LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF ONTARIO
ASSEMBLÉE LÉGISLATIVE DE L’ONTARIO
Thursday 26 July 2018 Jeudi 26 juillet 2018
The House met at 0900.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Let us pause for a moment of silence for inner thought and personal reflection.
Royal assent / Sanction royale
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, Her Honour the Administrator has been pleased to assent to a certain bill in her office.
The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Valerie Quioc Lim): The following is the title of the bill to which Her Honour did assent:
An Act respecting Hydro One Limited, the termination of the White Pines Wind Project and the labour disputes between York University and Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3903 / Loi concernant Hydro One Limited, l’annulation du projet de parc éolien White Pines et les conflits de travail entre l’Université York et la section locale 3903 du Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique.
Notices of reasoned amendments
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 71(b), both the member for Ottawa–Vanier and the member for Toronto–Danforth have notified the Clerk of their intention to file notice of a reasoned amendment to the motion for second reading of Bill 4, An Act respecting the preparation of a climate change plan, providing for the wind down of the cap and trade program and repealing the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016. The order for second reading of Bill 4 may therefore not be called today.
Orders of the Day
Resuming the debate adjourned on July 24, 2018, on the motion regarding government priorities.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate.
Mr. Aris Babikian: Good morning, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election as Speaker. I am confident that your experience and skills make you the ideal individual for the position, and you will do us proud by guiding the Legislature over the next four years.
I would like also to congratulate my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for the great privilege that the people have entrusted in them and for being part of the class of 2018.
Mr. Speaker, I am humbled to stand here today to address this august chamber as the first Canadian Armenian to serve not only in the Ontario Legislature but also in any other provincial Legislature in this wonderful country of ours. Who would have thought that on the 40th anniversary of my arrival to Canada as a refugee, I would be bestowed the distinct honour of serving the crown and the people of Ontario?
I owe this privilege to the people of Scarborough–Agincourt, my volunteers, my community, my friends and, finally, my family.
Scarborough–Agincourt has been my home since 1991. My two nieces, Gacia, which means “cinnamon” in Armenian, and Meghri, which means “honey” in Armenian, were both born there. I’m a founding member of the Wishing Well community association and served on its board for two terms. I was also one of the founding members of the Willowdale legal aid clinic and served on its board for one term.
Scarborough–Agincourt is one of the most diverse ridings in Ontario. Many ethnic communities call the riding home. Amongst them are the Chinese, Greek, Tamil, Filipino, Armenian, Italian, South Asian, Hispanic, Lebanese, Coptic, Middle Eastern, East European, Afro-Canadian and many more. They all help enrich the riding’s social fabric and its multicultural nature, making it an ideal place to live and work.
We are proud to be the home of Vimy Oaks Farm. Leslie Miller, who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, gathered a handful of acorns from the battlefield and planted them in his farmland in Scarborough. It is now home to the Scarborough Chinese Baptist Church on Kennedy Road. He called his farm Vimy Oaks Farm. Today, several of the original oaks still survive. However, the oaks at Vimy Ridge in France have not survived. The Vimy Foundation, in partnership with the Vimy Oaks Legacy Corp., is working to repatriate those Vimy oaks of Scarborough–Agincourt back to Vimy, to help preserve Canada’s First World War legacy through the creation of a living memorial.
Additionally, the Scarborough Hospital, Birchmount site, formerly Grace Hospital, is located in our riding. I am sure that under the leadership of Premier Doug Ford, the riding will become home of the Bridletowne community health hub, where it will host the biggest dialysis centre in Ontario.
After 31 years of Liberal reign in Scarborough–Agincourt, our riding’s residents decided that it is time for change. They resolutely believe in Ford Nation’s message of revising the sex education curriculum, extending the Sheppard subway line to Scarborough Town Centre, ending the hallway health care debacle, reducing skyrocketing hydro rates, restoring the public’s trust in government, and bringing accountability and fiscal responsibility to Queen’s Park. I’m overwhelmed by their confidence and trust in Premier Ford, the PC Party and me. Over 50% of our residents voted for me.
I would like to thank the hundreds of volunteers who also believed in our mission. Our 21-month journey culminated with the June 7 victory. I would like to make special mention of the youths who were the core of my volunteers. I would also like to pay special mention to two 12-year-olds who were the heart and soul of the campaign. I would like to mention Aris Movsessian, who is here with us today in the gallery with his mother, and Garen Demerjian. Both of them were amazing. They were at the campaign office every day. They have a bright future ahead of them.
My gratitude also goes to my sister, Sevan Hajinian, who was my campaign manager, to my mother and to the rest of my family.
Without the hard work, commitment and sacrifices of the volunteers and my family, I would not be standing here among my esteemed colleagues of this House.
The biggest influence on my life and my lifelong dedication to helping others was my grandfather. My grandfather was a survivor of the 1915 Armenian genocide. He was six years old when he witnessed the brutal killing of his six brothers and sisters, in addition to his father and 40 members of his extended family. When I was a kid, I used to listen to the horrific trauma that he lived through. I would see the sadness in his eyes.
He always encouraged me to help others, to defend the vulnerable and the persecuted members of not only my society but also anywhere they lived. He was so proud of me. I was his first grandchild. Unfortunately, he did not live to witness this day.
By the way, close to 100 years ago Ontario became a pioneer in welcoming refugees when the province brought over 120 orphaned children between the ages of eight and 10 to Ontario. They purchased a farm in Georgetown and gave a new lease on life to these survivors of the Armenian genocide. We should be proud of our history of welcoming refugees.
Since my arrival to Canada in 1978, I have been actively involved in the Canadian civil society and the multicultural communities. My contribution included political, social, neighbourhood, multi-faith, human rights, social services, education, immigration, culture and other spheres. I have served as a citizenship judge, World Vision Canada Multicultural Council ambassador, chair of Levant Settlement Centre, secretary of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council and member of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada.
As a citizenship judge, I have lectured on human rights, civic participation, tolerance, Canadian values and traditions. I am grateful to my friend the Honourable Jason Kenney, the former Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, for providing me the unique opportunity to serve the people of Canada as a citizenship judge for six years.
I have a strong regard to our youth; they are our future. I have been a Wolf Cub and Boy Scouts leader, soccer coach and youth adviser. Many of the young people that I have mentored have become leaders in their communities and organizations, and successful members of our civil society.
As a secretary of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council, I established excellent relationships with the leaders of our diverse social mosaic, participating in the national umbrella organization’s round table on the United Nations Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, consulting with high-level federal officials and ministers regarding changes in the Canadian immigration and citizenship act, testifying at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration hearings regarding the Syrian refugee program.
I also testified at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage and the CRTC. I was also the founding member of the Darfur Solidarity Coalition.
These are some of the highlights of my recent public service activities.
I also acted as a monitor on behalf of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe council during the 2003 parliamentary elections in Armenia. Serving as the president of the Armenian National Federation of Canada and the first executive director of the government relations office of the Armenian National Committee of Canada were additional milestones in my public calling.
Together with friends, we participated in the private sponsorship and settling of over 250 Syrian refugee families. The refugees have become productive members of our community. Many are self-employed and have bought houses. Some even contributed to the recent Progressive Conservative Party victory in Scarborough–Agincourt.
Volunteerism, especially encouraging our youth to volunteer and get involved, has always been a priority of mine. So is the conviction that the sky is the limit for any Canadian who is willing to put in the time and make the effort. Regardless of one’s colour, religion, race, name or ethnicity, Canada offers equal opportunity for all of us.
In recognition of my contributions to our country, the Canadian government awarded me the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals and Canada’s 125th Confederation Commemorative Medal, while Ontario honoured me with its 20-year Volunteer Service Award.
I will be forever grateful to Canada, to Ontario and to Canadians for providing a safe haven to me and to my family and for offering me the opportunity to fulfill my potential. My contribution over the last 40 years is a small token of appreciation to the country which gave me and my family so much.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate? I recognize the member from Waterloo.
Ms. Catherine Fife: Good morning. It’s a pleasure to see you in the chair, Madam Speaker, and it’s always a pleasure to stand in my place in this House and bring the concerns and the voices of the people of Waterloo to the Ontario Legislature.
I have to tell you that there is a growing sense of concern in my riding about the speed and the rashness of this government and how they have moved to, obviously, address cap-and-trade—but not the real issues of cap-and-trade, and not the real issues of climate change, but just wiping the desk off, sending those concerns right to the floor without giving any consideration as to the impact of ending cap-and-trade in the province of Ontario.
There’s a lot of conflating of language around this issue, and I feel like it’s done in an intentional way. There’s talk of “killing the carbon tax.”
The people of Waterloo are informed on such a level—we have two universities—and the environment and climate change are issues top of mind for the residents in my riding. Scrapping cap-and-trade without having a plan in place to address global warming is downright irresponsible in this age. In 2018, we should know better in this province and in this country.
Ironically, the fisticuffs that the provincial government has now engaged in with the federal government—the federal government will be well positioned, actually, to impose a carbon tax on this province, a carbon tax that we will not have a say in, on how it is implemented, how it is designed. This will happen in this province.
The government has said that they will set aside $30 million for court costs. This is an astounding admission that the province is not on a solid footing with regard to the cancelling of cap-and-trade. By taking such an aggressive action—not a micro-aggressive action; this is an aggressive action—without measuring the consequences, without being open and transparent to the people of this province as to the economic impact that cancelling cap-and-trade will have in Ontario, this destabilizes how people feel.
Certainly, in our economy, we are hearing from small businesses that will be negatively impacted by the cancelling of cap-and-trade and 758 green energy projects. Cambridge is one example. There has been a hydroelectric project ongoing for 10 years. I’m the first one to admit that we have tried to address the slowness of some of these projects. Ten years, I’m sure we can all agree, is a very long time to do an environmental assessment and to design an EA. The cost of that EA was $338,000. The municipality was invested, the Grand River Conservation Authority—a conservation authority, that, if I may say, has been starved for money for the last 15 years under the former Liberal government.
The five-year project that was going to go on in Cambridge doesn’t fall into one of those drastically poorly designed projects, but it is being treated as one by this government. Some 600 residents in the Cambridge area, at the completion of this project, would have clean, renewable, cheap energy. Between 50 and 75 jobs were going to be created when you factor in the overall effect. Cambridge is a community that, quite honestly, was trying to find some solutions through the creation of this project. And all of the revenue that was going to be generated, ironically, through the hydroelectric generation was going to go back into the conservation authority to address the flood plain issue, the flooding issue, the lack of infrastructure in the dams that go all the way through the Grand River—the streamline. So this was a good project, and it was just about to start.
When you consider the investment that had already been made in this project—and then the government completely puts on the brakes. The board has expressed their disappointment. I’m sure the member from Cambridge will be hearing from businesses that had already invested time and energy and the technology to be part of a solution around creating clean energy, Madam Speaker.
That’s not the first project that you’ll hear about. I know that we all have projects in our respective ridings which will be negatively impacted by the manner in which cap-and-trade was cancelled in this province.
The motion that we’re debating this morning reads as follows: “That, in the opinion of this House, the current government is a government for the people.” I have to tell you, if you have to state that you’re a government for the people, I think that you’re already expressing a sentiment which is overstating the fact. It’s actually also implying that no other government in the history of this province has been a government for the people.
I looked at the picture when the Premier got sworn in here. Premiers Davis and Peterson, Bob Rae and a long line of Premiers—basically, the Premier was saying, “I’m the best Premier.” I have to tell you, if you have to say that you’re the best, then I think that we all know that you’re really communicating a position of weakness.
This motion goes on to say that you have a “clear mandate to pursue policies that put more money in people’s pockets.” I do want to remind the government that because of our electoral system, this government, the PC government of the day, received only 40% of the votes in Ontario. Sixty per cent of the people in this province did not vote for this concept of an extra dollar in your pocket; 60% of the people in this province would really like to see that extra dollar invested in long-term care, for instance.
There is a crisis in long-term care. The former Liberal government—and I know that it’s hard not to talk about it—but it’s a pretty impressive record of not doing the right thing for the people of the province. Perhaps we can agree on this. The Liberal government ceded their entire responsibility for long-term care to the private sector—almost entirely. They basically said, “We’re going to try to maintain this mirage of caring for the public in a public universal health care system,” which they were slowly undermining through privatization. “But when people get to a certain age, we’re going to leave that to the corporations.”
In this province, the not-for-profit long-term-care homes do really good work. I want to commend them for the work that they do, because they have not seen the kind of funding that they need to actually care for our seniors in an appropriate and a compassionate way. In fact, we have brought forward a motion that tried to hold the government to account, to at least give a senior in this province—who contributed to our economy, who contributed to our community—and, yes, they should get at least four hours of hands-on care each day, meaning feeding, nutrition, bathing and basic hygiene. I mean, is this too much to ask? But the government refused to engage in that. Quite honestly, we have not heard anything; the PC government has been silent on the quality of long-term care.
You have said that you’re going to build beds. Well, I can tell you that building a long-term-care bed requires people. At the same time as we’ve been engaging in this conversation about building beds, the government has put the brakes on new hires, so through attrition, we’re actually losing the very people who are responsible for the caring and the managing of those systems of care.
On long-term care: 60% of the people did not vote for this concept of an extra dollar in your pocket—they just didn’t. What they really want is the government to be responsible and accountable for the public services that they need, and that includes child care. The PC government, on child care, really does not have a solid foot to stand on, Madam Speaker. They think that an extra $5 in your pocket is going to somehow open up a child care space. They do not agree that early learning and care—in fact, there is no minister responsible for this—they do not believe that early learning and care is actually a public service, a public service that should be grounded in quality, in affordability, and in accessibility. The return on investment for early learning and care: I have to tell you, for every dollar invested, the return on investment is $7 to the local economy, to productivity, to education, to addressing issues of poverty. But that dollar is not going to get invested if it’s in your pocket. This is the concept and the disconnect that I think we’re going to be experiencing in this Legislature for the next four years.
This motion goes on to say that this government is going to try to create—it’s actually in the motion, that the government for the people is going to “create and protect jobs.” And yet we heard yesterday, loud and clear, from businesses from across the province, an open letter to this government saying the manner in which you have cancelled the green energy projects carte blanche—because there are some good ones in there. There are some that have been of concern, but you just decided to wipe the desk clean again. This undermines confidence in our economy. For investors who are looking to Ontario to start new businesses, to invest in the businesses that are here, the instability with which this government has made decisions causes those investors to back away. And, quite honestly, you can’t blame them, especially when you come back with bumper-sticker slogans like “We are going to reduce hydro by 12 cents.” If you are taking one action where you are actually going to be increasing the cost of hydro by reducing renewable energy in the province of Ontario, you can’t on the other hand say that you’re magically going to reduce the cost of hydro, especially because you have doubled down on the Liberal plan that the Financial Accountability Officer has stated is unfair to the people of this province because you are pushing billions of dollars of debt to future generations, which you railed against when you sat on this side of the House. You railed against that Liberal plan, and now you have doubled down and endorsed it, and then you threw a little gasoline on the whole mess by cancelling the 758 green energy projects.
This is a government that is practising walking in full contradiction of the rhetoric and the action. It’s going to be a full-time job for us on this side of the House, Madam Speaker, to hold this government to account, because they’re throwing it at us so quickly that it’s hard for us to do our due diligence and bring those voices of our respective ridings and concerns to this place.
But I can tell you that the people of Waterloo region right now are feeling very concerned but also are really looking to the two NDP members and saying, “Can you explain why this government is acting the way that it is when it knows that it is compromising confidence in our economy, when it is signalling to investors across Canada, even our other provinces, and is doing this intentionally?” and all under the auspices of greater financial accountability, in fact, even though we have, really, over a decade’s worth of Auditor General reports which have highlighted the systemic weaknesses that the Liberals built into the culture of this place, and even though we have a Financial Accountability Officer who has reviewed the finances, the accounting treatments, the unfair hydro plan, and you have the evidence right in front of you.
This is the thing with governments: Responsible governments have a responsibility to use the data and the evidence that is before them to establish policy. This is not a “stretch goal.” This is the job that we have as legislators, to responsibly act with knowledge.
Now, the government may not like what the Auditor General has reported with regard to the accounting treatment. The government may not agree entirely with the Financial Accountability Officer, a budgetary officer that we fought to get into this place during the minority government. In fact, I was in on the original hiring policy for that office. The goal of the FAO is to review expenditures but also to look to the future, to examine future projects and to say, you know, “This is not necessarily going to work out as the government of the day plans.” Now, I am telling you right now, the Financial Accountability Officer had lots of fodder and lots of material with the former Liberal government. But now, this government has decided to hire another level, even though they have evidence before them.
I was reading David Parkinson from the Globe and Mail last week. This actually came out exactly a week ago. He starts off the article by saying: “It’s ironic that a Premier elected on a pledge of leaner, more cost-effective government would kick off that quest with such a glaring waste of time and money.”
It goes on to say that the Auditor General and the FAO have already issued official opinions that the previous government’s budget has not properly accounted for a couple of key items, so you already have this information before you in those reports. He points out what is very glaring to us on this side of the House: that it’s hard not to feel that “this is less a serious investigation than a smoke-screen.”
I just want to let you know that we understand what you’re trying to do. We understand that you’re going to get a tool by this review, and then you’re going to start cutting; right? This is without due process. We have a responsibility on this side of the House to ensure that the public services that you have said that you care about—that we have the chance in this Legislature to protect those services and to bring those concerns of our respective citizens in our ridings to this place.
This is all happening within the context of the fact that the Premier did not have a platform, so there was no costing out. There were slogans like “buck-a-beer.” I’m telling you right now that if you move ahead with reversing the sex ed curriculum, with cancelling cap-and-trade and, therefore, imposing a carbon tax on this province from the federal level, with cancelling the 758 green energy projects—most of them are in process or almost completed. The White Pines wind farm was erecting one of those windmills yesterday as we were debating this issue. Decommissioning that project and spending almost the next four years entirely hiring lawyers in the judicial system and fighting contract law in this province is not in the best interests of the people of this province.
It really is hard to summarize entirely the level of discontent already that people are feeling with regard to this government. I feel like they are not buying what you are selling, and they very soon will see the impact of poor decisions that this government has made on a whole number of fronts.
I think that if you have to put in a motion, as they have right here, that you need to trust the government, that this is your goal, your actions do exactly the opposite. Compromising our economy by disregarding the interests of business and investors who are currently in this province does not build economic confidence. Cancelling and reversing the sex ed curriculum—not even keeping it in place while you consult—puts children in our province at risk. This cannot be disputed.
We are ultimately talking about values. We will continue to hold this government to account, to watch very carefully what they are saying on this side and what they are doing on this side, because right now, this is a government walking in full contradiction of every value that PCs or Conservatives hold up in this province.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
Mr. Stephen Lecce: I want to just note, Madam Speaker, I’ll be sharing my time with the member from Thornhill.
I want to, first off, if I may for a second, just say I was very moved to see and stand with New Democrats and members of all parties yesterday at the Danforth vigil. I think it’s an important symbol to the city that we stand united at a time of difficulty. So it was good to see many of you.
If I may, Madam Speaker, I do want to recognize the former speaker from Scarborough–Agincourt and just note the history in this Parliament. He’s the first Armenian to be elected in any Legislature in the history of this country. I very much value his thoughtful input in public service. He has done this for many years as a jurist and in many other capacities. So I want to thank the member from Scarborough–Agincourt for his leadership here in Parliament.
Madam Speaker, I want to comment on the motion before us today. It is so clear that we made a solemn commitment to the people of Ontario to restore hope and accountability in government. We also said we would make life affordable for the people of this province. We are doing that. We’ve taken decisive action, immediate action. It’s somewhat unprecedented to recall this House. As you know, we’ll be sitting for some days longer, to get to work to fulfill the commitments we made to the people of this province.
While we may disagree in good faith on the issues before us and the policy prescriptions of how we solve the problems, I do think it is important for any government to make a commitment and to deliver on it. There are many people in this province, perhaps many young people, disillusioned by politics because politicians of any stripe do not fulfill their commitments. I think this undermines the integrity of our democracy and the confidence they have in the institution of democracy. So I am proud to be part of a government that is doing exactly what we said we were going to do, particularly when it comes to creating an opportunity in society for the next generation.
We’ve put forth a strong, credible plan under the last bill, Bill 2, the Urgent Priorities Act, that is obviously taking action in three ways that I think are important.
The fact that we are sitting longer, the fact that we remain in this House, the fact that we have signalled to the people that the work continues and that we’re going to continue to roll up our sleeves, is another indication to the people of this province that there’s more work to do to better their lives and to put more money in their pockets.
We believe in an enterprise society where people who work hard and those who want to pursue the dream of the dignity of work should be able to do that unimpeded by government.
Madam Speaker, in the most recent legislation that has passed—and as of this morning, I understand that it received royal assent—we know that the acts we’re taking will help us reduce hydro rates for working people. There are so many people in every single region of this province—it’s not just germane to the people of King–Vaughan; it is in every region. It is in Waterloo. It is in Scarborough. It is in Kenora. It is everywhere, where working people feel the struggle and the pinch of higher taxes and of course the higher hydro rates that are imposed on them. We know, in all of our ridings, that this phenomenon should not continue, that this is an unacceptable reality for too many people, particularly our seniors, the people who have spent an entire life to help build this country. Yet, in their latter years of life, they have to choose between—it’s often remarked on, but I don’t believe it’s a talking point.
I have met many people in my riding—wonderful Italian speakers; little nonnas—who tell me they came to this country in the 1950s or 1960s and worked very hard in the apprenticeship of being a Canadian. They raised their family, helped their kids get ahead, and now at 70 or 80 years old, they can’t even make the choice of putting food on their table. Many of the seniors in my riding have to actually consider selling their homes simply to get by.
Again, I do think this is an unacceptable reality in 2018, in the greatest country in the world, in one of the most prosperous countries in world. This is unacceptable. We came to government with a mandate to help change that trajectory, to put more money back in the pockets of working people and to give seniors the respect they deserve in the latter years of their life.
We also made a commitment to end the waste—the wasteful contracts, the bad energy contracts that have manifested in government and the Ministry of Energy for too many years. The former government was rather content with signing these contracts at any cost—ideologically driven—no matter what, even if it meant higher costs for the ratepayers of Ontario.
Madam Speaker, obviously the people of Ontario have questioned the judgment of the former government and resolutely decided that that approach should not continue.
We have taken a different approach, one that is really rooted in a belief that we must get our energy system back on track and make it affordable, sustainable, and ultimately allow people in Ontario—as well as small business—to be able to live and sustain themselves.
So we’ve taken action. In one signature of a pen, the Minister of Energy just last week signed an order that will in effect save over $700 million for the taxpayers of this province over the years of those contracts. I think that is leadership. I think that is another example of the minister and the government taking action to save people money, and it is very much congruent with the campaign commitments we made. This goes back to an earlier point about promises made, promises kept: It should not be a slogan. This should be the way governments operate at all levels for all parties.
In some respects—
Mrs. Robin Martin: Hear, hear.
