42e législature, 1re session

L071 - Wed 27 Feb 2019 / Mer 27 fév 2019



Wednesday 27 February 2019 Mercredi 27 février 2019

Orders of the Day

Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019 / Loi de 2019 visant à rétablir la compétitivité de l’Ontario

Notice of reasoned amendment

Introduction of Visitors

Oral Questions

Health care

Health care

Autism treatment

Health care

Government accountability

International trade

Ontario Provincial Police


Health care

Autism treatment

Ontario economy

Autism treatment / Traitement de l’autisme

Road safety

Ambulance services

Executive compensation

Sexual assault crisis centres

Private members’ public business


Members’ Statements

Indigenous programs and services

Waterloo Region Advocacy Day

Indigenous affairs

Health care

Josephine Mandamin

Events in Glengarry–Prescott–Russell / Événements divers à Glengarry–Prescott–Russell

Ontario Parasport Games

Sports and recreation infrastructure

International Women’s Day

Family violence


Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills

Statements by the Ministry and Responses

Anti-bullying initiatives / Prévention de l’intimidation


Child care workers

Child care workers

Arts and cultural funding

Child care workers

Injured workers

Child care workers

Indigenous affairs

Arts and cultural funding

Child care workers

Child care workers

French-language services / Services en français

Orders of the Day

Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019 / Loi de 2019 sur la refonte complète des services de police de l’Ontario

Adjournment Debate

Indigenous health care


The House met at 0900.

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


Orders of the Day

Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019 / Loi de 2019 visant à rétablir la compétitivité de l’Ontario

Resuming the debate adjourned on February 26, 2019, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 66, An Act to restore Ontario’s competitiveness by amending or repealing certain Acts / Projet de loi 66, Loi visant à rétablir la compétitivité de l’Ontario en modifiant ou en abrogeant certaines lois.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Further debate. I recognize the member for Barrie–Innisfil.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Top of the morning, Mr. Speaker. It’s a true pleasure to rise in the House today to speak on Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, introduced by the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Mr. Speaker, eight months ago, the citizens of our province made a definitive statement with their vote, bringing hope back to the province of Ontario. The requests of our citizens are reasonable: to bring the kind of common-sense changes that will help, even if a little, to make life more affordable on a day-to-day basis. Because this is a government for the people, and this government has listened to the needs of the people of Ontario.

Our government has, over the course of the last eight months, started to deliver responsible changes needed to make life more affordable for all Ontarians, not just the privileged elite. How have we started, Mr. Speaker? We have seen definitive changes in the course through changes like eliminating the ineffective cap-and-trade carbon tax that sapped money from all Ontarians to line the pockets of the privileged few. Indeed, we are seeing the positive effects already in the reduction of the cost of gas by five cents a litre. Does this step alone solve all the problems of Ontarians? No, but it is a step in the right direction. What it does is offer a measured and a reasonable step forward to making life more affordable for all Ontarians.

Each new measure brought, each wasteful provision revoked, helps lessen the burden being placed by the previous administration. It is a pleasure to speak to the next steps that our government is taking to raise the burden placed on Ontarians and eliminate it for good. We’re doing this through the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act.

We see first-hand the burdens of the 380,000 regulations that businesses in our province have to adhere to—380,000, Mr. Speaker. How can businesses thrive on 380,000 regulations? The truth is, they can’t, and we’ve heard that loud and clear. I’ve heard it first-hand from my constituency.

Having visited many businesses and from my time at Queen’s Park, I have heard first-hand from municipalities and from job creators who say they are overburdened by the excessive regulations, taking years—years—to navigate the overcomplicated approval process. Did you know in Ontario it takes over three years for a project to be approved? That is a drastic difference from our neighbours, like New York state, where it takes less than six months. We are trying to be competitive, and with the current regulatory climate, we just can’t compete and we are the complete opposite. Job creators are taking their businesses elsewhere because there is too much red tape and it simply takes too long to get things done. This needs to change.

I just want to remind you, Mr. Speaker, that I will be splitting my time with the member for Eglinton–Lawrence, who has also heard first-hand from her constituents the burdens of all the 380,000 regulations and the impact on her local businesses.

That is why our government is putting an end to this. Right now, Ontario is one of the most regulated provinces in the entire country. These barriers make it impossible to expand businesses and create jobs. It is why our government is working hard to make it easier in more than a dozen sectors—like farming, manufacturing, construction—and making it easier for many businesses in Barrie–Innisfil to operate in Ontario.

When I was first elected to office with the government, I was fortunate to be able to host a small business round table at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce with my colleague from Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte and the minister—


Ms. Andrea Khanjin: Great colleague. We were also joined by the minister’s parliamentary secretary for the economic development and trade portfolio. We heard first-hand over and over again that there was too much red tape for these small businesses. They were consistently held back when they wanted to push forward. And that’s our job, Mr. Speaker: to stand behind small businesses and push them forward rather than get in their way.

I would like to read something from Richard Brooks, who is a constituent of mine in Barrie–Innisfil. He has read the bill and seen the terrible effects of what the previous administration—and the burdens they created—have burdened Barrie–Innisfil residents with. He says:

“I am pleased to see the steps that the provincial government is taking to foster a vibrant and economically sustainable region by opening Ontario up for business and enhancing the province’s competitiveness globally.”

He goes on to say, “Many of our members have expressed confidence in Ontario’s outlook for 2019 and I am optimistic that the provincial government will continue to champion economic growth and quality of life” for businesses.

He finishes by saying, “Some businesses that were considering shutting down or moving to other regions” where the cost was less of a burden have now “a good reason to reconsider those plans.

“I am encouraged by the direction the government is taking.”

With the introduction of Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, it’s just one more step on how our government is making Ontario open for business. These changes need to be made to regain our competitive advantage on a global scale. After all, we do live in a global economy. This includes being able to track new economic investments in places like Barrie–Innisfil and all of Ontario.

We are working to cut red tape and duplication of federal requirements so that things can be done faster but without compromising the integrity of the system. That’s one of the things we’ve noticed: that there’s so much duplication between the different levels of government, so that’s why we’re cutting red tape. It just doesn’t make sense. We’re going to make Ontario the economic engine again so it can thrive and communities like Barrie–Innisfil can thrive all across Ontario. We can grow and we can expand as a province. We can prosper and can strive for a better quality of life.

