what it stands for. What does Bill 13 stand for, Speaker? I think the preamble language in Bill 13 is quite instructive. It states that the people of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly believe that all students should feel safe at school and deserve a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting, regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability. All important differences are listed within the language of this bill, differences that don’t just need to be tolerated; differences that need to be accepted and, in fact, celebrated.


The bill goes further and says that the people of Ontario and the Legislative Assembly believe that a healthy, safe and inclusive learning environment where all students feel accepted is a necessary condition for student success—because that is what we want for our children: no matter who they are, no matter what family they come from, that they are successful in school and they are given equal opportunity to thrive.

The bill goes on to say further—and I 100% wholeheartedly agree with that statement, and I think the people of Ontario accept that as well—that students need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to engage the world and others critically, which means developing a critical consciousness that allows them to take action on making their schools and communities more equitable and inclusive for all people, including LGBTTIQ—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, intersex, queer and questioning people.

This is the right set of policies that we are putting forward. We need to make sure that we address the root causes of bullying that takes place in our schools. Kids are getting picked on because they may be LGBT; they may be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. They may be getting picked on because they’re kids of dad and dad, or mom and mom. There is no reason that that should take place in our schools.

I urge all members to please vote in support of this bill. We need to work at bringing Bill 13 and 14 together so it is law before this September, so that we can start addressing issues around bullying in an effective, forceful manner, starting the new school year. This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate to the world outside that we do have the capacity to work together and make Ontario a better place for our students.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. John O’Toole: The member from Ottawa Centre spoke with passion, representative of what Dalton McGuinty told him to say—which is fine.

What I’m going to do here is basically, I’m going to put on the table something that’s important. Just in the media today—it’s very good—it says:

“The way to fight bullying is to have school boards, bureaucrats, principals and teachers committed to ending it.

“It’s to make it clear to kids from the first day of school that no one has the right to bully them for any reason and that if they are being bullied, the adults in charge of the school will help them.

“Then, that promise has to be backed up with real action.

“None of this will happen as long as we’re caught in an ideologically-driven sideshow over one form of bullying based on sexual orientation” versus others.

There should be no hierarchy of bullying—no bullying is tolerated—and that distraction is really what’s causing the problem. Bill 14, which we unanimously agreed, I think, puts a more mature look at the whole issue.

This article I’m reading and will refer to says, “First, bullying permeates both public and separate schools.

“Second, kids get bullied for all sorts of reasons, including but not limited to sexual orientation.” None of it’s acceptable.

“Third, the real problem has been the tendency of school boards, bureaucrats and administrators to ignore bullying, to refuse to back up teachers trying to combat it and to re-victimize the victims of bullying by transferring them to other schools” instead of dealing with it.

We need leadership on the issue. We need clear rules that aren’t creating a hierarchy of one form of bullying versus another. No form of bullying is acceptable in Ontario or Canada, or for that matter the world. And I can tell you first-hand, I’m dealing with constituents now who have been bullied, not for any particular reason that I would disclose here, but it was not dealt with properly and indeed the child was transferred. In fact, the child becomes re-victimized. This bill simply doesn’t do it. Look at Bill 14. Look at serving the children, not some other ideology.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Questions and comments.

Mr. Michael Mantha: I want to take this time to introduce you to a fabulous, young little girl from Bruce Mines. Her name is Candace. You know, there were a lot of signs that were there. First, she was a bubbly young person, very athletic, was very active in her community. Nobody would have thought that the outcome that she chose was the outcome that happened. The unfortunate part? She couldn’t talk to anybody. She didn’t have that avenue. She didn’t have that organization. She didn’t know who she could go to. And unfortunately she took her life. She made a drastic decision because those resources weren’t there; or if they were, they were hidden; or if they would have been, she didn’t know where to go to get them. It’s unfortunate now that all the signs were there but nobody recognized them.

There’s a lot of good in Bill 13. There’s a lot of good in Bill 14. We need to take some action—yes. We need to take the right steps—yes, we do. But we need to do this in a way that will serve all Ontarians. Let’s put the flags down. Let’s get this right, let’s get the discussions going, but let’s say no to a lot of what we’re seeing—or a lot of what I’m seeing—as far as positions that we’re taking on either/or. They’re both good. Let’s move them forward. Let’s get this right. I think we owe that to our kids, we owe that to our communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Questions, comments.

Hon. John Gerretsen: I’m very pleased to speak on this bill, and it’s unfortunate that a bill like this and Bill 14 have sort of become very partisan issues because they really shouldn’t be. I think all of us remember either having been bullied, particularly during our formative years in schools, or seeing bullies operate in those schools, and there have been some lasting effects of that.

What I would strongly suggest to the process here is that we take the best aspects of this bill and the best aspects of Bill 14 and come up with a law that is a nonpartisan law. A lot has been said about sexual orientation, and that’s only one kind of bullying.

I have sort of been thinking about how some organizations—mainly, the separate system doesn’t want to have the committees called one thing or another. Now, I’ll tell you I’ve been a separate school supporter my entire life. Quite frankly, I can’t see it. Kids in their schools are going to call the committees whatever the heck they want to call them, and just because adults say you’ve got to call it this, you’ve got to call it that, okay, that may be the official name, but they’re going to call it whatever they want, and that’s the reality of the situation. Let’s deal with the real issue here so that people aren’t stigmatized, so that people don’t suffer the consequences of this for the rest of their life, or as the member from Algoma just mentioned, some very dramatic situations happened with respect to the young girl that he talked about who in effect took her own life.


This should not be a partisan issue. There are good points in both of the bills, and the only way we’re going to make a real difference in the schools is by allowing the kids to basically decide what to call the committees that they want to form. This is a good idea. This is one way in which we can all collectively do something about the bullying situation in our schools.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. Rob E. Milligan: As a high school teacher, an educator, a parent and just an individual who cares for his community, province and country, and for everyone from all walks of life regardless, I think the member from Durham made a very good point: Bullying is wrong, regardless of sex, gender, religion, creed—it doesn’t matter; it’s wrong, period. Intolerance—

Mr. Bob Delaney: Sexual orientation.

Mr. Rob E. Milligan: Sexual orientation—it’s wrong, right?

Mr. Bob Delaney: See? That didn’t hurt.

Mr. Rob E. Milligan: No, it didn’t hurt. And intolerance for diversity is wrong, period.

We have to remember that we’re dealing with human beings. Bullying is something that has been around for thousands of years. We try to legislate it. We try to improve upon it. We’re educating our youth toward the tolerance of others and their beliefs. This is important. I think that, obviously, we have to do better. We can actually address the issue of bullying within our school systems.

But, really, we have to look at the heart of the matter, and that is one of collectively working together. Bill 13 and Bill 14: We can argue that ours is better than theirs. But I think the member from Kingston and the Islands made a good point: This is a nonpartisan issue. It should be a nonpartisan issue, because it affects everyone and their families. So, Mr. Speaker, I have to say we are looking toward working with the other parties: the third party and the government.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Ottawa Centre has two minutes to respond.

Mr. Yasir Naqvi: My gratitude to the members from Durham and Algoma–Manitoulin, the Attorney General, and the member from Northumberland–Quinte West.

Speaker, I stand here as the member for Ottawa Centre, and there’s only one group of people I speak for, and that is the people of Ottawa Centre and nobody else. They are telling me again and again that we need to take action on bullying. They are telling me that we all need to work together as a group of responsible, elected members and deal with this issue.

They’re telling me, “Bill 13, Bill 14—we don’t know. Work together and take action on bullying.” They’re telling me, because they do watch, “Stop playing games in this Legislature. Get to work. Don’t delay debate on this important issue.” Let’s talk and find a solution to bullying.

Most importantly, Speaker, believe it or not, the kids are watching. They’re talking about it. I go to a lot of schools—elementary and high schools. They are talking about this particular issue, and kudos to them. They want action, and they’re saying, “We don’t get it. Why are you taking so long? Why can we not have a law in place so we can start working with our teachers, so we can start working with our principal, so we can start working with our administrators, so we can start working with ourselves and start dealing with the issue around bullying—bullying of all kinds?”

We need to take action. Speaker, I urge every single member: Let’s work together and pass a law by June so that we can implement it in our schools for September.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Jeff Yurek: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and good morning. I’m glad to speak on this bill. It’s a pretty close issue to myself. About two years ago, I had a visitation at a funeral home. One of my employees who had left us—she had moved on to another job—her 13-year-old son decided just before Mother’s Day to end his life. It wasn’t because he was sick; basically, he was bullied, and he was sick of being picked on at school and having no help, no supports from the school, the school board or the community at large.

I went to that visitation, and I haven’t really gone to a visitation for a child before. It was quite shocking and startling. A lot of emotions went through my mind at the time. There was anger and rage, but most of all it was helplessness. I felt helpless because what could I do as a community member, a pharmacist in the community, for my old employee? How could I help this family? How could I prevent this from going on? At the time, the helplessness you feel—you know, it hurts. It eats away at you. So I’m glad now that I’m in a position where I feel that I can help.

I am very, very proud of my fellow caucus members: Elizabeth Witmer from Kitchener–Waterloo, who came up with quite an extensive bill. I’m proud to be part of her caucus, and I’m quite proud to be alongside Lisa MacLeod here from Carleton-Nepean—Nepean–Carleton. I always say it backwards. But I’m proud to be a colleague with Lisa and her advocacy on bullying, and I just give you very much applause.

I did have a long speech on this, but this morning I thought, “I’m representing Elgin–Middlesex–London. I’ll give out some emails that I received on it, just so my constituents’ thoughts are heard in this Legislature.” Some of them have come from maybe earlier.

This one comes from Anne Taylor, chair of the St. Thomas-Elgin Anti-Bullying Coalition. Anne is actually the mother of the son who took his life, and used to work for me.

“We are calling on all parties to work together and take time for careful consideration over the drafting of a final bill. ‘Bullying is abusive in nature and is a result of intolerance, inequity and misuses of power. In order to put an end to bullying and bullycide, we must use legislation to help build this framework. The language must be concise and specific regarding bullying and peer abuse. Our hope is to have a bill strictly devoted to anti-bullying for all students and to keep other issues of equality separate so that the bill’s purpose is not distorted, making it about political reputations or narrowing the bullying focus to issues of sexual orientation and sex education, instead of the safety and learning success of every single one of the children and youth in this province.’”

This next one comes from Corina Morrison, co-founder of the London Anti-Bullying Coalition. I’ve met with Corina. She was on my doorstep right after the election. She is an advocate who is non-stop, and I’ve met with her numerous times over the past few months.

“It is vital to the well-being of our children, that legislation gets it right. ‘Without informed decision-making and effective legislation, every Ontario student remains at risk.’”

This comes from Karen Sebben, co-founder, York Region Anti-Bullying Coalition: “My son’s three years of bullying took the form of homophobia, and he is not homosexual. As parents it didn’t matter to us what form the bullying took. The fact remains that aggression and assault were taking place regardless of the reason. This is the focus of any anti-bullying legislation and PCs’ Elizabeth Witmer got it right with Bill 14.”

This comes from Katie Neu, co-founder of Bullying Canada: “We have to look at all of the lives being lost as a result of the bullying they have endured, as well as those coming forward with their school horror stories and realize that something has to be done. Bullying is not being taken seriously enough and needs to be addressed before this epidemic takes even more lives.”

These are the experts in bullying; it’s not us. I think we need to listen to the experts and follow through.

I’ve got some emails here. These are a group of law students. I’m sure we all got this email, but I’m going to read it out anyways.

“As law students of Osgoode Hall Law School, University of Toronto, and University of Ottawa, we want to thank you for your concern regarding the issue of bullying in schools. Many of us have experienced bullying in our own lives and have endured its detrimental effects.


“While we commend the goal of Bill 13 insofar as it addresses the need to eradicate bullying, we are concerned with the method and scope of this bill in attempting to achieve ‘bullying prevention and intervention.’ While bullying can single out traits such as race or sexual orientation, bullying is not limited to students displaying such traits—rather, any and all students may become targets, whether for the size of one’s body, for shyness, or for any other characteristic. Legislating that school boards empower only those students who lead clubs from one of four explicitly protected groups—gender equity, anti-racism, respect for students with disabilities, and sexual orientation—sends the message that some grounds for bullying merit more attention and protection than others. Consequently, the scope of the bill is too narrow and exclusive to promote true equity for all potentially targeted traits and identities. Moreover, the bill is silent on character development, and on creating a safe environment for speaking about bullying.

“The bill’s section on disciplinary measures similarly gives explicit attention and protection to issue-specific causes. Section 4(2) lists the general term ‘bullying’ along with ‘sexual assault, gender-based violence and incidents based on homophobia.’ Sex and gender-related issues are not the only motivations behind bullying or violent behaviour; addressing only these groups unduly minimizes the bill’s impact. Should we not send the message that all bullying is unacceptable, regardless of what prompts it? Furthermore, the sanctions, or ‘appropriate consequences’ for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ listed under subsection 7(3) are vague, and give arbitrary power to schools to decide their own standard of ‘appropriateness.’ We suggest that such licence may alienate or marginalize students whose conscientious beliefs may not align with the dominant views of school boards about what merits punitive sanctions.”

I got another email: “I have ... been very busy with our many appointments all because of bullying. I sincerely hope changes are coming to keep our kids safe. My oldest, who endured bullying in grade 4 then intensified in grades 7 and 8, chose to go to an out of boundary high school to make a fresh start. (He started counselling in July 2010.) Over this past summer, not only the usual nervousness of starting grade 9 in a school where you don’t know many, but he was so afraid of being bullied again, not only did he suffer emotionally but it became physical—heart palpitations, involuntary spastic twitching, unable to participate in all the activities he once loved—basketball, soccer, swimming, golf.” He wasn’t allowed to be a kid anymore. “He used to be an avid reader, read all the time and could not wait to start another novel.” His hygiene started to become neglected. “He ‘would rather be dead than go to school.’ We were in a very bad place. I was worried for his personal safety.

“Anyways after lots of outside help, he is now going to begin his third type of therapy and medication ... he is doing better. We have been told it’s still a long road, and it makes me want to scream because he is 14 and this is not how life should be for a teenager. I am just very fortunate and count my blessings that he is still with us.”

Families are going through too much in this province over bullying. Those that survive bullying are affected emotionally for life. They’re scarred, and it’s hard to bring them back. It’s time to work together. Bill 14 is an amazing bill, and I salute it and I support it. Hopefully, we can work together and get one unified bill and get it out to our students in this province. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments.

Miss Monique Taylor: I’ve been listening quite intensely to all of the discussions going on here in the House today, and it seems to me that we’re all under the same agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of bullying is happening; we know it’s happening. That’s the key issue. We know that we need special-interest groups because the kids are going to create their own special-interest groups. It’s them who are feeling the heat on this.

The problem with this bill that I’m seeing is that we don’t have the funding to back up this program. Who are going to be the ones administering the program? Who are going to be the psychologists on-site, the therapists on-site to deal with these kids who are having these issues? We’re already having funding shortfalls when it comes to EAs for our disabled children and children with special needs. So who’s going to be the one to take the extra stand and to do the extra work that’s needed when these kids come to them? We have teachers and we have staff in the schools. They’re already over-bound—and yet we have no one to watch a playground. Where’s the issue here? If we don’t have enough supervision in the front of the school where they’re fighting on the front steps, and we have adults walking by them, where are we going wrong here?

Instead of arguing about what kind of bullying is happening in our province, maybe we’d better be looking at how we are going to fund the education system better to make sure we do have adults responsible who are going to step in and take a stand, that we do have adults and therapists and everybody—EAs—at the school to make sure the kids have the resources that they need to make sure it works.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments? The member from Scarborough East.

Ms. Soo Wong: No, Scarborough–Agincourt, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you for correcting me—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): But your member stood up first. The member from Scarborough–Agincourt. No tricking the Speaker. It’s not nice.

Ms. Soo Wong: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m delighted to stand and to be given an opportunity to speak in support of Bill 13. I’m very sad and very sorry to hear from my colleague from Elgin–Middlesex–London about that tragedy. I think that was one preventable death that all of us are deeply saddened by.

The proposed legislation is about protecting students, and at the same time creating a safe and inclusive environment so that every young person in our school can learn. That’s what this bill is all about.

I appreciate all the constructive feedback shared with us this morning by my colleagues, but we need to move forward. We need to move forward with legislation that is strong, robust, comprehensive, and that will protect young people at the same time, to ensure their safety. It’s not just about protection; it’s also about providing resources.

The legislation is very clear. It talks about providing consequences, because we need young people to know there will be consequences to your bullying. We all know bullying is a learned behaviour. You’re not born a bully. You learn about these kinds of behaviours.

The other thing in the legislation is there will be a recognized Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week. Again, it will be education and prevention, and there will be resources to support. I know the member from Hamilton Mountain expressed concern about who’s going to be funding this proposed legislation and what have you. There are going to be resources, especially for the mental health piece, because we know that young people who have been bullied, or will be bullied down the road, need that support—not just the bullied, but also the perpetrator.

I fully support this legislation, and, moving forward, I’m happy to be working with my colleague to bring both Bills 13 and 14 together.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. John Yakabuski: I’m pleased to speak for a couple of minutes on Bill 13, and the address by my colleague from Elgin–Middlesex–London is a good segue into this.

A young man made an appointment and came in to see me in my office, a fellow by the name of Dustin Garron: 16 years old, multiple suicide attempts, has experienced bullying in his life at school. Dustin is also gay, and made it clear that the reasons for bullying had nothing to do with his sexual orientation, nor did his suicide attempts.

He was disappointed in the way that this government deals with mental illness, very disappointed in the focus in Bill 13 but more pleased with the focus in Bill 14, which attacks and deals with the issue of bullying whatever the reason may be. I thank the Attorney General for standing here earlier today and saying exactly the same thing.

We have a responsibility in this Legislature to make sure that we do everything we humanly, possibly can to eliminate bullying. My friend from Durham talked about how the school boards are saying—and how this writer said—it has to be dealt with head on, right at day one, so that the culture in our school systems, the culture everywhere, is one that says no to bullying. It is wrong, and we as adults and we as legislators must ensure that that does not happen.

It should not be an issue that is being politicized by the government, by their stance on it in trying to put one particular emphasis on one particular reason why someone may or may not be bullied. It is time to get down to the business of doing what is right for all children here in the province of Ontario and stop playing political games.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. Jonah Schein: I’m new here to this Legislature and it’s a bit confusing for me to hear this kind of debate because, to me, I hear people stand up, we all despise bullying, we’ve all seen it; we all know we need to deal with it. Obviously, for families who have lost a loved one to suicide when that’s a result of bullying, it’s tragic. We all agree on that.

Obviously, I support this bill. It makes sense. We need good, strong equity policies in our schools. We need to make sure that we have schools that have a school culture that is anti-oppressive, that supports people who are victims of bullying and supports bullies as well to deal with the problems that they have.

But to me, I feel like the debate is sort of off in some sense, in that we’re talking about a province with growing inequality. The problem with the bully debate is that it disguises the real issue behind bullying, which is power imbalance, that some people have more power and some people have less. The real debate that we should be having right now is how we share our resources in this province and the fact that some people have so much power and some people have so little power.