Mr. Stephen Lecce: Thank you to the member from Eglinton–Lawrence for her enthusiasm this morning.
In some respects, we’re being mocked for invoking a phrase that positions the people of this province at the very centre of what government is. That is precisely what democracy was predicated on: service to people. We will not apologize for making that the central mantra of our government. We will not apologize for ensuring that people in this province, particularly those who felt disillusioned by big, bloated, ineffective government, finally, after 15 long years, know that we will work hard for them each and every day in the service of the people in every region of this province.
Madam Speaker, we also made a commitment, as you know, to bring new leadership to the board of Hydro One. We made it clear that that was our objective—perhaps a lofty goal. I mean, I must admit, the fact that it was done so quickly—honest to God, it’s just incredible that that was achieved. I must give the cabinet—
Mr. Stephen Lecce: To the member from Waterloo—
Ms. Catherine Fife: I’d like to see the deal. I’d like to see it.
Mr. Stephen Lecce: To the member from Waterloo: We took immediate action. We took immediate action to do this. People said we couldn’t get it done. Under the leadership of this Premier, the Minister of Energy and cabinet, they were able to bring new leadership with not a single dollar of severance paid. That is, in itself, a success for the people, for the taxpayer and for those who want government to be on their side.
I know that this success perhaps irks other members of this House, but honestly, when government does something in the public interest—I had a wonderful interview on TVO about the rookies of Parliament, and I said that I would acknowledge when a good idea comes before this Parliament. When any party does something right, I am prepared in my own conscience to stand up and say that is a good idea.
When government actually fulfills a commitment of new leadership—not a single dollar of severance. Look, I get it. We just finished an election, and maybe we’re still in that spirit. I certainly am in some respects, Madam Speaker, as you’ve seen in recent days. But could we acknowledge success when it is achieved, when taxpayers are better off? I would submit we should.
We also made a commitment—and it’s something that I know will perhaps divide me and the members opposite—to put students first. I appreciate that the members opposite were ill prepared to put the interests of 45,000 young people first.
What we have done, after the longest strike in the history of this country, the longest strike in post-secondary history—this is nothing to celebrate, by the way. Obviously, many students in my riding have been very affected by this strike—over 100 days. It is just wrong. So we as a government and as a Parliament need to make sure that the focus of young people—making sure that they are enabled to achieve their full, God-given potential—should be at the centre of what we do.
Of course, there are two political parties, or certainly one, that are ill prepared to make that commitment to the next generation. But it is this government and this Premier who made a solemn commitment to get our young people back to school. We recalled the Legislature with that mandate, and yesterday—I am proud to reaffirm and report, if I may, that the students of York University will be back in the classroom this September.
We obviously recognize there’s more to do, and this motion, I think, intimates and indicates to the people of Ontario that there’s more to do. Yes, we have achieved incremental successes for taxpayers, for young people, for all Ontarians, but we recognize, I recognize, there’s more to do. I didn’t come here to have a good time; I came here to serve people. I came here to work for the people, if I may reaffirm, because this is very much at the centre of why I’m here.
There’s more to do, particularly in health care. Recently, I was fortunate to grab a bite with the member from Brampton South, who is in this House today—a great, capable member and parliamentary assistant. Talk about leadership from Brampton: He indicated to me the need to take decisive action on hallway health care at Brampton Civic, an issue that I know he cares deeply about and an issue that our government cares deeply about.
Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill, in Vaughan: The member from Richmond Hill will certainly echo these points, that we need to have more front-line investments to help reduce the wait times that are so brutal in hospitals today. So we’re going to be taking action in this respect. We’re going to be taking action.
As the member from Waterloo said earlier—a prolific heckler of mine, I will say. She talked about creating an advantage—
Ms. Catherine Fife: That’s not fair. I’m being good.
Mr. Stephen Lecce: You’re very effective. That’s a compliment to the member from Waterloo.
But I will say that she spoke about the importance of her region. I’ll be going to visit Google in Kitchener-Waterloo in the coming weeks to understand how we can enable our tech and our innovators in that region of Ontario to continue to succeed.
I will submit to the member—and, through you, Madam Speaker, I will submit to all members—that the way we achieve that is by ensuring that those small business, those innovators who are pioneering in research and development in this country, have the tools to succeed, that we give them a competitive advantage.
In our own judgment, we must acknowledge that the imposition of higher taxes and regulations on private enterprise is actually not the way to incentivize business to grow in Kitchener-Waterloo; it is exactly the opposite. If we want to ensure that more innovation happens in this province—a more productive society where businesses can grow and prosper—we’re not going to do that by sitting idle with a carbon tax being imposed by the federal government—no. We are going to stand up every single day against the interests of a federal government that is going outside their jurisdiction by imposing a regressive, punitive carbon tax on, yes, innovators in Kitchener-Waterloo, on exporters in Vaughan and on businesses across the province. We must take continued action in this respect.
Madam Speaker, I’m going to turn it over to the member from Thornhill. But I do want you to know that this motion is, if I may summarize, a clear indication to the people that we will continue to work very hard every single day in the pursuit of creating a society where businesses can grow and compete.
I hope all members will consider the leadership that this Premier has shown and consider the bills, the legislation, that we are going to put forth in the coming days and weeks to get our province back on track.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate? I recognize the member from Thornhill.
Mrs. Gila Martow: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. It’s wonderful to see you in the chair today.
We’re debating a motion today: “That, in the opinion of this House, the current government is a government for the people with a clear mandate to pursue policies that put more money in people’s pockets; create and protect jobs; address the hydro crisis; reduce hospital wait times; and restore accountability and trust in government.”
I have to say that when I’m reading this motion out, I am reminded of something that was posted yesterday on Twitter by Warren Kinsella, who is a political consultant. I think a lot of us inside and outside of this room know him quite well. What he said was, “No one can accuse this guy”—speaking of Doug Ford—“of slacking off. I’ve never seen anything like this.” I think this motion speaks to that, because we’ve really hit the ground running. We’ve recalled the Legislature during the summer recess.
What Mr. Kinsella was responding to was the fact that Doug Ford had announced in a statement that the Legislature is going to continue to sit for at least another two to three weeks. What we’re trying to do is not just to work on our campaign promises. It’s not just about promises made and promises kept. It’s about ensuring that future generations in Ontario have the same opportunities that all of us felt when we were growing up.
When we’ve been talking about back-to-work legislation—and the member from King–Vaughan was correct: our focus was on the students. I think that we on this side of the House were really able to really focus on what the students have been going through—the longest strike in Canadian history in a post-secondary institution. We were trying to imagine what we went through. Most of us did go to college and university; fortunately, we had the opportunity.
We imagined what those students were feeling—a five-month strike—what the students who are entering York University in September, or planning to enter, what they were feeling when the strike was still ongoing. Should they withdraw? Should they have applied to another program? Should they look for a job? We really, I think, emotionally were able to connect with those students. I’m glad that we passed that legislation yesterday, and I’m glad that those students are going to have the opportunities that they should have, the opportunities that most of us here in the House had.
It’s about affordability, accountability, about returning trust. It’s not just about the issues of the day; it’s not just about the problems we’re always going to be facing. Unfortunately, we know that there are going to be new problems that we can’t even predict. We’re going to deal with those problems. But we want to deal with it in an atmosphere where the public feels that they’re consulted, the public feels that they can trust all of us to work together to do what’s best for everybody—not just what’s best for an employer, not just what’s best for an employee, not just what’s best for students or just best for the professors or the Tas. It’s about considering and balancing the needs of everybody in Ontario.
Yes, we’re concerned about the environment. Yes, we’re concerned about having clean air and clean water for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren and our neighbours. But we need to do it in an atmosphere where the economy is robust. We need a robust economy in order to end hallway medicine, in order to fund our universities and colleges and training programs.
I think that a lot of us here are feeling the energy in the room. We have a lot of new members, partly because we grew the Legislature and we had some new ridings and partly because we had a big change. But the young members that we have here, the energy that they’re showing all of us to get to work—no grumblings; everybody is working hard.
It’s hard to recall the Legislature. I want to remind everybody at home that it’s not easy to recall the Legislature. A lot of people do not have their offices set up, do not have their staff set up. They don’t have a printer. We’re sharing printers and we’re all managing. It’s a real collaborative effort here in the Legislature. We know it’s hot outside, and sometimes it gets a little hot in here, even with the air conditioning, but we’re focusing on our campaign promises—just to touch on a few—to deal with the growing debt. We just can’t be continuing to spend over $1 billion a month on interest payments on the debt. It just cannot continue. We all know that interest rates could rise and probably will rise.
We want to reduce the corporate tax rate from 11.5% to 10.5% and, as well, reduce the tax rate for small businesses. We want to take 10 cents a litre off of gasoline, and we’re already working towards that. We wanted to take another 12% off of people’s hydro electricity rates, even added to the 25% the previous government promised.
The focus here isn’t just about subsidizing—collecting taxes from businesses and individuals in order to subsidize electricity rates. That’s not the kind of lowering that we want on this side of the House. The kind of lowering we want is decision-making that actually causes the root cost to go down so that people’s electricity rates go down.
We already saw—and it was, I think, an important message to the people of Ontario that we managed to so quickly have the board resign at Hydro One. The CEO stepped down with zero severance. It’s a message. It’s a message that we are not going to put up with wasting taxpayer dollars and that we are going to create an atmosphere that’s fair to everybody in the province of Ontario.
We’re going to create long-term-care beds. We have to end hallway medicine, and one of the ways that we can achieve that is by having long-term-care beds, and perhaps having more hospice beds as well. We want to deal with the autism file and ensure that every student in Ontario, if they need therapy, they are getting the therapy.
I look forward to many more comments and I appreciate this opportunity to rise and speak on this important motion.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate. I recognize the member from Nickel Belt.
Mme France Gélinas: Thank you so much, Speaker. It is a great honour to see you in the chair. I think you were meant to do this job, and I know that you will do an excellent job as a Speaker of this assembly.
I would like to put a few comments on the record regarding this motion that was tabled. The motion talks about the priority to create and protect jobs, to address the hydro crisis and to reduce hospital wait times. I will speak about all three of those priorities that are put forward.
I represent the riding of Nickel Belt. When you hear about Sudbury and nickel and you think about the mines, well, all of the mines are in my riding. There are many of them and, I’m hoping, many more to come. But I must tell you that although the mining industry is an important economic driver for all of Ontario, they are worried, Speaker. They are worried because of all of the uncertainty that this new government has brought forward. When you “scrap” things—that’s the language that they use—without replacing it with a thoughtful replacement, it leaves business with instability. Business needs to plan for a long period of time. They need certainty to be able to be successful.
I will put into the record a letter that I’ve received. They’re called Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, better known as Glencore. They are the second-largest mining company in the Sudbury area. They basically wrote to me because they are worried, Speaker. They are worried. They have plans to spend close to $1.2 billion in my riding. They have announced that this will be done through an investment of US$720 million—they always deal in US, for reasons unknown—in Onaping Depth.
Onaping is a part of my riding that already has a mine. They have technology now that allows them to go way deeper to get the minerals, but that requires an investment, an investment of $720 million that they are willing to do, which “will secure a mining future for our operation well beyond 2021,” because this is one of the mines that we thought was coming to the end of its useful life.
They are also planning to invest US$140 million to complete what is called the Process Gas Project at their smelter, to reduce SO2 emissions. This is on top of the US$180 million that they’ve already invested into this project.
Glencore has also announced a US$450-million investment to develop the Raglan Mine. Although Raglan is in Quebec, it is important to us, because all of the nickel that is mined in Quebec is actually shipped to Sudbury and it is further concentrated at the smelter that is located in Sudbury. Without this investment into Raglan, then the Sudbury Smelter would not have enough feed to keep going.
Combined, all of these projects total up to US$1.3 billion that will be invested mainly into Sudbury, creating thousands of jobs and maintaining thousands of jobs.
“However”—and this is where the uncertainty of this government is really felt deeply in Sudbury—“to ensure these and future investment are fully realized we must have regulatory certainty.” They go on to say: “Achieving certainty around carbon pricing in light of the new government’s proposed scrapping of the current cap and trade program. We must quickly have clarity around any potential” changes “and the impact it may have on our operations and investments.”
We’re talking about a US$1.3-billion investment that is going to be done, that is on the record, that is on the books—for infrastructure that exists. That is not pie in the sky. Those are investments that should be done.
They go on to say that “98% of the energy used by our Sudbury operations is carbon-free; these factors must be considered when assessing the impact any carbon pricing would have on our operations.”
To leave them high and dry, to leave them with scrapping programs—it doesn’t matter if you like cap-and-trade or not; at least it gives them certainty. It gives them the argument they could take to their shareholders and say, “We need a $1.3-billion investment in our Sudbury operation and here are the facts, and here is what the future is going to look like.”
They go on to say, “Having confidence in our projected electricity costs. Electricity is one of our largest expenses, and our exposure to increased costs is material as we have one of two remaining smelters in the province, operated with an electric furnace. Currently, in order to take advantage of existing pricing incentives, we must curtail our operations—and incur the productivity costs of doing so—more than a dozen times a year, a fact that is problematic while investing and building new mines.”
I wanted to put that on the record because those are real investments. They’re not possibilities of investment and then saying we’re open for business. This is a real business that has a real business plan. You can go on their website and see that those investments are there and have been announced by their shareholders. They’re coming to Sudbury, but all of this is at risk, Speaker. Why? Because we have a government that decided to scrap things, create uncertainty and not say what will come next.
Did you know that Glencore is the biggest electricity user in all of Ontario? Of everybody that pays an electricity bill, Glencore is the biggest user of electricity. When they use their furnace, if things are not melting the way they are—I’m not a mining engineer. Basically they turn the heat up. Every time they turn their heat up, they need more electricity.
I’m telling you this because it’s easy for people to say, “Oh, hydro will go down 12%.” For a mining giant like Glencore, they need certainty. They need to be able to sign into a northern electricity rate that will be there for five years, for 10 years, so that they can make those investments. Right now, because of the action of this government, because of their hurry in scrapping things without putting anything forward, we all have $1.3 billion of secure investments that are not secure anymore, that are at risk. It is huge, and this just one mining company.
I was going to go into others, but I will stick with mining for a while, and I will talk about IAMGOLD. The name will tell you what it’s all about: a gold mine, yes. IAMGOLD is a mid-tier gold-mining company that has four operations on three continents, and one is in my riding. It is in Côté Lake. Côté Lake is located between Sudbury and Timmins. It is Canada’s largest undeveloped gold project, with an initial capital expenditure of over $1 billion. Côté Lake, the gold project, has the potential to be a state-of-the-art project creating more than 1,000 construction jobs and 4,000 full-time jobs. Those are well-paying, family-sustaining jobs that come with benefits and pension plans and allow families to have a good life.
Ms. Catherine Fife: We need those jobs.
Mme France Gélinas: We need those kinds of jobs, absolutely. So when Côté Lake enters production, which we expect to be in 2021, we expect it to have about a minimum of a 16-year lifespan.
Their big financial backer is called Sumitomo, which is a Chinese investment company. It is the first time that this Chinese investment company is willing to invest in Ontario, Speaker. But now, the same as what I was telling you, the mining industry is really uncomfortable with what this government is doing.
It’s fine to have a slogan when you want to campaign, but you are not campaigning anymore. You are governing this province. When you govern this province, don’t use slogans anymore, because huge mining companies are not comfortable with slogans. They want to know what the policies will be. They need to be able to read it; they need to be able to share it with their shareholders so that those people who put up $1 billion—that’s a lot of zeros. Those are real people, those are real investors, and they need to be convinced that they are investing in this jurisdiction in Ontario where their money will be able to be respected.
Because it’s a new mine, they talk about permitting. Because there is a change in minister and a change with amalgamations of ministries, they are kind of anxious to see what that will mean to all of the permitting that a new mine needs to get. So far, Côté has received a positive decision on the federal environmental assessment in 2016 and a positive decision on the provincial environment assessment in January 2017, but they still need many permits. Things change, things evolve. What does that mean, now that we have a whole bunch of new people in a ministry that has been amalgamated?
Again, I quote from their letter: “It is critically important that the project secures power at an affordable rate.” They are looking to the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate program as central to the development of this project.
Business needs certainty. Slogans don’t work. We are talking a $1-billion investment in my riding in Ontario by a company that we all know has the means to do that kind of investment. But here again, a promise that was made, an investment that we thought was coming, is now on shakier ground because of the way this government behaves.
The government cannot behave with slogans. This has to stop. You have to put forward policies that people can read, that people can take to their shareholders and that make sense to business. None of this is coming from this government right now.
We have a three-line motion that we are debating this morning—sorry, a four-line—a three-and-a-half-line motion. Do not cut it. Businesses that invest billions of dollars in real jobs, in family-sustaining jobs, do not make decisions based on a three-and-a-half-line motion. They need a government that governs, not a government that continues to campaign. You are there for all 14 million of us. You are there for all the thousands of businesses. Stop campaigning and start governing. Otherwise, those good-paying jobs in my riding and throughout Ontario are all at risk.
I will give examples of things that government can do, and government should do, as soon as my papers get better organized. Here we go.
The next one I wanted to talk about—thank you, Catherine—looks pretty small in the grand scheme of things but is huge for some children in my riding. It has to do with something as simple as a crosswalk.
The community is Dowling. It’s a beautiful little community. I have a provincial highway that goes straight through the middle of the community. Nickel Belt is made up of 33 little communities, none of them big enough to have a mayor or a city council or any of this. They’re all little northern villages. Dowling is part of the city of Greater Sudbury. It has a highway going through it that’s typical of most of the communities you find in Nickel Belt. We either have a train track going in the middle or a provincial highway going through the middle of our towns. This one has a provincial highway.
The school is on one side of the highway and the community is on the other side of the highway. Most of the people in Nickel Belt walk to school. Every child who walks to school has to cross the highway. It’s a four-lane highway with large shoulders and huge trucks—because remember, all the mines that I was talking to you about put ore in the trucks and the trucks bring it to the smelter right down that highway. That’s Highway 144.
For years now, we were asking for a crosswalk, talking with the Ministry of Transportation. The Ministry of Transportation has agreed that this is a dangerous area, that a crosswalk must be built. But then we have a change in government and delays start to happen. But the school year is only weeks away, Speaker. It’s only weeks away. We have a government here that’s supposed to be for the people. Well, I hope it’s also for the little children of Dowling, who need to cross the street safely in order to go to school.
When you have a change in ministry, when you have a whole bunch of uncertainty, projects kind of fall in mid-air. There is no construction that has started on this project. I don’t want to single out a worker, but we reached out to local people at the Ministry of Transportation, who said, “I do appreciate your patience and I understand the frustration with the lengthy process. I can assure you that we are working” as fast—basically telling us that there are no decisions being made within the ministry and that they cannot move this project along.
This is what governing is all about. Yes, it is a project that was approved by the previous government but, really, Speaker, would you say no to a crosswalk for little kids who need to cross a four-lane highway? Who says no to that? Nobody. We all know that it needs to be done. We all know that those kids are at risk. We all know that there have been a number of close calls. Let’s get that done. Let’s get that done right away. We’re not talking a whole lot of money, but we’re talking the lives of little kids that will be at risk starting in September when they start to ride their bikes and cross the highway to go to school. It’s still dangerous in the summer because the ball field is also across the street and it is very well used. There is a playground there that is very well used. It’s all on the other side of the highway from where the village is.
I encourage the Ministry of Transportation to look at this seriously and give it the last go-ahead that needs to happen so that this project gets done and we can kind of tick that one off the list, that from now on the kids will have a safe way to go to school and to go see the ball games.
Funny how 20 minutes sometimes go way faster than others, eh?
Okay, so you have reducing hospital wait times as one of your priorities. I’m all for this. I can tell you that almost every large community hospital in Ontario has a long wait-list. Almost all large community hospitals in Ontario are facing hallway medicine, hallway nursing, because they are full to overcapacity. We all know that overcapacity is directly linked to wait times, because if you’re admitted through the emergency department, you will stay in the emergency department hallway, cupboards, washrooms—anywhere—because there are no places for you to be admitted into one of the wards or one of the units.
The reality is, at Health Sciences North, which is the name of the hospital in Sudbury, they’re facing an $11-million budget deficit. Why? Yes, because of the previous Liberal government, but right here, right now, they are laying off people. There are good health care workers—nurses, RPNs, lab techs—who are receiving layoff notices. Those layoff notices are under your watch.
You’re talking about a hospital that has been at over 100% capacity for years now and that is facing a budget deficit. You are the government. You are in a position where you can change this. You can fund the hospital the $5 million it needs out of the $11 million—they have negotiated a one-year deal with the local health integration network. They are still laying off people to make up the $5-million deficit in their budget. That shouldn’t be. In a hospital that is full, at overcapacity, that has one of the longest wait times in our province for many procedures as well as ER, they should not be laying off nurses and RPNs and lab techs and everybody else who makes this hospital work. They should at least keep the staff that they have. But they don’t have the money to do this, and this rests on your shoulders right now because you are in a position where you could change this today. I hope you will.
I thank you for your time, and again, congratulations on being in the chair and a Speaker of this House.
Debate deemed adjourned.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): It being 10:15, this House is now recessed until 10:30.
The House recessed from 1015 to 1030.
Introduction of Visitors
Mr. Parm Gill: I want to recognize and welcome two amazing individuals from my riding of Milton: Lynn Robinson and Sue Sleath. Both of these individuals do amazing work in the community and devote lots of their time. Please help me welcome Lynn and Sue to the members’ gallery.
Miss Kinga Surma: I would like to welcome Nick Sklar, who is a resident of Etobicoke Centre, was a key member of my campaign and is also a member of the police force.
Mr. Aris Babikian: Speaker, congratulations on your election as the Speaker of the House. I would like to introduce one of my youngest volunteers during the campaign, Aris Movsessian. He is 12 years old.
Mrs. Nina Tangri: I’d like to welcome my family here today: my husband, Ashwani; my son, Ran; and my daughter-in-law, Pooja, who very, very patiently worked with me on election campaigns for many years. I’d like to thank them and all the families of all the members here for the patience that they have.
Mr. Stan Cho: I’m honoured to introduce a number of friends and family who worked tirelessly on my campaign in Willowdale. Bear with me: Sam Moini; Jun and Trinidad Calaguio; Andrew Brethour; Judy Wilson; Diana Laza; Michael Klassen; Dena Gouweloos; Christina and Ria Botsis; David Cohen; Raymond Lou; Jackson Le; Leo Teng; Kathy Liu; Brett McDermott; Peter Durrant; Reese Nemeth; Byung Yeok Cho; Ken Yoo; Ian Choi; Jang Sung Lee; Michele Cole; Mark Weir; Hilary Cole; Ari Moghimi; David Lu; my campaign manager and new EA, a brother from another mother, Ryan Cole; my aunt and cousin, Kyung Sang and Eun Kyu Lee; my fiancée, Carolyn, and her parents, Barb and Ed Horbaczyk; my brother from the same mother, and his wife, Richard and Michelle Cho; and my amazing parents, John and Sandy Cho, without whom I would not be here.