However, since the introduction of Bill 66, I, along with many colleagues, have heard from residents who have expressed concerns with the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. My constituents in Barrie–Innisfil have expressed concerns that the planning tools have a potential to impact our environmental health and safety protections, especially pertaining to Lake Simcoe.

Let me be clear: Our government would never—we would never—sacrifice the integrity of our environment for our economic prosperity. Our commitment in ensuring Ontario has the highest health and safety and environmental protections stands. I believe that we can find the right balance between a healthy economy and a healthy environment, and our government does, as well. In fact, I stood beside the environment minister, Rod Phillips, as we announced the made-in-Ontario plan where we committed to the people of Ontario that we will protect our air, land and water. This includes protecting Lake Simcoe, continuing to restore its natural areas and features. I, along with our government, remain committed to doing so.


Our government remains committed to reducing red tape, as well, in ways that protect workers, that protect the environment and eliminate waste. We will make sure that the legislation does exactly that.

The Premier has said and will always say, “We are here to listen.” And we are listening. It’s refreshing to finally have a leader who’s driving this province, and not just driving it without listening, but is listening. If there’s a government that’s in touch with reality, it’s certainly ours. Our government values the constructive feedback that we receive from local communities on matters that will directly impact their everyday lives. We are going to restore accountability back to Ontario and restore trust back to Ontario.

With Bill 66, one of the concerns I’ve heard time and time again included the protection and preservation of Lake Simcoe. Let me take some time to speak about that.

In Ontario, we have an abundance of water such as lakes and rivers, many of which are a source of our drinking supply. These waters are protected by strong government legislation, and our government has no—no—intention of loosening these protections. We know that clean, reliable sources of water play an essential role in the good quality of life that is central to our strong, vibrant communities. The—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I’m sorry to interrupt the member. I know that when you came in this morning, you were expecting to speak for 20 minutes, and you’re going to share your time with the member from Eglinton–Lawrence. But we are into 10-minute rotations. Your 10 minutes is up. We’re going to do questions and comments, but during questions and comments from the other side or from this side—or later, for Eglinton–Lawrence—you may wish to get in two minutes of what you had intended to say before you shared your time. So your time is up on your 10-minute rotation.

We’re going to do questions and comments. I recognize the member from Mushkegowuk–James Bay.

M. Guy Bourgouin: Ça me fait plaisir aujourd’hui de me lever pour parler du projet de loi 66.

J’ai eu plusieurs appels concernant le projet déjà, surtout concernant les heures de travail. C’est caché dans le projet de loi, si je peux utiliser le terme. Ils disent, « Guy, pourquoi attaquer ça? » Je peux vous dire que beaucoup de travailleurs sont concernés. Pour les familles qui ont de la difficulté à mettre les deux bouts ensemble, veux, veux pas, ça prend beaucoup de place dans la vie. Travailler, avec les enfants et le train de vie d’aujourd’hui, c’est très difficile. Puis, d’une journée à l’autre, que ton employeur puisse te dire, « Guy, à matin aujourd’hui, tu vas travailler plus longtemps » et que tu sais obligé de rester pour travailler, je pense que c’est injuste pour les travailleurs.

Je pense que la loi qui était là protégeait les travailleurs. Je pense que c’est une erreur d’enlever ça, et aussi d’enlever juste le fait de mettre sur le mur les droits des travailleurs, les droits de santé et de sécurité, ce à quoi les travailleurs ont droit. Dire à l’employeur qu’il n’est plus obligé de mettre ça, je pense que c’est une erreur grave. Je pense que, comme travailleurs, on a au moins ce minimum de droits, de voir les lois qui nous protègent et ce à quoi on a droit être affiché là, puis de dire à son employeur, « Regarde-là. Prends le temps de le lire. Tu n’as pas le droit de faire ça. » Je pense que c’est le minimum. Qu’on mette ça dans le projet de loi pour enlever ce droit-là, je pense que c’est chercher loin.

Puis aussi, enlever le droit aux conventions collectives d’avoir des contracteurs, je pense que c’est un autre problème qu’on a. Les travailleurs des contracteurs devraient avoir le même salaire—quand ils ne veulent pas venir dans les unités syndicales, ils peuvent être payés moins.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Ms. Donna Skelly: I’d like to speak to some of the points that were raised so eloquently by the member from Barrie–Innisfil, concerns that, as the parliamentary assistant to job creation, economic development and trade, I have heard hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times from people, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of stakeholders, right across this province.

Regardless of the region, regardless of the sector, stakeholders are telling me that there are simply too many regulations that are strangling their efforts to create more jobs, to grow their business. That’s one of the big issues that we’re dealing with in this bill.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, and as we have raised many times in this House, this province is struggling under 380,000 regulations. The closest province is British Columbia, and they have 200,000 regulations. We have been told time and again that many of these regulations are simply burdensome. They are duplicative regulations that already exist either at the federal level or at the municipal level. What we are proposing is to identify a minimum of 25% of these burdensome, unnecessary regulations and simply say we don’t need them.

We are in no way going to jeopardize the health of anyone in this province. We are in no way going to jeopardize the safety of our workers or of constituents. But what we are going to do is create an environment where businesses can thrive, an environment where we can create more jobs, an environment where businesses can work with their government instead of a government working against them.

When we say, Mr. Speaker, that we are open for business, we are also open for jobs, and Bill 66 will accomplish that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: I’m pleased to join the debate, and happy that I’ll have 10 minutes to speak on this, just following the round here.

There’s so much here. I hear time and time again the demonization of our regulatory regime here in the province of Ontario. They use the number 380,000. In fact, in this bill, I think they only attack 11 regulations in total. Why such a low effort on the part of the government? If you really believe that 380,000 regulations that are on the books are affecting the growth and economic prosperity of this province, why are you doing such a terrible job at addressing them? I think the answer is that they truly know that regulations are there to protect the public. They are laws. They are rules. They are important aspects of civil society. I wonder where they get the data.

We see some aspects from just in the Pawnbrokers Act here that they did not consult with police services during the construction of that act. There has been minimal consultation around these regulations and the changes to these regulations.

Specifically, I’ll talk about the one around the early years and education act. They’re increasing the number of kids that can be in private care. New Democrats believe that, of course, private care providers do the best they can, and certainly their paramount concern is the safety and well-being of those kids.

We also believe that the airline industry has that same mantra. They are safety-oriented. But we still regulate how many seats you can have in a certain airplane. We don’t let them fly on the wings to make more money.