To talk about bullying as if it’s the fault of an individual in a school rather than a societal problem, which is what it is—you know, kids learn these things at home, kids learn these things on television, kids learn these from our political leaders. What they see if they’re looking in this House is a government that will not stand up for the underdog, will not stand up for people who are struggling. This is the real issue that needs to be addressed here.

Yesterday, our leader, Andrea Horwath, stood up and she said she wants to make sure, if this budget is going to pass, that we stand up for the 99%, that we stand up for people who are struggling, and that the people who are doing very well, the top 1%, give a little bit back. We’ll see if Dalton McGuinty and the government is listening, but this is the way we need to go forward.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Elgin–Middlesex–London has two minutes to respond.

Mr. Jeff Yurek: I want to thank my colleagues from Hamilton Mountain, Scarborough–Agincourt, Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke and Davenport for commenting.

I think what we need to do with this bill is we need a bill that’s equal and accepting to all and rules out that one form of bullying is more consequential than the other. It’s across the board. We need to come out and say bullying is wrong and we need to have supports in place for our kids.

The one point that Bill 13 misses—and I’m just going to comment quickly on it, because Elizabeth Witmer’s Bill 14 attacks it—is cyberbullying. Kids can’t get away from bullying. It used to be, 10, 15 years ago, you could leave school and at least go home to your family and be safe and secure. Nowadays, you’ve got Facebook and Twitter and what have you chasing you home. It’s there, it’s constant, and it’s 24 hours, seven days a week. I’m glad Bill 14 actually tackles cyberbullying, because I think it’s getting worse and we need to start hitting it hard from all aspects. We need to have legislation that encompasses yesterday, today and tomorrow, and Bill 14 does so, and again, I’m very grateful.

We all have stories here. We’re all affected by bullying one way or the other, and whether you like it or not, it does affect you emotionally and physically, whether you realize it or not, because these are heart-wrenching stories that gnaw away at you. The sooner we can get some solutions out of this Legislature and into Ontario helping our kids, the better.

I have an eight-year-old daughter at home and I never want her to go through bullying. I just couldn’t picture it. Thanks for your time.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. Rosario Marchese: I am happy to speak to Bill 13, and I will say that we support Bill 13 and we don’t have a problem with that. It surprises me that there are some Conservative members who say they do have a problem with that, because their Bill 14 is equally good and adds different elements to the aspect of bullying, and New Democrats have other things to say about it as well.

I’m not sure why some Tories are presenting it as an either/or. I don’t know why you’re doing that. When some of you stand up to speak to it, you recognize elements of Bill 13, you support it, but you say, “No, that’s not good enough. Our bill is the one that does it.”

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: One shot to get it—

Mr. Rosario Marchese: I don’t see why you do that. The member from Nepean–Carleton says it’s a one-shot deal. No, it isn’t, necessarily. It isn’t. And your Bill 14 doesn’t do it all either, as New Democrats have pointed out. So there’s this ideology of right and wrong that is completely mistaken, and I don’t know why you do that. I know why Tories are against this bill, and it’s the part of the bill that says the following: “A new section 303.1 requires boards to support pupils who want to establish and lead activities or organizations that promote gender equity, anti-racism, the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people with disabilities or the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.” What is so wrong with that? Why are some Conservatives so afraid of that? I just don’t understand it. We’re living in an age where, if you can’t accept that, something is definitely not right about your political positioning on this. I get terribly nervous and worried about that kind of politics.

Section 5, subsection 301 of the act, talks about, “which sets out the purposes of the provincial code of conduct, is amended to include preventing bullying in schools.” That means all bullying. I know that as some of the Tories are talking to each other, they may not realize that that section deals with all bullying. It’s clear that the Conservatives either do not see that or fail to see that or deliberately don’t want to read that as part of the bill. So when the member from Ottawa–Nepean says that, “We want to deal with all bullying,” well, that section talks about all bullying. What she doesn’t want to say, even though she herself supports it, is that section 7, the new section 303, is something that puts a new obligation to school boards, and even though she agrees with it, she’s saying that is not something her party can live with. I’ve got to tell you that I feel very, very disappointed in them in that regard.

What does Bill 14 do? Bill 14 adds a few other elements, and it says the following—and how could I disagree with it? Bill 14 says that some of the additions will define “bullying” as “severe or repeated” harmful behaviour. I think that’s a good and useful suggestion. Does it take away from Bill 13, or add to it? It adds to it; it doesn’t take away. Requiring the minister’s annual report to the Legislature to include school board data about bullying incidents—that adds to Bill 13, it doesn’t take away. There is no disagreement between these two elements. The inclusion of bullying prevention in the curriculum—well, that is added in Bill 13, so that’s not an additional component of it. So that’s not a problem.

So you have these additional elements in Bill 14 that are reasonable amendments, and I don’t know why they can’t simply say 13 is okay, 14 is good because it adds a few other elements—and New Democrats are going to talk about the root causes of bullying and what we could be doing about it, which neither Bill 13 nor 14 does. So when the member from Ottawa Centre says we need to deal with the root causes, well, he says it but he doesn’t say how. It’s not contained in the bill at all. There’s no mention of how we deal with the root causes. So even though he speaks the language of New Democrats, it doesn’t speak to it in the bill. That is the problemo that New Democrats speak to. Neither Bill 13 nor Bill 14 speaks to it.

Am I proposing that we create yet another, New Democratic, bill, Bill 15, to deal with that problem? No. We’ve got two bills, and we’re going to say that as we deal with each, New Democrats will propose suggestions to make it better. We could propose a Bill 15 and present ourselves as the real party of difference on the issue of bullying, but we’re not going to do that. So when I hear the Tories say, “No, we’ve got to destroy Bill 13 because it’s not good enough and ours is better,” I say I don’t know.


I say to the Tories and to the Liberals, do you remember when Falconer did his report? Mr. Falconer did his report and made a number of suggestions about violence in the schools, and no one, actually, in this assembly ever dealt with that report, because it was commissioned by the Toronto board—and Soo knows what I’m talking about. The Toronto board, lacking in funds, could never implement that report, but the provincial government could have. I suspect the Toronto board made efforts at trying to get the province to fund some of those things and failed miserably. I know some of the trustees who are here as Liberal MPPs didn’t want to attack their Liberal colleagues, but I would have, as every other board before them did, where we had New Democratic trustees attack the New Democratic government—and they did that. The Liberal trustees should have done the same with their Liberal colleagues, and didn’t. That, I find regrettable.

If we want to deal with issues of violence, let’s look at what Mr. Falconer says, because he says preventing violence in schools requires adequate resources for proper student supervision, adequate funding, community outreach workers to build links with the community, and adequate funding for student supports such as social workers and child and youth workers. None of those implementations were reviewed, or they might have been reviewed but they were never implemented; they were never addressed. They need to be.

We need to understand why young men and women bully others. There’s a long list of reasons why it is that young people bully, and it all connects to the culture and connects to families. If we’ve got alcohol abuse in the family, it’s going to show up in the school system. If there are mental health issues, it will show up as a problem in our school system. If there is bullying against gays and lesbians and transsexuals in our schools, it’s because it is utterly connected to every aspect of our culture that, obviously, says that that isn’t right. We need to fight that, and we need to fight that ferociously, aggressively. There are multiple reasons. Poverty is another problem that reflects itself in the school system.

We need to understand why they do it, and punishing them simply will not solve the problem, which is what part of what Bill 13 does and Bill 14 does. Expelling students doesn’t deal with the problem of sexual abuse of children against children, which has happened and has not been dealt with by boards.

Boards need financial support, principals need financial support, and in spite of what this Minister of Education is doing, attacking boards, she is not supporting them financially. When we impose a new obligation on boards, which I support, it has to be imposed with financial supports. This minister and other ministers cannot say that boards can do this. When boards are required legally to implement Bill 13, it means they have to do it, but if they’re not given the financial support, they will not be able to do it well. That’s the contribution New Democrats make to this debate on Bill 13 and Bill 14.

But, please, let’s proceed with Bill 13. It’s a good bill. Let’s then deal with Bill 14 and not bully each other on that issue, and then let’s look at what it is that we can do by way of additional amendments to Bill 13 and Bill 14 to make it a little better. I think we can do it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: It’s a pleasure to join the debate and to follow up on the always excellent remarks of the member from Trinity–Spadina.

I had occasion today to receive a letter that was sent to me from Vancouver. It’s from a young woman who spent her youth growing up in the town of Oakville. She has decided, because of what we’re doing in Ontario and because of the attention being paid to this issue, that she’d like to open up a little bit about her own experience. I won’t use her name, obviously, but I’ll tell you what she says in the letter. It’s a long letter, but there are some parts that really stand out. One says, “I was teased because I was smart, [but I was] left out because I was poor. [I was] ganged up on because I had no one to defend me, and this was allowed to happen because I was a bit of a precocious child and that doesn’t tend to win one the kindness of teachers. In short, there was no protection for me when I was on the grounds of my elementary school.”

She goes on to say, “The lessons I took away from my childhood are not ones that I would teach children of my own. It taught me that being smart makes you a target; that any sign of confidence is a target to be shot at; that being happy is futile because there will always be someone to tear it down and rip it apart. It taught me not to trust anyone, that people will always say one thing and do another opposite, more sinister thing in its stead, and that like a pack of hyenas, people (adults and children alike) will team up to topple the thing they find most threatening.”

When you think of the childhood that this person experienced, it seems to me that what we’re proposing to do today by Bill 13 or 14, or whatever bill the adults choose to call it, is something that needs to be done—and it needs to be done, I think, in some haste. Young people are still suffering through this on a daily basis, and until Queen’s Park acts on this issue, it won’t stop. It’s time that we move ahead on this, Speaker. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: It’s a pleasure to once again engage in debate today and discuss what the member from Trinity–Spadina has talked about.

I want to commend the member from Oakville for bringing a letter to this House from one of his former constituents. I think that’s probably the most important thing that we’ve done since debating both Bill 13 and Bill 14, is talk about the issues, I know I want to make mention of my colleague from Elgin–Middlesex–London and the tragic story that occurred in his community, and as well to the member from Algoma–Manitoulin, because I think we’ve got a few issues here.

I’ve spoken a lot about Bill 13 and Bill 14, but I think what we’ve seen occur in this House are people bringing stories from their communities, from people that they know, about three issues actually. Bullying is one, mental health is another and, finally, suicide prevention and suicide being committed, which makes me think—and I say this as a member of the assembly, like every other member of the assembly, 106 other people—if there was ever a time for greater study, perhaps even a select committee on dealing with these types of issues all together, it might be now. I think that while we’ve done this as a so-called committee of the whole, even though we’re not a committee of the whole, we’ve all discussed it. We all have views. We all have values that we’ve brought from our communities about this issue. I just hope it’s all reflected by the minister when we move forward, because we’ve obviously missed that opportunity to work together at an earlier stage.

So I do appreciate what the members have said, particularly when they bring the stories from their own communities to this assembly. It has affected me, and I know it has affected every other member.

Thank you, Speaker, for the opportunity.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Questions and comments?

Mr. Michael Mantha: I don’t want to be repetitive, Mr. Speaker, but you know, I think I will, because everybody needs to hear this in this House.

I’ll start first by giving you a little bit of a discussion I had with my son last night. When I was talking to my son, he said, “You know, where most of the bullying happens is outside in the school yards or outside on the streets.” He said, “Why are you guys calling so many darn recesses? Why are the bells ringing so many times? Why aren’t you dealing in the classroom where the issue needs to be dealt with? Why aren’t you doing that, Dad?”

Anyway, I thought about that and I said, you know what? For a 13-year-old boy, he’s pretty bright. He’s really, really smart.

Mr. Rob E. Milligan: He gets it from his mom.

Mr. Michael Mantha: Yeah, he might get it from his mom.

But, anyways, I think working together is really an acknowledgement of someone else’s work. Bill 13 has great points—some points—but Bill 14, from the member from Nepean–Carleton, also has good points. Our member—I was actually very surprised that he was accused of bullying—from Trinity–Spadina also brings up good points. How is it that this House cannot stay in this House long enough to acknowledge the goods of all three positions and get this done right?

The member from Ottawa Centre said it quite well earlier, that kids in Ottawa Centre are talking about it in their classrooms. Well, guess what? They’re all talking about it. They’re all looking at us in this room, and if we don’t get the work done in here and we keep running out, ringing bells and not getting the work done, we’re failing them. So let’s work together, let’s be reasonable, and let’s get this right. I think we owe it to our kids.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Ms. Soo Wong: I’m pleased to be given another opportunity to speak in response to Bill 13. Let me first respond to clarify for my colleague from Trinity–Spadina. When I was a trustee for the Toronto District School Board like my colleague from Don Valley West, we were unfortunately faced with a tragedy resulting in the Falconer report. Working with our government, we were able to create one of the most successful programs that was ever introduced by this government. It’s called Focus on Youth.

Focus on Youth is one of the leading evidence-based programs, now going on almost five years—I think four or five years—whereby we provide resource support for our young people, free summer camp and employment opportunities. For the past couple of years—for last year I can say the data: We hired over 600 young people in the city of Toronto through the Toronto District School Board, becoming one of the largest employers in the city. The youth who were hired were high-risk youth. Not only were they given an employment opportunity, they were also given credits. This program also provides credit recovery. I wanted to make sure my colleague from Trinity–Spadina had the facts straight.

At the end of the day, we recognize the concerns on safety. The school board will never get enough money. They will always criticize the government about not enough funds here, there and everywhere. But I do know we have social workers, and we have psychologists at TDSB. But at the end of the day, we also need to make sure there are resource supports.

Mr. Speaker, the proposed legislation is not just about protecting young people, it’s also providing resource support. The member from Ottawa-Nepean talked about the mental health piece.

All of us in this House support some kind of legislation to protect our students and ensure that they can learn. Maybe together, we can do something for it before the beginning of the new school year.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Trinity–Spadina has a two-minute response.

Mr. Rosario Marchese: Thank you for all the comments. To the member for Scarborough–Agincourt, the Toronto school board is about to lay off potentially 1,000 workers. We’ve been trustees, both of us on the same board. We know what we’re talking about here. They’re about to lay off the very people you mentioned, which includes social workers, psychologists, educational assistants and other eyes in the Toronto board. Please, come on. I know you’ve got to talk to your minister about this because she’s attacking the school board and saying she gives them a whole lot of money. The reality is that in a system that’s based on numbers, you’ve been getting less money over the years, and you’re short $85 million. Your school board is short $85 million, and they’re going to have to lay off up to 1,000 workers. Please.

This bill is about bullying, and we think there are good elements in this bill. We hope that the Conservatives will make amendments, as we will, in committee. I think overall, this can work, but we need to deal with the fact that school boards are doing a lot of work without the adequate resources, and they’ve been doing it more and more each and every year. We’re imposing new obligations on boards and principals and teachers, and we do this without understanding the incredible workload that principals and teachers have. We simply think it’s a magical thing for them to be able to do on their own; we simply say, “Do it,” and it happens. There’s simply no understanding from provincial members about what it takes and the supports they require.

This bill does impose a lot of work on them, but if it doesn’t have the support so they can do the job well, it simply will not be done. That’s what New Democrats will speak to at the hearings.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate? The member from Scarborough East-Pickering.

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: Pickering–Scarborough East, thank you, Speaker. I’m very happy to speak on this very important bill today. We are committed to passing Bill 13 as soon as possible.

I do want to acknowledge the member from Trinity–Spadina and the member from Hamilton Mountain for their supportive comments. We are in total agreement: We need to get on with this. However, I also want to assure the member from Trinity–Spadina that we do know what it takes to make this bill happen, and I will be speaking to that soon.

We want to work with our colleagues in opposition, and I call on the members of the official opposition to help pass this bill as quickly as possible. Speaker, I get many calls in my riding of Pickering–Scarborough East about this bill. People are supportive of it. People have some suggestions. That’s what we have committee for. We need to move this forward.

I do want to share a comment we received from Dara in Toronto. She says, “I wish to congratulate the Liberal government on putting forward an anti-bullying platform that provides recognition, protection and support to all Ontario’s children. I applaud you and [the Premier] for standing up for what is right, for showing all our children that we live in a province where discrimination and bullying of any kind, for any reason, is not okay, that it is their right to do what they can do to stop it and that our government will support them in supporting each other.” So I thank Dara from Toronto for sending her comments to us.

The Accepting Schools Act, if passed, will bring tougher consequences for bullying and hate-motivated actions. It will require all schools to support students who want to lead activities that promote understanding and respect for all. It will require school boards to develop policies and guidelines that include supports and resources for all students, and it will recognize Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week in legislation to ensure and support existing activities in boards and within the communities, to make it very clear that bullying is not okay.

The proposed Accepting Schools Act is a key component of our government’s plan to make Ontario schools healthy, safe and inclusive learning environments where students feel accepted. Ontario is recognized across jurisdictions and leading the way with aggressive safe school legislation, and I know, Mr. Speaker, that there are many school boards in our province that already have laid strong foundations for this legislation. There are many school boards, including the Durham District School Board—where I sit on the special ed committee of that school board—where they have not just policies in place, but they’ve executed on those, and this legislation will build and strengthen on those, so I’m very proud of that.

Ontario is the first province to require all school staff to report serious student incidents, including bullying, to the principal of the school. But there is more work to do, and that’s why we’re making it law to create safer and more accepting schools for all students. The proposed legislation will provide clear expectations and increased accountability for school boards and bullies, including making expulsion a possible consequence for bullying.

One of the things, Speaker, I like about this bill is that it recognizes all of the key people involved in bullying issues: the bully, the witnesses, the bystanders, the staff—all the people affected—the victims. We speak to supports for everyone involved because we can’t address a serious issue if we don’t have the sufficient supports in place.

And getting back to the member for Trinity–Spadina: Again, I appreciate his supportive comments about the bill, but I do want to assure him that there are enough hows in this bill. We know how to execute this, Speaker, and the bill will build on our efforts over the last six years to prevent bullying and create a very positive school climate. Some of the things include integrating the mental health supports in schools as part of Ontario’s 10-year mental health and addictions strategy, which is very much focused on children in this province, Speaker.

The bill also required the establishment of an Accepting Schools expert panel to give advice on new resources for parents, school staff and other matters and other players involved in the process. The legislation will also provide direction to the curriculum council to report back next year on integrating equity and bullying prevention across the curriculum.

The legislation also provides for public awareness campaigns to remind all Ontarians about the role in preventing bullying. Like all legislation, we can have good legislation but if we don’t communicate it properly, we keep it the best-kept secret—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I just want to say that we have six sidebars going on and it’s very difficult to hear what’s being said. I’d appreciate it if you have any heated conversations that you take them outside. Thank you.

The member, continue.

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: Thank you, Speaker. We are doing more than just telling bullied kids it will get better; we are working together to make it better now.


It is incumbent on each and every one of us to make sure students feel safe, included and welcome in Ontario schools.