Ms. Catherine Fife: I’d like to welcome my long-suffering husband: Dale Fife is here, originally from Peterborough. Welcome, Dale.
Mrs. Daisy Wai: Good morning, Mr. Speaker. I would like to introduce my brother Patrick Yau, and Joyce Yau, who came all the way from Hong Kong to visit their daughter and also to enjoy the beautiful summer in Ontario.
I would also like to welcome my other brother, Eric Yau, and sister-in-law, Inez Yau. Not only do they serve as directors in my EDA; they were also the greatest supporters for my fundraising and my valued donors. Thank you very much.
I also have my sister, Pastor Teresa Tong, who has always been praying for me and with me.
Thank you very much, all of you. You are valued family members.
Mr. Tom Rakocevic: I’d like to warmly welcome former NDP candidate and urban planner Darnel Harris.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Are there any more introductions of visitors? The member for Thornhill.
Mrs. Gila Martow: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know I’m short, so I have to wave pieces of paper to be seen here.
I’d like to introduce David Cohen. He’s in the west gallery. He’s from the developmental services provincial network and partnership, and he’s also a board member at a very well-known organization, Reena, which supports people with developmental disabilities from Richmond Hill.
Thank you for being here, David.
Hon. Christine Elliott: I’d like to welcome a visiting group from Nigeria who are here with us today: Senator James Manager; Senator Atai Aidoko; Senator Tijjani Yahaya Kaura; Senator Alasoadura Donald Omotayo; Mr. Musa Bello Muhammad, Clerk to the Committee; Mr. Dikko Haske, director, legal, federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development; and Olawale Fapohunda, legal adviser to the honourable federal minister of mines and solid minerals. Welcome to Queen’s Park.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I thank the Deputy Premier for making that introduction.
It is now time for oral questions.
Mental health services
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Deputy Premier. Why is the Premier cutting new funding for mental health by $330 million a year?
Hon. Christine Elliott: Thank you for the question, but in fact, we are adding to funding for mental health. We are committing $3.8 billion over 10 years: $1.9 billion from the provincial government, to match the $1.9 billion coming from the federal government.
The Liberal government, in the past, made a lot of promises during the election campaign, but we know how solid those promises are and we know how accurate they are.
This is the biggest commitment in Canadian history to mental health and addictions. We are committed to creating a comprehensive system that addresses all of the needs of the people of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Take your seats. Restart the clock.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Addictions and Mental Health Ontario says $2.4 billion in new funding is needed over the next four years, but instead of delivering, the Premier is dragging Ontario backwards. The Premier has cut $2.1 billion over four years and replaced it with $1.9 billion over 10 years. Even the Premier can do that math. Instead of delivering, the Premier is dragging Ontario backwards.
Why is the Premier of Ontario cutting new funding by $330 million each and every year and leaving thousands of people without the mental health care that they need?
Hon. Christine Elliott: Mr. Speaker, through you to the leader of the official opposition, that is not happening. We are adding to mental health funding. I would suggest that the leader of the official opposition’s math is about as bad as the previous Liberal government’s math.
We made a commitment to the people of Ontario that we are going to create a comprehensive system. We are making the biggest investment in Canadian history, and we are going to follow through on that. We made a promise to the people of Ontario. Promise made, promise kept.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members, please take your seats. Start the clock.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Today, there are over 12,000 children waiting over 18 months to get the mental health care supports that they need. It is disgraceful. And there are 13,000 people in Toronto alone waiting five years for the supportive housing that they need.
The Premier’s cut of $330 million annually is not going to end the crisis that we continue to have in mental health care in this province.
Why is this government and this Premier cutting funding for mental health care services that are so desperately needed across our province?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members, please take your seats.
Hon. Christine Elliott: Mr. Speaker, again, through you to the leader of the official opposition, I am certainly well aware of the situation for mental health and addictions in the province of Ontario.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Then do something about it.
Hon. Christine Elliott: I am doing something about it. We’re making the biggest commitment in Canadian—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I apologize. I can’t hear the Deputy Premier because of the noise coming from the government side. I have to be able to hear the member who is answering the question or asking the question.
Hon. Christine Elliott: May I remind the leader of the official opposition that there was a Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions in Ontario that all three parties worked on? And may I remind the member that the Liberal government was the government that didn’t do anything on this file? May I remind you of that? We are going to follow up on our commitments.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will take their seats. Take your seats.
Hon. Lisa MacLeod: That would be the government you supported 97% of the time.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also for the Deputy Premier.
The Premier is driven by backroom deals that help his friends, and we see it again with the disastrous decision to deny climate change and drag Ontario backwards. Cancelling cap-and-trade helps big polluters and puts more money in the pockets of the richest people in our province. In fact, families making over $150,000 a year are going to benefit by about $430 each and every year in their pockets where low-income families are going to get $8.58 a month.
Why is the Premier helping the biggest polluters and the richest people while the little guy gets stiffed?
Hon. Christine Elliott: To the Minister of the Environment.
Hon. Rod Phillips: Mr. Speaker, through you to the leader of the official opposition, Ontario’s carbon tax era is over.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members will take their seats. Restart the clock.
Hon. Rod Phillips: We campaigned on a clear commitment to put money back into the pockets of Ontarians. We will be putting $260 back into their pockets.
We know where this side of the House stands: We’re against a carbon tax. How much will the carbon tax be that the Leader of the Opposition would propose? Will it be the highest carbon tax in the world, as their caucus has provided?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, any way you cut it, the little guy is getting stiffed. That $8.58 a month is the only benefit that everyday families are going to see, while the richest Ontarians and the biggest polluters are going to be laughing all the way to the bank, just like the Conservatives like it, because that’s what they’re all about. The Premier is the biggest friend that big polluters have seen in years in this province.
The Premier’s climate change denial legislation says that the government will set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So I want to ask this government: Will they commit to ensuring that their new targets that they’re going to be bringing forward, apparently, are higher and tougher than Ontario’s current targets, or are they going to be beholden to big polluters?
Hon. Rod Phillips: I appreciate this: the Leader of the Opposition is correct. We are going to be putting targets forward. It is required as part of the bill, as you would expect.
But what I find difficult is how the NDP and the Leader of the Opposition make light of putting money back into taxpayers’ pockets. It shows a lack of understanding of the reality in Ontario for working families today. These families need the money. We were elected on this commitment, the commitment to put money back in people’s pockets, to get rid of a carbon tax, to get rid of a cap-and-trade scheme that wasn’t working. That’s what we’re doing.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Sit down. Please take your seats. Stop the clock. Restart the clock.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: While the Premier takes care of big polluters and the richest people, and stiffs the little guy with $8.58 a month, he’s creating massive uncertainty for Ontario’s job creators and for everyone who has a contract with the Ontario government. The Business Council of Canada says that the Premier’s decisions are undermining investor confidence and putting Ontario’s reputation at risk.
Under cap-and-trade, businesses spent billions for allowances, trusting that they would be honoured. With the stroke of a pen, the Premier says that those credits are now worthless. How can anyone trust the Premier to respect a contract?
Hon. Rod Phillips: The feedback I’ve been getting from business is positive about this government. Business understands, job creators understand that a lower-tax, lower-regulation regime is what’s going to create jobs.
But I’ll return the question, perhaps, for another one to the Leader of the Opposition: How much is too much for your carbon tax? Is it $20? Is it $50, which the Prime Minister wants? Is it $150? What is too much in terms of tax for Ontarians for the NDP?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is for the Deputy Premier.
Ontario is in the midst of an opioid overdose crisis, an emergency. Supervised injection sites and overdose prevention sites are saving lives in cities and towns across our province each and every day, but for two days in a row, the Premier of this province has refused to say that he supports this life-saving work.
Will the Deputy Premier commit today to keeping Ontario’s supervised injection sites and overdose prevention sites open in order to keep saving lives?
Hon. Christine Elliott: Thank you to the leader of the official opposition for her question.
As Premier Ford has indicated, he wants to know the evidence about the supervised injection sites and the overdose prevention sites. As a matter of fact, I had a meeting with Ministry of Health representatives yesterday. I am starting my consultation process. I am going to be rendering a report to the Premier in the near future.
We do take this very seriously. We are losing too many people from the opioid overdose problem. We are taking action right away and we will be making a decision in the very near future.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Ms. Andrea Horwath: The evidence is overwhelmingly clear—and maybe the Premier should have done his homework before making people very, very worried about the future of the safe injection sites in our province.
The effectiveness of supervised injection sites and overdose prevention sites has been studied for years and years. That’s why they have been put in place by so many communities across our country. In Ontario, they are saving lives each and every day.
During the campaign, the Premier said that he was dead against these sites. He ignored all of the public health evidence and ignored the voices of communities across Ontario.
Will the Deputy Premier end the uncertainty right now, acknowledge that the research has been done, do the homework and commit to keeping Ontario’s supervised injection sites and overdose prevention sites open so they can keep saving lives in Ontario?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members will take their seats. Restart the clock.
Deputy Premier, response?
Hon. Christine Elliott: Mr. Speaker, through you to the leader of the official opposition, we are very well aware of the situation. As you will know, the Premier subsequently made a comment indicating that he wanted to see the evidence to support the use of continued supervised injection sites and overdose prevention sites.
We are taking a look at that now. We are gathering the evidence. I will be making a report to the Premier in the very near future. It is a priority for me and for the Ministry of Health. We are working on it now. We want to make sure that we can come to the right decision, and we will.
Mr. Stan Cho: My question is for the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
One of the pillars of our Ontario PC government’s plan for the people was to end the cap-and-trade program—nothing more than another Liberal slush fund. I’m sure, like me, my colleagues on this side of the House heard time and time again that their constituents had had enough of this program put in place by the previous government.
We’ve heard that the people of Ontario are fed up. They need life in this province to be affordable again.
I’d like to ask the minister, for the benefit of the House, how this ineffective program put a strain on our economy and the people of Ontario.
Hon. Rod Phillips: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member from Willowdale: Thank you for the question. I’m certainly impressed by all the friends and family you have.
Our government was elected on a clear mandate: to put people first and make life affordable for families in Ontario. Equally clear was our commitment to scrap the previous Liberal government’s cap-and-trade program, and that is what we’re doing. It was an honour to stand in this place yesterday and to introduce that bill, my first piece of legislation as a minister here. In doing so, we fulfill a promise to the people of Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, we understand the challenges of climate change. We understand the problem. We disagree on the solution. The member asked what the problems were. The problems were that the cap-and-trade system, a carbon tax system, punishes low- and middle-income families. It punishes them daily for simple choices like choosing to drive a car. Those are not the solutions that we think will work. We will bring forward those solutions, but today we’re talking about the end of the carbon tax era.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Mr. Stan Cho: I’d like to thank the minister for another excellent answer.
Mr. Speaker, for years, families have struggled with the increased costs associated with this regressive tax. We’ve all heard the stories where people are literally having to choose between heating and eating. Businesses have also been reaching out to our PC government, begging for us to put an end to this program. They simply can’t compete with businesses in other jurisdictions while under the enormous weight of this tax.
Yesterday, the minister said that this government was very clear with the mandate that it received from the people of Ontario. It is staying true to its promises and scrapping this job-killing tax.
Can the minister explain, in real terms, what this legislation will mean for Ontario families and businesses?
Hon. Rod Phillips: Through you, Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member from Willowdale for the hard work he does for his constituents. I know he cares deeply about their best interests and the best interests of the province of Ontario.
A cap-and-trade carbon tax is a price increase on everything. We all know that winding down that price increase will be to the benefit of Ontarians. It’s a key step in fulfilling our government’s commitment, and it is an important next step in our other commitment to reduce gas prices by 10 cents a litre. Cheaper gas prices and lower energy bills will put more money in people’s pockets. Again, on the other side of the House, they make light of money in people’s pockets, but that’s going to mean $260 for an average Ontario family every year, year over year.
In addition to saving the money, we will eliminate the cost burden on Ontario businesses, giving them the potential to grow. It’s anticipated that the cancellation of cap-and-trade and reducing the fuel tax will increase Ontario employment by 14,000 jobs for Ontario families. That’s what’s in it to cancel cap-and-trade.
Ms. Marit Stiles: My question is for the Minister of Education.
This past weekend, we had a wonderful festival in Davenport called BIG on Bloor. At that festival, I met with many people who were gravely concerned about the repeal of the updated sexual education curriculum. We had a petition circulating, and within just a few hours, we had over 1,200 signatures.
So many people opened up to us with their stories. They expressed their very real fear that being excluded from the curriculum will force LGBTQ kids back into the closet. That means living in fear, depression and with thoughts of suicide. People kept asking us the same question: Why are we going backwards?
So I will ask this minister to stand up for all the students and young people she is responsible for and ensure that the 2015 curriculum remains in place, moving us forward, not backward.
Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I want to assure this House I’m standing up for students across this province every day. In saying that, I invite the member opposite to join me in making sure that people in her constituency are aware of the comprehensive consultation that we’re going to be embarking on this fall. We’re respecting parents and following through on a campaign promise, because so many people were not listened to.
I look forward to everyone in this House working with me to ensure that parents are respected and every voice is represented.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members will please take their seats. Restart the clock.
Ms. Marit Stiles: It is the youth and the children and the students who are calling on you not to revert back to the 1998 curriculum. Dragging the curriculum back to the 1998 version and starting the consultation in September completely fails the kids who are going to be in classrooms this fall, just a few weeks from now. This government is leaving students vulnerable to online bullying and is leaving kids without the language or tools to talk about consent and what a healthy or unhealthy relationship is.
Mr. Speaker, whether this government likes it or not, we live in 2018—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I apologize. I’d ask the members to come to order so that I can hear the member, who is so close to me and I can’t even hear her.
Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I would like to respond by sharing a quote from the federal leader of the NDP. Mr. Singh said, “When it comes to proper consultation, it’s clear the Liberal government has not learned from previous mistakes.” Mr. Singh went on to say, “The lack of inclusive consultation before announcing the curriculum was disrespectful to parents in my constituency and a mistake on the Liberal government’s part.”
So, Speaker, I share with you, everyone in this House and the people across this province: We are going to get it right. I invite everyone to encourage people in their constituencies to get engaged this fall as we embark on the most comprehensive consultation the Ministry of Education has ever seen.
Immigrant and refugee services
Mrs. Nina Tangri: My question today is for the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
I have been watching the debate on immigration during question period in this House and with the federal government. Minister, first I must congratulate you for your respectful tone and for standing up for Ontario, its citizens and taxpayers. Unfortunately, the tone from the federal government isn’t as respectful, nor is it straightforward in its responses.
I saw Minister Hussen on television Tuesday evening, and he now claims that he doesn’t know how much illegal border crossers have cost Ontario. Have you asked the federal minister for compensation, and will you issue a formal bill?
Hon. Lisa MacLeod: Thank you very much for the question. To the member: I am so proud and delighted that she has become a member of this assembly. She and I travelled to India a few years ago and we’ve come a long way since then. Congratulations. I’m very proud of you.
Ontario obviously is a very welcoming society, as evidenced on the benches of this new government of ours. We have over 20 people who have immigrated, or were refugees to this country, in the Progressive Conservative caucus. I’m very proud of that.
But let me be perfectly clear: With the situation that’s happening at the border right now in Quebec, there has been an unprecedented strain on our resources here in the province of Ontario. That is why I travelled to Ottawa earlier this week to indicate to the federal government that we have a price tag of about $200 million, and they are only willing to come forward with about $11 million.
Let me itemize this bill for you, Speaker: $20 million in education costs; $90 million in social assistance costs; $74 million in shelter costs for Toronto; $12 million in shelter costs for the city of Ottawa. We need the money. We’re going to stand up for the province of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members will take their seats. Please take your seats. Restart the clock.
Mrs. Nina Tangri: Back to the minister: I thank the member for her answer and appreciate that the implication is that Mr. Hussen doesn’t consider these formal meetings useful or that what is said isn’t listened to.
My supplemental question on the same topic relates to this bill that keeps growing: How much is the bill for Ontario and its municipalities? Is the federal government a partner to Ontario? And do you expect that they will pay this bill?
Hon. Lisa MacLeod: Thanks again for the question—very important. The price tag right now for the province of Ontario, in response to the crisis created by the federal Liberal government, is $200 million. Earlier today, I sent a letter off to the federal government itemizing those costs and requesting compensation to make Ontario whole.
We will have a looming crisis on August 9, given that there are 800 people in college dormitories in the city of Toronto that will need to be vacated. We have not heard from the federal government what their relocation plan is for those individuals.
I can tell you today that we’re going to have a vote in the House. I do hope the New Democrats and I do hope the independent members will stand with every member of this government for the province of Ontario, for the people, and ensure that the federal government pays its—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members will take their seats. Restart the clock.
Member for Toronto–Danforth.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Thank you, Speaker. My question is to the Deputy Premier.
Schools across Ontario are crumbling, but instead of fixing our schools, the Premier chose to cut $100 million from school repairs.
Does the Deputy Premier think cutting $100 million from school repairs is good for students and for the next generation?
Hon. Christine Elliott: To the Minister of Education.
Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m pleased to share with the House today that we understand that over the last 15 years, the Liberal government allowed schools to crumble, and it is absolutely concerning. That’s why I’m pleased with the work that we’re moving forward with in terms of working with both ministry officials as well as school boards across this province, and we are going to get it right and address priorities.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Again to the Deputy Premier: The Premier told Ontarians that he was cancelling school repairs because of his short-sighted decision to cancel cap-and-trade. But in yesterday’s briefing on Bill 4, it turns out that that’s not true. Nothing is stopping the government from fixing schools. The cap-and-trade money was collected. It is available. These projects can move forward.
So why is the Premier not fixing our schools?
Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I think it’s very important that we take the time today and share with the members opposite that the GGRF does not repair boilers. It does not repair the crumbling schools that happened under the Liberals’ watch. That’s why I am so pleased that I am committed to fixing schools. We are going to be working with our ministry officials as well as our school boards to get it right and clean up the Liberal mess once and for all.
Mr. Michael Parsa: My question is to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
The cap-and-trade carbon tax is nothing more than a tax grab that punishes families and chases jobs out of Ontario. We promised that we would eliminate this tax and we are keeping our promise.
Yesterday, the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks announced details of the legislation that would, if passed, formally end the cap-and-trade carbon tax era in Ontario. I have heard from many constituents who are praising this move by our government.
Speaker, I understand that this legislation would wind down the cap-and-trade carbon tax in a way that minimizes the risk to taxpayers while offering some support for eligible, registered participants in the previous program.
Would the minister please explain to this House what is contained in this legislation?
Hon. Rod Phillips: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member for Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill. Thank you for that well-thought-out and insightful question.
The member asks the question and gives us an opportunity to explain the bill. The proposed legislation is about the responsible wind-down of the cap-and-trade program. It’s also about minimizing the cost to taxpayers. It includes the repeal of the cap-and-trade legislation, extinguishing an allowance, protecting taxpayers from further costs and setting out a regulatory framework for authority around compensation.
Compensation, however, will not be given to people who got free credits. Compensation will not be given to people who have used their credits for polluting. Compensation will be given appropriately, and that compensation estimate is considerably less than the many billions of dollars that were estimated before.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, it also requires us to develop a plan around climate change, develop targets and report back, which we will do.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Mr. Michael Parsa: Back to the minister: I thank you very much for this response, Minister.
I’m pleased to learn about this important legislation that respects taxpayers and fulfils our commitment to the people of Ontario. I have heard from many constituents who have concerns about our environment. While they don’t believe that our taxes are an appropriate solution, they recognize the challenges that climate change presents. The Liberals’ cap-and-trade carbon tax failed to deliver results and was nothing more than a tax grab. They want action to address environmental priorities, including clean air and water, conservation, lowering emissions and reducing litter and waste.
Can the minister please tell the House how he plans to balance these priorities?
Hon. Rod Phillips: Through you to the member from Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill, Mr. Speaker: I can tell you that our government looks forward to moving past the previous government’s obsession with raising taxes and towards a working environmental plan that’s supported by the people of Ontario.
Our plan for the people made it clear that we’ll deliver on clean air and water, conservation, reducing emissions and cleaning up litter, garbage and waste. If passed, the legislation we are tabling will help us put together a plan that better addresses the real environmental concerns, including fighting climate change.
Our commitment is to put an effective plan in place. Our commitment is to do so without a regressive tax on the people of Ontario.
Ms. Jessica Bell: My question is to the Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Recently, I was approached by a resident in my riding of University–Rosedale who is in distress because their landlord is trying to illegally evict them from their home. Her fear is that if she is evicted, she will not be able to afford to live in the neighbourhood that she loves; she’ll have to find a new school for her son; she’ll have to find a new daycare for her son, say goodbye to many of her friends and no longer be close to the job where she is located. Provided that she can even find an apartment, a one-bedroom in Toronto—as you probably all now know—rents for an average of $2,080 a month. It’s now the highest in Canada.
Ontarians should not be pushed out of the neighbourhoods that they know and love because of skyrocketing housing and unaffordable rent. My question is: What will this government do to ensure that renters can afford to put a roof over their head?
Hon. Steve Clark: I want to congratulate the member on being elected. I look forward to working with her in the chamber.
The issue of affordable housing, both in the rental market and also in the home ownership market, is a problem we’re very much aware of, particularly in the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas. My ministry works very diligently with our community partners, with the real estate industry, with developers, but also with our municipal partners and the federal government. We’re very aware of bringing in more supply, and supply is, I think, a key component.
In my supplementary, I’ll address her concerns regarding the Residential Tenancies Act and the issues that her constituent has had.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Ms. Jessica Bell: Thank you for bringing up the question about supply. A new report just came out—it was released by ACORN Canada—and it shows that over 40,000 new rental units have been built in Toronto over the last four years. However, only 1,000 of them are affordable. That’s one in 40 units.
Torontonians are finding it harder and harder and harder to find an affordable place that they can live in, and that’s completely unacceptable. When will this Conservative government commit to fixing Toronto’s housing prices so that families are not scrambling to pay the rent?
Hon. Steve Clark: I guess I will continue with supply, rather than the Residential Tenancies Act. If you would like to talk off-line about some of the issues that the tenant is facing, I’d be more than happy to engage with you.
In the issue of supply, I think our government was crystal clear during the election. We’re going to cut red tape and we’re going to streamline approvals to get more affordable housing online faster. It’s a responsibility, as I said in the opening question, that we have many, many stakeholders who want to work towards. I’ve had a number of conversations with Mayor Tory since my appointment to cabinet. He’s made it crystal clear to me that supply and affordable housing is top of mind for him. I plan on working with him and our other municipal partners.
Speaker, we have some fantastic service managers and Indigenous program administrators that my ministry works with. It’s something that we share, it’s something that we’re aware of, and it’s something that we’re looking forward to the opposition working, actually, with—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
Immigrant and refugee services
Mrs. Amy Fee: My question today is for the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. Minister, I’ve been appalled by the treatment that you have received during the federal immigration hearings. The Liberal members of that committee chose to question your motives, suggesting racism and hatred lie in your request for fair treatment. They chose to ask questions about France, hate crimes, UN conventions and your language, rather than about the real impact illegal border crossers are having on Ontario.