This is the thing, Speaker: These guys are taking arbitrary numbers around what they believe will enhance economic activity in the province, and throwing it against the wall and seeing what sticks. That’s not the way to create good, cohesive regulation and support a civil society.

Case in point: If all of these regulations and the cancellation of the cap-and-trade system really worked, we’d still have General Motors in Oshawa. They’ve done nothing on that case at all.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments? The member for Scarborough—Mississauga—


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I have it written down. Don’t worry. I’ll take my time. I’ll look at it. You caught me off guard. I was looking in the wrong direction this morning.

This would be Markham–Thornhill.

Mr. Logan Kanapathi: Good morning, Speaker. It’s great to stand up and talk about Bill 66.

I could talk about my own story. As a former councillor, I dealt with a lot of developments—small developments, small renovations. Bureaucracy and red tape is hurting our jobs and hurting a lot of small employers to become employers.


I’ll tell you my own experiences. My wife is a medical doctor. She wanted to expand her family clinic, a family doctor’s office. It took three years to finish the completion of her small office before she could move in—procurement by the planning department, the building departments and the bylaws. She went through a small renovation.

Bureaucracy and red tape is a big hurdle to our businesses. It’s not only the province; it’s all levels of government in Ontario. So, Mr. Speaker, that’s why I stand up proudly and I’m supporting Bill 66. We saw 300,000 manufacturing jobs leave our province under their watch. That’s why our government is committed to creating an environment where business can grow, thrive and create good jobs right here in Ontario.

The businesses in Ontario face the highest cost to comply with the regulations of any province, for example, $33,000 per company. That is much higher than the $25,000 to $27,000 in most other provinces. Small businesses are hit the hardest, facing the highest cost on a per-employee basis. This is why we are committed to cutting red tape affecting businesses by 25%. We are targeting the red tape that is unnecessary.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you, and I apologize to the member for Markham–Thornhill for not having the name of your riding at my fingertips this morning.

We’ll now return to the member for Barrie–Innisfil for her two-minute summation.

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: I applaud the members for their comments. We heard from the member for Markham–Thornhill. He spoke to it very clearly: We’re going to lose jobs if we don’t take action now. The manufacturing jobs that he said have been lost, why are they moving elsewhere? Because other places make it a little easier to do business. These are our competitors, Mr. Speaker. If it takes New York state six months and it takes us years, no one’s going to be coming here. And what does that mean? That means there are no jobs to go to at the end of the day.

So this is a government that’s showing that we can eliminate red tape without affecting the integrity of the process, without affecting the integrity of our safety and our environment. We’ve made it clear that we want to make sure Ontario is open for business so we can thrive again and people have jobs to wake up to in the morning. Because what is the point, Mr. Speaker, if people don’t have a way to be with their families and provide for their families and have hope and prosperity again in the economic engine that was Ontario?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Again, I’m pleased to join the debate today. It’s an important issue. We are duty bound to review the regulatory regime that exists on the books and to ensure that it is streamlined and that it is competitive. These are things that, on the surface, should be pretty non-partisan. If it makes sense, if there is duplication and redundancy around regulation and if it doesn’t jeopardize public safety, these are things that New Democrats certainly can work with any government around.

But we hear, unfortunately, a lot of vague, empty rhetoric from the government. I point again to that 380,000 figure that they pin on the amount of regulations that exist currently. It’s funny, because as a sort of longer-standing member in this House, I remember three PC leaders ago, Tim Hudak—was Tim three ago? I forget. The number escapes me, Speaker, there have been so many over the last five years. But I certainly remember that Tim Hudak, somebody I respected quite a lot in this House, somebody who was an eloquent and forceful orator in this House, would ream on the Liberal government for the 600,000 regulations that were on the books. I’m sure we could check Hansard. I urge somebody to do that, because he used that figure. It’s a shocking number, 600,000 regulations. You wonder, how many years did it take us to get to 600,000 individual regulations? In fact, if that was the case back when Tim said it first, then now we’re down to 380,000, so somebody has been chopping away at the regulatory tree.

Hon. Greg Rickford: We have.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Well, you really haven’t. You really haven’t, because this is their first effort. I haven’t seen them—


Mr. Taras Natyshak: The minister is quite apt to give himself a pat on the back, and that’s okay. That’s his forte. But I haven’t seen them take a big swing at it, especially in the context of this bill. I believe there are only 11 regulations that are addressed in this bill. So they’re underperforming by any fiscal conservative standard, and I think I know why. I think they know how important regulation is in this province. I think that under this narrative that they put out there, under this generalization around regulation that is so pervasive in their talking points, they truly understand that sometimes regulation is of benefit to business. Actually, sometimes businesses and stakeholders and industry groups ask for regulation. They need regulation to protect themselves from outside jurisdictions that don’t have the same quality and the standards that we would expect and consumers deserve.

Case in point, Speaker: I think that some of these Conservatives over here met with folks from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario yesterday. Maybe they did. I saw a lot of Conservatives walking around with cheese curds yesterday, so I expect that they actually met with some of them. And guess what they’re asking for? They’re asking for government intervention. They’re asking for protection. They’re asking for regulations that stop foreign imports that don’t match the same safety and quality concerns that we have here in Ontario. They’re asking for protection. Yes, protectionist—they want protection from their government.

What is the answer? When I met with them yesterday, I asked them: “What was the response to your request from the government?” They said, “They’re on board. They support the dairy farmers.” The Minister of Agriculture is giving me the thumbs-up. Absolutely, we know that he supports the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, and he knows that that requires a hearty, thorough regulatory regime to protect standards. Or you can deregulate, you can open the doors, open the floodgates to low-quality imports, diafiltered milk that we know comes in, skirting regulatory regimes, take a hatchet job to oversight and enforcement and just open the floodgates. That’s capitalism at its best, right? That’s what you’re all about. But you’re not going to do that because you understand the importance of regulation. So I’m calling you out on this. I’m calling the government out on this, because it is such a basic talking point that doesn’t have any merit in fact.

Again, New Democrats certainly are willing to work with you on antiquated regulations, stuff that just doesn’t make sense in our modern economy, stuff that doesn’t incorporate security provisions—I mean, the possibilities are endless. They could address so many other regulations that certainly would help make us more competitive, would keep jobs like General Motors had here in Canada.