If we all think back, most of us have experienced bullying at some point during our school years—some more than others, unfortunately. It does impact people, and it stays with them for life. I remember feeling very intimidated and threatened by someone half my size in height in high school, and I’ll never forget that experience. That is a much more minor example compared to some of the very tragic situations we’ve seen happen in our province. Unfortunately, many suffer in silence for fear of reprisal or for fear of not being supported by their school or their school board. That is why this legislation is so important.

School safety has been a priority for this government from the beginning. That’s why all school boards must have policies and procedures on bullying prevention and intervention. We need to level the playing field more on all the good work that all the school boards have done around promoting safe schools.

Since 2004, this government has invested $285 million in safe schools initiatives. They’re helping make Ontario schools some of the safest in the world. We are very proud that we’re continuing to build on this good work.

If passed, the Accepting Schools Act will create legal obligations for boards to address bullying prevention and early intervention, progressive discipline, and equity and inclusive education. For the very first time, we are defining bullying in legislation so that every student, every teacher, every principal and every parent knows what we’re talking about when we say bullying is not okay in our schools.

I spoke the other day about how it is important that this happen in the school environment. Yes, behaviours and values and ethics start at home, but it is at the school environment where many of us get socialized. That’s where a lot of our learning happens. Research shows that relationships in the school environment have a direct correlation to how students progress into adulthood, how they make important life decisions, how they choose educational paths and so on. So doing this in the school context is very important, very compelling.

One of our greatest strengths is diversity. We believe that all students, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability—all of that—have the right to a safe and positive learning environment.

We’ve talked about the gay-straight alliances, and I just want to comment that under Bill 13, the naming of such groups is not overly prescriptive and provides flexibility, because we know that every school board has its own culture, has its own rhythm. So this bill provides flexibility on a number of fronts.

I want to share some examples of some of the names of gay-straight alliances currently in place. One is Be the Movement, from Campbellford District High School. Another is Anti-Homophobia Alliance, at Victoria Park Collegiate. Another one is Born Equal, Humberview Secondary School; Dialog, at Cardinal Carter Secondary School; Kenora Positive Spaces Alliance, Beaver Brae Secondary School; and YES, which stands for Youth Embracing Sexualities, at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate, which is in my honourable member’s riding of Scarborough–Guildwood and also where my daughter happens to dance, so I’m very familiar with that high school.

Our focus is not on the naming of these clubs, Speaker. The legislation is about making sure kids get the support they need. We’ve hired more staff in schools, more social workers, more attendance counsellors, lunch yard and bus supervisors across the province. I’m very proud of that, and I’m very proud to support this bill.

I strongly encourage all members of the opposition to help us move this forward quickly to committee.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): It being 10:15, this House stands recessed until 10:30 this morning.

The House recessed from 1015 to 1030.


Mr. Ted Arnott: On behalf of the member for Halton, I’m pleased to introduce Janet Mogus, who is the mother of page Emma Mogus, who’s doing a great job representing the riding of Halton.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I’m delighted to introduce to the House James Loney, who’s here for page Seph. Thank you.

Mr. Mario Sergio: As part of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ Queen’s Park day, we have from York University Livy Visano and Mitzi Grace Mitchell, here paying a visit to the House today. Welcome.

Mrs. Julia Munro: I’d ask all members to help me in welcoming the grade 10 students from Holy Trinity High School in Bradford, and their teacher, Maureen Reesor, who will be here shortly.

Ms. Cindy Forster: I’d like to introduce Candy Bell and Mike Dionne, from Port Colborne, and Tom Bell, from Welland. Tom is the grandfather of page Alexander Forgay. Candy and Mike are the aunt and uncle.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Peterborough.


Mr. Jeff Leal: Oh, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Sorry. I’m so excited about Peterborough Day today that you kind of get carried away a bit.

I’d like to introduce Sara Humphreys and Marcus Harvey, who are members of the faculty at Trent University in Peterborough, as part of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations; and a good friend of mine in the Speaker’s east gallery, Jay Amer, from Peterborough. He’s here for Peterborough Day, and he’s president of Amer and Associates.

Mr. John O’Toole: I’m pleased to welcome to the Ontario Legislature agricultural equipment dealers in Ontario: President Beverly Leavitt and Chairperson Keith Stoltz. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’d like to welcome Mario Spagnuolo, the first vice-president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, from my riding of Essex, as well as members in the gallery, Bobbye Baylis, JoAnn Hayes, Theresa Hayes and Patti Hayes, who are here today to pay tribute to Pat Hayes, former member of provincial Parliament for the riding of Essex.

Mr. Kim Craitor: Boy, we’ve got a full house of visitors today. I want to recognize, from the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, who were kind enough to stop by my office, Steve Hawkins. We have Albert Hendriks, who is, by the way, from Welland, so that’s great. We also have Rick Orr. And I want to apologize to one of the guests who’s here; I didn’t get the lady’s business card, but thank you for coming by the office and sharing time with—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Leeds–Grenville.

Mr. Steve Clark: I know we have a number of insurance brokers here today meeting with MPPs. I’d like to give a special welcome to one of my constituents, Brenda Duffy. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Monte Kwinter: As we approach the holiday and festival of Passover, I have guests who have come to present me with the traditional matzoh: Rabbi Yermi Cohen; his father, Chai Cohen; and his son Mendy Cohen. I want to wish them and the total Jewish community, Chag Sameach.

Mr. Michael Harris: I’d like to welcome some special guests today, who are making their way to the members’ gallery. Sarah and our four-week-old son Murphy will be making their inaugural visit, so I’d like to welcome them.

Hon. John Gerretsen: I’d like help welcoming the guests of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. We have with us today the president, Constance Adamson from Queen’s University, as well as Mark Jones from Queen’s University, and Kevin Jaansalu from the Royal Military College of Canada, which is the only military college in Canada.

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I’d like the assembly to recognize Peter Burns. He’s from the great town of Tillsonburg and he’s here today with the insurance brokers.

Mr. Michael Coteau: Joining us today at the Legislative Assembly is a former colleague of mine at the Toronto District School Board, former chair John Campbell.

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: I’d like to introduce Kate Lawson and George Freeman from the University of Waterloo, Judy Bates from Wilfrid Laurier, and Ted McGee from St. Jerome’s University.

Mr. Mike Colle: The IBAO is here, the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario. They’re having a reception in the legislative dining room for everybody at 5 o’clock. I’ve got Greg Robertson, who is a broker in my riding. I went to high school with his father, Ross Robertson. Welcome to Greg Robertson.

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: I’d like to introduce Rick Orr. He’s the owner of Orr Insurance in Stratford—

Interjection: Ornge?

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: Orr Insurance—which was founded in 1895. He is also president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario. Welcome.

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: It’s my pleasure to introduce Connie Guberman, a senior lecturer in the department of women’s studies at the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus, in my riding of Pickering–Scarborough East. She’s here with the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. John O’Toole: I’d like to recognize from my riding Hannah Scott from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and Sara Humphreys and Marcus Harvey from Trent University in Oshawa. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Hon. Linda Jeffrey: I’d like to welcome to the House today David Morrison and his wife, Yzzel Lazgare. They are friends of my legislative assistant, Bill Killorn, and they have just moved here from Spain. Welcome to Ontario.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Regrettably, we have gone well beyond the time allotted for introduction of guests. I will extend that by a short moment by introducing my other brother, Joe Peters, in the gallery today.

We also have with us the delegation for the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario in the Speaker’s gallery. Thank you for being here.

And we also have special guests with us. We have today in the Speaker’s gallery the constitution implementation committee of the Republic of Kenya, led by the High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya to Canada, His Excellency Mr. Simon Nabukwesi. Thank you so much for being with us today. Welcome.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Our delegation is here to study democracy at its best.



Mr. Peter Shurman: I’ll do my best to help. My first question is to the Premier.

Ontario’s job crisis has reached a fever pitch, Premier. You have 600,000 people unemployed. Yet your idea of a jobs strategy is more studies, more reports, more spinning of bureaucratic wheels—like your budget’s so-called jobs council, or handing out millions to companies like WindTronics, only to have them turn around and leave.

Ontario is Canada’s largest province. We have the potential to succeed. You should strive for an environment that creates jobs and economic growth. Instead, you hide behind councils and summits and reports. Now, rather than listing off all the short-term jobs you have subsidized, thought of subsidizing or plan to subsidize, tell us how many jobs this so-called jobs council will actually create. And if you don’t have a direct answer, why are you doing it?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Speaker, the budget creates 170,000 net new jobs with higher incomes on average. Later this morning, I will be sharing with Ontarians—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I apologize to the House. I may have given you the impression that today it’s okay to get loud. The opposite is true. Please.



Hon. Dwight Duncan: Later this morning, I’ll be sharing with Ontarians that fourth quarter GDP grew by 0.5%, an annual rate of 1.8%. We’ve recovered all the jobs, and more, since the recession. Consumer spending is back, economic growth is back, and business investment in machinery and equipment is at an all-time high. It’s time that member starts speaking positively about this great province that’s poised for growth—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Shurman: Go to the head of the class.

Moving on to the next example of empty gestures with no substance, your failed budget also talks about the creation of a productivity summit, but, not unexpectedly, it is silent about any measures that would actually improve productivity. What is clear is that instead of reducing red tape for businesses, this Premier is going to bring in more consultants to tell him what every business in Ontario already knows and has been saying for years: If you want to increase productivity in the province of Ontario, reduce the red tape burden on businesses. It’s that simple.

Will the Premier get his head out of the clouds and adopt the Ontario PC jobs plan that reduces red tape, reduces business taxes and gets people back to work?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Our tax plan for jobs and growth was the greatest reduction in business regulation in Ontario history. That member and his party voted against it. They didn’t listen to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. They didn’t listen to exporters and manufacturers. They didn’t support a major bill in the last session that reduced burdens.

Today, this morning, the CFIB is out with their business barometer, and Ontario is now above the national average. It’s a sign, according to them, that business confidence is coming back. The economy’s growing.

Your plan was a waste. The people of Ontario said no to you. They said yes to this government, and they’re saying yes to a budget that creates 170,000 net new jobs.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Mr. Peter Shurman: That’s one angry man. He doesn’t listen to us; he doesn’t listen to them; he doesn’t listen to the people. It’s amazing that, after eight years at the helm, this Premier continues to rely on consultants to tell him what to do and still continues to fail.

That brings us to the FIT program, which has been nothing short of disastrous. Your feed-in tariff program has caused energy prices to skyrocket, and it has killed jobs in Ontario. The Auditor General stated that for every green job created, we lose up to four jobs in the general economy. That means you have actually killed as many as 80,000 jobs in Ontario with the FIT program alone.

Premier, how many people need to lose their jobs before you stop pushing this failed pet project? Are you too politically motivated to accept its failure, or do you simply not care about the damage?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Pure fiction, Mr. Speaker. Ontario’s green energy policies have created, so far, 20,000 net new jobs.

The member opposite may want to refer to one-off announcements. Well, let me tell you about some one-off announcements. Last week alone: Toyota, an $80-million investment in Woodstock, with 400 new jobs. That’s not a one-off; that’s impressive growth from a big company. The Ford Motor Co. is adding a third shift to the Essex engine plant to build the Ford F-150—100 new jobs. That’s not a one-off; that’s confidence in the future of Ontario. And General Motors: $245 million in St. Catharines, 300 new jobs—that’s not a one-off. That’s confidence in Ontario, confidence in the working people of this province, confidence in our—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock, please.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please.

New question.


Mr. Peter Shurman: My question is back to the Premier. If your goal was to produce a budget that was heavy on rhetoric and light on action, then congratulations; you have succeeded. That’s correct: 57 times you used the word “review”; 26 times you used the word “consult”; 17 times you used the word “explore”; 17 times you used the word “consider.” It is no wonder that your ministers don’t have time to do anything; they’re all too busy talking.

The one thing you don’t seem to consider in this budget is actually doing something. We have a recommendation. Will you finally adopt our jobs plan and actually get Ontarians working again?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Finance.

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Their job plan is to hire poll clerks and DROs and force an unnecessary election. We reject that. They want an election. They forget that their so-called jobs plan, their Changebook, was rejected by the people of Ontario only six short months ago. So, no, we don’t accept your job plan for more poll clerks, more DROs, more election workers.

We need a steady hand at this time as the Ontario economy is beginning to grow and get back on its feet. We reject your jobs plan for poll clerks and DROs. We’re going to stand and implement this budget, which has been embraced by most major business and economic groups in Ontario, and I’ll share quotes with the member after. No more poll—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Peter Shurman: I’ve got a new plank for the jobs plan: That minister should step down. Premier, Minister, it is clear that the phrase “in-action” is lost on you; it sure doesn’t figure prominently in the budget. Twenty-four times, you used the word “negotiate”; 27 times, you used the word “encourage”; 17 times, you used the word “facilitate”; 14 times, you used the word “discuss.”

The time for talk is long over. Negotiations have ended. Discussions are done. Forget the blustering. Everyone knows what you refuse to accept: We need action; we need it now. Will this Premier do what’s right? Will he do what’s necessary? Will he abandon this weak budget and adopt the Ontario PC plan that will put people back to work?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: Here’s what Janet Ecker said: “...the government is making ... tough” and “necessary choices.” Here’s what the DBRS credit rating agency said: “Overall, DBRS views the continuation of the fiscal recovery plan and the increasing emphasis on cost containment as an encouraging step in the right direction.” Here’s what Mary Webb, the senior economist at Scotiabank, said: “The challenge for this government in this budget was to provide a credible repair plan, and so it has. It has provided a broad-based plan—detailed, strategic—that they hope will keep them on the deficit reduction track even with more moderate growth.”

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite wants to force an election. He wants all of us to resign. We don’t want to do that. We want to build a better and stronger future for all Ontarians. I urge him to quit playing—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Final supplementary.

Mr. Peter Shurman: Don’t you dare, Minister, pin an election on us. Take responsibility yourself. Premier—


Mr. Peter Shurman: Premier, we’ve been talking about job creation, but all we’ve heard from that end is just—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): My observation—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. My observation is that we have people yelling at each other across the floor not even associated with the questioner or the answerer. I am asking for your attention, please.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member from York, again, when I’m speaking—thank you.

Final supplementary.

Mr. Peter Shurman: We’ve been talking about job creation for a very long time. All we get is rhetoric. Ontario has been hearing that stuff for years. Meanwhile, between the failed FIT program and the lack of a jobs strategy, energy prices skyrocket, and 600,000 people remain out of work. Your government continues to do nothing. You refuse to admit your mistake and back away from the failed FIT program. You ignore calls for action to help the 600,000 people unemployed—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

Minister of Finance.


Hon. Dwight Duncan: Since June 2009, Ontario has created more jobs than all the provinces combined. We have recovered more jobs with higher incomes since the depression. Employment is above pre-recession levels. Consumer investment is above; business investment is above. Ontario is absolutely on the right track to getting back to strength, to continuing to build our economy.

As to an election, Mr. Speaker, I’m afraid that member and his leader pinned the tail on themselves. They put themselves in a corner where they wouldn’t negotiate, they wouldn’t talk, they wouldn’t offer constructive ideas; instead they walked out. They want an election, aided and abetted by their friends in Ottawa. Mr. Speaker, we don’t want an election—

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: Oh, did you hear that, Speaker?

Hon. Dwight Duncan: As to that, I hope the member from Ottawa will call her colleagues in the federal government—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Premier. Yesterday, the Premier said he’d keep an open mind regarding constructive proposals. Later that day, Speaker, we made some, and almost immediately the election sabres began to rattle.

Can the Premier assure us that he’s willing to work with other parties to make this minority government work?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, I think I’ve expressed that sincere intention from the outset. I say to my honourable colleague that we welcome any proposal that she might put forward, but our preference—and I believe this is in the public interest—is that we receive that in its entirety and that we not receive a series of demands.

I would also argue that it’s in the interests of a better working relationship that we not learn about these proposals through the media.

I also say, Speaker, I am concerned about additional costs that could be found in the series of—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): This is not the moment to make comments when I am getting things quiet.

Interjection: Especially not the Deputy Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): That includes the person that just spoke—not helpful.


Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, I say again to my honourable colleague that we welcome proposals. Our preference is that we receive a proposal in its entirety, rather than a series of demands. It’s important that we measure the fiscal consequence of a package in its entirety. I say again to my honourable colleague, we’re very concerned about any new costs.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, as the Premier knows, we have been hearing from everyday Ontarians, and they understand that the province is facing some very challenging times. But families are facing challenging times, too, and the crisis in the household budget affects the bottom line here at Queen’s Park.

Yesterday, we did put forward some serious ideas to generate revenue, as well as ease the burden on household budgets. Is the Premier ready to consider measures that would ask for a little bit more from Ontario’s highest earners to give families a bit of a break?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, I say to my honourable colleague—I remind my honourable colleague—that we’ve asked wealthier Ontarians to pay more for their prescription medications, seniors in particular; that was part of our budget.

Again, I say to my honourable colleague I’m not prepared to consider one-offs. I think it’s really important, and I think it’s in the public interest, that we receive the proposal in its entirety so that we can give it due regard and, in fact, measure the fiscal consequences of any particular package. So I would encourage my honourable colleague to tell us, in a more fulsome way, what it is that she would like to put to us by way of a substantive proposal.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Well, Speaker, I understand that the Premier has a desire for us to give him proposals, and we’re going to continue to do that. We’re looking forward to doing that.

I understand also, Speaker, that the Premier has made some comments about wanting to avoid any new taxes. But more and more people are saying that those who make a lot more can actually pay a little more, especially in tough times. In the US, President Obama recently asked, “Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates—people who don’t need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure?”

Speaker, I ask the question to the Premier because it’s a good question. What does he think about this kind of approach?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, I would caution my honourable colleague—we have a different taxation system here in Canada and in Ontario, and, I would argue, Speaker, it is much more fair in terms of the way that we tax people across the income spectrums. I think it’s much more progressive, Speaker, and the fact of the matter is that the income gap between our lowest earners and highest earners is not nearly as extreme as it is to be found in the United States.

I again say to my honourable colleague, if she has an intention to submit proposals to us, we’d like to see the package in its entirety so that we can give it due regard.


Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, perhaps the Premier just didn’t realize, but the income gap in Ontario and in Canada is growing at a faster rate than that in the United States. I think that’s important for him to know. And it’s not progressive at all to have a budget that asks people at the top not to contribute at all to the pain at the bottom, Speaker, which is what the Liberals brought forward.

There’s no doubt that the Premier asked a lot from families in his budget. I’d urge him really to consider that the families are the people who need a break in these tough times, and he has to think about those who can do more during these tough times. If the Premier was willing to slap an unfair HST and a regressive health tax on everyday Ontarians in his budgets in the past, shouldn’t he consider this time asking the province’s millionaires and multimillionaires to pay a little bit more to help families in tough times?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, again, I would argue that our budget is, in fact, making the right choices. It’s fair and it’s balanced.

Just so we understand, Speaker, about where it is we are in terms of increases in program spending over the course of the next three years: For education, it’s going to go up 1.7% a year for three years; post-secondary education, 1.9%; health care, 2.1%. And I think this is very important, because I don’t think most Ontarians are aware of this: The single greatest increase is for social services, at 2.7%.