I have heard that the bill for welfare, housing, education and immediate support is now over $200 million. I heard this week that you will support my motion today in this House to make it known to the federal government that your requests for compensation are being supported by wide-ranging Ontarians. What I want to know from you: Will you support my motion?
Hon. Lisa MacLeod: I would like to congratulate the member for her great question and her election to this House.
Let me be perfectly clear: Every member on the government side will vote for her motion. We will stand up for the integrity of our immigration system in the province of Ontario and nationally. We’re going to continue to welcome newcomers, but we have to be crystal clear with the federal government.
She’s right. The tone taken by the Liberal members at the House of Commons was absolutely appalling. They were not trying to be constructive. I went there with a $200-million price tag and I’m going to continue to press the federal government to invest in Ontario and to make sure that we are not only whole, but that we’re able to provide the public services our people so desperately need in the province of Ontario.
So I’ll ask the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens: Are you going to be with us or are you going to be against us this afternoon?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will take their seats.
Mrs. Amy Fee: Back to the minister: I’d like to thank the minister for supporting me and for her answer. I’m glad my motion is coming forward today and that it will have the support of this government. My hope is that the federal government will be an honest and upstanding partner that will foot its bill.
My supplemental question, though, relates to the federal government’s role in immigration. I understand the federal government has full authority over our borders and immigration system. What I would like to know, Minister: Does our immigration system have integrity?
Hon. Lisa MacLeod: I represent one of the most diverse ridings in Ontario. The riding of Nepean is very diverse, welcoming people—and not just like me, from other parts of Canada, but people from all over the world. I think that has made our community richer, and I really value that.
But let me be perfectly clear. When I attended the federal hearings this past week—there are some challenges within our immigration system that are testing the people of Ontario’s patience. It is the turnaround time for claimants that is an issue. There is an issue at the border. I’m heartened that the federal government has appointed Minister Bill Blair to deal with the challenges that they have at the border, but they also have to come to grips with the $200-million price tag that it’s costing this government.
I would encourage the members opposite, who decided they want to rant and rave over there rather than to be constructive on this issue, to vote for us today and make Ontario whole.
Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
In response to the lack of affordable housing and ever-increasing rents in Parkdale–High Park, residents have organized, fought back and successfully used rent strikes to stop corporate landlords from gouging them.
One of the buildings that was successful is 1251 King Street West. But now the landlord, Nuspor, has retaliated, issuing an eviction notice to the lead organizer, Mark, his wife, Pratussa, and their newborn son. It is clear to Mark and Pratussa’s neighbours that this eviction is punishment for Mark’s role in the rent strike.
Will this government commit today to implementing real rent control, stopping above-guideline rent increases, creating a rent registry and protecting the rights of tenants like Mark and Pratussa?
Hon. Steve Clark: I want to thank the member for Parkdale–High Park for the question. I want to congratulate her on her election to the assembly. I look forward to working with her.
My ministry has obviously been monitoring the situation in Parkdale–High Park and looking at the situation. Obviously, the Residential Tenancies Act does establish a framework for tenants to be able to provide those comments regarding what a landlord has been doing for them. The framework is very clearly spelled out. Certainly, there are remedies there for the tenant to be able to express some of the things that the landlord has done.
Certainly, since my appointment to cabinet, I’ve heard from both landlords and tenants regarding the situation with the Residential Tenancies Act and the Landlord and Tenant Board. I’d be more than happy in the supplemental to provide more information to the member.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary.
Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: Back to the minister: Parkdale Organize is holding a rally outside the Landlord and Tenant Board on August 1, the same date that Mark and Pratussa will have to appear for a hearing to fight their eviction notice. Residents of Parkdale–High Park will be there to show their support for their neighbours and send a message that they will not be bullied by corporate landlords.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know from this minister: Whose side is the government on? Will they stand with the tenants and introduce legislation to protect them, or will they take the side of corporate landlords?
Hon. Steve Clark: I want to remind that the member that the Residential Tenancies Act establishes the Landlord and Tenant Board, which is an independent tribunal with the authority to resolve those disputes between landlords and tenants.
I want to again remind the member that, under the Residential Tenancies Act, every tenant—I want to stress that—every tenant who faces eviction has the right to that hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board. The act is very specific in terms of how landlords must act with tenants. It’s an independent tribunal, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on something that is before the tribunal at this time.
Ms. Jill Dunlop: My question is for the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
We understand the need to create a climate for companies to choose Ontario to invest in. Yesterday afternoon, Amazon made an announcement about bringing jobs and businesses to Ontario. Can the minister please give the House an update on what the announcement was?
Hon. Jim Wilson: I thank the honourable member for the question.
Yesterday was a great day for the people of Ontario. It shows that Ontario sure is open for business. I want to thank Amazon for announcing their one-million-square-foot facility that will create more than 800 full-time jobs for the people of Ontario. We need more companies like Amazon to come to Ontario and bring those new jobs, and that’s what we work on in my ministry. Every ministry has that mandate because it’s a very high priority for the government of Ontario.
I thank Amazon, but I also want to thank our member from Dufferin–Caledon, who played a key role in landing this investment in her riding. So congratulations to her.
We promised the people of Ontario that we would work to make Ontario open for business once again, and we’re doing that by lowering taxes and putting more money in people’s pockets, cleaning up the—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
Ms. Jill Dunlop: Thank you—through you, Mr. Speaker—to the minister for that response. I would also like to extend my congratulations to Amazon for their announcement on bringing jobs and business to Ontario.
Will the minister please explain to the House—and, most importantly, to the opposition—why it is so important for Ontario to be open for business?
Hon. Jim Wilson: It’s extremely important—thank you again for the question. It’s obvious, I think, to all of us on this side of the House and, I hope, to everyone, that being open for business is crucial. We need to break down those regulatory barriers that were put up by previous governments, especially the government of the last 15 years—some 360,000 regulations that businesses and individuals have to try and deal with, and some of them are extremely ridiculous. We have them in all of our departments.
We have a deputy minister that has been established to go through those regulations and make recommendations to cabinet and to caucus, and really truly roll out the red carpet so that the hard-working people of Ontario—those million people on social assistance—have an opportunity to have a hand up, to get a job, to put food on the table for their families and not rely on the state, but to contribute to society by paying their taxes and raising their children. That’s what we were elected to do; that’s what we’re going to do, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: My question is to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Of course, when this government cancelled cap-and-trade, it killed a number of green initiatives with it. The green energy car rebate was good for the environment but it was also good for the economy.
Twenty models of electric and hydrogen-fuelled cars qualified for the consumer rebate. Morgan works at the Finch auto dealership in London. He is worried because the abrupt end to the climate change plan through cap-and-trade has meant an abrupt drop-off on sales of eco-friendly, energy-efficient cars.
What do you say to the car companies and car dealers who saw their business increase due to the green energy trades?
Hon. Rod Phillips: Minister of Transportation.
Hon. John Yakabuski: Thank you to the member from London–Fanshawe for the question. Congratulations to her for being re-elected again as well.
Our government ran on a platform, an absolute promise of getting rid of the absolute unfair cap-and-trade tax in this province. As part of that, we also had to eliminate the programs that were being funded by that unfair tax. The electric vehicle program—we made it very clear that that would be one of the programs that would be lost.
But we also were extremely fair in the way that we ended it. On July 11, we announced that until September 10, all dealers and anyone who had purchased a vehicle or had a vehicle on order, as long it was plated and delivered by September 10, other than Tesla—they would receive their rebate.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: Mr. Speaker, these weren’t luxury cars. They were priced within range of a new car, and the rebate was significant for consumers.
Due to the rebate, car manufacturers and retailers saw a 120% increase in sales last year. Green car initiatives have been worth $175 million to the economy since being introduced—good for the environment and good for the economy, Speaker.
What does the minister have to say to car manufacturers—job creators in the province—car dealers and consumers who relied on this rebate program?
Hon. John Yakabuski: Thank you again to the member. A punishing $1.9-billion tax on families is not good for the economy.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Members will take their seats. Restart the clock.
Hon. John Yakabuski: And $2-a-litre gasoline, as proposed by members of your party, is not good for the economy.
So I say to the member, when we eliminated that unfair tax, we ended the program for rebates that everyone in Ontario was paying for but only some were benefiting from.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Restart.
Hon. John Yakabuski: We were absolutely fair in the way that we brought about an end to the program. People understood during the campaign that this program would end because it was part of our cap-and-trade promise to end it. Promise—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
Mr. Bill Walker: My question is to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.
During the election campaign, I knocked on many doors and heard from many seniors and their families. One question I heard often was, how are seniors who are living in retirement homes protected in Ontario?
Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, can you please share with us how you and your ministry are protecting our seniors?
Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: Mr. Speaker, through you, I want to thank the member for asking me my first question as a minister.
Mr. Speaker, it’s an honour for me to stand up in this House, especially after being hit by a stroke a couple of days after my election. Somehow our Premier-designate, Doug Ford, found out. Within an hour of my admission to the hospital, the Premier was there to visit me. I want to thank the Premier, and I would like to thank all the members in this House in advance for having to put up with my speech articulation after my stroke.
Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure that seniors in retirement homes all across the province are treated with care and respect. If you operate a retirement home in Ontario, you must be licensed and compliant with the law that protects seniors. Requirements of this law include a duty for—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. Restart the clock.
Mr. Bill Walker: Back to the minister: It’s great to have you here, Minister.
Mr. Speaker, I was fortunate enough to visit a number of retirement homes and their residents over the course of the election. Given that maintaining resident safety is paramount to this government, how many licensed retirement homes are in Ontario, and what is the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority’s role in ensuring that residents are kept safe?
Hon. Raymond Sung Joon Cho: Mr. Speaker, currently there are over 730 retirement homes licensed in Ontario and subject to care and safety standards.
Since becoming the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, I have already met with the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority representative. I’m confident that the authority will continue to take all necessary steps needed to protect residents and to make sure their safety and well-being is maintained. For example, the authority has completed over 6,000 inspections of retirement homes. These inspections include responding to reports of abuse and neglect, evaluating licensing suitability and checking for compliance with the act.
Mr. Speaker, in summary, this government is committed to ensuring that retirement homes across the province are safe and secure for all their residents.
Mme France Gélinas: Ma question est pour la première ministre par intérim.
Less than a month after the Premier was sworn in, jobs are being cut at Sudbury hospital. At least 51 hard-working, dedicated health care providers are set to lose their jobs at Health Sciences North. The union president says, and I agree, that these hospital employees are “stressed to the hilt.”
These jobs rest in the Premier’s hands. He has the power to stop those layoffs by funding the hospital enough to have the staff that they need. My question is simple: Will the Deputy Premier stop these job cuts at Health Sciences North in Sudbury?
Hon. Christine Elliott: Thank you very much to the member for the question.
This is a serious issue. I am aware that the Sudbury hospital has had some significant financial difficulties, and so I can assure you that the ministry is well aware of the situation and we are urging the hospital to continue to work with the LHIN to resolve this so that job losses are kept to an absolute minimum.
We know that people need care. We know that they can’t be laying off any more people than necessary. They have already received some money from the ministry: $4.6 million to aid in the financial situation. There is more work to be done. The LHIN is working very carefully with the hospital on this issue.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Mme France Gélinas: Ontario hospitals cannot afford more cuts and more layoffs. They have been cut to the bone by the last Conservative government and by the last Liberal government.
Today, every hospital in northern Ontario is on the brink of financial crisis. In fact, the board chairs of the four biggest hospitals in the northeast penned a letter that says they are struggling to deliver services in “a fiscal environment that threatens basic financial survival.”
The last thing our northern Ontario hospitals need is more cuts, more layoffs and longer wait times for the families in the northeast.
Will the Deputy Premier stop the cuts at Sudbury’s hospital and place a complete moratorium on job cuts in Ontario hospitals?
Hon. Christine Elliott: I would say to the member, through you, Mr. Speaker, that some of the concerns being experienced at the Sudbury hospital and some of the other northern hospitals demonstrate the need for system improvement and accountability after 15 years of lack of improvement and lack of care by the previous Liberal government.
We are committed to improving the situation. That is why we are working very closely, through the ministry and with the LHIN, to deal with the situation right now at Sudbury to make sure that they can become financially viable as soon as possible. That is why $4.8 million—I’m sorry; I’m just changing that number to address the correct number: $4.8 million to improve the situation. There may be more work that needs to be done, but we are dealing with the situation very closely and we will make changes where we have to.
Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is for the Acting Premier.
Last week, the government announced that it had cancelled 758 renewable energy projects. One of those projects was a hydroelectric power plant to be built on the Park Hill Road dam in Cambridge.
The Grand River Conservation Authority has been working for decades to get approvals for the project that would provide nearly 600 homes with cheap and reliable hydroelectricity.
Instead, the contract was cancelled with no notice. That means lost jobs for the people of Waterloo region without taking one cent off of anyone’s hydro bills.
Speaker, what does the government have to say to the 600 families who will now see higher hydro bills because your government scrapped their cheap, reliable and environmentally friendly alternative?
Hon. Christine Elliott: Minister of Energy.
Hon. Greg Rickford: What would I say? Well, three words, but I’ll take my 60 seconds anyway: Help is here. Those people, like all Ontarians, are going to experience $790 million worth of relief from cancelling those projects, most of them that communities didn’t need or want.
We’re committed to cutting hydro rates, not subsidizing them for future generations to take on that burden, Mr. Speaker. This is a promise made and a promise kept for today.
Ms. Catherine Fife: Mr. Speaker, those people that the minister refers to are going to pay higher hydro rates, they’re going to lose their jobs and they’re going to have compromised contracts in the province of Ontario.
The government is getting rid of any renewable energy contract that their insider friends don’t approve of. The Park Hill Road dam would have provided nearly 600 families with cheap, reliable and environmentally friendly hydroelectricity.
Cancelling government contracts in this manner undermines investor confidence. It signals to the business community that the government of Ontario cannot be trusted as a business partner.
Will the government do the right thing and fulfill their contractual obligations for the people in Waterloo region?
Hon. Greg Rickford: What we’re going to do is fulfill our promise, our promise to reduce hydro rates by 12%—to cut them, not subsidize them as this member and her party had supported time and time again when the Liberals were ruining our hydro with the unfair hydro act.
We’re committed to renewing Hydro One’s leadership. We’re committed to getting rid of the carbon tax that’s putting a burden on families and businesses. Ontario is open for business. We’re making one promise after another and keeping one promise after another. Her members are going to feel that relief—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The members will take their seats. Restart the clock.
Mr. Stephen Lecce: My question is for the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines.
This government made a solemn commitment to deliver positive results for the people of this province. In nine short days, we have delivered renewed leadership at Hydro One and the cancellation of bad energy contracts. Promise made—
Interjections: —promise kept.
Mr. Stephen Lecce: We ended the longest strike on campus in the history of this country, at York University. Promise made—
Interjections: —promise kept.
Mr. Stephen Lecce: Yesterday, our new government took decisive action to scrap the punitive cap-and-trade carbon tax.
Mr. Speaker, could the Minister of Energy commit today to another promise made and another promise kept?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.
Minister of Energy.
Hon. Greg Rickford: I thank the member for his thorough understanding of this bill. I want to thank the House leader, the whip and all of our colleagues for chiming in on the debate, as well as the members across the way.
One thing was clear: Ontarians wanted their students to go back to class. Promise made, promise kept.
They wanted to save $790 million instead of wasting it on projects that they didn’t want and they didn’t need. They wanted Hydro One’s leadership to be renewed, and that’s exactly what’s going on. Promise made—
Interjections: —promise kept.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The members will take their seats. Stop the clock. Restart the clock.
Mr. Stephen Lecce: Back to the Minister of Energy: It is refreshing to finally have a government that actually delivers on their word, that rolls up their sleeves in the service of the people. Mr. Speaker, this is the realization of responsible government. It’s proud to serve with you, sir.
Could the Minister of Energy outline today how our low-tax plan for the economy will help create good, value-added jobs in our economy and create the conditions for prosperity in every region of this province?
Hon. Greg Rickford: I’ve been thinking a lot about that, hearing about the NDP math here. It sounds a lot like it did in Ottawa. Their forestry policy is their fiscal policy; their fiscal policy is their forestry policy. They think money grows on trees.
We know that it comes from Ontario taxpayers, from their pockets. They voted for a government that would reel in wasteful spending. They smelled something fishy about the NDP plan, some $5 billion worth of fishiness in their platform.
We’re going to cast our net wide. We’re going to clean up wasteful spending. We’re going to create prosperity and opportunity for Ontarians from Windsor clear across to the great city of Kenora. Help is here.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Mr. Gilles Bisson: My question, Mr. Speaker, through you, is to the Deputy Premier.
Deputy Premier, we see yet again more backroom deals by the Tories where Doug Ford went out, talked to some big polluters, talked to people who had money, and said, “What kind of deal can I help you with?”
Now we have legislation in place that’s going to allow the largest polluters in this province to get off the hook from taking their responsibility of making sure they are good citizens and they don’t pollute our environment to the degree they are now, and you’re shifting the burden onto individuals.
Deputy Premier, can you tell me why Doug Ford and the Conservatives choose to stand with the big polluters and not with the people of Ontario?
Hon. Christine Elliott: Minister of the Environment.
Hon. Rod Phillips: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, I appreciate the opportunity to say yet again that the era of the carbon tax in Ontario is over.
Why the members opposite attack employers, why they attack business on one hand and then say they’re in favour of them, I don’t know. Our approach is an approach that’s based on what’s best for Ontario families.
We were elected on a mandate to get rid of the cap-and-trade carbon tax. We will put forward a climate change plan that’s sensible, that understands environmental and economic realities. But the era of the carbon tax in Ontario? It’s over.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?
Mr. Gilles Bisson: Again to the Deputy Premier: That doesn’t cut it. The reality is, you guys made a choice and your choice was to stand with those big polluters, making sure that you stood with them and you don’t stand with the people of Ontario.
People in this province understand there is a thing called climate change, and we have to do something about it. Instead, you stand with the big polluters by way of backroom deals, and you say, “I choose to stand with the big polluters.”
I ask you again: Why are you turning your back on the people of Ontario?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members, please take your seats.
Hon. Rod Phillips: Doug Ford and the PC government chose the people. We chose to put money back in people’s pockets. We chose to listen to the people about their concerns, about the things that they cared about. They do care about the environment. That’s why we will have programs around conservation, clean air, clean water and reducing greenhouse gases, but we will also put $260 back in their pockets every year.
Hon. Rod Phillips: The people across can laugh at $260.
We will employ 14,000 more people with the elimination of the cap-and-trade program and our gas tax cut.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The time for question period has expired. There being no deferred votes, this House stands in recess until 1 p.m. this afternoon.
The House recessed from 1142 to 1300.
Introduction of Visitors
Ms. Suze Morrison: I’d like to introduce, in the members’ gallery, Angela Zhu, who is my campaign manager and just a fantastic human being that I’m so privileged to know. Welcome.
Mrs. Amy Fee: I’d like to welcome today two very special women in my life. The first one, Michelle Lange, has been a big part of my life since I was a young child. She was a teacher with my mom. My mom, as well, is here: Linda Trimble. I couldn’t have made it through the last few years to get to this point in my life without the great support that I’ve had from you.
Ms. Jill Dunlop: As I am presenting my private member’s motion today, I have lots of support here in the members’ gallery. I’d like to introduce my partner and OPP sergeant, Steve Cartwright; my beautiful daughter, Madison Rynard; my mother and Severn township councillor, Jane Dunlop; my campaign manager, Stu Spiers; a volunteer, Rene Hackstetter; the mayor of Tiny township, George Cornell; Mr. Brent Graham; my EA, Cameron Watt; and my intern, Julie Baron. Welcome.
Incident in Spadina–Fort York
Mr. Chris Glover: It’s with regret that I rise to make my member’s statement today. Two days ago, there was a terrible incident in which a man who appeared to be drunk confronted a family at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in my riding. The man repeatedly said: “You don’t tell me what to do in my province.” He continued to move in and pushed the family, and repeatedly said the words “in my province.”
I want to thank the family who was confronted in this abhorrent way. They moved their child to safety, called the police and remained calm as the man became louder and more belligerent. I understand the police are investigating. To the family, I want to offer my sincere apologies. The attitudes demonstrated by the man who attacked them do not reflect the values of the people of this province. The strength of this province has been built on the diversity of the people who live here. Such intolerance and belligerence have no place in Ontario.
To the man who behaved in such a shameful way, I say to you, this is not your province. This is our province. Your values are not the values of this province, and your behaviour is unacceptable and embarrassing. Your intolerance and belligerence will not be tolerated. From the first welcome that was given to us by the First Nations people of this land, we have built a diverse and united community. Ontario’s strength lies in celebrating and supporting the diversity of our backgrounds and welcoming each new generation of people who will come to call Ontario home.
Circonscription de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell
Mme Amanda Simard: Nos communautés à Glengarry–Prescott–Russell sont merveilleuses pour vivre, travailler et élever une famille. Nos bénévoles, nos clubs sociaux, nos entreprises locales et nos gens sont sans pareil, ce qui nous donne une excellente qualité de vie. Et nous en avons maintenant la preuve, suite à la récente publication de la revue Maclean’s et de sa liste des meilleurs endroits au Canada où vivre et où acheter une maison.
Dans leur top-10, Glengarry–Prescott–Russell avait non seulement une mais deux municipalités sur la liste. L’une d’entre elles occupait la première place. La municipalité de Russell, où j’ai siégé comme conseillère municipale avant mon élection à titre de députée provinciale, et la municipalité de La Nation figuraient toutes deux parmi leur top-10 au Canada. Les autres facteurs pris en compte étaient la facilité de déplacement, le faible taux de criminalité, les taxes et même les conditions météorologiques.
Je suis tellement fière de mon comté, et j’encourage mes collègues et tous les Ontariens à venir nous visiter et voir pour eux-mêmes ce que nous avons à offrir.
L’Ontario est désormais ouvert aux affaires, et la circonscription de Glengarry–Prescott–Russell est fière et prête à prendre les devants.
Riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan
Ms. Judith Monteith-Farrell: I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit River, Anishnawbe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat peoples, and that my riding is on the traditional territory of the Ojibway people of Fort William First Nation, signatories to the Robinson-Superior treaty of 1860, and the Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation.
The riding of Thunder Bay–Atikokan is a beautiful and natural landscape and has extremely hard-working, generous and talented citizens. Like all ridings, we have had our troubled times. Racism needs to be addressed, and we are addressing it with determination, with many chances for open dialogue, education, art and dedicated, committed leadership.
When going door to door during the campaign, the number one issue was health care—wanting a hospital that is not in constant gridlock, access to doctors and other health care professionals and much-needed mental health and addiction services.