In fact, I woke up this morning and read the Windsor Star: Guess where Chrysler Canada is investing? A big, $4-billion investment—that’s a lot of money—and 4,600 jobs: Detroit. They’re going to Detroit. Despite all the bluster and rhetoric, even despite the gigantic “Open for Business” signs that are right facing the headquarters of General Motors across from Windsor—that hasn’t worked. So your empty rhetoric isn’t working.

What we need is a comprehensive plan, and I would submit and urge this government to get to work on a policy, a provincial automotive and manufacturing strategy that highlights and outlines and streamlines those regulations and supports for our manufacturing sector and levels the playing field. And that’s going to mean, probably, some regulation.

But they’re not willing to do that, Speaker. They’re willing to go for some of the lower-hanging fruit that they can spin into a palatable talking point. One of the things is the ratios. How many folks in the House have worked in a skilled trade, raise your hand? One. And I would assume that that skilled trade had a ratio of journeymen to apprentices. Myself included—I was a labourer prior to being elected to this House. Our ratio in the labourers’—



Mr. Taras Natyshak: You’re not calling labourers skilled trades? Okay, we’ll make sure that that’s on the record for our friends at LIUNA who do the heavy work and build the infrastructure that this province relies on across the country. If you want to stand up and reiterate that point, Minister, that would be great to hear right from your mouth.

We had a 2-to-1 ratio. What that means is, for every apprentice you took out of the hall—because we were a hiring hall—out of the list, there had to be two journeypeople to one apprentice. What did that mean? It meant that, on a composite crew, you had two—


Mr. Taras Natyshak: There’s not a shortage of workers; there’s a shortage of employers willing to pay a good wage. That’s what you’re appeasing. You’re trying to diminish this trade and get to the lowest value.

What it does also is, it jeopardizes safety on a job. Hey, pick up a hammer and a shovel and go pour a form. Then you can talk to me about what it’s like to work on a job site. But until you’ve worked on a job site and you’ve seen the inherent dangers that exist on an active job site and you’re relying on the institutional knowledge of those journeypersons who have 30 years in the field, who can point stuff out before it even happens, who can make sure that you’re not going to get hurt at work and that the productivity is there, don’t talk to me about what ratios mean to you. You have no clue. You have absolutely no idea.

What it does mean is that those jobs are performed safely and efficiently and that they’re cost-effective too. But they don’t get that, Speaker. What they see is cheap labour—pandering to the CLACs of the world and pandering to those so-called unions that have been clamouring for cheap labour in this province since the Liberals came in. The Liberals pandered to them too. The Liberals acquiesced. I remember Steven Del Duca—my goodness; this guy was the best friend of those entities, the CLACs of the world. They bent over backwards to help them.

We know that workers in this province—average, everyday, blue-collar workers—know that they are better off on a job site that has experience and that has safety at the forefront. Not only are you going to deregulate that, or loosen the regulatory regime on that; you’re looking at all measures: safety measures, enforcement. This is something that is inherent in your DNA, as Conservatives. We get it; I understand it. But it doesn’t make for an economy that works and provides the effectiveness and efficiency that we should be known for. We can do better. You can strive for better.

Again, despite all of the rhetoric coming out of this government, despite all of their best efforts, what province in this country is leading the way in economic development, job growth and sustainability? It’s British Columbia—a New Democratic government. Those guys are absolutely leading the way on progressive policy. They can provide this government a road map, should they so choose, to actually see how you create a good, civil, cohesive society that is safe for everyone.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Sheref Sabawy: Our government is committed to opening Ontario for business. Red tape causes businesses to struggle. What we are trying to do is very simple: Listen to businesses and hear what is causing them to struggle. We ask a simple question: How can we help you get ahead? How can we help you to expand? How can we help you to create new jobs? We are reducing the burden on small businesses.

Under the past Liberal government, we lost more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs which left Ontario for other locations because Ontario became too hard to do business with. We are trying to get those businesses back and to create an environment friendly for business. We want Ontario to be open again for business and be the destination for investment, for new businesses to come to Ontario and create new jobs.

When businesses leave Ontario, like we’ve seen with GM, the only people who suffer are Ontario people. Removing red tape is making it easier for businesses to start and thrive and create prosperity for Ontarians.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I’d like to thank the member from Essex for his comments. It was refreshing to hear his perspective as a skilled labourer. We see a government that is averse to consultation. I would be a little bit careful, though; I’d hate to think that they’ll go and tick a box now and say that they have been consulted by somebody who has actually worked in a skilled trade.

I also think that behind every slogan and behind all this rhetoric there needs to be substance. Behind every bumper sticker, there should be a vehicle—and hopefully, not a souped-up personal pleasure wagon.

We don’t disagree, over on this side, that when there’s reduplication and redundancy, that does need to be eliminated, but applying this 25% arbitrary number serves no one. It makes absolutely no sense. It is simply grabbing some number out of the air in order to sound good.

Regulations are important, but when we look at Bill 66, it is a hodgepodge. It’s a mess. Never in one bill would you think that they’d be removing regulations on stuffed articles, mattresses, clothing with down, as well as child care caps. I just can’t believe that we are sitting here reading this. It’s almost like this government is like the Wild West. They’re simply throwing out everything they can without any real thought.

When we think of the concept of child care, we know that children are the most precious commodity in society, and we need to make sure that they are well cared for and well looked after. By removing this cap, it will not provide any sort of safety. It will not make anything better.

When we look at this bill, we see that this is pandering to insider friends of this government.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: I’m very happy to speak to this piece of legislation because it underscores what our government has been doing and what our government committed to doing when we were elected and during the campaign, and that is opening Ontario for business.

Let’s take a look at the past 15 years. We had a government that didn’t care about job creation. We saw a government that ended up losing over 300,000 jobs. One of the main reasons for that is the regulation, the red tape that they introduced—over 380,000 regulations in this province. Thankfully, we have a Premier who understands that when businesses grow, communities will grow, and that we need, as a province, to make sure that people have good-paying jobs, high-paying jobs. That’s exactly what our government should be doing.

Businesses shouldn’t be spending all their time filling out pieces of paper and doing all this work on regulation; they should be growing their businesses, because that’s going to benefit all of Ontario.

Our government is going to make sure that we make life more affordable for all Ontarians, and that’s exactly what we started doing by making sure we removed the cap-and-trade and making sure we reduced fuel costs for the people of Ontario, saving them so much money over the course of a year. Now we’re going to make sure that they have good-paying jobs.