Again, I say to my honourable colleagues in the NDP, I would like to think that they would see some of themselves in those numbers, Speaker. It’s been said that a budget is more than just an economic statement, it’s a statement of our values. We’ve attached the highest value, Speaker—in fact, 2.7%—to funding social services here in Ontario.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, I think everyone agrees that no budget could be perfect, and I’m hoping that the Premier keeps an open mind and listens to people; for example, like Don from the Sudbury region. Don writes this: “If the Ontario government is going after the average guy, while executives with premium pay packages to begin with are off scot-free, this is not fair. Austerity should be shared by all.” What does the Premier say to people like Don?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, my honourable colleague knows that there are provisions in here that address executive compensation in a very specific way. We’ll freeze them for another couple of years. I say, and I think we’ve been pretty clear on this, Speaker, if my honourable colleague has any specific proposals related to that, we’d be very pleased to receive those.

But again, I think the best way for us to move forward on this is to receive the package in its entirety so that we can properly consider it, rather than a series of independent proposals or demands. I think what we owe to Ontarians is careful consideration of any proposal that we receive, and so we look forward to receiving the package in its entirety.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Leslie from Oakville says the following: “The deficit should be borne by those that can shoulder it, not the most vulnerable.”

Speaker, people are scrambling right now and they’re struggling through tough times, and they’re worried that this budget is going to make their lives even harder instead of helping them prepare for the future. They don’t want to see politicians drawing lines in the sand, but they do want to be heard. Can they count on this Premier to keep an open mind and to be open to solutions that could make this budget a little more fair?


Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, we remain open and, as I say, we look forward to a full package of proposals that my honourable colleague would like to put forward. But the fact of the matter is, Speaker, that when we have the tremendous honour and privilege of sitting on your right-hand side, we bear a heavy responsibility. We have done everything we could to make sure that this budget is informed by the right choices and informed by values that Ontarians share. We protect our schools, we protect our health care, we commit ourselves to balancing by 2017-18 and we commit ourselves to laying a stronger foundation for new jobs and new growth.

So I say to my honourable colleague, we’re going to look very carefully at any costs associated with the measures that she is putting forward. I said that before, Speaker; I’ll say it again. Having said that, I look forward to receiving a full package of proposals.


Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Premier. The Auditor General said that what he saw going on at Ornge and the lack of oversight by the Ministry of Health didn’t pass the smell test. His nose told him that.

Well, the stench got worse this morning when the member from Willowdale brought it into the hearing room. Not one witness was able to come forward to give testimony this morning because of the member’s stalling tactics. Now, we’re told that he was put up to it by the political operatives in the Premier’s office. What I would like to know from the Premier is, what is it that they’re trying to hide on behalf of the Premier? Will the Premier tell us why the stalling tactics to keep witnesses from coming forward?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. Order. Thank you.

Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I think it’s important that we review the facts of what happened this morning. I think all members of the House recognize the fact that the public accounts committee has a right to look into the Ornge investigation. In fact, members from all parties have given it the mandate to do that.

At the same time, we recognize there is an OPP investigation into Ornge. We also recognize the fact that witnesses before the committee have been asked to swear an oath. As a result of that, with the advice of the clerk, the committee agreed to hire counsel for the committee to respect the OPP investigation and to protect witnesses under oath.

This morning there was discussion in the committee brought forward by members of all parties on how we can best use the counsel to protect the investigation and protect—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: It was a pure stalling tactic on the part of the government, Speaker. That counsel was hired on Monday. If in fact what they wanted was to have discussion with counsel, every member of the committee would have been willing to meet with that counsel 24 hours from the time that she was appointed, which would have taken us to last night. The fact of the matter is, this has nothing to do with consultation with counsel. It has everything to do with obstruction of the work of that committee.

I want to know from the Premier, will he interfere? Will he step up and will he appoint a select committee of the Legislature, that this Legislature expressed its will to have, so that we can get on with the business of getting to the bottom of what happened at Ornge?

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, yet again we encounter the double standard. For weeks we have heard from the opposition about the protection of witnesses, about witnesses needing to come forward and feel that they have the proper protection in front of the committee.

We went to great lengths today to make sure that the counsel was being properly used by the committee. Mr. Speaker, do you know what the member from Newmarket–Aurora did? He put forward a motion to have the counsel fired. That is the double standard of the opposition. They don’t want the protection for witnesses, they don’t want the protection for committee and to protect a very serious OPP investigation.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order. Thank you.

New question.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I do not have the capacity to name individuals in what I heard—I’m sorry, I don’t mean “name”; I mean, “identify” members who were saying those words that were unparliamentary. I would count on each member’s dignity to withdraw that and not to use it again.

New question.


Mr. Jagmeet Singh: My question is to the Premier. Liberal MPPs went out of their way this morning to delay a committee looking into Ornge, just as the former Minister of Health and other government officials were about to testify. Did the Premier’s office direct his MPPs to stall the committee and delay a key witness from testifying about the Ornge scandal?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. John Milloy: Once again, let’s look at the facts.

I think every member of this House recognizes that there is an important OPP investigation going on into the Ornge situation at the same time as hearings are happening in front of public accounts.

There is precedent in this Legislature to have a counsel at the committee to help witnesses who are, for the first time in many years, under oath and to make sure that we do not jeopardize the OPP investigation.

Efforts were made this morning to ensure that the counsel’s role was properly defined and that the counsel was made available to all members, and all the opposition could do was put forward a motion to see that counsel fired—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member for Peterborough, come to order. He’s answering the question.

Hon. John Milloy: —in the case of very, very important deliberations which, as I say, could potentially impact an OPP investigation. What went on this morning was the responsible protection of the committee’s work as well as the OPP investigation.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Jagmeet Singh: Again, my question is to the Premier. There’s little doubt that these delay tactics were indeed intentional, and knowing the heavy-handed reputation of the Office of the Premier, we all know what’s going on here. Why are the McGuinty Liberals obstructing this committee from getting to the truth of what happened at Ornge, and why is the Premier’s office stalling this investigation?

Hon. John Milloy: Again, a double standard. We have heard for weeks that we need a committee process to look into the Ornge situation which protects witnesses. We’ve heard for weeks about the OPP investigation.

There is a strong parliamentary tradition that when a standing committee is looking into a matter which is at the same time being investigated by the police, measures are taken to make sure that there is no interference. That is why a counsel was hired, and that is why we spent this morning trying to define a proper role for the counsel.

The only thing that that member’s party could do was support the member from Newmarket–Aurora, who tried to fire the counsel who was offering support to that—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. New question.


Ms. Soo Wong: My question is for the Minister of Energy. Minister, Ontario’s electricity agencies play an integral role in the production of Ontario’s electricity supply, as well as the management and planning of our electricity system. In these uncertain economic times, it is vital that all of our agencies, including those in the electricity sector, are operating in an efficient manner. I know that my constituents in Scarborough–Agincourt want their electricity agencies to maintain reliability in the system while at the same time managing costs.

Minister, can you please tell the House what is being done to ensure that our electricity agencies are being run as efficiently as possible without sacrificing the reliability of the system?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: The member for Scarborough–Agincourt is absolutely right. The energy agencies in Ontario have been taking us from the brownouts that we inherited in 2003 to making sure that we have a very reliable system, from the aging infrastructure to a more modern system, and they’ve been doing it in a way that’s taking costs out of the system in order to best manage the rates.

I’ll give you a few examples. Ontario Power Generation has launched an initiative to take $600 million out of their operating costs over the next four years. The independent electricity operator has been reducing its cost by $23 million over the past seven years, and it’s a very, very small agency. The Ontario Power Authority has improved their efficiency by reducing their budget by 4.1%. All of this is in contrast to where the last party, the party opposite, left us, which, in seven months, after they blew up Ontario Hydro, saw hydro rates go up 30% in seven months—their failed experiment.


We’re repairing the system, improving the infrastructure and helping to manage the costs over the long term.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Soo Wong: Thank you, Minister. I’m glad to see that in these difficult economic times, you’re ensuring that Ontario ratepayers are protected.

I know that Hydro One has been at the forefront of our efforts to rebuild the dirty, outdated and unreliable energy system we inherited from the opposition in 2003. Last week, Minister, you informed the House that Hydro One has replaced over 5,000 kilometres of transmission lines. That is an impressive accomplishment.

Minister, can you please share with the House some of the cost-saving measures Hydro One has taken to protect ratepayers, while at the same time making the needed upgrades and investments to our energy system?

Hon. Christopher Bentley: The member is right, once again: We started in 2003 with the brownouts, with the dirty coal and with infrastructure that had not been upgraded as it should be for many, many years.

So Hydro One has been working really hard: 5,000 kilometres of wire—that takes you from here to the Yukon, to Whitehorse—being upgraded and new wire. That ensures reliability. But what else are they doing? They’ve taken almost $200 million in costs out of their operation over the past couple of years alone—$200 million. They’ve managed to reduce rates below what they otherwise would have been.

And they’re doing something else: They’re improving and upgrading the infrastructure from the old technology that they were left with in 2003. They have been investing on behalf of the people to have a modern, reliable, up-to-date system for today and for the future. That’s the responsible way to go.


Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: My question is for the Premier. This morning, we saw a shameful attempt by this Liberal government to do everything they can to obstruct and delay the investigation into Ornge, and they used Mr. Zimmer to do so. This is on top of all of the other tactics. Now, when Mr. Zimmer was asked to explain if all the dodging and delaying was to protect the Premier, he got visibly upset and he stammered out, “No, no, no.”

My question to the Premier today: Is this to protect the Premier and this government?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Stop the clock. I’d like to make a comment. First, as is the convention in this place, we reference people’s ridings, please, and second of all—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member will withdraw that comment.

Interjection: I’ll withdraw that, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. I do understand—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Renfrew will come to order, please.

I understand that there are things being said back and forth that I may not pick up, and it’s because the members have decided to yell back and forth. Even when I’m standing beside people here, there are times where I cannot hear, and that’s not conducive to this place being able to conduct its business, particularly mine, where I’m supposed to hear things that are going on in this House. If I can’t hear them, I can’t respond or react to them. So I’m asking you—this is a very serious situation that we’re talking about, and I acknowledge that, but let’s keep the language down in terms of the volume, and let’s let each other ask and answer the questions appropriately.


Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. John Milloy: I don’t think there’s any member of this House who would disagree with the fact that the situation at Ornge is a very serious one. We have had questions in this House. We have a committee which is looking into it. We have an OPP investigation. We had a detailed Auditor General’s report coming forward.

The list of witnesses that have been put together is a very robust list. Those witnesses are being asked to appear under oath. We don’t know for sure, but some of those witnesses may be part—their testimony may in fact impact on an OPP investigation.

The only responsible course, as has been the precedent for other committees of this Legislature, is to have a counsel that has been appointed. This morning, with the help of government members, there was discussion at the committee about the—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: Well, Mr. Speaker, I’m going to try the Premier again, but I would say that the exercise this morning was insulting to counsel. She was quite aware of her responsibilities and was prepared to exercise them appropriately.

But let’s get back to who was in that room this morning. Who was sent to the committee? The director of legislative affairs to the Premier, the chief of staff to the House leader, two media specialists, senior Liberal caucus researcher, senior adviser to the House leader. I ask the Premier today, what is behind this attempt to delay and obstruct the work of the committee from getting to the truth? Why will you not be held accountable? What are you trying to hide?


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, we are not in the habit of setting up—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order, please.

Hon. John Milloy: We are not in the habit of setting up political witch hunts or kangaroo courts. We have respect for the standing committees of this Legislature, which are looking into a matter which is also the subject of an OPP investigation.

What was truly shocking this morning was when the member from Newmarket–Aurora attempted to fire the counsel that had been retained by the committee. This is a serious investigation by the public accounts committee, and we need to ensure that both the OPP investigation and witnesses before that committee receive the consideration, receive the protection that is due to them.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: My question is to the Premier. It should come as no surprise to the Premier that there are ongoing questions about the credibility of his health minister. Asked on March 21 whether there were red flags in the January 2011 letter, the Minister of Health said, “Yes, of course.” But by March 28, the minister denied seeing any issues at all. On February 29, she said, “We fired the board and have replaced them.” But last week, the minister said the board voluntarily resigned. Does the Premier agree that the credibility of his health minister is quickly fading?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Health.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I think the Auditor General himself has acknowledged that we took concrete, substantive action when we became aware of the problems at Ornge. In fact, even the member from Newmarket–Aurora described us as taking very aggressive action.

The point is, when we became aware that there was a problem at Ornge, I acted. We do have a completely new board at Ornge, we have completely new leadership at Ornge and that new team at Ornge is making a profound difference for the operations at Ornge. Their first focus is patient safety. They’re making a demonstrable difference on patient safety. They are winding down the for-profits. Some are already wound down; others are in the process of being wound down. We have a new performance agreement, and I’ve introduced legislation. I think the people in this province expected me to take action, and I did that.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: When faced with some tough questions about why the health minister didn’t respond to the obvious red flags, the government blamed the opposition MPPs and has even called into question the integrity of the Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Why is the Premier blaming everyone else but his own health minister?

Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. John Milloy: The Minister of Health has had an opportunity to appear in front of the public accounts committee. She was asked for an hour; she in fact spent two and a half hours there. She talked about the action that she took to address this situation.

At the same time, there have been questions raised from the opposition about the so-called red flags. The government has put forward a series of motions wanting to hear from opposition members who had meetings with Ornge, who received detailed written briefings from Ornge. The Chair of the committee had a two-hour tour of Ornge, accompanied by a very prominent Conservative lobbyist who is in fact part of the opposition leader’s campaign.

Mr. Speaker, I think, again—we cannot be held to a double standard here. If questions are about what red flags were on the government side, it’s equally legitimate for the government to ask what were the red flags on the opposition side.



Mr. Grant Crack: My question is to the Minister of Government Services. In our budget of 2009, the government committed to reducing the size of the Ontario public service by 5%. We made this commitment to streamline government services and to help balance the budget.

Can the minister please update us on how the government is doing in reaching that target?

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: I want to thank the member for Glengarry–Prescott–Russell. Our government is absolutely committed to balancing the budget. We had to make hard but right choices, and one of those choices is to reduce the size of the Ontario public service. It’s never easy to reduce that size, but I’m very, very pleased to inform the House that as of March 31, 2011, we have met our target of—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, come to order.

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: We have done so through attrition and also managing of our vacancies in the Ontario public service.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Grant Crack: It’s nice to be able to ask a question and not be heckled from the other side.

I’m happy to hear that the government has achieved our target of 5% reduction in the Ontario public service. In the budget of 2011, our government committed to a further 2% reduction in the Ontario public service by 2014.

Can the minister tell us if the government is still on track to meeting this target and if we can expect to see these reductions affecting services that Ontarians have come to rely on?

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: I want to thank the member again for asking the question.

The Ontario public service provides very important service to Ontarians on a daily basis, and I am very proud of our Ontario public service. But we do have a target to reduce our Ontario public service by 2% as we go on further. In this budget, we have been able to identify that two thirds of the target that we have set for ourselves will be met through the reduction in this budget.

We will work with our Ontario public service to identify the other opportunities—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order, please.

Hon. Harinder S. Takhar: —so we can balance the budget by 2017-18.


Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Premier. The government House leader continues to use as an excuse the fact that there is an OPP investigation going on into the scandal at Ornge for the delay tactics that his backbenchers are using at the public accounts committee.

I want to remind the House leader and the Premier that in the federal Liberals’ Adscam scandal there were three things going on at the same time. The public accounts review of Sheila Fraser’s report was going on, an RCMP investigation was going on, and eventually a full public inquiry, the Gomery commission, was going on.

Members here know full well what the parameters of our investigation are. Will the Premier call off those obstructionist tactics and let us get on with the business of—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.


Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members of the House that the government members voted—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): This is the example I was talking to you about. I’m standing right here, and I can’t hear.


Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the members of the House—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member from Renfrew will now come to order.

Hon. John Milloy: I would like to remind—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): And York.

Hon. John Milloy: I would like to remind members of the House that the government side voted to have the public accounts committee look into the Ornge situation. We have begun hearings. This is a very serious matter because of the fact that there is an OPP investigation. No one has suggested that we not have hearings, but we suggest that we follow the proper procedures so that the investigation is protected.

I would also point out that the recommendation to have counsel to the committee came from the clerk of the committee, and the honourable member was undermining the recommendation of the clerk when he moved a motion to have counsel fired. We do not want a kangaroo court. We want to get to the bottom of this in a way—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mr. Frank Klees: Well, Mr. Speaker, surely the government House leader is embarrassed by having to recite those speaking lines that he’s been given by the Premier’s office. We were fully in support of having counsel. That was a decision made by the committee itself. What we oppose is the member from Willowdale using that counsel to obstruct the work of the committee. That is why I passed a motion to say, let’s get rid of the counsel for now; let’s have that same counsel attend at the select committee of the Legislature that was voted for by this House, because that is what we need to get to the bottom of this mess.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Be seated, please. Thank you.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I am just flabbergasted by the double standard—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): If anyone wonders if there is a moment when I do get a little frustrated, this is it.


Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, I’m quite frankly flabbergasted by the double standard of this member. He stands up here day after day doing his best Perry Mason impersonation, talking about the seriousness of the Ornge situation. We agree it is serious. It is particularly serious because the Ontario Provincial Police are also looking into the matter.

We want counsel. We want counsel that is properly protecting witnesses and protecting the work of the committee. There are precedents for this. Both the Gigantes and Martel hearings had counsel. That counsel’s role was properly defined. Mr. Speaker, the action that was taken this morning by the member to have the counsel fired was reprehensible.


Mr. Gilles Bisson: My question is to the Premier. Premier, you’ll know that there was a tragic fatality in Timmins this week with the death of a miner at Lake Shore Gold. Unfortunately, it follows on the step of a whole bunch of other tragedies in communities like Sudbury and other communities across Ontario that are in the mining business. We have an Occupational Health and Safety Act that was created some 30 years ago, and you know that the Steelworkers have asked for a review of that act so that we can take a look at what the coroners’ inquests have done in each of those deaths, look at the trends to see what changes we can make to the Occupational Health and Safety Act so that we can make our workplaces safer.

Premier, I’m asking you today, will you start such a review?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I thank the member for Timmins–James Bay for his question. Premier?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Labour.

Hon. Linda Jeffrey: My thoughts certainly go out to the family and the co-workers of the worker who was killed in that tragic accident. I can’t imagine how difficult the situation is for the family of that young worker. No one in this province should go to work in the morning and be fearful that they won’t return home safely. That’s why my ministry is committed to working to improve health and safety in Ontario mines and workplaces across this province.

As a Ministry of Labour investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the specifics of this case, but what I can say is that the investigation will be thorough and comprehensive, because I believe that’s what the family members of the deceased worker expect, and that’s what we’re going to do. While the mining industry is fundamentally a very dangerous and hazardous activity, the ministry has achieved some of the lowest injury rates in the province. But every injury or fatality is one too many.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Minister, I agree that one injury is way too many and one fatality is way too many, but nobody here is asking you to interfere with the investigation of the tragedy that happened this week. What we’re saying is that, over the last 30 years, there’s a body of knowledge that has been created by coroners’ inquests that have investigated the deaths in mining in Ontario. What we’re asking and what the Steelworkers and the families are asking for is that we look at that body of information so that we can take a look at how we can improve the Occupational Health and Safety Act so that workers going to work tomorrow will know that it is a safer place.