I hope that after four years in this Legislative Assembly we can look back with pride at our behaviour in this chamber and at our progress for a better Ontario for all people, an Ontario where no one is left behind and where justice, opportunity and kindness prevail.
Events in Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill
Mr. Michael Parsa: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring attention to a great cause that brings people together from all over the world: the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. Founded in 1987 and having travelled to over 150 nations and territories, the peace run does not seek to raise money or highlight any political cause. Rather, the peace run provides an opportunity for people to give expression to their own hopes and dreams for a more peaceful and harmonious world.
The run is a global torch relay that embodies humanity’s universal aspiration for peace. Passing the torch from one person to the next unites us in our hopes, dreams and common aspiration to offer something positive to the world. The torch has been carried over 395,000 miles. Indonesia, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, Cambodia, Armenia and Australia are just some of the 150 countries that the torch has travelled to. I met the participants of this great initiative last weekend, and I invite everyone to get involved and take part in this great and symbolic activity.
I would also like to bring everyone’s attention to another great event taking place in the great town of Richmond Hill this weekend. The three-day outdoor Richmond Hill Ribfest is taking place this weekend. Ribfest features professional rib teams travelling to Richmond Hill from all across North America. Ribbers cook and compete for various “best” titles, including best sauce and best ribs, as decided by honorary judges.
Ribfest is taking place at the Richmond Green Sports Centre and Park from Friday to Sunday—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Thank you. Members’ statements?
Ms. Suze Morrison: I want to share with my colleagues today a bit about my home community in Regent Park and about some of the fantastic events that our community members are putting on throughout the summer.
Regent Park has certainly gone through a significant number of changes in the past few years. It’s no secret that we are living and breathing Canada’s largest social development project. But there are things that haven’t changed in Regent: the way our neighbours support each other, the sound of children playing on the playgrounds until late into the evening, and a vibrant community where there is always something to do.
Throughout the summer, every Wednesday night we host both the Taste of Regent Park and the Regent Park Film Festival. Families pour out of the buildings and into the park, where kids can make smoothies in a bicycle-powered blender, and families can enjoy a pay-what-you-can community meal, or indulge in a special treat of the week baked in our very own wood-fired community bake oven.
Ms. Suze Morrison: Yes, it is.
Last night Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre made us Indian tacos in the bake oven, and I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, if you’ve never had an Indian taco, you’re certainly missing out.
Then, after dinner, we gather under the stars and we enjoy the weekly film fest. Next week is the animated film Coco, and I invite all of my colleagues in the Legislature to pop on by. It’s only a short streetcar ride on the College car.
I’d like to thank and recognize the amazing community partners that put this event on, including the Friends of Regent Park and the Regent Park Film Festival.
The Common Table Free Farmers Market
Mr. Michael Coteau: I wanted to take a moment to recognize an important program that is taking place in my community over the course of the summer. It’s called the Common Table Market. It’s located in Flemingdon Park, which is the neighbourhood I grew up in, which is part of the new Don Valley East.
Before I do that, I just want to take an opportunity to thank the residents of Don Valley East for having confidence in me by electing me. This was the sixth time I was elected: three times as a trustee and three times as an MPP. I just want to say thank you to the residents of Don Valley East.
The Common Table Market is an incredible project that is put on by the Flemingdon Park Ministry. It’s an effort to make sure that people in the community have access to healthy, nutritious food. There are over 170 families that access this program, that are registered, and I had the opportunity last week to join many of the families as they came to choose different vegetable choices and fruit choices and to leave with a basket full of food so they can go home and share that with their families.
Mr. Speaker, it is important that families have access to nutritious food, especially young people. As they’re growing and as their brains are developing, it’s important that they get nutritionally dense food so they can reach their full potential.
I just want to say thank you on behalf of all the residents of Don Valley East to the Flemingdon Park Ministry—its organizers, its donors, its volunteers—for everything that they do to provide access to good nutritional food in Don Valley East.
Cambridge Scottish Festival
Mrs. Belinda Karahalios: Last weekend, on Friday, July 20, and Saturday, July 21, the beautiful riding of Cambridge hosted the 43rd annual Cambridge Scottish festival. You may remember, Mr. Speaker, that I mentioned this Scottish Festival in my inaugural speech last week.
The Scottish festival was first started in 1975 by Duncan MacLachlan. The games were an instant success and were initially held near the village of Ayr. In 1987, the games were moved to Churchill Park and have been held there ever since.
Last weekend, hundreds of people, including myself, enjoyed everything the festival had to offer: the drumming and piping competitions; learning about different clan families in clan alley; highland dance; and, of course, the heavy events, which included the caber toss and hammer throw. There was, of course, Scotch tasting, for those who were interested, and I will not say if I participated or not.
I would like to extend a thank you and congratulations to the clan chieftain, Nathan MacDonald, and the volunteer board of directors, Duncaun McLeod, Liz Cairns, Maris Leitch, Liam Curtin, Kris Gies, Dave Howell, Alisha McLeod, Taffy McLeod and Karen Clarke, who put this amazing event together year after year and help to keep Scottish heritage alive and well.
Fort Erie Race Track
Mr. Wayne Gates: I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to rise today to talk about an incredible day we had running the 83rd Prince of Wales Stakes Tuesday at the beautiful Fort Erie Race Track. Our successes keep going and this year we surpassed expectations. Broadcast live on TSN1, 2, 3 and 5, and around the world, tens of thousands of people watched as Wonder Gadot won the big race. Mark Casse, one of the best trainers in the world, said that he loves the Ford Erie Race Track.
In one day we saw $1.9 million wagered, an increase of 34%, and $77,000 in food and beverage sales.
Of course, the biggest support always comes from the community. We had 15,000 spectators, and thousands of people watched the concert after the race. And this is a point that’s important: The concert was incredible. As many of you know, it rained on Tuesday. The concert was going to be outside by the track. They took it indoors. What they did is they took it to where the slots used to be. Thousands of people were inside where the slots used to be. What happened is everybody looked around and said, “Why don’t we have our slots here? Why aren’t the slots back at the Fort Erie Race Track?” The band was playing; everybody was dancing, including myself, by the way. I’m not going to illustrate that now.
The important part here is it was promised by Premier Ford that the slots would come back to Fort Erie. By doing that, we could create 250 jobs immediately, and help the economy in Fort Erie. So I’m saying to the Conservatives: Promise made, promise kept. Bring the slots back to Fort Erie.
Hockey for Humanity Khalsa Cup
Mr. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: I would like to take this opportunity to talk about a great initiative that happens in my riding every year. This past weekend, Hockey for Humanity hosted their annual ball hockey tournament at South Fletcher’s Sportsplex. From July 20 to 22, hockey players from across Ontario took part in this tournament. As one of the co-founders five years ago, I am proud to say that the Khalsa Cup has quickly become one of the largest charity ball hockey tournaments in Ontario.
Hockey for Humanity was founded on the principles of selfless service and service to the community. Every year, all of the proceeds of the tournament are donated to local charities. In the past year we donated money to Right to Play. We’ve also donated money to charities like President’s Choice Children’s Charity, as well as Khalsa Aid.
This year, the tournament donated the proceeds to Corbrook, an organization that supports individuals and families with developmental disabilities. Their mission is to offer meaningful opportunities for personal development for individuals with varying levels of abilities.
I am very proud of all the organizers and the volunteers who put so much effort into making this tournament successful.
Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I wanted to recognize Jeff Rutledge, who is with us today. He’s from the Innisfil part of my riding.
I wanted to make a statement about Barry Rutledge, who does so much for his community. Whether it’s helping with the annual Innisfil Pitch-In Day, where the community gathers together to clean up litter, or whether it’s working to launch an interactive trail, or riding around in the fabulous Rotary Train at local parades, Barry Rutledge is there.
As a former OPP officer, Barry, with his wife, Lynn, is always striving to make their community an even better place to live. Every so often he gets together with his former OPP colleagues and they go out for some beers and some wings, but most recently, he had some bad indigestion. He thought nothing unusual; he’ll maybe wait a day or two. But the feeling came back after two days. In his calm and collected fashion, he went to his wife, Lynn, and said, “I’m not feeling so great. Can you take me to the hospital?” It’s a good thing that they did go to the hospital because it turns out, as he suspected, he was having a heart attack. Within minutes of arrival to the hospital it was confirmed. He was transferred to Southlake hospital, where he was given two stents for his recovery.
After that recovery, he joined the YMCA Healthy Hearts and joined a cardiovascular program in order to give him the strength that he needs to spend time with his newly born grandchild, who just turned 10 months yesterday.
I just wanted to say, Mr. Speaker, to everyone here, do take care of your cardiovascular health. Do what Barry Rutledge did and go to the YMCA. Make sure you take your heart health into consideration.
Notice of dissatisfaction
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Pursuant to standing order 38(a), the member for Davenport has given notice of her dissatisfaction with the answer to her question given by the Minister of Education concerning the health and physical education curriculum. This matter will be debated Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Hon. Todd Smith: I move that, pursuant to standing order 108, the following standing committees be appointed for the duration of the 42nd Parliament and that the membership of these committees be as follows:
The Standing Committee on Estimates: Mr. Gates, Mr. Tabuns, Ms. Stiles, Mr. Lecce, Mrs. Martow, Mr. Pettapiece, Ms. Park, Ms. Dunlop, Ms. McKenna, Mr. Cho (Willowdale), Mr. Fraser.
The Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs: Mr. Crawford, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Downey, Ms. Skelly, Mr. Piccini, Mr. Cho (Willowdale), Mr. Arthur, Mr. Mamakwa, Ms. Shaw.
The Standing Committee on General Government: Mr. Smith (Peterborough–Kawartha), Ms. Kusendova, Mr. Sandhu, Mr. Coe, Mr. Kanapathi, Ms. Hogarth, Mr. Kramp, Ms. Bell, Mr. Glover, Mrs. Stevens, Mr. Schreiner.
The Standing Committee on Government Agencies: Mr. Cuzzetto, Mr. Ke, Mr. Nicholls, Mr. Baber, Ms. Khanjin, Mrs. Fee, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Vanthof, Mr. Natyshak, Ms. Andrew, Madame Lalonde.
The Standing Committee on Justice Policy: Mr. Gill, Mr. Babikian, Ms. Park, Mr. Sarkaria, Mr. Romano, Mr. Baber, Ms. Dunlop, Ms. Singh (Brampton Centre), Ms. Taylor, Mr. Yarde and Madame Des Rosiers.
The Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly: Ms. Mitas, Ms. McKenna, Mr. Bailey, Ms. Simard, Mr. Thanigasalam, Mr. Oosterhoff, Ms. Berns-McGown, Mr. Hassan, Mr. Singh (Brampton East).
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts: Mr. Miller (Parry Sound–Muskoka), Ms. Surma, Mr. McDonell, Mr. Parsa, Mrs. Wai, Ms. Ghamari, Ms. Fife, Ms. Sattler and Ms. Morrison.
The Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills: Mr. Bouma, Mr. Rasheed, Mr. Hillier, Mr. Pang, Mr. Barrett, Mr. Harris, Mr. Miller (Hamilton East–Stoney Creek), Ms. Lindo and Mr. West.
The Standing Committee on Social Policy: Mrs. Tangri, Mr. Anand, Ms. Triantafilopoulos, Mrs. Karahalios, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Fee, Mr. Baber, Ms. Begum, Mr. Burch, Mr. Harden and Mr. Gravelle.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for King–Vaughan.
Mr. Stephen Lecce: Mr. Speaker, I move that the committee membership motion be amended as follows:
On the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Coteau and Mr. Harris be added.
On the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills, Ms. Hunter and Mr. Sandhu be added.
On the Standing Committee on Estimates, Ms. Stiles be replaced by Ms. Monteith-Farrell.
On the Standing Committee on Government Agencies, Ms. Andrew be replaced by Ms. Stiles.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for King–Vaughan and deputy House leader has moved an amendment to the motion—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Dispense? Dispensed.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the amendment carry? Carried.
Mr. Smith (Bay of Quinte) has moved government notice of motion number 3, as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion, as amended, carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas Ontario is situated on the traditional territory of Indigenous peoples, many who have been on this land for at least 12,000 years;
“Whereas in 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its final report: ‘Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future’ which made 94 recommendations or ‘Calls to Action’ for the government of Canada;
“Whereas reconciliation must be at the centre of all government decision-making;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to:
“—continue reconciliation work in Ontario by implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
“—reinstate the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation;
“—work with First Nations leaders to sign co-operative, government-to-government accords;
“—support TRC education and community development (e.g. TRC summer writing sessions);
“—support Indigenous communities across the province (e.g. cleaning up Grassy Narrows).”
I fully endorse this petition and will be adding my name to it.
Anti-smoking initiatives for youth
Mme France Gélinas: I would like to thank Hubert Plante from Lively in my riding for this petition. It reads as follows:
“Whereas in the past 10 years in Ontario, 86% of all movies with on-screen smoking were rated for youth, and the tobacco industry has a well-documented history of promoting tobacco use on-screen; and
“Whereas a scientific report released by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit estimated that 185,000 children in Ontario today will be recruited to smoking by exposure to on-screen smoking, and more than 59,000 will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases incurring at least $1.1 billion in health care costs; and
“Whereas the Ontario government has a stated goal to achieve the lowest smoking rates in Canada, and 79% of Ontarians support not allowing smoking in movies rated G, PG, 14A...; and
“Whereas the Minister of Government and Consumer Services has the authority to amend the regulations of the Film Classification Act via cabinet;”
They ask the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“To examine the ways in which the regulations of the Film Classification Act could be amended to reduce smoking in youth-rated films released in Ontario.”
I support this petition, will affix my name to it and ask Eliana to bring it to the Clerk.
Mr. Billy Pang: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas GO Stouffville line train and bus service:
“No southbound express train service between Unionville GO Station and Union Station during morning rush hours. It was cancelled a few years ago.
“Due to the Metrolinx GTA transit expansion plan, the GO Transit Stouffville line schedule had been changed. No direct bus service in midday (between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.) and evening (between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.). The schedule change that took place in June 2017 penalized passengers commute north of Unionville and Union Station. Passengers travel to Centennial Station and beyond have to connect between bus and train at Unionville Station. The half-hourly bus services were cancelled.
“We ask GO Transit to restore express train service between Unionville and Union Station as TTC is already serving the stations south of Steeles Avenue and also restore the half-hourly bus service.
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“GO Transit to restore morning express train service from Unionville to Union Station and the half-hourly bus service.”
I fully support this petition.
Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: This petition is titled “Don’t Take Away Our $15 Minimum Wage and Fairer Labour Laws.”
“Whereas the vast majority of Ontarians support a $15 minimum wage and better laws to protect workers; and
“Whereas last year, in response to overwhelming popular demand by the people of Ontario, the provincial government brought in legislation and regulations that:
“Deliver 10 personal emergency leave days for all workers, the first two of which are paid;
“Make it illegal to pay part-time temporary, casual or contract workers less than their full-time or directly hired co-workers, including equal public holiday pay and vacation pay;
“Raised the adult general minimum wage to $14 per hour and further raises it to a $15 minimum wage on January 1, 2019, with annual adjustments by Ontario’s consumer price index;
“Make it easier to join unions, especially for workers in the temporary help, home care, community services and building services sectors;
“Make client companies responsible for workplace health and safety for temporary agency employees;
“Provide strong enforcement through the hiring of an additional 175 employment standards officers;
“Will ensure workers have modest improvements in the scheduling of their hours, including:
“—three hours’ pay when workers are expected to be on call all day, but are not called into work;
“—three hours’ pay for any employee whose shift is cancelled with less than two days’ notice; and
“—the right to refuse shifts without penalty if the shift is scheduled with fewer than four days’ notice;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to honour these commitments, including the $15 minimum wage and fairer scheduling rules set to take effect on January 1, 2019. We further call on the assembly to take all necessary steps to enforce these laws and extend them to ensure no worker is left without protection.”
Mr. Billy Pang: “To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas the current bus service between Markham and Toronto by the TTC is too expensive due to double-dipping. Passengers need to pay a double fare if crossing Steeles Avenue. At present, the three TTC routes serving Markham and Toronto are 68 Warden Avenue, 129 McCowan Avenue and 102D Markham Road. On the other hand, if travelling by YRT, only one single fare is required. YRT route 24 Woodbine Avenue requires only one fare to commute between Markham and Toronto;
“We request TTC to synchronize with YRT by collecting one single trip fare only;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“TTC to synchronize with YRT by collecting one single trip fare only.”
I agree with this petition.
Private Members’ Public Business
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m pleased to recognize the member for Simcoe North.
Ms. Jill Dunlop: I move that, in the opinion of this House, the government of Ontario should identify and execute all the required actions to create an environment and training process that will expedite the creation of sufficient skilled tradespeople to make skilled labour a competitive advantage for Ontario and meet the requirements of a growing and vibrant economy in Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Ms. Dunlop has moved private members’ notice of motion number 4. Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.
Ms. Jill Dunlop: It is an honour to rise and speak on the topic of creating good jobs in Ontario by revitalizing skilled labour. I want to begin today’s discussion by explaining why this motion is important to Ontario and why I am personally committed to working on this motion.
This motion is important to Ontario because: (1) we have an unprecedented, and growing, shortage of skilled labour; (2) skilled labour jobs are good jobs; (3) skilled labour careers have a negative stigma in Ontario; and (4) immediate action is required.
I am committed to work hard on this motion because my family has operated a successful skilled trades business for over 60 years. I have relevant work experience and insights, and there is overwhelming support in Simcoe North and across Ontario.
There is a major and growing shortage of skilled employees to create and/or grow businesses and industries in Ontario. A 2018 Globe and Mail article released the following statistics: “In the Canadian Tooling and Machining Association 2017 Wage and Business Survey, companies reported that 20% of their skilled workers are over the age of 54 and will be retiring in the next decade.” And in Ontario, “a survey by the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance reported that 41% of employers would hire more people if they could find those with the skills they needed.
Additionally, our newly formed government of Ontario is placing a priority on job creation and better jobs to return Ontario to its role as the economic engine of Canada.
As we execute our plan to make Ontario open for business, we will need skilled labour to fill the jobs that a thriving economy will generate. Skilled labour jobs are good jobs and provide a meaningful, financially sound and stable career path for many Ontarians, including young people, newcomers and individuals looking for a career change. Skilled trades careers provide diverse job opportunities, learn-as-you-earn opportunities, high job satisfaction and lucrative salaries. High levels of job satisfaction are reported by 90% of trade and technology professionals. The average annual salary of a full-time certified tradesperson in Ontario is over $57,000 a year. Many experienced tradespeople earn $80,000 or more per year.
There is a negative stigma surrounding skilled trades workers, whereby people believe that skilled trades are not a career to aspire to or be proud of. This stigma is unique to North America, where the false perception is deterring our youth from entering a promising profession. In Europe, a number of countries have prioritized skilled trades within their education systems and are training a large number of skilled trade workers. For example, Germany’s dual education system provides specialized vocational training and apprenticeship opportunities, which has kept the youth employment levels very high. This, in part, has led two thirds of students from each school-leaving cohort to start a skilled trades apprenticeship, while Canada has only 10% of its youth pursuing the same career path.
A 2017 report released by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce stated, “One of the most pervasive barriers to attracting youth to the trades is the perception that the careers in the sector offer limited opportunities for learning, growth and social mobility.”
This same report estimated that skilled trades will account for 40% of new jobs created in the next decade; however, only 26% of youth between the ages of 13 and 24 are even contemplating a career in this field, and only 10% will actually pursue a skilled trades career.
While there are many wonderful post-secondary professions and career opportunities for those who do pursue university, there is a growing number of equally respectable and well-paying jobs for those who attend colleges and trade schools. In spite of this, only 30% of full-time students enrolled in secondary schools will go to college and 10% in apprenticeships, whereas 60% of those same students will go on to university.
Madam Speaker, as our children enter high school and begin to plan for their future careers, we need to be open-minded as parents and encourage the pursuit of a career in the skilled trades.
A skilled trades survey conducted by the Ontario College of Trades in 2016 collected data pertaining to how Ontario parents view the skilled trades. Of the parents who participated in the survey, only 38% reported that they had spoken with their child about pursuing a career in the skilled trades.
Our youth deserve to be presented with as many career options as possible, and the skilled trades should be at the top of that list. Replacing the negative stigma around skilled trades and representing skilled trades as a viable and respectable career path is a critical step.
This motion requires immediate action. Positive actions will require time for the education and training process to demonstrate positive results.
Further, the 2016 annual report of the Auditor General indicated that only 50% of the people who start an apprenticeship in Ontario will actually complete their program.
The current apprenticeship program in Ontario has become outdated and overly complex. To become an apprentice, an interested candidate must go through a very complicated application process. The process is tedious, as it features a tremendous amount of wait times, forms to complete and fees to pay.
Additionally, our journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio framework has been very constricting in Ontario. Other provinces have much more flexibility within this framework and are providing better opportunities for apprentices. We need to get to work on action plans now to address these concerns.
Madam Speaker, I am committed to this motion because my family has operated a successful skilled trades business for over 60 years. In 1956, my grandparents Glen and Marie Dunlop established Glen Dunlop Plumbing, Heating and Supplies Ltd. Glen and Marie initially operated this company from their home in Coldwater, before eventually moving to a nearby shop in 1969.
Glen Dunlop Plumbing, Heating and Supplies Ltd. has, over time, hired nearly 200 people and continues to operate in Coldwater, Ontario. In fact, my father, brother, uncle and cousins are plumbers, and my aunts work in the retail plumbing store. This is one of the many small-town Ontario success stories inspired by a career path in the skilled trades. We need to create more stories like this one.
I have relevant work experience as a college teacher and job placement specialist. I have worked extensively with students and businesses to align on-the-job experiences and career opportunities. I have grown to understand the many challenges faced by colleges, graduates and businesses. I will leverage my experience to assist in executing this motion.
Simcoe North’s support for this motion is unanimous. During the election campaign, I met with representatives from a wide range of businesses, including a small construction company owner, a hardware store entrepreneur, the Weber Manufacturing president, a Magna divisional president and two general managers from local marinas. Every person I talked to identified a shortage of well-educated and well-trained skilled tradespeople as a key obstacle to sustaining or growing their business.
Additionally, everyone acknowledged that the shortage is getting worse and that immediate action needs to be identified and executed. These meetings and conversations reinforced that this issue is impacting all tradespeople in a wide variety of skilled-trades-related businesses. I believe that business and industry must also accept the challenges of developing sufficient skilled tradespeople to make skilled labour a competitive advantage for Ontario and meet the requirements of a growing and vibrant economy in Ontario.
Madam Speaker, in my riding we are fortunate that a number of businesses have come together as the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe and are collaborating and sharing plans. The EDCNS has partnered with the townships of Tay and Tiny, the towns of Midland and Penetanguishene and the county of Simcoe.