I’m very happy to stand here with this government and support this piece of legislation that will ensure that Ontario continues to be open for business under this Premier.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Meegwetch.

Remarks in Oji-Cree.

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

I know with this bill, when we talk about Ontario’s competitiveness act—the cost of doing business, the cost of providing programs, the cost of travel in the north is very different from Toronto or Sudbury. Everybody talks about subways, trains; I talk about airlines, airports.


I know schedule 10 talks about housing and talks about water. I have a community in my riding that’s had 25 years of a boil-water advisory. I have a community that declared an emergency due to housing, due to black mould. But when Ontario is a signatory to the treaty, the way the government responds is, “It’s a federal responsibility.”

First Nations communities and the people of Kiiwetinoong, we are human beings too. The system that’s there right now, where we pass the buck, does not work. When we talk about these changes, about competitiveness, we need to consider the First Nations aspect of it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We’ll return to the member from Essex for his two-minute summation.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thanks to the members from Mississauga–Erin Mills, Brampton Centre, London North Centre and my good friend from Kiiwetinoong, who absolutely puts the emphasis on what the debate should be in this House today.

I’m trying to tell myself—and I’m being educated and supported by my friend because, when he speaks on behalf of his community, he actually speaks on behalf of all Ontarians, who see the issues, who understand that in this province—not only with this government but with successive previous governments, and I would also include whatever NDP governments ever existed: If we can’t ensure that there is safe, clean drinking water for every resident in this province from one end to the other, if we cannot do that simple task in this day and age, in the 21st century, with the technology at hand in one of the richest developed jurisdictions on this planet—if we can’t do that as a government, we are abject failures.

This issue of safe, clean drinking water should be the number one issue, ahead of any changes that you make to stuffed mattresses or stuffed toys that are built into this bill. It’s ridiculous. If you don’t see that, if that doesn’t penetrate your heart and whatever ideology you have, then you should change your focus. You should do a little reflection.

I’m trying to do it, Speaker, because it’s easy to get caught up in the cut and thrust of this place, but I urge the government to implement the changes that this community and other communities like that need in this province. If you start from that point, then everything should be easy. That should be easy. We can do that, and you’ll have my commitment to work with you on a non-partisan basis—I know it’s hard for me to say. But I urge this government to make it a priority.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mrs. Robin Martin: I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. I’m lucky enough to have the privilege of representing the residents of Eglinton–Lawrence and to have the opportunity to hear from them on a regular basis about their priorities, their concerns and the challenges that they face on a daily basis.

Access to and availability of child care is one of the most frequent concerns raised by my constituents. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I received an email from one of my constituents, which I will quote to you now. My constituent wrote, “Our youngest son who is 18 months old is not yet enrolled in any daycare program as we cannot find a daycare in the area with availability for toddlers.

“Everywhere we go, we are told to fill up our information and hope that somebody will take their son out, so ours can get accepted.

“There are daycare centres that have lists with up to 25 to 30 toddlers on their waiting list while their capacity is 20 to 25 toddlers and they already have this number enrolled.

“To have our son enrolled would mean that all 25 enrolled children” would have “to leave so the 25 on the waiting lists” could “be admitted.

“Clearly there is no way we will be able to put him in a daycare.”

This is not the first time I have heard a story like this. Indeed, I hear of similar challenges from families in my riding far too often. The most upsetting stories I have heard, even while going door to door during the election, were from families with multiple children who had children in daycare before and after the previous Liberal government’s changes in 2014. Many of these families had found safe, reliable and dependable daycare for their children prior to the changes, but suddenly found themselves unable to send their younger children to the same child care facilities due to arbitrary caps placed on the enrolment of infants and toddlers in them. Some of these child care providers, and most notably home-based providers, already facing challenges in adjusting to the introduction of full-day kindergarten, had to withdraw from providing much-needed child care spaces altogether because they were unable to make the economics work. If the implementation of full-day kindergarten did not shut them down, these regulations finished the job.

The sad result is that today only 3% of licensed child care spaces in Ontario are currently available for infants. That means that choice for parents, when they can find a space at all, is extremely limited.

The changes made by the Liberals made it harder for parents to find child care spots, not easier. That’s why I am so pleased to see our government is taking action to help parents by helping child care providers, as well as recreational and skill-based programs for children across the province, by increasing the availability of places for children.

To be specific, the changes proposed in Bill 66 will:

—allow children under the age of six to enrol in some recreational and after-school programs;

—increase from two to three the number of children under two years of age that home-based providers can have in their care;

—require home-based providers to count their own children in the maximum allowable number of children in care under the age of four, down from the current legislation, which is under the age of six; and

—remove the restriction requiring a parent to receive financial assistance before in-home child care can be offered to them.

These changes all have two common goals. The first is to increase choice, accessibility and affordability for families looking for child care. The second is to ensure that child care providers can maximize spaces, expand their services and be more successful so that there are more of them going forward, and more child care choices for parents.

But I want to emphasize that none of these changes come at the expense of the safety of children in child care in the province of Ontario. As the Minister of Education said when she spoke on this bill a few days ago, the proposed changes are in line with our provincial counterparts across the country. Rigorous standards and enforcement will continue to apply to the child care sector in Ontario, and any operators who contravene the Child Care and Early Years Act will be subject to the very same enforcement measures that currently exist. This includes a wide range of enforcement tools at the disposal of the Ministry of Education to ensure strong compliance and oversight of both licensed and unlicensed child care.

There will also continue to be an online searchable registry of violations and an established and dedicated enforcement unit within the ministry’s child care quality assurance and licensing branch that proactively conducts inspections of child care facilities.

The Minister of Education has also assured this House that her ministry will continue to follow up on each and every complaint against both licensed and unlicensed child care providers to ensure that they are meeting requirements under the law. And when licensed and unlicensed providers do not follow the rules, the ministry can take clear enforcement action, including compliance orders, administrative monetary penalties and protection orders. Child care providers not following the rules may also be subject to restraining orders or charges under existing legislation. And the biggest disincentive of all to violations of these strict rules: Anyone who is found guilty of an offence is prohibited from ever providing child care in the future, because even one child harmed is one child too many.


I am obviously very happy to see the changes proposed for child care in this legislation, because I know that they will help many of my constituents find child care more easily and, therefore, get back to work, if that’s what they want to do. But I would be remiss if I didn’t also address some of the other proposed changes in this legislation.