I ask you again, Minister—I’m not asking you to comment on this investigation. I’m asking, will you undertake a commitment to do a review of the Occupational Health and Safety Act by looking at those coroners’ inquests that have already been done so that we can strengthen health and safety in this province and, hopefully, prevent these types of tragedies from happening again?


Hon. Linda Jeffrey: I appreciate the passion of the member. Certainly, we continue to work to bring forward new regulations to improve health and safety. Back in January of this year, we brought several changes that came into force that aim to improve and update training requirements, more occupational noise limits and improve exposure requirements.

We want to work with the industry, with labour, to strike a balance between ensuring compliance and helping workplaces achieve healthy and safe environments.

We also make the mining industry a priority in doing health and safety blitzes. Last year alone, we visited 180 mining workplaces, and since 2009 we’ve visited 5,000.

We want the same thing: to make sure that every worker who goes to work in the morning comes home safe and sound. Certainly we have now a chief prevention officer who’s working quickly with our enforcement division to find new and better ways to reach employers and workers.

But our work is not done. Our ministry will continue to work hard every day to make workers safer—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.


Ms. Helena Jaczek: My question is for the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. My constituents in Oak Ridges–Markham have heard a lot about our budget tabled last week, but they haven’t heard much about how our plan will impact law enforcement.

Although everyone has concerns about their own and their family’s safety, most people in York region recognize that crime is on the decline in our community and that Ontario is now the safest province in Canada, and I’m sure we all want to keep it that way.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, what measures will your ministry be taking to keep our community safe, and have you explored other means to find efficiencies, given our fiscal situation?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: First of all, I want to thank the member from Oak Ridges–Markham for a very good question.

Thankfully, we have found other ways to achieve savings. Our budget includes a plan for 100 civilians to perform data entry, which would otherwise be conducted by OPP officers. It is estimated that every one civilian frees up the equivalent of 2.5 front-line officers’ time, so that means 250 more OPP officers will be spending more time providing front-line police services. This will create 100 good-paying jobs for Ontarians, so an increase in job creation, and reduce police officer overtime.

This plan, along with all the other budget components, benefits the province of Ontario. The opposition should put the interests of Ontarians ahead of their own political interests and work with us to move our five-year plan.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Supplementary?

Ms. Helena Jaczek: My constituents in Oak Ridges–Markham, like most Ontarians, realize salaries and overtime make up the bulk of public sector expenses, including the OPP budget, and it appears the civilian data entry plan is a start to making everyday operations more cost-effective. However, other costly items for this service include the equipment the OPP needs on a daily basis, especially things like patrol vehicles. The fleet must be a great expense, with the maintenance costs for everyday wear and tear and the frequent turnover of vehicles in order to meet replacement targets.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, is there a plan to reduce the cost of the OPP patrol vehicle fleet?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Good question. As part of our ongoing efforts to find efficiencies and cost savings, my ministry is looking at potentially raising the kilometre threshold for replacing OPP vehicles. The recent advancements in vehicle technology, engineering and warranties have enabled OPP fleet vehicles to stay on the road longer while ensuring our police officer safety.

The McGuinty government is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Ontarians. We are also committed to balancing our budget by 2017-18, and we are on track.

This budget is about choices, to eliminate the deficit, create jobs and protect the gains we have made in education and health care. It will take all of us together to achieve those goals through our five-year plan for the budget.


Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: To the Premier: It’s become clear that the Liberal delay tactics at the public accounts hearing into Ornge are to protect the Premier and those in his office. On the witness list today was George Smitherman, the same George Smitherman the Premier protected during the eHealth scandal. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, what is the Premier trying to hide by preventing George Smitherman from testifying under oath today?

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: To the Minister of Community and Social Services.

Hon. John Milloy: I think the answer to the question is the question itself. Mr. Smitherman was asked to appear in front of the committee under oath, as were all witnesses asked to appear, in a situation when we have an ongoing OPP investigation.

I think most members, if not all members, would agree that it would be prudent to have counsel there to advise witnesses and advise the committee so that this very serious discussion, these very serious testimonies are protected, so that members are protected. But instead, the member from Newmarket–Aurora—and I read the motion he put forward. He said, “That the Standing Committee on Public Accounts direct the clerk of the committee to dismiss legal counsel retained to provide advice to the committee.”

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary?

Mrs. Elizabeth Witmer: Well, I’ll go to the Premier again. It’s becoming more and more obvious when you take a look at the other witnesses who were to be there today that they also are very close to the Premier. We had Jamison Steeve, the Premier’s principal secretary, and we had Cathy Worden, one of his senior advisers. They were there. You’ve been trying to avoid them from appearing because of your delay tactics today.

My question would be, why are you delaying getting to the truth and avoiding the appearance of these witnesses?

Hon. John Milloy: We are not cavalier about the rights of all witnesses. We are not cavalier—


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Order.

Mr. John O’Toole: What are they covering?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Member from Durham, come to order, please.

Government House leader.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, we are not cavalier about the rights of witnesses. We are not cavalier about an OPP investigation. I know the member would never want to suggest that we should somehow undermine an OPP investigation or undermine the rights of the witness. That is why, on the advice of the clerk, we supported the appointment of a legal counsel to the committee, and the discussions this morning were on how that counsel could best serve the members of the committee—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you.

New question. The member from—Nickel Belt.


Mme France Gélinas: Very good, Mr. Speaker. Ma question est pour le premier ministre. J’ai eu récemment l’occasion de rencontrer les membres de l’ACFO de Durham-Peterborough. Ils sont venus me voir pour parler de la désignation de la ville d’Oshawa et de la région de Durham comme région désignée sous la Loi sur les services en français. Je ne vous apprendrai rien, monsieur le Premier Ministre, en vous disant qu’il y a beaucoup de francophones qui demeurent dans la région de Durham. Cette région dépassera bientôt les 40 000 francophones et ils ont une demande bien ficelée qui vous a été faite à votre gouvernement. Combien de temps encore devront-ils attendre?

L’hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Alors, je veux—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The minister responsible for francophone affairs—Premier.

Hon. Dalton McGuinty: Speaker, to the minister.

L’hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Sorry, I was too quick.

Je veux remercier la députée de Nickel Belt pour sa question et aussi son appui à la francophonie en Ontario. Oui, j’ai reçu des demandes de trois différentes régions qui veulent avoir la désignation. Alors, on est en période de consultation. On a rencontré les députés de l’opposition pour expliquer la demande et le processus va suivre son cours. Merci.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I’m looking around and seeing smiles, so I’ll just carry on.


Mme France Gélinas: Merci, monsieur le Président. Je dois dire que cette demande de désignation est vraiment bien soutenue. Que l’on parle au député d’Oshawa ou à la députée de Whitby–Oshawa, ou même à la députée de Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, ils ont tous écrit en faveur de cette demande de désignation.

J’ai eu l’occasion de parler avec M. Robert Fillion. M. Fillion fait partie de l’ACFO de la région depuis 30 ans. Ça fait 30 ans que ces gens-là travaillent et veulent aller de l’avant pour promouvoir les services en français dans leur région.

J’ai également eu l’occasion de parler à la présidente, Mme Sylvie Landry, et au vice-président, M. André Savard. On a un groupe de francophones engagés qui ont fait beaucoup de travail sur le terrain. Il n’y a aucune opposition. Les gens sont prêts. Combien de temps encore devra-t-on attendre avant d’avoir la région de Durham désignée?

L’hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Sous les deux gouvernements précédents, il y avait une procédure qui était très laborieuse, c’est-à-dire qu’on devait avoir 10 % de la communauté qui parlait français, ou 5 000 dans une autre communauté.

Ce qu’on a fait avec la région de Kingston, c’est que, lorsque les francophones veulent avoir la désignation, ce qu’on leur demande est de demander à leur député provincial, fédéral et à d’autres politiciens dans leur région pour voir s’ils approuvent la demande. Ensuite, nous poursuivons ça. Alors, nous avons facilité cette procédure.

Oui, on est en consultation. Ce n’est pas tous les députés qui ont envoyé une lettre appuyant la demande; ils nous ont envoyé une lettre, mais pas appuyant la demande. Alors, on demande l’appui des députés et ensuite on va procéder.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): In the gallery today, we have an outstanding member in the 30th, 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Parliaments: the member from Algoma, Bud Wildman.

The member from Mississauga East–Cooksville on a point of order.

Ms. Dipika Damerla: I’d like to introduce some very special guests today. I have over here Kurt Uriarte, who is the VP of Peel region for ETFO, and who was very helpful during my campaign; as well, Catherine Soplet and Jyothi Makam, who also volunteered during my campaign, and—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. We welcome our guests.

I will use this time as a reminder that we are introducing guests, and introducing guests only.

There are no deferred votes. This House stands recessed until 3 p.m. this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1142 to 1500.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: Mr. Speaker, I have quite a long list of guests that are here today to pay tribute to Pat Hayes. If you will indulge me, I’ll try to get through them as quickly as possible: Rose Claire Hayes, Michael Hayes, Johanne Beaudoin, David Hayes, James Hayes, Steven Hayes, Matthew Beaudoin-Hayes, Cameron Beaudoin-Hayes, Connor Sunderland, Melissa Hayes, Ella Hayes, Dorothy Hayes, Gloria Reaume, James Reaume, Marilyn Craig, Nancy McCoy, Jack McCoy, Peter Hayes, Bill Hayes, Bea Hayes, JoAnn Hayes, Theresa Hayes, Elizabeth Hayes, Paige Hayes, Dawn Marie St. Louis, Amanda St. Louis, David St. Louis, Terry St. Louis, Sherry Drouillard, Shania Drouillard, Jessica McCoy, Lennie Craig, Julie Craig, Brendan Craig, Josh Craig, Kim Verbeek, Steve Verbeek, Damian Verbeek, Kassidy Verbeek, Euclid Benoit, Boris and Sheila Natyshak, Bobbye Baylis, Helle Little, Jeanie Haagen-Herbert, Joseph Byrne, Kathleen Anderson, Rachelle Sadler, Angela Veeraraghavan, Roy Wilkinson, Marie France Wilkinson, Howard Hampton, David Warner, Bud Wildman, Larry O’Connor, Ross McClellan, Larry French and Stephanie Levesque, among many others. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to welcome them to the Legislature today.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We do welcome all of our guests, and we obviously pay tribute to the former members that are here as well, and the former Speaker.

I would also say that Hansard is very grateful to the member from Essex. Hansard will appreciate that.

Mr. Randy Hillier: I’d like to introduce and welcome to the House this afternoon the national director of policy for the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, Derek Fildebrandt, joining with us in the members’ gallery.

Mr. John O’Toole: I’d like to recognize a good friend of mine and a member of the Ontario Legislature from 1990 to 1995, Larry O’Connor. Welcome, Larry.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): We’d like to welcome the former member for being here. Thank you.

Mr. Rick Nicholls: It’s a great privilege for me to introduce a friend and colleague of mine from a few years ago, Mr. Brad Smith. Brad is the director of client services for a company here in Toronto, Priority Management.



Mr. Jim McDonell: As critic for consumer services, I have the duty, amongst many, to monitor the efficacy and fairness of the Cemeteries Act and the act that will replace it this July.

Recently, a family that began building its dream home in the county of Brant found themselves instead digging into a figurative nightmare. When workers found human remains, this law-abiding family called the police. Had foul play been involved, at the conclusion of the forensic tests, the remains would have been taken away by ambulance. Instead, with no crime involved, the Cemeteries Act came into play, opening up nothing short of a financial sinkhole where there should have been a foundation.

As the act requires, the registrar ordered an archaeological assessment to identify the scope of the site. These assessments must be done by a limited number of private companies that charge heavily for the service. The act provides no standard and no measure to allow a determination by the registrar that the $15,000-and-over assessment fee would impose an undue financial burden on the affected citizens. Aside from making the landowner liable for all costs of moving and reburying the remains, the act is vague on exactly what to do or how to proceed.

Mr. Speaker, this is unfair to citizens, when a dishonest person can throw away found bones into a garbage pile and save money while an honest one must be left to hope that the property is a crime scene rather than a resting place.

There are plenty of solutions to this problem that do not involve extra spending. There are many people, institutions and organizations in the province with sufficient qualifications to do the same assessments, at a much lower cost. I had—

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. I thank the member for his statement.


Mr. Jagmeet Singh: I rise on an occasion of great sadness. I’d like to share this with the House. Last week, it was reported that three students who attended schools in my riding of Bramalea–Gore–Malton have committed suicide since November 2011, so I extend my deepest condolences to their family and friends.

The tragedy of a young person dying speaks to a serious lack on the part of our community and of our society. It’s truly a great loss when we lose a young person with so much hope and so much potential.

Just some facts I’d like to share with the House: Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the age of 10 to 24, and 73% of hospital admissions for attempted suicides are for people between the ages of 15 and 44.

The Canadian Mental Health Association has indicated a wide range of behaviours or signals, including depression, drastic behaviour or mood swings, or self-destructive behaviour, that are exhibited before this occurs.

Research shows that 90% of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable disease, some mental health illness issues. So it’s incumbent that we address this issue by addressing it through education, through early diagnosis, through investing in social programs and health care programs so that we don’t have to see this happen again in our schools, in our ridings across Ontario, across the world. Preventative programs are the way to address this, because I don’t want to see this happen again. I don’t want there to be another members’ statement, for someone else in this House to rise and speak on this issue.

Again, my heart goes out to the families, and we must do something to address mental health issues, particularly when it comes to youth, who are our future.


Mr. Jeff Leal: Today was a great day for Peterborough here at Queen’s Park. Thank you to anyone who took the time to drop by my annual event. There’s a wide range of companies and organizations from our area that truly demonstrate the diversity and economic strength that Peterborough has to offer.

If you attended today, you have met the presidents of both Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College. You’ve learned about our ongoing expansion of Peterborough regional airport. The Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corp. would have provided you with business information and tourism locations. Peterborough Green-Up helps residents of Peterborough reduce their footprint on the environment; they offer great support and information on living green. You’ve had the opportunity to taste beer produced by Publican House Brewery, located right in the heart of Peterborough.

We’re very fortunate in our area to be the home of an excellent winery, and samples of their wonderful products were on hand today. Black Honey offered excellent baked treats. The longest lineup was at the Kawartha Dairy table, where the best ice cream in the world was available for sampling.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on, but there isn’t enough time to mention everyone who attended today to showcase Peterborough and what we have to offer. I’m proud of my riding and happy that today everyone here had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be from Peterborough and why we’re so very proud of our great community.


Mr. John O’Toole: I’m very pleased today to be wearing the Vimy Ridge pin. This commemorates Canada’s momentous victory at Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917.

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in honour of Royal Canadian Legions across Ontario, but more specifically Branch 178 in Bowmanville in my riding of Durham.

On this Sunday, April 8, the Legion will be holding an official ceremony to name their main meeting room the Fred West Hall. This is in honour of a World War I veteran, Fred West.

I had the distinct privilege of knowing Fred. He was the last surviving World War I veteran of that branch, 178. He passed away at the age of 101 in the year 2000.

Fred West served in the 117th Battalion from the Eastern Townships, and then in the 14th Battalion of the Royal Montreal Regiment. Fred received a number of medals for his distinguished service, including the medal of bravery and the bar. Later in life, he was awarded the Legion of Honour from France.


Thank you to Legion historian John Haslam for his work on this project and to Jim Connell, past president of the Legion and a district governor.

Fred epitomized the self-sacrifice that was so common amongst that young Canadian generation. He continued to serve his community throughout his entire life. The naming of the hall in his honour will be a continuing reminder of our now-departed comrades who have served in all the wars or in defence of Canada.

I’d like to thank and take this opportunity to commend Branch 178 President Rick Saunders and all the members for their strong leadership in building strong communities and in respect for our country.

I’m proud to say that I am an honorary member of that Legion, and I stand today and say: We shall remember them.


Mr. Peter Tabuns: Yesterday in Texas, 12 tornadoes tore through that state, ripping apart homes, devastating communities, and disrupting transportation networks. It’s a reminder that although we are preoccupied with many other things these days, the climate issue has not gone away. The world continues to heat up, and there are consequences for communities who are going to be directly affected.

In this province, we are doing little or nothing to prepare. At the beginning of March, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario brought forward the report Ready for Change? An Assessment of Ontario’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. There were a number of interesting elements in the report. There were no timetables. There was no assignment of responsibility. He pointed out that we can expect more severe ice storms and disruption of our electricity system in winter in the future. We aren’t preparing for that. We aren’t preparing for a drop in the level of the Great Lakes, which is going to affect our hydroelectricity potential. We’re not preparing for the impact in the north, where we will see far more forest fires and far less access to the north in winter on ice roads.

We face a huge challenge. We have been acting as if we were asleep. The government has to wake up and start taking action on climate change, both to stop it and to adapt to it.


Mrs. Amrit Mangat: Recently, I had the opportunity of attending the opening of a second location of Paramount Fine Foods in my great riding of Mississauga–Brampton South. The CEO, Mohammad Fakih, is a true immigrant success story: a recent immigrant who brought with him the skills of a successful entrepreneur.

Paramount has opened five restaurants in Mississauga, Toronto and Thornhill, specializing in Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, and is planning to open many more. The company has created more than 280 new full-time jobs. The new Paramount Butcher Shop in my riding has not only brought quality halal meats, poultry and deli, but it has also brought 30 new jobs to my riding.

I would like to congratulate Mohammad Fakih and all the employees of Paramount Fine Foods for their continued dedication and hard work. Small businesses and risk-takers like Mohammad are indeed the backbone of Ontario’s economy and deserve our support and appreciation.


Mr. Robert Bailey: Last spring, the Senate of Canada proclaimed April as Safe Digging Month. Once again this April, many groups are hosting safe-digging educational events across Ontario.

On April 2, the official Dig Safe kickoff event, put on by the Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance, was held at Ottawa city hall to encourage homeowners and contractors in the capital region to always call to locate before they dig to prevent injuries, property damage and costly power outages.

This year, in addition to attending Dig Safe events in this communities, members of this Legislature can show their support for a safer Ontario by supporting Bill 8, my bill, the Ontario One Call Act, 2011, that is currently before the Standing Committee on General Government.

Bill 8 will create a single, not-for-profit call centre in Ontario that residents and contractors can contact free of charge to access locate information on any utilities or underground infrastructure in the area where they plan to dig.

Mr. Speaker, by supporting Bill 8, this Legislature will be listening to a large and growing group of supporters that want this government to make public and worker safety a priority in Ontario. I’d like to thank my co-sponsor, Mr. Miller from Hamilton East–Stoney Creek. Thank you, and again: Always call before you dig.


Mrs. Teresa Piruzza: For over a year, thousands of Windsor residents have been experiencing a hum, a low-level vibration that at times is powerful enough to rattle windows and move objects in the home. The hum is having a significant impact on the quality of life of my constituents.