In addition to supporting agribusiness, tourism and health care, the EDCNS has grown advanced manufacturing and skilled trades in Simcoe North. This team has brainstormed a number of positive and influential solutions to aid with the shortage of skilled labour. Their actions include an incubator program for automation for primary school students, building relationships with high schools to promote trades among students and their parents, and forming a multi-program partnership with Georgian College. Along with their slogan, “Blue Collar Cool,” they are working to promote skilled trades to our youth.
I would like to acknowledge those EDCNS board members in the gallery today who have driven from Simcoe North to show their support for this motion: the township of Tiny mayor, George Cornell; and Brent Graham.
Madam Speaker and members of this House, I believe our government’s role in education, training, colleges and job creation requires us to assume leadership in the creation of sufficient skilled tradespeople to make skilled labour a competitive advantage for Ontario and to meet the requirements of a growing and vibrant economy. I look forward to your feedback and support for my motion.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate? I recognize the member from Timmins.
Mr. Gilles Bisson: I haven’t had a chance to congratulate you on your ascendancy to the chair, as they say—I will use the right word.
I want to start off by saying that we will be supporting this motion, but I want to put a couple of things on the record that concern me with regard to any agenda by Conservatives, and specifically the Ford Conservatives, when it comes to apprenticeships.
First of all, just to be clear, I served an apprenticeship. I’m an electrician by trade, so I’ve gone through the system. I speak as someone who has gone through it—what some of our concerns are both as apprentices and as journeymen afterward, and as business owners who have to run those businesses where the electricians are hired.
It used to be, at least when I was hired in the trade, that the employer got a form of subsidy from the provincial government. It might have been a split thing with the federal government. I don’t know; I wasn’t the one to make up that program. I was an apprentice at the time; I was not a legislator. That’s why the employers were keen on hiring apprentices. If you hired apprentices during the first term, before you went to your basics in your first year or year and a half, you got a subsidy that was X. Then, after the person came back and before they went to their intermediate stage of going to college, they got a little bit less. Then, when they finally got between intermediate and advanced it was dropped a bit again. The point is that the employers were encouraged to take on apprentices by way of providing a wage subsidy. Because the employer has a legitimate issue: “I need to have somebody who is able to do the job.” If you’re hiring an apprentice who has no experience—and that’s what happens when you start an apprenticeship, you have no experience. Your journeyman sends you for a left-handed monkey wrench. They send you for a bucket of steam. They pull all the jokes on you—and I’m just saying some of the ones they might have done to other people, but not me, because I worked underground. We didn’t have either one. The point is, the employers were subsidized. What that did was it allowed the employer to hire us in order to do our apprenticeships. Why? Because we were of value as labourers, but we were not as much of value when it came to the electrical work. We tended to do the pulling of the cables, installing cable trays, helping the journeymen do whatever it was they were doing. We didn’t have the experience to really be as valuable as what the employer needed. I’m not saying there was no value to the labour we did, because I think what I did was quite good. But the point is, those subsidies were what really encouraged employers to hire the apprentice.
If we are serious in this province—and I think we need to be; and I want to commend the member for bringing this motion forward—I think we need to revisit this whole issue of a wage subsidy for employers to be able to hire apprentices, because what we end up with in the end are skilled tradespeople who are of value not only to the employer, but they’re of value to our economy. Let’s face it, having plumbers and electricians and mechanics and welders and carpenters and all of the other skilled trades that are out there in our economy is of value to us as a society because we have the people that we need to do the jobs that have to be done, because contractors and employers are able to get the qualified people that they have. To me, a wage subsidy was a good way of encouraging employers to hire apprentices.
The difficulty I’m having with where the government may be going—and this is what I want to put on the record. The response by employers because there is no longer any subsidy is, “Change the ratio.” Let me explain that one. There is a 1:1 ratio in the electrical trade. That means that for every electrician you have, you’re allowed to have one apprentice. You can actually have more than that if you’re a contractor with only one or two electricians; you’re allowed more apprentices as a ratio in that case. But for the larger employers, it’s a 1:1 ratio. The logic behind that is that it allows the journeyman to be coupled with an apprentice and for that apprentice to be trained by a qualified electrician.
The difficulty if you eliminate the ratio is the following—and this is what I experienced in mining: Back in the day, as it is today, with mining, there is no ratio, because we’re not part of the construction trades. We’re the maintenance side. We’re the people who fix big equipment, big hoists and various types of large equipment, in the process of mining and milling.
So when they hired, they hired at more than a 1:1 ratio. Where I ended up working at the time, the McIntyre mine owned by the Noranda group had probably around, I would say, five to seven apprentices per journeyman. That is really a bad idea on all kinds of levels, and let me explain to you why.
They would send us out on the job site underground—already a dangerous environment because you are working in a confined space underground. There are all kinds of things that can happen if you don’t know what you’re doing down there. They would put you with another apprentice who had sometimes less experience than you, sometimes more experience than you, but definitely was not qualified. So we were putting ourselves in danger working on equipment that we probably were not qualified to work on.
For example, I was a first-year apprentice and I was working in substations underground, in substations on the surface, that are pretty lethal if you happen to touch the wrong thing. I was working on hoists that were 2,500-horsepower motors, at times just with another apprentice, which was not a good idea because we might be putting somebody else in danger, not knowing what we were doing when it comes to doing the work.
Yes, there were hoist logs—before all of the electricians I know call me and say, “Yes, but Gilles, somebody signed the log.” Yes, you signed the log as the journeyman, but often it was the apprentices that were left there to do the work.
So my fear is the government may want to go down the road that some of the electrical contractors—and I will not argue all, because I know people like Dan Racicot, a good friend of mine who is an electrician and has a business in Timmins. He is all for eliminating the 1:1 ratio. I understand that and I’ve talked to him a number of times. But I’m always fearful that if what we’re trying to do is to encourage the hiring of apprentices and we don’t do anything to incent the employer to do the hiring, as we used to do in the past, and the answer is to eliminate or increase the ratios, that’s not a good thing either, because we don’t have the type of training system that is needed to train the electrical apprentice or whatever apprentice it might be.
These are very technical jobs. I only can speak of electrical. I’m sure mechanics, welders, machinists and others will tell me the same. These are very complicated jobs where we need to make sure we have people that are qualified to do the job, that work on the equipment and make the equipment safe for other workers, and that we don’t put ourselves into danger either—and add value to the overall.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I want to say I will vote for this, but I very much fear that the government may be thinking about ratios. If that’s where you’re going, I want to put it on the record that that is not a place that I and New Democrats want to go.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
Mr. David Piccini: Thank you to the members opposite for speaking to this, and thank you to the member from Simcoe North for introducing this important motion. Our government is committed to bringing quality jobs back to the province of Ontario, to once again creating a province that is indeed open for business.
As the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, my focus will be on making sure that the people of Ontario are prepared for these jobs. Our employment and training programs are critical to helping people find meaningful employment so that they can contribute to the success of this province.
A key part of Ontario’s economy and a key area of opportunity is, of course, in the skilled trades, as the member for Simcoe North so eloquently put it. And critical to our success in the skilled trades in this province is a strong apprenticeship system.
We are fortunate to have a strong tradition of skills training and apprentices in this province. Ontario tradespeople made Ontario a manufacturing powerhouse. They built up our communities and the infrastructure that make Ontario one of the best places in the world to live and work. Look around. You can see the influence and the infrastructure that make Ontario one of the best places. You see the craftsmanship that our apprentices and skilled tradespeople have played a remarkable role in crafting everywhere: in the building we stand in, in the cars that got us here this morning, in the roads we travel on. Skilled trades play such an important role in our economy, our society and our everyday life, and they will continue to do so for years to come. Over the next decade, almost one in five new jobs in Ontario is expected to be in a trade-related occupation. To me, that speaks to the tremendous opportunity for so many in Ontario. We need to ensure that we have the skilled workforce on hand to meet this growing demand and that young people, deciding on their education, training and careers, know about the great paths open to them in skilled trades.
I saw this over the last year so often, on the campaign trail, going into schools, speaking to young people—particularly in rural Ontario—looking for the jobs that are there for them tomorrow. They’re just not aware. So key to that solution and building on the member’s motion will be education.
The trades are an exciting, respected career option. We know, of course, they offer good, well-paying jobs. But business owners and employers are telling us that these days not enough people are pursuing that path. Not enough people have the skills needed to succeed in the trades. As Ontario’s economy continues to grow, we cannot let good jobs and other opportunities pass people by.
We must make sure that we’re getting the very most from an apprenticeship system that could train more workers in emerging, in-demand fields. Apprenticeship is a unique form of education because it helps future tradespeople develop the skills they need to be successful through in-school training and hands-on work experience. Apprenticeships have the benefit of learning and earning along the way, and apprentices who complete their training find work more easily and enjoy higher wages.
As we look to the future, though, it’s important to look at where we’ve come from. I’ve got in front of me here a scathing Auditor General report that showed years of neglect, which is why this member’s motion is so important today. This AG report said that the ministry—the ministry that we’re working so closely with, the ministry that I’m working with now—lacks detailed and timely labour market information. Do you know why, Madam Speaker? Do you know why they lack this information? Because over the last 15 years, the Liberals have been so ideologically hell-bent on choosing winners and losers in our economy that support their social agenda instead of supporting all jobs in all sectors that rely on the skilled trades.
This AG report shows that fewer than half of those enrolled in skilled trades actually completed the program; that when involved in reskilling, it’s similar. In fact, one of the even more shocking statistics—and I think that speaks to when we talk about finding efficiencies—is that the previous government wrote off close to $30 million in unpaid repayments. That’s just inexcusable.
This government is going to support skilled trades. And it’s not going to be driven on a social agenda; this is going to be driven by statistics, by labour market needs for the jobs of tomorrow. We’re going to stand by our skilled trades. We’re going to stand by our apprentices. We’re going to ensure that they’re getting the support they need, that when they’re done, the jobs are there for them to graduate into, to pursue gainful employment, to get Ontario back on track, to once again open our province for business.
I’m proud to support that member’s motion and I’m proud to stand with a government that’s going to support our skilled trades.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate? I recognize the member for Nickel Belt.
Mme France Gélinas: Thank you, Speaker, and it is a delight to see you in the Speaker’s chair again today.
I will be very happy to support the motion that was brought forward. My family comes from three generations of industrial electricians. My father-in-law was an industrial electrician at Inco, which is the biggest mining company in Sudbury, my husband was an industrial electrician at Inco and my daughter, the youngest one, is an industrial electrician at Inco also. So we fully understand that, first of all, it is not easy for a young woman to go into a trade, but we also understand that once you have this ticket, once you have this trade recognition that you’ve completed your studies, you are guaranteed, anywhere in northeastern Ontario, a good job with full hours, with a pension plan and benefits. You are guaranteed to be able to make a good life for yourself and your family, because the demand for tradespeople is just so, so high. I can go into any part of my riding. I have many industrial parks. I have all of the big mines. I have lots of industrial sites. They all have demands for trades of all kinds.
So what we do is, we turn to our colleges, to Collège Boréal or Cambrian College, our French and English colleges in Sudbury, and say, “What can we do to help you?”
The message is clear: The money that our colleges are getting right now is a fraction, often less than 50 cents on the dollar, to be able to meet the need. Let’s be clear: Those people have to go to college to get a trade ticket, and when our colleges have not seen an increase to their budget to be able to take in those students and to be able to recruit full-time faculty, then all of this falls flat. When we have a government who orders college teachers on strike back to work, that does not solve issues. I can tell you that in the northeast there are thousands—and I’m not exaggerating, thousands—of trade jobs presently not filled.
There are many people who wish to—who could—enrol in a trades program at our colleges. Our colleges are either full or not able to start new programs because they haven’t got the resources. Then they turn to this government and say, “We need you to come and help us.” And what do they do for help? The PCs and the Liberals voted them back to work and told the teachers, “No, we’re not going to settle.” So you have all of those people who, every three months, have to reapply for their jobs.
All of this works together. If the colleges are not able to recruit and retain their teachers, what do you figure happens to those programs, Speaker? They fold, and all of those good students who would have graduated, who would have got a trade ticket, all of a sudden can’t graduate and can’t get the program they want.
It’s all fine. We will welcome—and I’m putting it out: If you are a tradesperson right now, come to Sudbury, come to Nickel Belt. I guarantee you a job. There are many, many jobs open for trades.
But at the same time, I tell the government: You have a role to play to make sure that everybody who wants to go to trade school has an opportunity to do this, and that means funding our colleges so that they can take on those programs.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I’m proud to rise in this House today to speak to the motion proposed by the member from Simcoe North. She understands our region of Simcoe county, and she understands all areas of Ontario and the need to create a proper training process and an environment that puts our next generation ahead, the next generation of skilled workers, and how important that is.
My colleague next to me mentioned the importance of looking at labour market opinion. You need data-driven decisions, something I know the opposition is not very keen to abide by, but that we on this side of the House think is very important. Madam Speaker, it’s not just us on this side of the House; it’s the constituents that I speak to in my riding of Barrie–Innisfil.
When I speak to contractors and I speak to journeypersons about the apprenticeship programs in the area, they tell me that the sector is just not working and it’s not going and fulfilling its full potential. There’s so much more that we need to do, and that is why I’m proud to be part of a government that’s willing to move the pendulum forward.
I know many contractors in my riding have also said that they’ve had a hard time trying to find the skills that they need and the importance—we need to train our new skilled trades folks and our students.
When that student or that young person can’t find an apprenticeship in Barrie–Innisfil or in the area, do you know what happens, Madam Speaker? They leave our province. They go to Saskatchewan or they go to Alberta, and they don’t come back home. They don’t come back to my riding of Barrie–Innisfil, and it’s a problem. We need to address this. That’s why I’m so proud that my colleague from Simcoe North is making this a priority and making this a government priority.
I’m proud to be part of a government that understands that apprenticeship is critical for Ontario’s employment and training programs. Our government is a government for the people that is committed to bringing back quality jobs to this province and focusing on what’s making our province very prosperous, and that is job creation. If it were up to the opposition and not up to this government, we wouldn’t even have that prosperity in our province, and we wouldn’t have that opportunity. But we on this side of the House want to make sure everyone in Ontario has the opportunity to succeed and prosper. And what does that prosperity do for our communities? It helps communities like mine thrive. It helps fellow chambers of commerce.
When I speak to our executive director at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, he says that there are not enough people who are going into skilled trades, while other sectors, like administration, are oversaturated with applications. That’s an example of how we are listening to the people. Talk to your chambers, talk to your constituents, and they will tell you that there’s just not enough.
We need to remember why we want businesses to thrive in this province: to provide quality jobs for our residents, to help boost our economy and to pay for social services to provide a hand up, not a handout.
Without allowing our skilled trades workers to get the training and experience that they need, we won’t have businesses thriving in this province. Ontario’s future prosperity depends on it today, tomorrow and for many years to come. Skilled trades are the path to prosperity, to build up our economy. Together we can create unprecedented job growth, and together we can send a message that Ontario is open for business.
Our government is committed to bringing quality jobs back to this province, jobs that were lost because of 15 years of reckless policies by the former government. We will be focusing on this priority and preparing the people for the jobs of today, tomorrow and the future.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Jennifer K. French): Further debate?
I will return for the member from Simcoe North for two minutes to reply.
Ms. Jill Dunlop: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I thank these members for their thoughtful comments.
As previously stated, this motion is important to Ontario because we have an unprecedented and growing shortage of skilled labour. Skilled labour jobs are good jobs, skilled labour careers have a negative stigma in Ontario, and immediate action is required.
The demand for skilled tradespeople in Ontario is continually growing. At the same time, we are experiencing a very concerning skills gap in all areas of skilled trades. This issue will only become worse as the baby boomer generation transitions into retirement.
I have heard this message repeated countless times by a wide range of skilled-trades-related businesses in Simcoe North. This is a serious issue in my riding and a serious issue throughout the entire province.
Through increasing support for skilled trades, our government has an incredible opportunity to create better jobs, to grow our economy and to improve the lives of all Ontarians.
Through close collaboration with the Ministry of Education; the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, I strongly believe that our government can improve the existing skilled trades framework and provide meaningful solutions for these current issues.
Let’s support skilled trades and create better opportunities for Ontarians. Let’s show Ontario’s youth that blue collar can be cool.
Immigrant and refugee services
Mrs. Amy Fee: I move that, in the opinion of this House, the federal government should immediately pay its $200-million share of the funding related to the costs of illegal border crossers.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Mrs. Fee has moved private member’s notice of motion number 3. Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for her presentation.
Mrs. Amy Fee: First off, I’d like to thank the residents of Kitchener South–Hespeler, who have given me the opportunity to represent them here in the Legislature and represent our great community. I am very honoured to be able to represent the two cities of Kitchener and Cambridge.
Today I rise to speak on the motion calling on the federal government to fully fund the costs related to illegal border crossers settling in Ontario. We believe that the government of Canada has a responsibility to manage the influx of crossers and deliver the necessary funding to provide respect and dignity to the refugees who are settling here in Ontario.
Our government, alongside the residents of Ontario, recognizes the importance of immigration, both culturally and economically. Our newest residents bring with them skills, knowledge and a variety of different talents that give Ontario the tools we need to move our province forward.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our ability and capacity to welcome, settle and integrate immigrants into our society, including in my home riding of Kitchener South–Hespeler, a place where I am so proud to live and raise my children with my husband. Over the past five years, more than 14,000 immigrants have made Waterloo region their home, and are a part of the 119,000 who currently reside in the region.
Over the years, it has been great to witness events like the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival, or to visit the Waterloo Region Museum in my riding, which has hosted a number of exhibits relating to immigration and refugees. It is so important that we maintain a welcoming spirit while reassuring Ontarians that there is integrity within the system.
Ontarians have welcomed thousands of refugees since 2016, and currently Ontario accepts more refugees and immigrants than any other province in Canada. We know they bring with them investment and opportunity, and contribute greatly to our social fabric. As a whole, the residents of Ontario are welcoming to our newest community members.
Ontarians have an expectation that our system is providing a fair and just outcome for our newcomers. Government has a responsibility to address the current issues within our immigration system, so we can welcome newcomers into our province and have the tools to ensure that their transitions go as smoothly as possible.
Municipal governments are straining as they attempt to settle new refugees into their communities. In the city of Toronto, about 45% of shelter occupants are refugees, and the city of London is reporting strains within their shelter system as well. As per our current estimate, Canada’s federal government has left Ontario with a funding shortfall of $200 million: $90 million in annualized welfare costs; $74 million in shelter costs for the city of Toronto alone; $12 million in shelter costs for the city of Ottawa; $3 million to the Red Cross to assist with temporary shelters; $20 million in primary and secondary education costs; and our legal aid system is experiencing strains as well. Mr. Speaker, the federal government has a responsibility to ensure that refugees have the funding they need, so they can live here with dignity.
From June 29 to now, this government has been very clear: We support genuine refugees, and we are calling on the federal government to close the loopholes that illegal border crossers are using to enter this country. Right now Canada is seeing a record number of asylum seekers using a loophole in the Canada-United States Safe Third Country Agreement. No one should have the right to take advantage of Ontario’s generosity.
The federal government’s actions have caused delays in our system. Hearings that are supposed to take 60 days are now taking up to two years to be held.
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: Disgusting.
Mrs. Amy Fee: Agreed. That is irresponsible.
Ontarians expect the federal government to address the costs associated with crossers’ access to our welfare and legal aid system. It is time for them to stand behind their choices and fully fund the costs that they are passing on to our local municipalities and to residents across Ontario.
Ontario will continue to play its part as a welcoming place for refugees, and I am urging the federal government to step up and pay its fair share.
For the record, I would like to now read Minister Lisa MacLeod’s letter to the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, dated July 26, 2018:
“I am writing today in follow-up to the meeting of the Council of the Federation in New Brunswick, held earlier this month, at which all Premiers agreed that costs associated with support for border crossers be fully covered by the federal government.
“I also want to highlight this week’s meeting of the standing committee on ‘the impact of irregular border crossers.’ This meeting was a first step toward understanding what has happened to Canada’s immigration system over the last couple of years, in particular when it comes to refugees.
“As the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, with responsibility for immigration policy for the government of Ontario, I want to express my concern over the federal government’s approach to the issue of illegal border crossing.
“Ontario is a welcoming province and the citizens of Ontario generously support immigrants and refugees. We invest in supports and integration services to ensure immigrants and refugees have the best possible opportunity to be successful in Ontario.
“For more than a year, communities across Ontario have been straining to support a high number of illegal border crossers; and the approach of the federal government is now testing the patience and generosity of Ontarians.
“Ontario can only do so much. Since January 2016, we have received over 36,000 refugee claimants. In addition, over 5,500 refugee claimants who made their claim in Quebec have reported moving to Ontario since January 2017.
“In the city of Toronto, about 45% of shelter occupants are refugees. The government of Ontario has stepped up to help facilitate the use of approximately 800 spaces in college and university residences for shelter space during the summer. In addition, up to $3 million has been identified for the city of Toronto to support services in the college residential spaces being used as shelters.
“Our government estimates the cost to Ontario so far to support the crossers to be $200 million. Federal support to date has been inadequate to meet the current and future needs posed by this crisis.
“The government of Ontario believes that managing the influx of illegal border crossers is the federal government’s responsibility. The federal government must also fund the services required to support them in full.
“For clarity, Ontario is able to detail $200 million in costs incurred that directly relate to crossers These costs relate to temporary housing ($74 million, by year’s end, for the city of Toronto, $3 million identified for the Red Cross to support their services in temporary shelters and $12 million for the city of Ottawa); income support ($90 million in social assistance costs); and primary and secondary education spaces ($20 million). In addition, there is significant pressure on our legal aid system as claimants require support to engage with Immigration and Refugee Board processes.
“Please consider this letter a formal request for direct and full compensation for the costs associated with the lengthy support Ontario and its municipalities are supplying to illegal border crossers.
“In demonstration of the widespread support for this position, the Ontario Legislature will consider a motion today:
“‘That, in the opinion of this House, the federal government should immediately pay its $200-million share of the funding related to the costs of illegal border crossers.’
“This crisis situation is aggravated by the lengthy delays in the federal government’s refugee determination system. Hearings that should be completed within 60 days are now taking approximately 20 months to be held.
“It is in everyone’s interest to have refugee claims processed quickly and efficiently. The federal government must regain control of the processing timetable so that failed claimants leave more quickly, and those accepted as refugees are able to move ahead and integrate into Ontario society.
“The federal government must also address border control and policy issues. The appointment of your colleague Bill Blair as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction is a positive step in the right direction and an acknowledgement of the urgent need to better manage border crossings.
“Ontarians are pro-immigration. But the situation at the Quebec-New York border is testing their patience and notions of fair play, and undermining the reputation and integrity of the entire system. I urge the federal government to take responsibility for its choices and act now to return integrity to our immigration system.”
This letter was signed by Lisa MacLeod, minister.
In closing, I, alongside my colleagues, believe that the federal government has a responsibility to manage this influx and deliver the funding needed to provide respect and dignity to our refugees who are settling here in Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I’m pleased to be able to rise on behalf of the NDP caucus to speak to this motion. I also have the opportunity to continue as critic for the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, though, as you know, that ministry no longer exists. This is a government that has disassembled this ministry and given the responsibility to a minister, certainly, but the ministry no longer exists.