After all, this legislation touches on reducing red tape and restoring Ontario’s competitiveness across all aspects of government, and there are many common-sense reforms in this legislation: some to remove regulations which have outlived their usefulness, some to align Ontario to existing federal regulations in the same fields and some to ensure that Ontario is open for business and, therefore, open for jobs.

In the time I have left, Speaker, I want to briefly touch on one other proposal in the legislation: the proposed changes to the Long-Term Care Homes Act. Our government was elected on a commitment to build 15,000 long-term-care beds in five years, and 30,000 over 10 years. Fulfilling this promise is a critical step toward addressing the broader challenge of hallway health care, and as part of our efforts to get new capacity online, we need to identify and streamline administration without negatively impacting on patient care.

As one of two parliamentary assistants to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, I know my counterpart, the member for Oakville North–Burlington, has been working very hard to move this promise forward, meeting and consulting with long-term-care providers across our province. But the red tape reduction efforts proposed in Bill 66 are also an important step.

My riding is home to a variety of businesses—small, medium and large. Under the previous Liberal government, the cost of doing business was oppressive, with businesses of all sizes facing unprecedented regulatory burdens and red tape. It is clear that we need to make changes to regain our competitive advantage, and that is why I am proud to support Bill 66, which simplifies the regulatory environment and makes Ontario open for business and, therefore, open for jobs. I hope all of the members of this Legislature will join me in supporting this important bill as an important first step to making that a reality.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Terence Kernaghan: I was pleased to hear the member from Eglinton–Lawrence mention the issue of child care, as well as child care spaces. To my mind, when we take a look at the child care issue, that is an equity issue. The inability to find appropriate and adequate child care is a barrier for many women seeking to enter the workforce.

She talks about the lack of spaces. Well, then, the onus should be on the government to create those spaces. We take a look at the example of Quebec, which has publicly funded child care in place, and has for many years. The studies are clear that it has helped drive their economy. It allows more people to enter the workforce, thus contributing to the tax base and, really, it creates a better society and more fulfillment. When someone is forced to stay at home and provide care for their own child, while that might be something some choose, it isn’t always to the benefit of that individual.

The member from Eglinton–Lawrence also mentioned arbitrary caps, and on that issue, we have to be very careful about that sort of empty rhetoric because we know that the caps on the ages of the children in care are based on safety. It is based on making sure that those children have the best attention and making sure that they are looked after.

Right now, according to this legislation, when it is enacted, one provider will have the opportunity to have three children under the age of two, for a total of six. So they could ostensibly have three children under the age of two, as well as three three-year-olds. I don’t know any individual who would be able to provide meaningful, adequate care to six infants in a safe and proper way. I urge the government to invest in publicly funded daycare and open up the economy for everyone.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mrs. Nina Tangri: Good morning. As we have heard today, and so passionately from our member from Eglinton–Lawrence, we have a strong need to encourage businesses to open, to grow and to hire more people here in Ontario. It is our responsibility as a government to help create that environment and that’s what we are doing. By bringing forward the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, we are telling the whole world that Ontario is the place to do business. It is where you want to be to live, to work and to raise your family.

I would like to touch on home-based child care. As a mother of children, I remember, before returning to work in a business that I ran—I had no maternity leave—I had such difficulty finding quality child care. It was very difficult for me. What we are doing is, we’re opening those spaces and allowing good, quality home-based child care. I faced finding it so difficult at that time.

I do urge all the members of this House to support this bill. By doing this, by supporting Bill 66, you are supporting parents. You are supporting parents so that they can have good, quality, safe and accessible daycare.

What we are trying to do in our government is to help stop so much duplication. There are many, many regulations at the federal level that we are duplicating here in the province, which is completely unnecessary. It adds so much burden to our businesses that it’s delaying processes, it’s delaying them hiring people, it’s delaying them growing. That’s what we want to do as a government. We are listening. We are listening to the businesses, we are listening to the people, and what we want to do is to make sure we have good quality all around.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Taras Natyshak: The last round was centred on the schedule 3 provisions of the bill, which involve child care—in-home child care, privately delivered—and I just want to put on the record here for the sake of the members in the House and for the sake of those who are tuning in this morning, if they take a look at this bill—and I urge them to do that; it’s Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act.

Speaker, I urge them to take a look, and I urge them to take a look at schedule 3, because amendments 1 through 3 loosen the restrictions that were put in place. These are regulations that were put in place five years ago after a number of deaths of children and babies who died while in care. That was the impetus for these regulations five years ago. We heard about those deaths. They were incredibly tragic. We believe in hindsight that they were preventable with the proper oversight and regulatory framework. I think in this House there was a call to do everything that we could, and I believe at that time the Conservative Party also believed that we should and committed to doing everything we could.

It’s funny how, five years later, they see this and they’ve disregarded the lessons of the past. They’re not honouring that tragedy by maintaining that level of regulation and oversight, and in fact they’re not even enhancing the enforcement regime. They talk about loosening this up, they talk about maintaining some parameters on the regulations, but there’s nothing that makes any more enforcement available in this bill. That’s a real red flag and I hope that those who are concerned about this issue take a real close look at this.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Vincent Ke: It is my honour to stand up and speak to Bill 66, An Act to restore Ontario’s competitiveness by amending or repealing certain Acts. Mr. Speaker, I was elected last June on a mandate from the residents of Don Valley North, letting people know that Ontario is open for business.


Bill 66 will review excess regulations and make changes to regulations for 12 government ministries, including health; training, colleges and universities; and transportation, to name a few.

The previous government passed numerous regulations and laws which made it hard for business to operate. In January, I had a small business round table in my riding. One of my manufacturer owners told me that they planned to move out of the province because the cost of doing business in Ontario under the previous Liberal government was too expensive. This is why our government for the people introduced Bill 66, in order to eliminate unnecessary regulations and reduce red tape to allow businesses to operate and succeed.

We want good-paying jobs to stay in Ontario. We want a prosperous economy here. When I moved to Canada from Germany in 1998, I chose to land in Ontario because Ontario was the economic engine of the country at that time. We want Ontario to once again be Canada’s economic engine. Passing Bill 66 will be one step towards that goal.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We’ll return to the member from Eglinton–Lawrence for her two-minute summation.

Mrs. Robin Martin: Thank you to all of the members—from Don Valley North, from Essex, from Mississauga–Streetsville and from London North Centre—for your comments.