Last month, over 20,000 people took part in a telephone town hall on this issue. Both the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources Canada have conducted studies that confirm the vibration is an acoustic noise originating in or near Zug Island in the city of Rouge River, Michigan. Since this finding, officials of all levels of government have called on the city of Rouge River to intervene to resolve the concern. No action has been forthcoming. My office continues to get calls and a Facebook page has been established to record concerns.

This past Thursday, Minister Bradley sent official correspondence to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, encouraging them to intervene. This issue has made international headlines, has required countless public fora and has resulted in thousands of complaints being filed.

The long and prosperous relationship between Ontario and Michigan surely warrants action and intervention by our neighbours during this time of need. I urge both federal and state agencies to engage in the issue and take action to resolve the thousands of concerns.


Mr. John Yakabuski: Tomorrow, in private members’ business, my private member’s bill, Bill 27, an act to change the transportation act with respect to the rebates that municipalities receive from the Ministry of Transportation, will be debated here in the Legislature.

This is not the first time that I will have brought this bill to the Legislature. In fact, it’s the umpteenth—I’m not sure exactly how many times, but at least several times. The reason I keep bringing it back is, the government keeps voting it down.

This is a fundamental issue of fairness to rural people. The gas tax that people pay—everybody pays the same amount when they gas up at the pumps, but rural people pay a disproportionate amount of gas tax because they have to use more gasoline.

I’ve been here for almost nine years. I can get around the city of Toronto and not own a car, but where I come from, where I live, in Barry’s Bay in Renfrew county, you can’t get around without a car.

It is time that the people of this Legislature recognize that it is a fundamental issue of fairness. I’m hoping that tomorrow, when Bill 27 is debated, all members of this House will stand and recognize that, in spite of the fact that you’re hitting rural people again with increased driver’s licence fees and plate fees, it’s time to recognize that they need a fair share of that gas tax as well. I hope they’ll support my bill.



Mr. Mauro moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 61, An Act to enact the Ontario’s Wood First Act, 2012 and to amend the Building Code Act, 1992 with respect to wood frame buildings / Projet de loi 61, Loi édictant la Loi de 2012 privilégiant le bois en Ontario et modifiant la Loi de 1992 sur le code du bâtiment en ce qui a trait aux bâtiments à ossature de bois.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Bill Mauro: We all know that over the last 10 years in Canada, the forestry sector has lost significant jobs—in BC and Quebec, huge job losses, and Ontario not far behind, especially in northern Ontario.


The attempt with this bill is actually twofold. The first part of the bill is attempting to promote the use of wood in buildings in Ontario that receive some level of provincial funding. The second goal of the bill is to amend the building code to allow for the use of wood when it comes to six-storey buildings of certain building classifications.

This is completely consistent with what we did a year or two ago as a Liberal government, where we began a consultation through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on potentially amending the building code.


Mr. Nicholls moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 62, An Act to provide for the legislative oversight of regulations / Projet de loi 62, Loi visant à prévoir la surveillance législative des règlements.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Rick Nicholls: The Legislative Oversight of Regulations Act, 2012, has two primary functions. First, it will create a registry of every regulation in Ontario and subject all new regulations that affect businesses in Ontario to a cost-benefit analysis. Second, it will ensure, through a yearly audit by the Auditor General, that we are making progress in tackling the excessive red tape that burdens our businesses. I believe this is an important step in helping Ontario get back on the road to economic recovery.


Mr. Hillier moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 63, An Act to amend the Taxpayer Protection Act, 1999 / Projet de loi 63, Loi modifiant la Loi de 1999 sur la protection des contribuables.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for Lanark–Frontenac–Lennox and Addington for a short statement.

Mr. Randy Hillier: Thank you very much, Speaker, for getting that title completely correct. The Taxpayer Protection Act, 1999, presently contains restrictions on introducing a government bill to increase or permit the increase of a tax rate under a tax statute designated in the act, or to give a body or person other than the crown the authority to change the tax rate in a designated tax statute or to levy a new tax.

This bill amends the act to extend those restrictions to a bill that amends those restrictions. This bill also removes the present exemption from those requirements for a bill that gives a municipality the authority to levy a new tax.


Mr. Hillier moved first reading of the following bill:

Bill 64, An Act to require the costing of all public bills / Projet de loi 64, Loi exigeant l’établissement des coûts de tous les projets de loi d’intérêt public.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.

First reading agreed to.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The member for a short statement.

Mr. Randy Hillier: This bill requires the Minister of Finance to ensure that a detailed and comprehensive costing analysis is done on all public bills that receive first reading. The minister must ensure that a report is prepared that provides an estimate of the financial cost to the government of any proposal in the bill and the methodology used in the costing analysis. The report must be tabled as soon as possible after the bill receives first reading. Second reading debate of the bill cannot occur until the report is tabled in the assembly.


Hon. Brad Duguid: Mr. Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent that up to five minutes be allotted to each party to speak in remembrance of the late Pat Hayes.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The minister has asked for unanimous consent. Do we have agreement? Agreed? Agreed.

The member for Essex.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’d like to first thank the members of this assembly for granting unanimous consent to pay tribute to my friend Pat Hayes. It is indeed an honour to stand here today, possibly the greatest honour I’ve had so far, to acknowledge the life and the contribution of my friend and former NDP MPP for the riding of Essex, Pat Hayes.

Today, Speaker, you will have heard that I welcomed a large contingent of the Hayes family, from all points within the province, to the Legislature today. I’m so proud to welcome Pat’s extended family and his friends. If the numbers that came out today show any indication of the support that I have in my riding, I’m anxious for the next election to come around, because I know I have the backing of the wonderful Hayes family with me in every election.

That goes back a long ways, Mr. Speaker. Pat was first elected to this Legislature in 1985, and again in 1990, where he served his constituents until 1995. He was also the warden and the mayor of Lakeshore. He was a proud member of CAW Local 200, a Ford worker, where he was the health and safety rep for many years. He was also a relentless volunteer advocate and volunteered himself, volunteering with Lakeshore Community Service, the Essex Goodfellows, as well as his church, St. Mary’s church in Maidstone.

Pat was a tireless advocate for the little guy, Mr. Speaker. There was no one and has been no one that I’ve ever met who stood so ferociously on the side of those who have been marginalized, who have been oppressed and who have needed help. Maybe it was because of Pat’s large presence, charisma and strength that people surrounded him—those who needed help, those who sought a voice for their concerns. Pat was all too willing to do that. People flocked to him because they knew that not only was he always willing to lend a hand, but on many occasions he got resolutions for people. He helped people tremendously. He was emotional about these issues. The issues around poverty and the issues around workers’ rights and health and safety legislation are issues that touched him very deeply.

Through the context of several elections—not only his that I had the pleasure of being a part in, but also my own elections where he was my campaign manager—we talked. We talked a lot, and we talked deeply about the future of this province, the future of this country and how we felt we could best lend our hearts to those issues. It’s something that I will treasure for the rest of my life, to know that I had somebody in my corner, somebody that was my mentor, my friend. Indeed, he was a mentor. I am privileged to have known him and to have had him in my life, as so many others are here today that got the chance to know him.


The Hayes-Natyshak connection is somewhat of a mini-dynasty in Essex, I might say. In fact, my mother, Sheila, who’s here today, was Pat’s constituency assistant.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: As a young lad I got the chance to run around in this place. It’s a familiar place for me, thanks to Pat being our member and his election. It’s something that, again, I will cherish with me my entire life.

I asked my mom about some thoughts about Pat. I’ll read you one quick one. I think the members will find some humour in this. It says:

“Dear Taras,

“The campaign team had a policy of never sending the candidates out on their own so your dad accompanied Pat on many of his ventures. There was an early (6 a.m.) plant gate at a factory in Chatham, so in order to get Pat and Boris there without sending them on the road at 3 a.m., we arranged for them to stay in a motel just off the 401 at Blenheim. They booked in and Pat explained that he had to be at the plant gate early, so he asked for a wake-up call at 5 a.m. The person at the front desk said, ‘Fine, no problem.’

My dad, Boris, says, “‘Pat, I think we should go and buy an alarm clock.’” The owners of this hotel “‘have a Liberal sign out’” on the front lawn, “‘and I’m afraid they may deliberately not wake us.’”

“Ever-trusting Pat said, ‘Oh,’” Boris, don’t worry, “‘we will be fine.’

“As the sun crept up through their window late the next morning, Pat woke up to the panicked howl coming from Boris,” who said, “Never trust anyone” when you have to wake up.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: It’s those funny anecdotes that I think we all have as members of this Legislature, that are also life-lasting. We carry them with us. As difficult as they may have been, they’re great stories in the end.

Pat passed away on May 2, 2011, which was the federal election day. I was a candidate in that election. I woke up that morning and received a call that my good friend had passed away. It literally knocked me off of my feet. I dropped to my knees, and I, in a selfish way, said, “Why, Pat? Why not tomorrow? Why today? Why did you have to do it to me today?”

In fact, this is a gentleman who had never missed an election since he was 18 years old. After reflection, I figured and I came to terms with the fact that because he couldn’t participate from his bed, he left us to be with us in spirit on that day, and I know that he would have been very proud of the accomplishments of our federal party. It’s something that I feel and I felt certainly that day, and I continue to feel as I go about my work in this House.

As a mentor, he taught me a lot of things. He taught me three really important lessons. One was to never drive as a candidate during an election, because you will hit someone with your car: “Find someone else to drive.”

Number two was that he taught me to go to small gatherings, whether it was a church bazaar or a garage sale, because he said, “They might not know if you were there, but they certainly will know if you weren’t there.” It’s something that certainly my wife can attest to, that I’ve attended a lot of those types of functions.

The third thing that he said, that I think I carry with me in this House, is that they might not agree with what you say, and sometimes in this House we don’t agree with what each other says—they might not agree with what you say, but they will respect the fact that you had the guts to say it. And that’s something—


Mr. Taras Natyshak: That’s a lesson that I think we can all hold near and dear to our hearts. I see that in my colleagues in this House, and I certainly respect that in each and every one of us.

As a father figure, which he was to me, he offered me guidance, support, advice and love—all the things that a father does. I’m forever, eternally grateful for that.

As a campaign manager, we figured one election we put 9,000 kilometres on his vehicle during the winter campaign, all along talking, canvassing, a little bit of fun in between, but that’s a lot of miles on the road in a short period of time, and I’ll cherish those moments.

As a friend, you simply couldn’t ask for a better friend. He was always there, every time. When my brother was injured and my parents had to leave to British Columbia, Pat was there, no questions asked. Any resources, any help our family needed, he was prepared to give.

As I go about my days here at Queen’s Park, I often think about Pat. I say hello to him every time I pass his name on the marble wall. I wonder how he would have approached different issues and situations. I also wonder if he would be proud, and indeed I think he would be, not only of the job that I’m doing but of the job that our entire caucus is doing, and our party.

I also know that he would be proud of his family: Rose Claire, Michael, Christine, David, James and Steven. He loved you all so much. You were the centre of his universe. I know that as much as he gave you, you returned that love tenfold to him. I want to thank you, the Hayeses, for sharing him with us for so long. The sacrifice and time spent away from your family is really a reality that I know now all too well. In sharing him with us, you ensured that this wonderful man’s contribution to his community will never be forgotten. He touched so many lives in a special way.

Today, in this House, we say thank you, Pat. Thank you for the moments you gave us. We all love you, miss you and cherish each memory, each and every day.

Mrs. Teresa Piruzza: Today I, too, stand to remember one of Windsor-Essex county’s most cherished citizens: Patrick Hayes, loving husband, father and grandfather, who passed away in May 2011. Thanks to my colleague from Essex for his role in sharing with us all his memories of his mentor and friend. I know that that was not the easiest to do, to stand up and share with us his thoughts, so again, thank you for that.

I stand to remember and honour Pat on behalf of the entire Liberal caucus. Today, as has been mentioned, we are joined by Mr. Hayes’s wife, Mrs. Rose Claire Hayes; sons Michael, David, James and Steven; sisters Dorothy, Gloria, Marilyn, Nancy; brothers Peter and Bill; as well as several family members and friends and colleagues, all of whom have been introduced earlier.

These chambers are familiar with Mr. Hayes’s name, as he served honourably in this House from 1985 to 1987 and again from 1990 to 1995 as the member from Essex North and, subsequently, Essex–Kent.

Similarly to every member, Pat’s path to Queen’s Park was built through hard work, for dedication to the people he represented. “Equality” and “social justice” were not mere words but truly the motivation and action by which Mr. Hayes will be remembered.

I’m certain my colleague from Essex, as he has indicated in his statement, will attest to the fact that Windsor-Essex lost more than a friend; it lost inspiration as well. Today we are not divided in saying that we are in grief for the passing of this great human being, and we pay tribute to his many achievements.

At his first nomination, Pat stood and let it be known that he would be a strong voice for Essex, a strong voice for public health care, a strong voice for public education, and certainly to ensure that his municipalities were appropriately serviced and supported. Speaker, I am certain this chamber and our community will benefit from his advocacy for many years to come.

Pat went on to serve as warden and mayor of Lakeshore, where he was able to use his knowledge of the importance of all levels of government working together to best serve municipalities; where he continued to bring forward concerns and advocate for his constituents; and where he further developed community awareness of the meaning of social justice.

My city and my county mourn for Pat, and I know that all those in this assembly mourn with us. The sadness we share is enlivened by the faith in his or her fellow man and woman and in knowing there are people like Pat who put everything before themselves and learn to serve their neighbour.

Pat Hayes was a man we can remember as breathing life into these chambers. Thanks to his labour and love to his ideals, he will always be remembered as a cornerstone of Essex county.


Mr. Rick Nicholls: As I was listening to my colleague pay tribute to his friend and mentor, I was looking up in the gallery. I will not look up in the gallery this time because I had tears while you were reading it and I know there were tears up there, too. So again, a heartfelt thank you to you, Taras, for the heartfelt tribute to your friend and your mentor as well.

It’s my honour, Mr. Speaker, to take a moment today to stand and to recognize the life of one of our former colleagues, Mr. Pat Hayes, who served southwest Ontario and the communities of Essex twice as the MPP for Essex North, then Essex–Kent. Pat Hayes has been eulogized in the past quite eloquently, I know, by his good friend the member from Essex, and that’s not my intention today.

I want to speak briefly about Pat as a fellow MPP from southwestern Ontario, as a man with whom there was always common ground that could be found, regardless of political stripe, and as a man who held tight to his convictions. Although I never had the privilege of getting to know Pat, I think I could say I knew his type. He was a union man, a member of the Canadian Auto Workers Local 200 and the proud chairman of the union’s health and safety committee at Ford. From that, we can discern that Pat always had his co-workers’ back if they needed him, the kind of guy that was looking out for those around him. And he certainly had a fighting spirit in him, too.

When Pat was elected on May 2, 1985, in Essex North, he didn’t know at that point that he would only hold office for two years. But voters remembered that Pat would fight hard for them and they sent him back to office in September 1990, where he securely held his seat until 1995. That’s the dream for so many of us: to have our chance at making our communities a little better, whether it be for four years, for eight, or even beyond. So many of us have the dream, and Pat fought hard for his second chance.

He once gave an interview to the London Free Press in which he was asked his biggest disappointment as an MPP. His answer: that the government financing simply wasn’t there to support his call for public auto insurance. That spoke to his extraordinary sense of ambition and the degree to which his NDP roots made up his character. And if his biggest disappointment was not being able to effect change in the automotive industry that he enjoyed so much, so, too, did he show the same commitment to the place he came from.

He was born in Maidstone township and lived there for much of his life. His community engagement occupied a level many of us should aspire to emulate. He served his township as reeve, deputy reeve and councillor. He helped out with the Arthritis Society, community minor hockey, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic church, the Essex County Library Board and much more.

Even at Queen’s Park, all the way in Toronto, he found his way into portfolios that reflected where he had come from: parliamentary assistant for agriculture and parliamentary assistant for municipal affairs. I’d say—and Taras, my colleague from Essex, may agree with me—these are two perfect files for a guy that probably knew southwest farmlands like the back of his hand.

Though we came from the same part of the province and fight for the same communities, Pat definitely had the drop on me in one area. There’s no way I’d be able to win first place in the annual International Plowing Match the way he did in 1990. When his colleagues were busy standing in front of the Toronto microphones, Pat was getting behind the wheel of a tractor, pushing hard for first.

When you come from the rural southwest, there’s no substitute for having your boots on the ground and making your first priority listening to the folks in the community that you serve. And so it’s only fitting that, in the same London Free Press piece, Pat talked about his key accomplishment as an MPP and didn’t point to a specific bill, an act or even a speech he that gave in the House. No, Pat spoke about the individual cases that he had resolved for his constituents. He talked about how his role was to reach outside his riding and help every Ontarian that he could.

He served as a member of provincial Parliament proudly. He was recognized by his peers. The fact that he was elected twice, even after defeat, is a commendation on his record. And he carried on with an enviable career in municipal politics, never letting go of the notion that he could better his community. As mayor of Lakeshore, he held onto that same conviction: boots on the ground, talking to constituents.

I congratulate my colleague Mr. Natyshak for having drawn upon Pat’s expertise. I’m sure his words have had more resonance than mine, but I hope that I’ve done some credit to the similar office that both Pat and I hold, the honour and privilege of representing some of the hardest-working families, farmers and workers in this entire country: the people of southwestern Ontario.

On behalf of my colleagues in the Ontario PC caucus, I want to extend my warmest wishes to Pat’s family and friends who have joined us here today, and especially to his wife, Rose, and his children. Every MPP has experienced the great joy of serving in this House, and that in itself has asked a lot of their families: that they be allowed to share their time and commitments with voters they may only meet once over a span of years spent sitting in their constituency office, knocking on doors, or in the day-to-day business of keeping Ontario running. The fact that you so willingly shared Pat with Ontario speaks to the strength of your family. We thank you for that.

Pat was gracious in defeat, humble in victory, and never forgot the people who asked him to help them in his duties at Queen’s Park. Despite one’s political leanings, that’s something we can all hope to be said about us.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts on the job Pat and I shared.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I would like to thank all three members for sharing their kind words and all of the members for respecting the dignity of Pat Hayes. To the family, we will ensure that you receive a written copy of the comments made today, along with a DVD of our speeches. We thank you as family and friends for gathering to pay homage to a great man. Thank you.


The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): It is now time for petitions.



Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m pleased to present to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the closure of the Bluewater Youth Centre will have a negative economic impact on Goderich and the surrounding area; and

“Whereas there is a need to deal with overcrowding in the Ontario correctional system; and

“Whereas the federal Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, will increase the population in the Ontario correctional system over the next four years; and

“Whereas the Bluewater Youth Centre would need very little retrofitting and the staff would need minimal retraining to open as a medium-secure correctional facility which could hold more than 200 beds required by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services; and

“Whereas specialized treatment programs within the correctional system such as drug treatment, mental health issues, could be offered with the skilled support staff currently in place; and

“Whereas we believe that this is the most economical way to add an additional 200 beds to the Ontario correctional system, as the building is in place and staff are currently hired to run such a facility;

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

“That the government engage in meaningful community and employee consultation in order to find alternate uses within the youth services or correctional services system for this facility, thereby preventing job losses and economic hardship for an area already badly impacted by plant closures and tornado damage.”