We are debating a motion and I’m glad to read the text of the motion, because I’d like to break it down for us: “That, in the opinion of this House, the federal government should immediately pay its $200-million share of the funding related to the costs of illegal border crossers.”
Right off the top, I would like to say that we take exception to three parts of this motion; it’s not a very long motion, so generally with all of it. First, the $200-million share of the funding: We have not seen any costing. We’re not sure that is the share. We aren’t sure where these numbers are coming from, so we’ll get more into that in a moment. Also, this motion assumes that we have no provincial responsibility for settlement and for caring for people who are entering our province and who are already here and it is absolving us, somehow, of any responsibility. That is a premise that we reject. The other part of this, to refer to “illegal border crossers,” is offensive, disgusting and inappropriate. I’m happy to delve into all three of these pieces.
First of all, “asylum-seekers” is not a term that we all get to personally define. We don’t get to name people “illegal crossers” just because we don’t like them and we don’t want them here. The fact of the matter is, as we’ve been sharing our inaugural addresses and getting to know each other as members of this House, there are a number of tremendous members on both sides who have come from very diverse family journeys and stories. We’ve heard people talk about coming from a family touched by immigration or immigrants themselves. To imagine that anyone would call them illegal is offensive and should offend everyone in this House.
I’m going to read this from the government of Canada website, when it comes to immigration, citizenship, refugees and asylum: “Individuals can make an asylum claim in Canada at a port of entry, at a Canada Border Services Agency ... inland office or an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada ... inland office. CBSA or IRCC officials will then determine if an individual is eligible to make an asylum claim.” Not this minister, not this Premier. There are individuals who are tasked with that responsibility and they do not sit in this room. But in terms of asylum, there is a process.
This is Canada, but also, we are human beings. When someone knocks at your door, you’re not supposed to punch them in the face and push them off the porch; you’re supposed to say, “Hi, how can I help you?” Maybe they don’t get to stay, maybe they get sent home, but fundamentally, when they arrive here, they are not “illegal border crossers.” They are absolutely legal, as set out by the United Nations, as set out by our country, and we do welcome them. Not everyone gets to stay, but there is a process, and due process is something that we in Canada all respect and appreciate, so let’s not forget the fundamentals.
To say that we don’t have responsibility—I’m actually going to read something from a briefing document that I received from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration when I first took over this portfolio back in the day, back when it was a ministry, back when it existed:
“Section 95 of Canada’s constitution gives concurrent jurisdiction on immigration to the provinces and the federal government. Federal legislation exists governing immigration to Canada, but Ontario’s immigration role, as determined by agreements that are legally binding by the ministry”—where they’ve covered their ears and said, “La la la, it never existed.”
“Ontario’s immigration role supports the immigration of newcomers through settlement, language training and employment supports; nominates economic-class immigrants”—although apparently, we don’t have the ministry anymore; who knows if that will happen—and “participates in multilateral and bilateral immigration agreements,” even though this government has said, “We don’t want those agreements, so we’re just going to ignore them.” Forget the fact that they’re supposed to give a year’s notice before there are any changes made to them, they’re just walking away from them—which we have been seeing when it comes to contracts, so here’s this new government.
The last part is: “policy development, analysis, research and intergovernmental relations.” I would like to say that this minister is doing a brilliant job on the intergovernmental relations so far.
That is an outline of the provincial responsibility. This government may not believe that they should have it, but they do. They may not want to have it, but they do.
The last part that I will remind us about, as we’ve been having these conversations in this House—I’m going to read from Hansard, from the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. This is from Hansard, in response to one of my questions. She said:
“I’m going to tell you something. My ministry is quite large. We look after children in care. We look after children who have autism. We look after children with developmental disabilities. We look after the welfare system. We look after ODSP. We look after women who are escaping domestic violence, and we look after women who are being trafficked....
“Where do you want to take the money from? Those vulnerable people, or from the federal government”? That is an offensive and false choice. That is a disgusting false choice, to pick a group of vulnerable people and say, “They get money; they don’t get money.”
There were four separate ministries in the last session. We had a Ministry of the Status of Women. We had a Ministry of Community and Social Services. We had a Ministry of Children and Youth. We had a Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Now we have one minister responsible for all that fell under those ministries, and I do I not envy her the task. That is a massive mountain of responsibility: those with disabilities; anyone with women’s issues, any women’s concern; as she said herself, women who are being trafficked or fleeing abuse; social assistance; citizenship and immigration; and anyone in the youth justice and corrections world. When the Premier talks about “for the people,” there are a lot of people in one ministry who it seems this government doesn’t want to deal with. The fact that this minister has been tasked with this—I feel she’s being set up to fail. I wish her well, because all of the people in that giant amalgamated ministry deserve everything that this province can offer them, and that is fairness. To choose one over the other is inappropriate.
Speaker, I’m out of time—
Mr. Gilles Bisson: No, no. Go, go.
Ms. Jennifer K. French: I’m not out of time. I will get to keep going.
Just to continue with an explanation of what has happened in recent weeks—and a lot has happened quickly—first of all, the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement is supposed to strengthen the long-term partnership between Ontario and Canada that welcomes immigrants. On this particular agreement, either party is supposed to give one year’s notice before ending the agreement, but in a few short weeks, this government said, “Nope, not going to happen. We’re turning our backs on this agreement. We don’t like it. We don’t agree with it.” Forget that it’s their responsibility to honour it; now they’re saying it’s a federal responsibility.
This particular minister was in Ottawa earlier this week, and she testified to the federal Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. Her report was, to say the least, chaotic. We have seen in the media that the numbers were flying wildly. The minister claimed that she has $90 million in “annualized welfare costs.” Well, this raises a lot of questions. Does the minister mean that total payment to all social assistance recipients this year will cost $90 million? I don’t know. Does she mean all refugee claimants are likely to receive a gross total of $90 million in benefits by year’s end? I don’t know. Or is she only talking about the thousand or so claimants who are facing homelessness on August 10? We don’t know. Despite clearly asking the minister about this claim in question period, we still don’t know the answers.
Here we have a motion asking us to just take at face value, or to take them at their word, that it’s a $200-million share. Is it? We don’t know. To vote on a motion that hasn’t been costed—it feels like the campaign all over again, with no plan. Anyway, maybe it’s in my desk; I haven’t checked.
It is noteworthy that the minister also said that Ontario needs $20 million in education costs to educate the children of “crossers,” which is another disturbing dog whistle term from this government. That is problematic— “illegal” and “border crossers” and name-calling to paint a picture of legitimate refugees, of people who are coming here seeking asylum, who are knocking on Canada’s door and saying, “I am fleeing a bad situation.”
It is not up to this minister, this government or this Premier to say, “Yes, we pick you. Yes, you’re allowed,” or, “No you’re illegal. You didn’t come to the right port of entry. I don’t like you.” That is not how we do things here—and I don’t mean here in this Legislature; I mean here in this country, I mean here as members of humanity. Where is that? You want to talk about dignity? Well, where is the humanity, for crying out loud?
Back to that committee: The committee asked the minister to provide a detailed costing of where these numbers are coming from. Every member of this House should have those numbers before they’re expected to support a motion.
I will go back to saying that we know this minister, quite frankly, and with—I wish her well. She has been given an unbelievable bucket of vulnerable people all in there together. To imagine that we are being given the choice by this minister to pick one—who gets the money? Where is it going to come from? No one is going to get what they need in terms of housing, in terms of settlement supports, because they’re playing a game of chicken with the feds.
There are people here in our province now who deserve housing, who deserve care, who deserve support. And where is the provincial responsibility? Because you have not been absolved of that. The fact that you’ve chosen to walk away as a government and say, “We don’t want to,” doesn’t mean you don’t have to.
This Legislature respects the backgrounds and the strengths and the stories and the journeys of all members from all ridings, regardless of party. I’ve listened to wonderful remarks from around this room. We should be celebrating everyone who comes to Ontario. We should be allowing them to knock on the door and saying, “How can we get you into this system? How can we get you that support?”
Speaker, I look forward to the rest of this conversation.
I think the country does recognize that we do stand on humanitarian principles, that there are areas of responsibility and you cannot just throw up your hands and say, “We don’t want to.”
I want to be clear: We support this minister in her endeavours to support all four of these combined ministries, and I hope that she is able to do this. I hope this government is able to support all of these people. But we absolutely cannot support a motion that has not been costed or that absolves this government of its responsibility to support people living in Ontario, because no one is illegal, whether you name them as such or not.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I recognize the member from Mississauga–Streetsville.
Mrs. Nina Tangri: I rise today to speak in favour of MPP Amy Fee’s motion, in follow-up to the meeting of the Council of the Federation in New Brunswick, held earlier this month, at which all Premiers agreed that costs associated with support for border crossers be fully covered by the federal government: “that, in the opinion of this House, the federal government should immediately pay its $200-million share of the funding related to the costs of illegal border crossers.”
The Minister of Children, Community and Social Services with responsibility for immigration policy for the government of Ontario has expressed her concern over the federal government’s approach to the issue of illegal border crossing.
Ontario is a welcoming province, and the citizens of Ontario generously support immigrants and refugees. We invest in supports and integration services to ensure that immigrants and refugees have the best possible opportunity to be successful in Ontario.
Ontarians are pro-immigration, but the situation at the Quebec-New York border is testing their patience and notions of fair play, and undermining the reputation and integrity of the entire system.
I urge the federal government to take responsibility for its choices and act now to return integrity to our system.
The current crisis situation is aggravated by the lengthy delays in the federal government’s refugee determination system. Hearings that should be completed within 60 days are now taking approximately 20 months to hold. It is in everyone’s interest to have refugee claims processed quickly and efficiently. The federal government must regain control of the processing timetable so that failed claimants leave more quickly and those accepted as refugees are able to move ahead and integrate into Ontario society.
Communities across Ontario have been straining to support a high number of the illegal border crossers, and the approach of the federal government is now testing the patience and generosity of Ontarians. Ontario can only do so much. Since January 2016, we have received over 36,000 refugee claimants. In addition, over 5,500 refugee claimants who made their claim in Quebec have reported moving to Ontario since January 2017.
Ontario has detailed in writing and at formal immigration committee hearings the $200 million in costs incurred that directly relate to crossers.
I support MPP Amy Fee’s motion and urge all members of this House to vote in favour and send a clear message to the federal government.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The Chair recognizes the member from Richmond Hill.
Mrs. Daisy Wai: I’m pleased to speak to this motion put forward by my colleague Amy Fee from Kitchener–South Hespeler, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
I support the motion that the federal government should immediately pay its $200-million share of the funding related to the cost of illegal border crossers.
Ontario is a welcoming province. As an immigrant, I know well that we have been welcomed, and we need to welcome immigrants and refugees and give them the respect that they require. However, this motion is not simply about welcoming immigrants or not but making sure that the federal government pays. This is their commitment. This is what they agreed. This is what they should pay us. We have done all of this work, all of these services, in good faith for the money to be put into our account so that we can serve all of these refugees and immigrants well.
We know that Ontario makes investments to support integration services and to ensure that immigrants and refugees have the best possible opportunity to be successful. These supports are important, which is exactly why we need to have the federal government pay their fair share. We need the federal government to take full responsibility and fully fund the cost so that we can serve this increasing number of refugee claimants.
Immigration is a federal issue, and if the Trudeau Liberals wish to continue sitting on their hands as illegal crossers enter our province, that is their decision. But let me be clear: We need them to pay for it.
The federal government recently announced only $11 million to ease the pressure. What do you mean? A commitment is a commitment. Ontario and the municipalities need the money. This is really inadequate to meet our needs.
Didn’t we hear? Our government has already said, on day one, that we will listen and respect the people of the province. We have heard Mayor John Tory: The city of Toronto cannot afford the strain on services.
Now it is up to the federal government to listen and to hear this House. We cannot and will not pay for this poor decision. We know that living in a hotel or a university campus is not a long-term solution. We urge the federal government to pony up with the money right now.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?
Mr. Sheref Sabawy: I rise today to speak in support of the honourable member’s motion calling on the federal government to pay its $200-million share of the funding related to the cost of illegal border crossers.
Ontarians are some of the most welcoming, diverse and compassionate citizens anywhere in Canada. I know this because I experienced it first-hand myself as a proud first-generation Egyptian immigrant. As I referenced in my maiden speech in this House just a few days ago, I came to our remarkable country with little more than my hopes and dreams for a better life. I got my first job, like so many others, at my local Tim Hortons, and worked hard, until I found a job in my field of study and experience. This is the Canadian dream: to work hard, provide for family and give the next generation a better life with more opportunities than what we had for ourselves growing up.
Mr. Speaker, I’m so grateful that ours is a province where opportunities for success exist for people of all backgrounds and walks of life. Our province and country are built and sustained on enduring values: freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. But without the rule of law, all of those other values fall into question. The unaddressed issue of illegal border crossing poses precisely this problem.
Ontarians are being asked to shoulder more and more of the burden without the vital and necessary support of the federal government. It is time for Ottawa to take its responsibility. It’s time for Ottawa to take action. And it’s time for Ottawa to take the lead. We stand ready to help but we need the resources to do it right.
Immigrants are a vital component of the social, economic and cultural fabric of our province and country. We receive refugees from all over the world, and Ontario is no stranger to settling them and offering them a safe and better life. But on a critical issue of this importance, we cannot afford to get it wrong. The time for talking points is over. The time for “welcome” tweets has come and gone.
If the federal government is serious about addressing this growing crisis, they must put deeds to their words and pay their $200-million share of the funding related to the cost of illegal border crossers.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?
Hon. Lisa MacLeod: I appreciate the opportunity today to speak on behalf of the member from Kitchener’s private member’s bill. I thought she did an outstanding job today articulating the concerns the province of Ontario has with the federal government and the lack of integrity in the system as it’s relating to some border crossings in Quebec and the cost implications we have here in the province of Ontario. I would like to thank all members for being part of this debate today.
Look, I do have a big ministry. I want to let my colleagues in the New Democratic Party understand that while it was five ministries before, I’m more than capable of looking after the immigration and refugee file; I’m more than capable of looking after the children and youth file; I’m more than capable of looking after the community and social services file; I’m more than capable of looking after the women’s issues file; and I’m more than capable of putting forward a strategy for poverty reduction in the province of Ontario.
But the case at hand is this, Speaker: The federal government owes us $200 million, accumulated through $74 million in outstanding shelter costs for the city of Toronto, $12 million for shelter costs inside the city of Ottawa, $20 million in educational costs, $3 million to be sent to the Red Cross and $90 million on our welfare rolls. We have an opportunity today to stand in unison, asking the federal government to pay its bills, putting Ontario first and standing up for the people of this province. I would hope that every member would support this private member’s initiative.
Thank you very much, and thanks to all of those who contributed to this debate today in order to stand up for the people of Ontario, which is what we were elected to do on June 7, by the people, for the people.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?
Mr. Michael Coteau: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I want to thank the members who spoke on this very important issue. As someone who had the opportunity to work within the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, I know that that ministry and the work it does—well, did in the past—was quite important for Ontarians.
There have been a few debates around this issue, one in particular around who has jurisdiction and whose responsibility it is. When this province went forward with other provinces and established this country, one of the agreements in the Constitution was to share the responsibility of immigration. It has always been a shared responsibility between the province and the federal government.
In fact, Mr. Speaker, the federal government and the provincial government have agreements. We have agreements with the federal government that share who gets selected through the PNP program. We have responsibilities when it comes to settlement and services for newcomers, and we look for opportunities to work with the federal government to ensure that newcomers, when they arrive here in Ontario, have the opportunity to work hard, raise a family and really add to the economy.
If you look around the Legislature, you’ll see a lot of people, including myself—I was an immigrant. I came to Canada when I was five years old, and I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of incredible things, and one of them is to serve in this Legislature. I think it’s very dangerous when we in Ontario start to separate immigrants in different ways and put one group against another. It’s a very dangerous game to play, because it starts to create the mentality of “those people” and “those other people.” I think that as people who make law, who set the tone in Ontario, we should take our responsibilities very seriously, because the tone that is being set by the Progressive Conservative Party, the government, is a tone that I think is very dangerous.
Mr. Speaker, we need to work with the federal government. There are always going to be natural tensions between provincial governments and the federal government. When we were in power, the Harper government stopped funding for providing health care for refugees. The Conservatives provincially were silent on the issue, but now, for some reason, they’re ready to send Ottawa a bill. I say that it would be beneficial for the minister to work with the federal government, to look for ways to find solutions and to make sure that a tone is set here in Ontario where regardless of how you get here, we all have the opportunity to work hard and go through a fair process to see if we can stay.
I know that many people who do come to Ontario to look for a new life—some are allowed to stay through that process and some are sent back to their original place. I think we have a responsibility as lawmakers to take this debate to a higher level and not make it a partisan issue.
There are a lot of people in the Legislature today who are very partisan, from all different parties, but we’re talking about the most vulnerable people in our communities, people who have nothing, who come through because of what’s happening in the United States and other countries, where sometimes they don’t feel welcome, and they come to Canada looking for a new life. These are people who have gone through a lot of challenges, suffering a lot of trauma, with little children with them. When they hear the tone that comes from the government, that they’re “illegal border crossers”—I think the member from Oshawa got it perfectly; she talked about terminology, tones and words we use. When you hear those types of words, that you’re “illegal”—even though, when you get to the border, you declare yourself and you start a legal process—for some reason, that Trump-style terminology that’s being used on the opposite side of the Legislature is very harmful, I believe, to our reputation internationally as Canadians. But I think, even worse, Mr. Speaker, it erodes the values that have attracted all of us to be in this beautiful country, that have allowed us to be here.
We can have a debate, but we need to take that debate to the next level. We need to hold it in high regard, and I believe that the government should set that tone for this House. So I would ask the minister, I’d ask the Premier and I’d ask the members opposite: When you’re talking about these particular folks, these vulnerable folks who have gone through a lot to get to this point, I would ask them just—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you.
The member for Kitchener South–Hespeler has two minutes to reply.
Mrs. Amy Fee: I, alongside my colleagues, believe that the federal government has a responsibility to manage the influx of refugees and deliver the funding needed to provide respect and dignity to those refugees who are settling here in Ontario. Let me repeat: We must work together to ensure they are supported and treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
I also want to take the time today to thank the members who did stand up to speak to this motion, especially the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and the members from Mississauga–Streetsville, Richmond Hill and Mississauga–Erin Mills.
We are calling on the federal government to fund the $200-million shortfall that they have downloaded onto Ontarians and municipalities across our province. They must regain control of the refugee process and fully fund the services required to support refugees. I stand steadfast in my resolve to ensure that refugees in our province will have the respect and dignity that they deserve.
Communities across our province are straining, Mr. Speaker, as they attempt to manage the high number of individuals crossing the border. In the city of Toronto, about 45% of shelter occupants are refugees. This government has stepped up to support individuals, including facilitating the use of approximately 800 spaces in college and university residences, and they’re being used this summer.
Our Ontario government continues to welcome and support all refugees and immigrants. It is time, though, that the federal government steps up and plays their part and gives us that $200 million that we need to support these refugees.
Compassionate Care Act, 2018 / Loi de 2018 sur les soins de compassion
Mr. Oosterhoff moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 3, An Act providing for the development of a provincial framework on hospice palliative care / Projet de loi 3, Loi prévoyant l’élaboration d’un cadre provincial des soins palliatifs.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Pursuant to standing order 98, the member has 12 minutes for his presentation.
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: It’s humbling today to be able to rise in this Legislature, in this house of democracy, and speak once again about an incredibly important issue, one that will touch, inevitably, all of us in the Legislature today at some point in our journey. That issue is palliative care.
I had the opportunity to bring forward a previous iteration of this bill, the Compassionate Care Act, as Bill 182 in December 2017. At that point I received the unanimous support of the Legislature, including the government of the day, and I wish to thank those who voted for it at that time. Unfortunately, Speaker, it died on the order paper when the House was prorogued by the previous government and did not make it into law. Nonetheless, I felt it was very important to make sure that it came back again. It’s a real honour that today it’s Bill 3, number three on the order of precedence for the table.
The reality is, Speaker, that all of us will die. We may not like to talk about it, we may not like to think about it, we may not wish to acknowledge it until the very end, but we will all die. The Roman philosopher and playwright Seneca once said, “Death is the wish of some, the relief of many, and the end of all.”
My speech today on Bill 3, the Compassionate Care Act, is not really about death at all, but rather about life, about living the good life and having a good death, right up until the very end. It’s also about ending hallway medicine in the province, a firm commitment from our government and a priority for our Premier, Doug Ford.
Bill 3, the Compassionate Care Act, is an act providing for the development of a provincial framework on hospice palliative care. However, at its very core, this act is not really about a provincial strategy or a hospice palliative care framework or any of the other bureaucratic phraseology that reeks of institutional ennui. No, at its very core, at the very root of its purpose, the Compassionate Care Act is about people. It’s about helping people, honouring people, respecting people and loving people.
As a Christian, I do not fear death. I remain confident and energized in the reality of the resurrection and the assurance of things not yet seen. But I know that death is a reality, and for many, an incredibly painful reality that tears at the very heart, spirit and strength of what makes us human. End-of-life-care needs to be respectful of this pain and anguish, and it needs to address the hurt that plagues so many across our province and nation who look for meaningful end-of-life-care without finding it.
Palliative care focuses on the relief of pain and other symptoms for patients with advanced illnesses and on maximizing the quality of their remaining life. It may also involve emotional and spiritual support, as well as caregiver and bereavement support. It provides comfort-based care as opposed to curative patient treatment. Patients can receive palliative care in their homes, in hospitals, in hospices and in long-term-care homes in a variety of different situations.
The act that I’m bringing forward today will ensure legislative accountability for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care by ensuring that the minister will develop a provincial framework designed to support improved access to hospice palliative care provided through hospitals, home care, long-term-care homes and hospices.
I want to very briefly note that today the member for Ottawa South will not be able to speak to this legislation, but he has been a strong advocate in his time in government on this very issue, and I know he did tremendous work with the palliative care network in the former government. Although there were obviously restrictions on what he was able to do, this was and remains a passion for him, and I wish to thank him for that.
This bill will, among other things, define what hospice palliative care is; identify the hospice palliative care training and education needs of health care providers, as well as other caregivers; identify measures to support hospice palliative care providers; promote research on the collection of data on hospice palliative care; identify measures to facilitate consistent access to hospice palliative care across Ontario; and will also take into consideration existing hospice palliative care frameworks, strategies and best practices.
The minister will develop this provincial framework if this act is passed in consultation with hospice palliative care providers, any other affected ministries, the federal government and any other persons or entities that the minister considers appropriate in the circumstances. I’m very confident that our minister will do an excellent job on this file, as she has on so many others, if this bill passes.