I honestly believe that we are—and I think I went through this in great detail in my talking points about this—how much we are keeping so much of the regulations that were put in to prevent unnecessary deaths of children. We kept all of the enforcement. We kept all of the oversight. We’re making a small change, but it’s nonetheless going to be an important change for parents. So I think we are honouring the tragedy that was mentioned and referred to by maintaining oversight and by maintaining all of those safety features. We’re making one small change which will allow these home care providers to be able to provide more spaces for the children and for the parents who are looking for those opportunities.

The member from London North Centre mentioned equity issues and the fact that women need to get back to work. This is going to help more women get back to work, if that’s what they choose to do. That is the very reason that we’re doing it.

The other equity issue, frankly, is that there are a lot of diverse communities, especially in my riding and many of the ridings in Toronto and other big cities in Ontario. Those diverse communities have home care providers that are particular for their community. That is also an equity issue. They’ve been closed down, and people want providers that are culturally familiar to them. I think if we’re looking at equity, that is at least as important a consideration.

I just want to conclude by saying that I agree with the member from Mississauga–Streetsville that if you support this bill, you are supporting parents who are looking for child care for their children. So I ask for your support.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: It’s a pleasure to stand in the House today and contribute to Bill 66, the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act. I want to welcome everyone in the public galleries who are here to listen to the debates on very important issues that affect their lives every day. I’m so encouraged when we see the public come into their House to find out what we’re doing as representatives for them to make life better in Ontario.

I have to say, some of—


Ms. Teresa J. Armstrong: No, they’re not protesters. They’re very thoughtful, quiet people here, listening to what’s going on. It’s discouraging sometimes when you hear people who are already in this House for a very short time be so cynical about public participation, about public involvement, about public engagement.

I have to say, that’s one of the concerns I have with this government, that they already have, I think, agendas already made up. Then they produce legislation and they claim that they’ve had fulsome consultation, but they really haven’t. What they’ve done is—and there’s a lot of history, when it goes behind legislation, the process of how you get there—they’ve consulted the people they want to hear from, and then they can default to say, “Yes, we’ve consulted.” Well, you know, that’s not good enough, and the people of Ontario are calling this government out all the time.

We have that example with legislation that they proposed on autism. There are very strong families that have children who have special needs, and they want to make sure that they get looked after. This government, in this case, hasn’t listened to families and children with autism and what their needs are.

Getting back to this Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, one of the things that they also have put in this legislation is that the government has described regulatory changes that don’t require legislative changes and so aren’t included in Bill 66. So there could be further regulatory changes that happen that we don’t have an opportunity to debate in the Legislature. That’s very concerning, because unless you read the Ontario Gazette, you don’t know what regulations have been changed, and not everybody gets the Ontario Gazette. I know I’ve skimmed through it, and sometimes I have found regulations in it that I was surprised had been changed.

Now, there are many things in Bill 66, and there are many important topics that it addresses. In some ways, there are subjects in here that I think should have been bills separate on their own, because they are so important. And instead of this bill and this government making legislation that helps everyone, sometimes they’re narrow-minded and they have to backtrack on things. They’ve gone from bad to worse in some ways, in some instances, where they’ve had to actually pay attention to what people are telling them. I don’t know if they’re doing that intentionally, if they’re just throwing out legislation really fast and hoping that no one pays attention, that no one says anything, and then, “Yes, we’ve got the backroom agreements that we were making with people and now it’s going to pass.”

But that hasn’t been the case. You’ve been called out on many pieces of legislation, one of them being recently the changes to post-secondary education, where you have student union fees and ancillary fees that you’re allowing students to opt into. Well, they’re stepping up and talking about it, and that decision they expressed to you—I don’t know if this government plays like they don’t understand, but they were changing it so that you opt into ancillary fees and they didn’t understand, apparently—which I find hard to believe—that transit was part of the ancillary fees that were subsidized for students. Then they had to pull that back.

When you have legislation like this, that’s really important. I want to touch on—there are so many things to touch on, but I want to touch on the child care piece that has been discussed quite extensively here. Speaker, I too am a mother of two children, and I recall—and this was years ago—that when you first got mat leave, you were able to collect four months at home, and then you had to find someone to look after your child. The second time I had a child, it was a six-month mat leave, and you had a six-month window to find child care. Now it’s up to a year.

It’s very difficult, as the parent, to make sure that you screen and scope out a child care space for your child, because you’re going to leave that baby with someone. In some cases, it could be someone you’ve never met before, a stranger that you’ve found an ad for or you’ve maybe talked to them once or twice, and then you’re leaving that precious package with someone. That is something I struggled with as a mother, trying to find a real safe place for my children.

I bumped into an ex-police chief a few weeks ago in London. His daughter is a police chief and so is his son-in-law. She’s going back to work shortly, but she took up to 11 months to find a child care space.

When this government is opening up child care spaces, I don’t think this is the best approach. I think what they should be focusing on are spaces that are not-for-profit; regulated, supervised and transparent spaces. You can still have multicultural—one of the members talked about equity being culturally sensitive, with someone to look after their children in a cultural connection. You can still have that, and it’s all-inclusive.

If I had had that opportunity to have affordable, not-for-profit daycare—my husband and I, at the time, were struggling. We were just starting out. We couldn’t afford daycare other than private daycare, and that, again, left me feeling uneasy about it. But if you can have not-for-profit affordable daycare where you know, when you put that little innocent face in the hands of someone else—that you’re going to go to work and you feel good.

So I hope this government looks to this child care adjustment piece and understands that when you change a regulation, something else results from it. I don’t know if they’ve gone that far. I used that example because they haven’t even—the post-secondary education example. They decided to make ancillary fees opt-in, but they didn’t go far enough and understand that those ancillary fees benefited students, like the transit subsidy, and then they had to put that back.

I want you to understand that, you’re making this regulation and opening up more children under two to be looked after by a care provider: What does that look like? How does that affect something else? You haven’t gone that far, and there’s a danger to that.

Speaker, I am a proud grandmother of a seven-year-old and twins. Those twins are going to be 24 months on April 27. When I have the precious opportunity, the time that I’m able to spend with them, it’s hard. You have two kids the same age demanding your attention. And just because they’re identical twins doesn’t mean they’re exactly the same. They’re quite the opposite. One wants more attention; one is more independent. And what do I do? Do I separate my time and worry about the one that wants more attention and let the independent one be independent? They need guidance as well.