I totally agree with this petition. I affix my signature and I’ll give it to page Liam, who’s done a great job over the last three weeks. Here you go, Liam. Thank you.



Ms. Cindy Forster: I have a petition here.

“Whereas the Ontario Ombudsman, who is an officer of the Legislature, is not allowed to provide trusted, independent investigations of complaints in the areas of hospitals, long-term-care homes, school boards, children’s aid societies, police, retirement homes and universities; and

“Whereas Ontario is the only province in Canada not allowing their Ombudsman to investigate any of these areas; and

“Whereas people wronged by these institutions are left feeling helpless and most have nowhere else to turn for help to correct systemic issues;

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

“Grant the Ombudsman the power to investigate hospitals, long-term-care homes, school boards, children’s aid societies, police, retirement homes and universities.”

I support this petition and affix my signature.


Mr. Phil McNeely: This petition to the Legislature of Ontario is signed by John Shea and many others. John Shea is the trustee for the public schools in Ottawa–Orléans.

“Whereas the current enrolment of Avalon Public School is 687 students;

“Whereas the student capacity of the school is 495 students, as determined by the Ministry of Education’s own occupancy formula;

“Whereas the issue of overcrowding and lack of space makes it impossible for Avalon Public School to offer full-day kindergarten until the overcrowding issue is addressed;

“Whereas Avalon Public School is located in a high-growth community;

“Whereas the enrolment at Avalon Public School is expected to continue rising at a rate of 10% to 15% a year for the foreseeable future;

“Whereas the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has made building a new school in Avalon a top capital priority;

“We, the undersigned, call on the province of Ontario and Ministry of Education to provide the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board with the necessary funding to build an additional school in Avalon, to open no later than September 2014.”

I have signed this petition—I agree with the petition—and I send it forward with Ammaar.


Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here on the future of 80 long-term-care beds in the village of Tavistock, and it was presented to me by a great number of people who are from the area of Tavistock.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Tavistock’s Bonnie Brae Health Care Centre is an 80-bed, D-class nursing home that must be either rebuilt or closed by July 2014; and

“Whereas there is currently an application by a private operator to move the 80 licensed beds outside of Oxford county to the city of London, despite the recent opening of two other long-term-care homes in Middlesex county in 2010; and

“Whereas long-term-care wait times in Oxford county can be as much as 134 days longer than in Middlesex county; and

“Whereas Tavistock receives referrals from the nearby Waterloo Wellington CCAC, which has among the highest waits for long-term care in the province;

“We, the undersigned, request that the Legislative Assembly of Ontario retain these beds in Tavistock and seek partners to fast-track replacement of the Bonnie Brae as part of Ontario’s 10-year plan to modernize 35,000 long-term-care beds.”

I thank you very much for the opportunity to present this petition, and I will affix my signature, as I totally agree with it.


Mr. John Vanthof: I have a petition here on behalf of the people of northeastern Ontario.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission provides services which are vital to the north’s economy; and

“Whereas it is a lifeline for the residents of northern communities who have no other source of public transportation; and

“Whereas the ONTC could be a vital link to the Ring of Fire;

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

“That the planned cancellation of the Northlander and the sale of the rest of the assets at Ontario Northland Transportation Commission be halted immediately.”

I fully agree with this petition, will sign it and send it down with Nicholas.


Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, entitled “Respect for Diverse Communities.

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

“Whereas the settlement of new Canadians to the province of Ontario remains a joint responsibility of the federal and provincial governments;

“Whereas the settlement of new Canadians to the province of Ontario remains a function of the departments of citizenship and immigration at both the federal and provincial levels;

“Whereas Ontario still remains the destination of choice for new Canadians in our federation;

“We, the undersigned, ask that the province contact its federal counterpart, including but not limited to the Honourable Jason Kenney and his department, and notify them:

“That the proposed reduction in the number of centres in the GTA authorized to perform immigration medical exams, the IMM 1017, is ill-advised;

“That the reduction in number of centres in the GTA where services are offered in French is ill-advised;

“Que la réduction du nombre de centres dans la région du grand Toronto où les services sont offerts en français est mal avisée;

“That the virtual elimination of centres where services are offered in the GTA in the languages of Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Farsi, Tamil and Arabic is ill-advised, and that it not only will inflict undue hardship on those cultural communities but is generally discordant with the Canadian values of openness, pluralism and diversity.”

I do agree with this petition, Speaker, will affix my signature and send it to you by way of page Teresa.


Mrs. Laura Albanese: I have a petition from my residents from the great riding of York South–Weston, and it reads as follows:

“Whereas St. John the Evangelist Catholic elementary school in Weston is overcrowded, with 480 students in a school designed for 260; and

“Whereas the students will be relocating 40 minutes away in September 2012 during the duration of the Metrolinx Weston tunnel construction; and

“Whereas the Toronto Catholic District School Board has placed St. John the Evangelist third on the urgent capital priority list for 2012;

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

“Respectfully request full funding to replace St. John the Evangelist school during the Metrolinx Weston tunnel construction; therefore, the students are not relocated twice.”

I agree with this petition. I will sign it and send it your way by page Preston.


Mme France Gélinas: I have this petition from the people of Nickel Belt, and it reads as follows:

“Whereas the Ontario government is making ... PET scanning a publicly insured health service available to cancer and cardiac patients under certain conditions...; and

“Whereas,” since “October 2009, insured PET scans” are “performed in Ottawa, London, Toronto, Hamilton and Thunder Bay; and

“Whereas the city of Greater Sudbury is a hub for health care in northeastern Ontario, with” Health Sciences North, “its regional cancer program and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine;

“We ... petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to make PET scans available through” Health Sciences North, “thereby serving and providing equitable access to the citizens of northeastern Ontario.”

I fully support this petition, Mr. Speaker, will affix my name to it and ask page Victoria to bring it to the Clerk.


Mr. Shafiq Qaadri: I have a petition here addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario entitled “Respect for Diverse Communities.

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

“Whereas the settlement of new Canadians to the province of Ontario remains a joint responsibility of the federal and provincial governments;

“Whereas the settlement of new Canadians to the province of Ontario remains a function of the departments of citizenship and immigration at both the federal and provincial levels;

“Whereas Ontario still remains the destination of choice for new Canadians in our federation;

“We, the undersigned, ask that the province contact its federal counterpart, including but not limited to the Honourable Jason Kenney and his department, and notify them:

“That the proposed reduction in the number of centres in the GTA authorized to perform immigration medical exams, the IMM 1017, is ill-advised;

“That the reduction in number of centres in the GTA where services are offered in French is ill-advised;

“Que la réduction du nombre de centres dans la région du grand Toronto où les services sont offerts en français est mal avisée;

“That the virtual elimination of centres where services are offered in the GTA in the languages of Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Farsi, Tamil and Arabic is ill-advised, and that it not only will inflict undue hardship on those cultural communities but is generally discordant with the Canadian values of openness, pluralism and diversity.”

I do agree with this petition, Speaker, and will affix my signature and send it to you via page Hassan.



Mrs. Laura Albanese: I have another petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and it reads as follows:

“Whereas St. John the Evangelist Catholic elementary school in Weston is overcrowded, with 480 students in a school designed for 260; and

“Whereas the students will be relocating 40 minutes away in September 2012 during the duration of the Metrolinx Weston tunnel construction; and

“Whereas the Toronto Catholic District School Board has placed St. John the Evangelist third on the urgent capital priority list for 2012;

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

“Respectfully request full funding to replace St. John the Evangelist school during the Metrolinx Weston tunnel construction; therefore, the students are not relocated twice.”

I agree with this petition. I will sign it and send it with page Victoria.


Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I am pleased to present a petition today to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from the people of Ontario with respect to the decision to close Blyth Public School by the Avon Maitland District School Board.

“Whereas the pupil accommodation review states that an ARC committee is required, among other things, to determine the value of a school to the local economy, yet in the case of the Blyth Public School, there is in the minutes of the ARC committee not a single reference to any discussion of the effects of school closure on the local economy; and

“Whereas the same guideline states that the ARC, which is appointed by the board, must include membership drawn from the school community and the broader community, including, among others, business and municipal leaders, yet the ARC meetings considering the Blyth Public School included no Blyth business or municipal leaders; and

“Whereas the only invitations to public meetings in Blyth regarding the accommodation review were taken home by students to their parents, with the result that the broader community were not represented in the discussions; and

“Whereas many other communities across Ontario are now encountering very similar behaviours by their school boards; and

“Whereas single-school communities across Ontario are being permanently damaged economically and socially by the closure of their only school, which is, according to Premier McGuinty, the heart and soul of these communities; and

“Whereas the current Education Act of Ontario very undemocratically provides school boards with the absolute power to close any school they choose, with no avenue of appeal available to anyone, not even members of their own communities;

“Therefore, we, the residents of Ontario who have signed our names below, do hereby petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to adopt and enact the following measures:

“(1) An immediate moratorium on all disputed school closures resulting from the accommodation review process and continuing until June 30, 2015; and

“(2) The immediate striking of a truly independent third party body with the authority to review and reverse all disputed school closures found to be detrimental to the community or in conflict with other provincial programs or regulations; and

“(3) Revision of the Education Act to require school boards to work with their municipalities and communities to ensure school closures comply with the principles and practices of sound community and educational planning.”

I agree with this petition and I affix my signature.



Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, we wish to call government order G30, please.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand in some surprise that the government House leader would announce, in conflict of the printed orders of the day, that we would be debating G30, when in the orders of the day it says G19. I speak to standing order 56: “Before the adjournment of the House on each Thursday during the session, the government House leader shall announce the business for the following week.”

Now, I understand that this may only be a convention, but it’s also about respect for the House and respect for the members of this House. The legislation that we debate here is significant and important to the people of the province of Ontario. It’s also important to the members of this Legislature. So they go to some effort preparing for debates, and when that is on the order paper—first of all, when it’s agreed at House leaders, and then on the order paper, on orders of the day. I think that member is justified in asking, “Well, just a minute.” They may say to their whip or they may say to our House leader, “What’s going on here? We’ve prepared to debate G19, Residential Tenancies Act amendments.” And now the government, at the last minute—and we’re not talking about today, this morning, at question period or even at noon. No. The House recessed after question period until 3 o’clock, and we find out just prior to reconvening at 3 o’clock that the government has changed the orders of the day.

They’re both in second reading. They’ve both been debated; one’s at six hours and some; G30 is up over seven hours. What kind of compelling reason—other than to disrespect the members of the opposition who also have a job to do and prepare for it—would the government have to change, at the last moment, Speaker, the orders of the day and which bill we will be debating this afternoon?

I think that there is no reason why G19 could not be debated today. They’re both in, as I say, roughly the same time frame as to how much the bills have been debated. They’re both bills that are, to some degree, housekeeping-type bills. They’re not the budget. If they want to bring a bill, let’s talk about the budget.

But at the last minute, Speaker—and I respect the members of this caucus. I’m sure the Liberal House leader respects the members of his, but I also respect the members of the third party caucus and the government caucus. People prepare to speak for a particular bill on a particular day because that’s what we get. If this doesn’t mean anything, why do we print it?

I would ask you, Speaker, to say that, at the very least—I know there’s a limit as to what we can do here because the government does seem to control the cards. I mean, things happen that even the will of the Legislature is not respected under many circumstances, such as, for example, when the Legislature votes as a majority to call a select committee for Ornge, and this government, after the Minister of Health says repeatedly that she will abide by the will of this Legislature—they just thumb their nose at the ruling, at the will of the Legislature and do not pass that.

So I would say that the government has some ‘splainin’ to do, as they say, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I’d ask the member to speak to the point of order and not get off track, please.

Mr. John Yakabuski: I apologize. Thank you very much, Speaker. I’m just trying to give an illustration of another example.

But today this came as a complete shock. We had a recess of three hours. There was ample opportunity for House leaders to have an opportunity to discuss this, to ensure that our members could be ready. There are significant other events going on in the precinct. So I think that it is disrespectful of this House and disrespectful of the members for, at the last minute, the government House leader to change the orders of the day, and I would ask you to rule against them, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Timmins–James Bay. House leader.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: I just want to weigh in on this on probably two or three points. I won’t be too long.

First of all, standing order 56 of the House says, “Before the adjournment of the House on each Thursday during the session, the government House leader shall announce the business for the following week.” Maybe that’s an area where we’ve got to make some standing order changes, I would argue, because we end up in a situation, as we do now, where the government, because they’re unhappy about what the opposition is doing, is deciding at the last minute to change the order. I get the game. I—

Hon. John Gerretsen: Stop ringing the bells.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: No, no, I understand—


Mr. Gilles Bisson: I would ask the member just to listen to what I have to say. I understand it, but I don’t think it helps in a minority Parliament for those type of things to happen.

I understand the government’s frustration in the sense that the opposition has decided to ring bells. But, God, that’s our right. There are very few rules in this House that allow an opposition to hold the government accountable and to voice its displeasure. So the opposition, having those very limited abilities to be able to do that, uses those rules very sparingly. We sat for three weeks this December; the House went along quite well.

We sat—what?—three or four weeks since this session has started. Things have gone quite well. I would say we’ve had very productive discussions of House leaders. Mr. Wilson, who’s not here, who’s the Conservative House leader—I stand corrected; I can’t say that. I withdraw. But I just want to attest that there have been very good discussions of House leaders, and I don’t think this helps how this House is going to function and the relationship between the House leaders and the parties to have the government switch the order at the last minute.


So the point I make is: I understand what the government has just done, and precedent is that they can do these things. But I would put the House on notice that this will be an item we will discuss in the changes to the standing orders, because I think it’s quite frankly not helpful. Number two, the government has many tools to be able to pass its business. We on this side of the House accept the parliamentary convention that government, at the end of the day, must get its agenda through. But there are very limited options for the opposition to hold them accountable, and when we use them, that should be respected.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Government House Leader.

Hon. John Milloy: There are really two issues at hand. One is the fact that we wish to call government order G30. That is a change from what we originally thought we would be calling this afternoon. That was communicated to both opposition parties earlier this afternoon. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I can refer you to a ruling by Speaker Peters on June 1, 2010—I could provide this to you; I’m sure the table is aware of it—when he did rule that the government has the right to, in a sense, announce the business of the day or change the business of the day under the rules of this Legislature.

The second issue, though, is the one that was raised by the whip from the Conservative Party as to why we were doing it. I think it’s very simple, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday several hours were set aside to discuss this bill in the Legislature. We all welcome the opportunity for members to debate and discuss, both through speeches and through questions and comments, and instead we went through hour after hour after hour of bell ringing, a clear disrespect for this bill and for the important debate that’s going on.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Order.

Hon. John Milloy: Mr. Speaker, the opposition has the right to ring bells; I agree with my friend the House leader for the New Democratic Party. But just as the opposition has the right to ring bells, the government can, at the end of the day—literally—when it looks back on those several hours we set aside for important debate on an important issue, say that we made basically no progress so we’re going to try to bring it forward again this afternoon. As I said, we had informed both opposition parties earlier today, and I refer you to rulings by Speakers that it is within the government’s authority to bring forward the order when it’s called and change from what was in the Orders and Notices paper.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Timmins–James Bay.

Mr. Gilles Bisson: Speaker, I am not going to prolong this point of order, but I just want to say clearly that I’m not disputing that the government has the right to call the order. That’s not my point. It’s pretty clear, when you read standing orders 55 and 56, that you have that right.

My point is, number one, that the opposition has very limited ability to hold the government accountable, and when the government thwarts the ability of the opposition to to hold them accountable, I don’t think that adds to what this democracy is all about; and number two, in the end I think it doesn’t add to the ability of House leaders to work in a congenial manner and be able to move business through this House. Those are the two points I’m trying to make.

I don’t argue for a second you don’t have the right. I’m just saying it’s a bit high-handed, and I think the government would be well advised to think this through and try to reverse itself.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order, the menber for Nepean–Carleton.

Ms. Lisa MacLeod: On the same point of order, Speaker: On page 31 of the standing orders, my colleague from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke read into the record:

“56. Before the adjournment of the House on each Thursday during the session, the government House leader shall announce the business for the following week.”

Yesterday, of course, the government had the opportunity to change those orders. They chose not to, and today’s order paper states very clearly:

“Orders of the Day …

“G19. Resuming the debate adjourned on April 2, 2012….”

Further to that, Speaker, yesterday when the bells were ringing, which is what this member has alluded to, not what was previously called out of order and told—he stuck to the point. Yesterday when the bells were ringing, the parliamentary liaison working group, which has been created by the Premier to ensure that legislation moves quickly through this chamber—that was cancelled by the government House leader—had an opportunity for him to notify members of the opposition that the orders of the day would change. If I misspoke, then I do apologize. But we did have an opportunity at the parliamentary liaison working group to discuss any possible changes.

Now, my colleague from Timmins–James Bay rightly points out that in this chamber right at this moment—or in this House, I should say—the Legislative Assembly committee has been struck and has been advised by the House that we are to undertake a review of the standing orders. I can say, given the fact that obviously they’re going to try to override this by standing order 55, we must look at that and what the repercussions are.

I will say this: I wrote a note to a member of the third party today to remind him of why members will ring bells. It’s because there are no other opportunities for the opposition to voice their displeasure in this place. After all, these rules that are in place here, the rules and procedures of this House—the standing orders—are there to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority, okay? Now, that’s a statement that’s very important, and of course this government would laugh at that. But the reality is, that is why in parliamentary procedure we have rules: to protect the rights of members who have opposing views.

Calling government order 30 as opposed to government order 19, without the knowledge of the opposition, does a couple of things, not least of which is that it demeans the state of debate. When members in this assembly appear in their seats to vote and to debate on an item, and that item is changed immediately, without their knowledge, it actually lessens the degree to which we are impacting in a positive way the debate of our society.

That is what has happened here, Mr. Speaker. That is why I think it is important for you to rule on this immediately, and why I believe that the members of the official opposition and the third party have had taken away their rights and their protections, as members, to debate the order and the bill on which they had anticipated to debate. Thank you very much, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. That will be the end of points of order on this; we’re wearing it out. I am going to take a five-minute recess to discuss this, and I’ll come back with my ruling.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Speaker, as the person who raised—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): No, that’s the end of it, thank you. I will take a five-minute recess and I’ll rule on this.

The House recessed from 1617 to 1623.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. This is an issue that has been raised on several occasions over the years. It is true that the standing order uses the word “shall,” but it is also true, as previous Speakers have pointed out, that this procedure has been more or less disused for quite some time now.

When this has been raised before, other Speakers have noted that it is certainly useful to the members to know in advance what the business of the day will be, but they also have noted that the Speaker cannot compel that this be done.

The point was also made by previous Speakers, and by contributors to the very point of order, that it is obviously a good practice and of assistance to the House for reasonable notice to be given of the day’s business. I agree with those previous rulings.