A very important aspect of this legislation is the ministerial report. The Minister of Health and Long-Term Care will have to prepare a report laying out the provincial framework on hospice palliative care and shall have to lay that report before this assembly within one year after the day on which the act comes into force. This is a very important portion of the bill, I believe, as the report, which shall be published on the government of Ontario website within 10 days after the act, and the subsequent follow-up report after five years after the day on which the report referred to is tabled in the assembly, grants accountability when it comes to this particular issue and ensures that the Legislature will receive a report that it will be able to hold on to and set up as a benchmark that will be able to be referred to in discussions surrounding palliative care.
Speaker, Dr. José Pereira, the director of research with the College of Family Physicians of Canada, says, “Given a provincial population of 13.5 million”—roughly—“Ontario currently needs approximately 1,300 hospice and palliative care beds.” So if Ontario needs 1,300 beds, how many do we actually have? We have approximately 400. That’s about 28% of the needed hospice palliative care beds. Frankly, Speaker, I believe—and I’m sure many members in this House believe—that we can do a whole lot better.
Moreover, overall, many hospices have an average daily occupancy rate of about 80% to 85%, which means that beds can be vacant up to 20% of the time. The occupancy rate means that Ontario hospices have the potential to serve more patients. Edmonton, for example, has a 92% occupancy benchmark, substantially improving on our numbers.
I think it’s important that we recognize in this House that the demand for palliative care is only going to increase with time. There are three trends that will increase this pressure: the aging population in Ontario; the growing number of patients with life-limiting chronic conditions and complex care needs; and new advances in health care, promising life-saving and life-prolonging possibilities.
It has been estimated that upwards of 90% of Canadians in the final stages of life could, and should, benefit from palliative care; however, the health system is currently unable to provide palliative care to up to 70% of those in need. Improving access, then, to palliative care becomes a pressing need here in Ontario and in Canada in general.
I want to mention briefly the excellent work that MP Marilyn Gladu, the member for Sarnia–Lambton, has been doing on this very issue in the federal Parliament, where her bill received royal assent late last year, as well as the excellent work that Harold Albrecht, the federal member for Kitchener–Conestoga, has done. He has been phenomenal. The federal NDP member Charlie Angus has also done excellent work together with MP Harold Albrecht on this very issue, so I want to give kudos where kudos is due.
Palliative care in Ontario has been described as a patchwork of services with very little integration, a lot of overlap and significant gaps. Much good work has been done in discussing the need for palliative care, and there have been some improvements because of those discussions. But, frankly, the time for discussions is over. We’ve seen many universities put forward forums with recommendations, such as the McMaster forum, the Canadian Cancer Society and provincial-territorial expert advisory panels. We’ve seen a lot of discussions about what it actually looks like. But I believe that we have a unique opportunity now in Ontario to make real headway in this battle.
The federal government, in their 2015 campaign promise, said that they had earmarked $3 billion for home care and specifically mentioned palliative care in their federal platform. In fact, this mention, which is now hopefully going to be flowed through now that MP Marilyn Gladu’s bill has passed, means that we should be pushing for some of this $3 billion to flow to our province, to Ontario, to ensure that we’re providing the care that is needed.
Speaker, I have travelled across the province. I’ve visited various palliative facilities, from the Bruyère home in Ottawa with the Minister of Community Services to McNally house in Niagara, in my hometown. The incredible work that is done by the angels on earth who work in these facilities is truly remarkable.
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: Yes, a round for them.
I’ve heard stories from people such as Pieter Harsevoort, who passed away last year from spinal muscular atrophy, yet lived much of his life accessing palliative care while he served as a special education teacher at an elementary school in Hamilton. Pieter was able to bring so much meaning to people’s lives and was able to touch so many people with love, while he was accessing palliative care.
The story of improving people’s lives through palliative care is not limited to any particular area of our province. The need for palliative care is not limited to any particular area in our province. Whether it’s the GTHA, whether it’s remote rural communities, whether it’s our Indigenous partners or even in areas that we may not expect it, in downtown urban centres, the need is there.
Speaker, the Compassionate Care Act is about dignity, respect and meaningful support for families and individuals in their end-of-life journey. It’s about fulfilling our government’s strong commitment to ending hallway medicine and listening to front-line providers. Ultimately, I am confident that these goals resonate with all members of this Legislature, and I hope that I can trust and count on the support of all members in this House.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?
Mr. John Vanthof: It is truly an honour to be able to stand here today and speak in this House regarding this bill brought forward by the member from Niagara West. I commend the member on this. This bill has been brought forward before, and I think this bill—I will talk to the meat of the bill in a second—brings out the best in and is a really good example of private members’ bills. This is a bill that crosses party lines. It’s something that shows a focus of what a member truly believes should change or should be made better. Some bills we may disagree on, but not this one.
One of the reasons I really like being here on Thursday afternoons is because of bills like this one. We actually can, and do, demonstrate the best of humankind, where we can bring out issues that often aren’t easy to deal with. The fact that there are two—well, there are three certain things: There is birth and then taxes, which we all disagree on, and the end of life. But we have to talk about them.
This bill is a very good step forward. I think we can work together. The member brought this bill forward on the opposition side; he’s bringing it forward again on the government side. We hope—and we would support it—that the government would actually look at this initiative and make it part of a government initiative, because you now have the mandate to move these things forward.
If I could make some suggestions, we should look at palliative care outside of hospice as well, as part of the system—I guess “system” is a rough word for it.
The member mentioned that there are problems in accessing palliative care in urban Ontario. There are certainly problems accessing it in rural Ontario. I know, in a couple of my communities, that volunteers have gotten together and worked—one was the Kirkland and District Hospital—to put a palliative care room in the hospital. That’s something that wouldn’t have happened if local people hadn’t got together to do it, because the budget just wasn’t there.
If you look even farther north than I am—I’m actually central. Where we live is central Ontario. We’re below the United States prairie border, so we’re central Ontario. But if you go to true northern Ontario, to places where communities don’t have potable water, they also have the same issues. If you think about that—right? We have a lot of things to fix, but palliative care is one of the things that we really need to look at.
Once again, I commend the member. But we need to look at the whole scope of the system, because I think all of us have had a very close friend or family member go through the life cycle.
One of the things I like about Thursday afternoons is often we share. My father died in a farm accident. I watched him die. When I watched that, I was heartbroken. I am now watching my mom die in a much different situation. Although she’s being very well cared for, often now I think: “My father died where he wanted to die, if he could have chosen. My mom? Not so much.”
What we have to really realize is that we have the ability to change things. As we’ve seen this afternoon, we have the ability to disagree, and often disagree very vigorously. But we have the responsibility—the unique responsibility—to be able to change lives and speak for those who are at a point in their lives where they can’t speak for themselves. I’m very honoured to be able to do that for my family, to do that for the people I represent in Timiskaming–Cochrane and to do that for our party, but on this issue, to be one of those voices to do that for hopefully all the people of Ontario.
I commend the member. I hope that this becomes a government priority. Make no mistake, we will push the government to maintain those priorities, but I hope this is a start of making something truly great for people who are going to need our help. Everyone, at some point, is going to go through this.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?
Mr. Stephen Lecce: Let me just thank the member for Niagara West for his leadership on this file. This is his second time reintroducing this bill. I know it’s an issue he cares very deeply about.
I’m very proud to stand in this Legislature in support of this bill, but I do want to just say to the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane: Thank you for sharing your story. Obviously, your mother is in our prayers. I know this is very difficult for all members who face the difficulty of end of life. This is perhaps precisely why so many members across party lines are coming together in support of dignity in health care.
I rise in support of this bill because I believe humanity for the terminally ill is something that is needed in this province. Support for compassion for our most vulnerable is something that should bring all of us together in this Parliament, and of course, support for human dignity that every Canadian ought to be afforded. What I mean by human dignity is the intrinsic value of the person. I think we must respect, from the toddlers all the way to the end of life, that they have the intrinsic value and the necessity to protect the value of that human while they’re here on earth.
In this House, I believe we want to build a province where we can have an infrastructure, an ecosystem, that supports those who are suffering and their families, and ultimately improve the quality of life of every Ontarian, including those who are dying and bereaved.
It’s very timely that this bill is being introduced today, because in my riding, in the city of Vaughan, where I’m very proud to stand with my other two colleagues who have House duty today—the minister, the member from Vaughan–Woodbridge, and the member from Thornhill. We share a hospice in Vaughan that is being built in real time, 10 beds, that’s going to really improve the quality of life of our community, of all three ridings.
Today, hours ago, a major announcement was made that I’m very proud to join them in celebrating: a $3-million contribution from a philanthropic family in our riding, the Cortellucci family, who are giving this money to leave a legacy for the next generation.
Obviously, all three members from Vaughan feel very strongly about the completion of this project, because the spirit of this bill will help to be realized by having more hospice infrastructure across communities in Ontario, and it starts, of course, in Vaughan. But it does not end there, Mr. Speaker, because I recognize that many other communities want to have this type of infrastructure, and of course we’ll work in good faith to deliver on that.
Increasing access to hospice palliative care is an effective and compassionate way to give people the health care they deserve. The member from Niagara West mentioned that this may be a solution to reduce hallway health care, something that I know all parties, I’d like to believe, could agree needs to be done. This is in part a solution to the phenomena we face in hospitals like Mackenzie Health and Brampton Civic. In communities across the province, this problem is rather expansive and needs action.
I do also want to recognize that Ontarians deserve to have a strategy that is not a patchwork system for end-of-life care, but an integrated approach to improving quality of life. This bill will help achieve that with a reporting mechanism in one year. I think that all families who are in this place want to make sure that they have that support.
Mr. Speaker, I’m proud to support this bill, and I want to reiterate my gratitude to the member from Niagara West for his support today.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Just as a reminder, as a new member: Reading off of an assistive device, be it a BlackBerry or a laptop, is not allowed in the House in the future—for everyone. You can make note of that, if you will.
Ms. Sara Singh: It’s an honour to rise here today and to speak on behalf of this bill. I want to commend the member from Niagara West for putting this forward. As my seatmate said earlier, I think this is something that can bring all of us together across party lines. It’s work that you started before this House and Parliament sat, and I commend the work that you’re continuing to do on making sure that we do have a palliative care framework in our province.
I think this is a fantastic step in the right direction. It’s something that is urgently needed for communities like mine, yours and many others across this province, and for people. As we all acknowledge, life and death is a reality that we will all face, and we need to be prepared to handle that.
While this bill puts forward many positive recommendations and steps to create the framework, there are always ways that we can include other voices, so I’ll just be making some recommendations on how we can do that.
I just want to start by sharing that this is a very personal bill to me. Last year, I actually lost my brother. We went through the palliative care process with him. No one here in this chamber is unaware of the health care crisis we face in Brampton, so as a family that was trying to access palliative care for my 37-year-old brother who has since passed away, it was a tremendous burden on our family to have to try to get the supports that we needed to make sure that my brother could die with dignity.
We waited for services. We waited for nurses. We waited for care. That is the reality in this province for people who need support in their most traumatic moments of most need. Families shouldn’t be waiting to access services, because there are no seconds. When you’re counting down the clock, every single second counts. I know we felt that as a family.
My brother did not want to die in a hospice care centre. He wanted to die with his family at home, so we tried to access services to make sure we could grant his final wish. We were granted that opportunity as a family to sit with him as he took his last breath at home, but I understood that there were a lot of challenges in making sure that we could do that together, and I want to stand here and make sure that those types of challenges are addressed through this bill and the work that you and all of us will continue to do to make sure that this framework is as inclusive as possible.
Unfortunately for many, dying in a hospice care centre is not what they would like. It is not culturally appropriate care for them. They want to die at home with their loved ones. It is a wish I myself would like to have.
We need to make sure, through the consultation process, that we also listen to the caregivers and those patients who will be accessing those services. Their needs must be put at the forefront of anything that we put forward.
As a family, we drove back and forth to Toronto, accessing care at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to ensure that my brother could get daily transfusions so that we could have him here for just a little longer. We need to ensure that those types of services are available to people across the province, so that we do not need to drive for two hours in a car, wasting time that could have been spent celebrating his life.
We need to take into consideration that staff at palliative care centres, home-care workers and caregivers also need a tremendous amount of support. They are doing very dignified work that can be very stressful and can take a toll on their own mental health and well-being—physically demanding work: lifting patients in and out of beds; ensuring that they have proper food to eat and that their needs are being met. While they care for people in their most vulnerable moments, they, too, need to be taken into consideration and protected.
Caregiver support is also paramount through the palliative care process. As I said earlier, many people do not want to resort to care in a hospice centre and want to be cared for at home, and we need to ensure that they have the appropriate amount of caregiver support to be able to do that. My grandfather last year suffered from a stroke. We currently require 24-hour care. We only get 14 hours a week in order to care for him. These are the realities.
Again, I want to commend the member from Niagara West for doing this work, and I’m so happy to be able to support this bill. Thank you again for the opportunity to rise here.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?
Ms. Natalia Kusendova: I rise today in support of Bill 3, the Compassionate Care Act, tabled by my colleague representing Niagara West. This act calls on the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to develop a provincial framework for hospice palliative care. I would like to say that I’m deeply inspired and moved by the fact that the youngest member in this House has tabled this particular bill today. Congratulations to him.
I would like to thank my colleagues across the aisle from Brampton Centre and Timiskaming–Cochrane for sharing those personal and touching stories, and I would like to express my deepest sympathies to both of them.
This act is an important first step that our government is taking to provide Ontario patients access to comfortable and dignified end-of-life care. Investing in palliative care will not only improve the lives of the elderly and terminally ill, but it will also bring us closer to ending hallway nursing and hallway medicine in Ontario.
Before I was elected to represent Mississauga Centre, I worked as a registered nurse in a local hospital for a number of years. It was there that I watched first-hand as many patients suffered needlessly in their final weeks due to a lack of appropriate end-of-life care. When I first began my training as an ER nurse, end-of-life and palliative care was not something that we were taught because as emergency room nurses we were not expected to palliate terminally ill patients in the emergency room. But the reality of our health care system is such that emergency rooms in fact do palliate end-of-life, terminally ill patients, and I had that very humbling experience a few times in my career as a nurse, where I held a patient’s hand as they took their final breath.
In the hustle and bustle of that emergency room, where they’re only separated by a curtain and frequently people would walk into that room as the palliating care process was taking place, I couldn’t help but think we could do a little bit better by those patients, and that we must do better by those patients.
After those patients passed away, I had about five or 10 minutes to take care of the body, quickly having to discharge the body from the room because we had a new patient coming in who needed that bed. I think for the family members, for staff and for everyone present in that situation, it’s not something that we would expect. It’s something that, definitely, we need to work on and do much better at.
On the campaign trail, my colleagues and I promised voters that we would identify and eliminate the inefficiencies that the previous government perpetuated. As such, the Compassionate Care Act seeks to improve the allocation of our health care resources—our hard-earned tax dollars—making our hospitals operate more efficiently and at lower costs, ensuring that patients get the appropriate treatment in the appropriate settings at the appropriate cost.
In hospitals across the province, terminally ill patients are being treated in acute-care beds due to the severe shortage in dedicated palliative care facilities. Acute-care beds are meant for short-term patients with acute medical conditions that require immediate medical intervention. When terminally ill patients requiring palliative care are placed in acute-care beds, they lack the comfort, privacy, dedicated support and, frankly, the environment that they would otherwise receive in a hospice or even in their own home—with appropriate supports, of course. Investing in palliative care not only gives patients the opportunity to experience the most comfortable and dignified treatment in their last weeks of life, it will provide relief to our overburdened hospitals and long-term-care facilities.
Currently, Ontario has only 341 hospice beds, despite the fact that experts from various fields and jurisdictions have indicated that Ontario should have a minimum of between seven to 10 beds per 100,000 residents. As my colleague mentioned, that’s about 1,000 beds that we are currently short of. Ontario residents deserve better from their health care system.
We are a government for the people. We owe the residents who have lived, worked and raised families in our province the assurance that, should they eventually require end-of-life care, they will receive the best treatment available, along with respect, privacy, dignity and the highest degree of comfort.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?
Mrs. Gila Martow: We’re speaking today about creating a provincial framework for palliative care in Ontario. I’m honoured to speak in support of Bill 3, the Compassionate Care Act, 2018, put forward by my colleague from Niagara West.
I want to offer my condolences to the member opposite from Timiskaming–Cochrane on his mother’s illness. The member for Brampton Centre also told us a very moving story about her brother.
We have an aging population in Ontario; we know that. We know that, as the member from Niagara West told us, it’s inevitable. We might not all need palliative care, because people do die in accidents, but as I believe the Rolling Stones say, “We’re here for a good time, not a long time,” and we have to make the best of our time.
We could definitely do better. We know that we’re short of palliative care beds here in Ontario. That means, as one of our new members told us who was an emergency room nurse, that we have people dying in our emergency rooms, not even making it to palliative care. We need to do better so that we can reduce the practice of hallway medicine. That’s not the best care.
People often say to me—when they’re stuck in a hallway, they say, “I feel like I’m living in a Third World country.” Maybe sometimes it’s good to think of what people do go through in other parts of the world and understand why people are so desperate to come to Canada, as we spoke about earlier. We can definitely improve our health care system by addressing long-term-care beds and palliative care beds.
We heard about the new Vaughan hospice that is breaking ground and a big donation by the Cortellucci family today of $3 million. All of us, the three MPPs who represent the city of Vaughan, are excited and looking forward to that completion. It will have 10 beds in a residential hospice. There will be family support, bereavement services and visiting hospice services.
I also want to say that I’m excited to hear we’re going to have the first Jewish hospice in the city of Toronto. It’s called Neshama Hospice. It’s going to be, of course, celebrating Jewish holidays and have Jewish programming and be kosher as well.
Do you know what? It’s an uncomfortable topic, but we need to address the fact that we can do so much better for the residents of Ontario. I’m looking forward to working with colleagues from all parties on creating more hospice beds and long-term-care beds for Ontario.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The member for Niagara West has two minutes to respond.
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: In my remarks, I want to begin by thanking my executive assistant, Crystal Mason, who has done an incredible amount of work on this issue, reaching out to stakeholders. She has been absolutely phenomenal. She was going to be here, but I guess she couldn’t make it—oh, there she is. Thank you so much, Crystal.
I also thank my family, friends, constituents and local palliative care providers for really being an impetus for this and a huge support throughout that process.
I wish to thank the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane for his strength in speaking about his experiences and also, of course, the struggles of rural communities. That is a real difficulty and one that I’ve seen as well in some of my outreach.
The member for King–Vaughan: I really want to thank him for his contribution, speaking about the Cortellucci $3-million donation. That’s very exciting. We’re very excited for Vaughan and the rest of that area. It’s good news for many people there, I’m sure.
The member for Brampton Centre: Thank you for speaking so passionately and from your heart and with sincerity for the reasons that we’re here. Thank you for being willing to share your story. The member from Timiskaming–Cochrane is right about the fact that, on Thursday afternoons, people open their hearts a little more. I think you showed us all that. I wanted to thank you for that.
The member for Mississauga Centre: Thank you so very much for expressing the experiences that we might not see, coming from the side of the health care practitioner. That’s a different side than most of us have experienced. I appreciate you sharing your insight into that—and, of course, the member for Thornhill for passing along some of her wisdom. It’s very exciting to see that more cultural communities are being recognized in this provision.
The member for Whitby: When he spoke to this bill last year, he said that “life and death are one thread—the same line viewed from different sides … how we care for each other at the end of life is as important as the beginning....” Let that be a motive that motivates all of us in our deliberations in this House. Thank you, all.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I have to inform the House that consideration of private members’ public business has concluded before the expiry of the two-and-a-half hours’ time allotted. This House is therefore suspended until 4:03 p.m., at which time we’ll be putting the questions to the House.
The House suspended proceedings from 1533 to 1603.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): All members will take their seats.
The time provided for private members’ public business has expired.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We will deal first with ballot item number 1, standing in the name of Ms. Dunlop.
Ms. Dunlop has moved private members’ notice of motion number 4. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Motion agreed to.
Immigrant and refugee services
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Mrs. Fee has moved private members’ notice of motion number 3.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.
All those in favour of the motion will please say “aye.”
All those opposed to the motion will please say “nay.”
In my opinion, the ayes have it.
We will deal with this vote after we have finished the other business. Thank you.
Compassionate Care Act, 2018 / Loi de 2018 sur les soins de compassion
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Mr. Oosterhoff has moved second reading of Bill 3, An Act providing for the development of a provincial framework on hospice palliative care.
Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.
Second reading agreed to.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The member will please indicate a committee to which he wants the bill sent.
Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: Standing Committee on General Government.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The Standing Committee on General Government. Do we agree? Agreed.
Call in the members. We’ll have a five-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1605 to 1610.
Immigrant and refugee services
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): All members will take their seats.
Mrs. Fee has moved private member’s notice of motion number 3.
All those in favour, please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk, and then you may sit down.
- Anand, Deepak
- Baber, Roman
- Babikian, Aris
- Bailey, Robert
- Bethlenfalvy, Peter
- Bouma, Will
- Calandra, Paul
- Cho, Raymond Sung Joon
- Cho, Stan
- Clark, Steve
- Coe, Lorne
- Crawford, Stephen
- Cuzzetto, Rudy
- Downey, Doug
- Dunlop, Jill
- Elliott, Christine
- Fee, Amy
- Fullerton, Merrilee
- Ghamari, Goldie
- Gill, Parm
- Harris, Mike
- Hogarth, Christine
- Jones, Sylvia
- Kanapathi, Logan
- Karahalios, Belinda
- Ke, Vincent
- Khanjin, Andrea
- Kramp, Daryl
- Kusendova, Natalia
- Lecce, Stephen
- MacLeod, Lisa
- Martin, Robin
- Martow, Gila
- McKenna, Jane
- Mulroney, Caroline
- Nicholls, Rick
- Oosterhoff, Sam
- Pang, Billy
- Park, Lindsey
- Parsa, Michael
- Phillips, Rod
- Piccini, David
- Rasheed, Kaleed
- Sabawy, Sheref
- Sarkaria, Prabmeet Singh
- Simard, Amanda
- Skelly, Donna
- Smith, Dave
- Surma, Kinga
- Tangri, Nina
- Thanigasalam, Vijay
- Tibollo, Michael A.
- Triantafilopoulos, Effie J.
- Wai, Daisy
- Walker, Bill
- Wilson, Jim
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): All those opposed, please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.
- Begum, Doly
- Bell, Jessica
- Berns-McGown, Rima
- Bisson, Gilles
- French, Jennifer K.
- Glover, Chris
- Schreiner, Mike
- Shaw, Sandy
- Singh, Sara
- Stiles, Marit
- Tabuns, Peter
- Vanthof, John
- West, Jamie
The Clerk of the Assembly (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 56; the nays are 13.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I declare the motion carried.
Motion agreed to.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Orders of the day?
Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: I move adjournment of the House.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Adjournment of the House has been moved. All those in favour? Carried.
This House stands adjourned until Monday morning at 10:30.
The House adjourned at 1614.