Notice being preferable, the government House leader nevertheless has the ability to call any eligible item of business on the order paper. Order G30 is therefore properly before this House at this time.

Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order, the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke.

Mr. John Yakabuski: On a new point of order—and this is standing order 23(b)—I’ve been a member of this House for eight and a half years or so. I’ve been present when a number of points of order have been raised, and I have yet to see the member who raised the point of order being denied the opportunity to speak to his or her point of order a second time.

Standing order 23 says, “In debate, a member shall be called to order by the Speaker if he or she:

“(a) Speaks twice to a question, except in explanation of a material part of his or her speech in which he or she may have been misunderstood, in which case the member may not introduce a new matter.

“(b)”—and remember I said “except”—“Directs his or her speech to matters other than,

“(i) the question under discussion; or

“(ii) a motion or amendment he or she intends to move; or

“(iii) a point of order.”

Speaker, you allowed my colleague from Timmins–James Bay to speak to a point of order twice—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Nepean–Carleton knows that I also allowed another member of his caucus to speak on the issue, and there were no new points being brought up.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Renfrew. You realize there were no other points being brought up of new, additional information.

The ruling has been made, and the ruling stands.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I will not debate you personally anymore.

AMENDMENT), 2012 /

Resuming the debate adjourned on April 3, 2012, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 30, An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family caregiver leave / Projet de loi 30, Loi modifiant la Loi de 2000 sur les normes d’emploi en ce qui concerne le congé familial pour les aidants naturels.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate. The member for Welland.

Ms. Cindy Forster: The caregiver leave act is a bill that would provide an unpaid, job-protected leave of absence to provide care or support to certain family members who have a serious medical condition. The bill, Mr. Speaker, is a very small positive step forward, but there will be relatively low take-up if the federal government does not change the EI provisions so that caregivers can get some form of compensation to actually go along with the leave to look after sick family members. The McGuinty government must push the federal government hard to make sure that those EI changes take place.

Most employees don’t understand their rights under the Employment Standards Act on a number of issues. The government must ensure that Ontario workers know about the leave and that there are no employer reprisals for employees wishing to take the leave. One of the concerns that I have is, how will such requests be monitored and how will they be enforced?

If you had an opportunity to read a report from the Workers’ Action Centre which was done for the 2010-11 period, it finds that there are all kinds of violations and non-enforcement of the Employment Standards Act that occur with respect to unpaid wages. The study actually surveyed 520 people in low-wage jobs, the same type of people that we’re trying to protect with these leaves of absence. Twenty-two percent of workers surveyed reported that they are being paid less than the minimum wage of $10.25 per hour in their current jobs. Minimum wage is the core legal standard below which wages should not fall, and yet 22% are not being paid what they should be, and it’s not being enforced by the employment standards branch.

Unpaid wages: 33% of workers surveyed reported being owed wages from their employer. Of these, 77% said they never were able to collect their wages, even though we have an employment standards branch that is supposed to enforce the Employment Standards Act.

Overtime violations: 60% of respondents reported working more than 44 hours in a week during the past five years, but in fact when they’ve worked beyond that 44 hours, they’re actually not getting overtime, which is provided under the Employment Standards Act; they have not been able to achieve getting that. Only 25% of those workers who complained to the employment standards branch successfully got their overtime through that complaint process.

Vacation pay: 34% of workers surveyed reported problems getting their 4% vacation pay that they’re entitled to under the employment standards. Many of them reported that they never got their vacation pay. Thirty-six per cent of workers reported that they didn’t get their termination pay or severance pay under the Employment Standards Act.

Clearly there aren’t enough employment standards enforcement officers. There’s probably a backlog of complaints in that process. Thirty-seven per cent of workers reported they didn’t get their paid public holidays, the statutory holidays that they’re entitled to under the act. Many complained that they had pay stub violations; 31% of them that their pay was late; 17% reported getting paycheques that bounced—they didn’t ever get any money. And—



The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Member from Welland.

Folks, we have three sidebars going on very loud, and I’m having trouble hearing the member from Welland. Could we take it outside, please? Thank you.

Ms. Cindy Forster: Thank you, Speaker.

Workers have also reported, because they are not able to get their wages, their paid holidays, their vacation pay—and likely they won’t be able to get these unpaid leaves of absence to look after their sick family members, because if they can’t get the important things that they need, like pay for the work that they actually do for their employers, how are they ever going to get these unpaid leaves of absence to look after family members? So because of that, they’ve reported having difficulty sleeping, they’ve reported depression, they’ve reported anxiety, because there is no enforcement by the employment standards branch for these people. Employees report that they have little protection from these employers’ violations, and in some cases, when they complain, they actually are fired.

They found that we need substantial improvements in workers’ protections. So that’s part of the reason that I find there are problems with this particular bill. All employees who are covered under employment standards, whether full-time, full-time permanent, full-time temporary or short-term, should be eligible for this leave, and there would be no requirement for that employee to be employed for a particular length of time. But imagine someone working for three or four months and trying to go and get a two-week or a three-week or an eight-week unpaid leave to look after a sick parent or a sick child, a sick loved one, when you can’t even get your paycheque. Your paycheque is bouncing; you are not getting your paid holidays; you are not getting your overtime pay. Why could we expect that there will be enforcement to make sure that people are actually going to get this unpaid leave of absence?

It goes on to say that a physician would determine whether the condition of the family member is serious, in the meaning of the act. In other words, the physician’s recommendation triggers eligibility for the leave. Well, try and get in to see a doctor to actually even get this information to take to your employer to get the leave approved. And then at the end of the day, you may not get the leave in any event, after you’ve gone through this. And these are low-paid workers who in fact probably will then have to pay $30 or $50 to actually get a note from the doctor to take to their employer to apply for a leave that they likely won’t be approved for.

There is no EI support for this leave. Other leaves under the Employment Standards Act include pregnancy leave, parental leave—which in many cases, but not all cases, have some top-up to the EI provisions, if you qualify for EI—family medical leave, organ donor leave, personal emergency leave, declared emergency leave, and reservist leave.

This new leave should not be confused with the family medical leave, which provides up to eight weeks’ leave to provide care to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within the next 26 weeks. Since 2004, there has been EI support for this leave. So, as well, there needs to be EI support for this new leave.

I raised this issue the last time I spoke in one of the two-minute hits during this debate, and I really do have a problem. I think many people in a low-wage-earning capacity, people working for minimum wage—or less, if you actually read this report from the Workers’ Action Centre—will have difficulty taking a whole week off. When you’re only making $10 an hour, that’s $400 a week, less your income tax. I don’t know that people could actually take a whole week off work, and so I think there actually need to be some amendments to this bill to allow people to take a day or two off and perhaps share that with their family members.

The bill’s effectiveness, I think, is minor, but essentially it is a positive step to those taking time off from work to care for family members. But once again, I think that the enforcement piece is going to be a huge issue. Obviously, the bill would be more effective if it had some EI support and some more flexibility, but enforcement is always an issue. Probably the biggest obstacle to employees taking advantage is fear of employer reprisal.

Now, I know that the purpose of this is to make sure that people don’t lose their jobs because they request this leave, but the reports that I’ve read is that people are losing their jobs because they’re trying to make claim for wages that they’ve earned or they’re trying to make claim for overtime that they’ve earned. So, clearly, if they can be fired for that, they can be fired for taking this leave to look after their family, with no recourse, because the enforcement is not happening at the ESA branch. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Mrs. Laura Albanese: I want to thank the member from Welland for the points that she has brought forward. I think that that’s what we’re trying to do here: All parties are trying to bring forward thoughtful comments and changes to the bill. The intent is to give something, the one thing that a family or a person may need the most when a loved one is seriously injured or ill, and that is the intent of this bill.

It is a matter of compassion, as we have said many times. We think that we all believe in this House that it is the right thing to do. Although right now it is an unpaid leave, it would allow those that are facing very difficult family situations the time off and the comfort of knowing that their jobs are secure. There are always going to be good employers and bad employers, and we need to be vigilant on that.

The government intends to ask the federal government to provide EI. At the time, we’re seeking consensus first in this House. I think it also shows—we’re debating it here at the provincial level—respect for this House first. The government does intend certainly to do that, and I want just to also highlight the fact that all employees who are covered under the ESA, whether they’re full-time, part-time, permanent or term contract, would be part of this bill—of the proposed leave—and that there would be no requirement that an employee be employed for a particular length of time to be eligible for this proposed leave. Thank you very much.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments. The member—I’m having a freeze here.

Mr. John Yakabuski: Renfrew—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke; sorry.

Mr. John Yakabuski: How quickly you forget me, Speaker.

Look, I had Bill 19 out here. I was all ready to speak to it. I had to even get a copy of Bill 30, because of course, the government changes the rules just whenever they see fit.

Let’s get to the point of Bill 30 here, folks. This is called “pass the buck and try to take credit.” That’s what it should be called. You see, they’re putting all of the onus on employers to grant leave to workers who have to take time off to look after an ill relative. There’s not a nickel to back it up, so the onus is on the employers. And then, they want the federal government to pay through the EI.

So this is what they do: They didn’t sit down and talk to the federal government and say, “Look, we’ve got a plan.” You know what? This is a good idea. I think that in this day and age, as more and more people are looking after elderly parents and elderly relatives because this government doesn’t, we’re in a situation where that happens to be the order of the day—no pun intended—and it doesn’t actually change. But now they come ahead with this. They didn’t talk to the federal government. You know what’s going to happen now? This government will go on its little tour during one of our constituency breaks and go on and on about how the federal government is failing because they’re not putting the money up for this. But they never sat down with the federal government and said, “Can we talk about this?” No; that’s just the way they work.


Instead of debating the budget or debating other matters of legislation, they bring this forward at a time when Ontarians are wondering, where are the jobs for the 600,000 people?—not necessarily whether I’m going to have time off to look after my grandmother.

It’s just typical of the way this government does business. It’s a shell game, it’s smoke and mirrors, and it’s not right.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Parkdale–High Park.

Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I certainly commend the member from Welland. She pointed to the widespread abuse of workers’ rights across the province of Ontario; the absence, almost complete in many instances, on files of the Ministry of Labour.

For example, today we had a press conference for 18 workers who have been laid off—over 30 years, some of them—who had worked for the Four Seasons Hotel, bought for $3.7 billion by the likes of Bill Gates, who was one of the investors. And yet these people were let go with severance paid only on their minimum wage. All these people lived on their gratuities. They paid taxes on their gratuities, and yet their severance was on minimum wage—a total travesty; the Minister of Labour completely absent on that file.

Only one in 100 employers ever gets a visit from somebody checking up on the way they treat their workers. In fact, my children, who have worked in the hospitality industry, tell me that right now in the hospitality industry it’s completely standard to work for nothing; to be invited in and to be told, “We need to train you for three days. You’ve got to come. You hang out with the cook, or you hang out on the floor. We won’t pay you anything. Consider it part of your training.” This is where employment standards are at in the province of Ontario.

We get calls all the time in my constituency office from new immigrants who don’t know their rights, because they’re not being paid minimum wage at all. People aren’t going to complain, Mr. Speaker. They don’t have the time or the energy or the cultural capital to complain. They’re just going to go look for another job because that’s what they have to do. It’s this government’s responsibility to look after their rights for them, and this government is completely absent.

Then we get this silly bill, G30, so people can take time off without pay—whoop-de-do. Tell me, who in the province of Ontario can take time off without pay in this economic environment? You show me the person, and I’ll show you a person who doesn’t really need to work in the first place. This is the problem. This is not the solution.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?

Ms. Tracy MacCharles: I want to talk about employers in Ontario, briefly. I think many members opposite have commented on this before, have agreed with what I’m going to talk about, and that is, many progressive employers do exercise compassion and care when it comes to their employees. Many do give paid time off when emergency issues happen or their family caregiver requirements come forward. I know this from my work as an HR executive in the private sector, I know this from my work in the broader public sector, and I know this from my role in advising organizations on how to be good, progressive employers.

Believe it or not, Mr. Speaker, we actually have a skills shortage in many, many areas in Ontario, and many employers want to be good and progressive employers. Retaining employees is something that helps manage costs, it helps productivity, and it just has so many benefits. So I think we need to acknowledge there are many great employers out there that do the right thing when it comes to employees needing flexibility.

However, there are certain types of jobs in our workforce in Ontario, whether it’s call centres or other types of work, where it’s not so easy to accommodate time off and maybe not as easy to accommodate paid time off, especially when it comes to small employers. Speaker, in Ontario, most of our employers are indeed small employers, employing 20 or less employees. So a legislative framework such as Bill 13 provides a way in which we can ensure that people have the time off to be with their family.

Our government wants to give employees the one thing they need most when it comes to caring for seriously ill or injured family members: time to be with their loved ones. That’s why I support this bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Welland has a two-minute response.

Ms. Cindy Forster: I just want to share with you some of the comments of the workers who were surveyed in this interview because of the lack of ESA enforcement. Workers who can least afford it are being forced to bear significant loss of income, and this is what they’ve said. These are people who are working, who didn’t get their overtime pay, maybe didn’t even get their regular pay, didn’t get their paid holidays, perhaps didn’t get their severance pay or their termination pay—520, so a pretty good sampling of people were surveyed.

“I went to the food bank and to social services.”

“I had to ask my friends for food.”

“Lost trust; discouraged about [finding] honest work; followed by depression.”

“I need to earn the same money as Canadian workers, since I did the same job.” Apparently, they weren’t being paid the minimum wage.

“Worked and lived on a farm. We had to buy everything but it was hard to get to the store; some days I cannot get any food.”

“He”—the employer—“told me I don’t have” any “rights since I am illegal and he can call the police.”

“I have seen my co-workers fired because they fight for their rights. Employment standards don’t or can’t do anything once a worker is fired.”

“I always have to live in fear of getting fired if I complain or don’t do what the employers tell me to do.”

Speaker, these are the kinds of comments that were made by the workers who are living on minimum wage or less. And I don’t disagree: There are some good employers, but there are plenty of bad employers out there. So to add a new feel-good bill to the workload is not going to achieve anything for these workers, who really need to have these important things fixed for them, such as wages, holidays, overtime and severance.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Further debate?

Mr. John Yakabuski: Point of order, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Point of order, the member from Renfrew.

Mr. John Yakabuski: It just amazes me, Speaker, that today, the government House leader stood in this House and said, “The reason we changed the orders of the day was because our people wanted to speak to this bill.” Yet when it’s their opportunity in rotation to speak, they sit in their seats and don’t even want to debate the bill? Shame on them, Speaker. Shame on them.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I thank the member from Renfrew. I don’t consider that a point of order. That’s a statement.

Further debate?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: I rise today to join the debate on Bill G30, and I’ll be sharing my time today with the esteemed member of provincial Parliament from Northumberland–Quinte West.

The title of G30 is recorded as An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family caregiver leave. Mr. Speaker, the use of the word “respect” in this title actually gives me cause to reflect on the amount of respect this government has for the taxpayers of Ontario—

Interjection: No respect.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: —or, in reality, I should say, the lack thereof. We have seen scandal after scandal, with no respect given to the people who pay the bills in this province. It wasn’t that long ago that we learned about the $1-billion spending scandal at eHealth; we had the scandal at OLG; and this Liberal government has continued to raise taxes in order to pay for their reckless spending scandals. Now, unfortunately, we have Ornge, which, in my opinion, is battling eHealth for the title of the biggest Liberal scandal. I’m disappointed—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Member from Peterborough, point of order.

Mr. Jeff Leal: Thanks very much. I have the utmost respect for the member from Huron–Bruce, but it seems to me that the bill we’re discussing is An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family caregiver leave. Mr. Speaker, I think it’s 26(b), the relevant section in the standing orders, in terms of having the debate relevant to the topic. That’s all.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Hearing the point of order, I would suggest that the member from Huron–Bruce was wandering a little bit when she got on the Ornge topic, so I would suggest that she stick to the script.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

The whole essence of my delivery today is about respect. And, Mr. Speaker, since the Liberals are showing a total lack of respect and seem to be ignoring the will of the House and the will of the people, who want more openness and more accountability into Ornge, I move the adjournment of this debate.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member for Huron–Bruce moves the adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard varying responses there.

All in favour will say “aye.”

All those opposed will say “nay.”

I believe the ayes have it, in my opinion.

Call in the members. It will be a 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1650 to 1720.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Ms. Thompson has moved adjournment of the debate.

All those in favour, please rise and remain standing to be counted by the Clerk.

All those opposed, please rise and remain standing to be counted by the Clerk.

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 25; the nays are 35.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The motion is defeated.

Further debate?

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Again I rise to speak about Bill 30. Again, this is An Act to amend the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in respect of family caregiver leave.

You know what? We all know what this bill is and what it does. Do we all support caregivers and those who unselfishly give of their time to help their family who are ill? Of course we do. But as my esteemed colleague the member from Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke pointed out earlier today, this bill is really about passing the buck and trying to take the credit.

However, when this bill was announced as part of the 2011 Liberal platform, many people acknowledged that this bill, in particular, does nothing but put the onus on business owners to pay for this extended caregiver leave. Small and medium businesses, who are already struggling to pay the bills, especially their ever-rising energy bills, are the ones who are in the end paying for this piece of legislation.

Do you know what? This government is doing nothing to stimulate the economy and allow these small businesses and medium businesses to realize their goal of job creation. We have to take a look at their expensive energy projects, and we have to really take a look at this particular bill, G30. Again, it talks about respect, and we see nothing of it.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I remind the members that their member is speaking, and there are four sidebars going on while their member is speaking. Thank you.

Ms. Lisa M. Thompson: Okay, Mr. Speaker. But again, you know what? This bill shows once again that this government is not on the side of small business, like the PC party is. They’re on the side of doing what appears to look good instead of what makes sense. What does this really do to help the people who are self-employed and need to take time off to care for an ill family member? Absolutely nothing. Just like our government is doing in terms of stimulating the economy and driving jobs: nothing.

Because this government has not committed any dollars to assisting this program, the person who is self-employed is left on the sidelines. I have to question that this is nothing more than another feel-good act introduced by the McGuinty government to gain favour with Ontarians. This bill is nothing more than political posturing, and I am disappointed that this government would take an issue as sensitive as one where people are willingly giving up their time and their own money to help care for an ill loved one.

So you know what? The only respect in this particular bill is actually found in the title, and the fact of the matter is, in terms of respect, given this morning’s delay tactics and efforts to obstruct the will of the House to review Ornge, in terms of the scandal that is clearly there, via a select committee—if ever, this is exactly why the will of the House should be respected and a select committee be struck, like the minister agreed to do. Since the Liberals seem to be ignoring the will of the House and the will of the people who want more openness and more accountability, Mr. Speaker, I move to adjourn this House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Ms. Thompson has moved adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I hear a dissenting no.

All in favour, say “aye.”

All opposed, say “nay.”

I believe the ayes have it.

Call in the members. We’ll have another 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1726 to 1756.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Members take their seats, please.

Ms. Thompson has moved adjournment of the House. All those in favour, please rise to be counted by the Clerk.

All those opposed will please stand and be counted by the Clerk.

The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 59; the nays are 1.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The motion carries.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): This House is adjourned until 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1757.