I can’t imagine these home care providers having to stretch their time with more children. It is difficult. When we’re making those rules—we’re loosening up those rules—we’re not paying attention to what is happening because of that. What is the ripple effect? We know that this rule was put in place for the reason that there were people, private care providers, who weren’t paying attention and weren’t abiding by the law, and a horrible tragic death happened as a result of that. Those things can’t continue.

So that’s why I say that this bill is a very important bill. I understand the language around opening it up for competitiveness, but what are the effects of what you’re doing to public safety? There are many examples in this bill that we could talk about. I took 10 minutes just on the child care bill, and I have so much more I want to add because I think it’s important that we do bring a personal perspective so people understand that we are not just legislators, but we should also be part of how we understand how it affects other people and how it affects our lives.

When you can actually put yourself in the place of the legislation you’re creating, that’s when you make good legislation. I think that is what’s missing in this child care bill, Speaker. I think they’re taking it too quickly, and they need to take more time and address it properly.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I want to thank the member for London–Fanshawe for her comments this morning. Unfortunately, we won’t have enough time for questions and comments.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Seeing that it’s almost 10:15, we will stand in recess until question period at 10:30 this morning.

The House recessed from 1014 to 1030.

Notice of reasoned amendment

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 71(b), the member for Timmins has notified the Clerk of his intention to file notice of a reasoned amendment to the motion for second reading of Bill 74, An Act concerning the provision of health care, continuing Ontario Health and making consequential and related amendments and repeals. The order for second reading of Bill 74 may therefore not be called today.

Introduction of Visitors

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I wish to inform the House we have a former member of provincial Parliament here with us today in the House, Kathryn McGarry, who served in the 41st Parliament and is now the mayor of Cambridge. Welcome, Kathryn. It’s great to have you back.

Ms. Catherine Fife: It is my pleasure to welcome a contingent from the region of Waterloo here to Queen’s Park today. We have Mayor Dave Jaworsky, mayor of Waterloo; Adam Lauder, who is the EO to the CAO of city of Waterloo; Paul Grivicic from the city of Kitchener; Dan Chapman from the city of Kitchener; and Berry Vrbanovic, mayor of Kitchener.

We have Sandy Shantz, mayor of the township of Woolwich; David Brenneman, township of Woolwich; Sue Foxton, mayor of the township of North Dumfries; Andrew McNeely, township of North Dumfries; Karen Redman, first female chair of the region of Waterloo; Mike Murray, CAO, region of Waterloo; Stevie Natolochny, EA to the chair of the region of Waterloo; Kathryn McGarry has already been introduced; Hardy Bromberg, deputy city manager, city of Cambridge; Brooke Lambert, city of Cambridge; Les Armstrong, mayor of the township of Wilmot; Grant Whittington, township of Wilmot; Joe Nowak, township of Wellesley mayor; and Tony LaMantia, president and CEO of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corp.

Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Kitchener Wilmot.

Mr. Mike Harris: Kitchener–Conestoga, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Kitchener–Conestoga.

Mr. Mike Harris: Just to echo off the sentiments of the member from Waterloo, I would also like to welcome the regional contingent we have here today: Karen Redman, the regional chair, who I believe is still delayed due to the weather; Berry Vrbanovic, who is of course the mayor of Kitchener; Les Armstrong, the mayor of the township of Wilmot; Sandy Shantz, the mayor of Woolwich township; Sue Foxton, the mayor of North Dumfries; Kathryn McGarry, of course, former member of provincial Parliament and the new mayor of Cambridge; and, of course, Dave Jaworsky, who is the mayor of Waterloo. Welcome.

Mr. Percy Hatfield: I have a proud resident of my riding here today, my first legislative page, Evan Tanovich. Welcome back to Queen’s Park.

Mrs. Belinda Karahalios: It’s my pleasure to also introduce the two women I work very closely with in my riding of Cambridge, Mayor Kathryn McGarry, mayor of Cambridge, and Mayor Sue Foxton, mayor of North Dumfries. Also, I’d like to welcome CAO Andrew McNeely from North Dumfries. Thank you for coming here. I look forward to meeting with you later.

Mr. Faisal Hassan: Today I would like to welcome student leaders and community leaders: Shadya Yasin who is with York Youth Coalition in my riding of York South–Weston; Evan Tanovich, a student from the University of Toronto; Safia Abdala, who is also a student at the University of Toronto; Maryama Ahmed, a student at the University of Toronto; William Webb, Canadian Intern Association; Eddy Avila and Shannon Kelly of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance; Entisar Yusuf, Black Graduate Students Association; and Kiara Osborne-Pimentel of York University. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Mr. Rick Nicholls: It’s a pleasure for me to introduce a former page here in the Ontario Legislature, from a few years ago, from the great riding of Chatham-Kent–Leamington: Emma Vandermeer. Emma, welcome.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I, too, would like to welcome our model Parliament to the House today. Specifically, I’d like to recognize and welcome Sarah Sollors from Huron–Bruce. She’s a student at Saugeen secondary.

Mr. Roman Baber: It’s my pleasure to recognize and welcome my former campaign manager and former riding president, Mr. Isaac Apter.

Hon. Victor Fedeli: I want to introduce, from Callender, Ontario, the mayor of Callender, Hector Lavigne.

Mr. Doug Downey: I want to introduce Hale Mahon, who is here from my riding with the model Parliament, and who was very engaged in my campaign. Welcome, Hale.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I, too, wish to welcome some special guests. We have with us in the public galleries today 103 students from across the province participating in the sixth annual Legislative Assembly of Ontario model Parliament. Please join me in warmly welcoming our future parliamentarians to the Legislature today.

Oral Questions

Health care

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, my first question is to the Premier. During the last Conservative government, the Premier of the day, Mike Harris, announced big plans for Ontario’s public health system. Over the next few years, 6,000 nurses lost their jobs, 28 hospitals were shuttered, 7,000 hospital beds were closed.

As the Tories roll out yet another plan to transform our health care, families are wondering this time how many people will lose their jobs, how many hospitals and community services will be shut down, and how many hospital beds we will lose.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The government side will come to order.

Start the clock. Premier?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker, when we travelled around the province and I went from hospital to hospital, there were four-, five-hour wait times. We were elected to end hallway health care.

I am so fortunate and blessed; I have the best health minister, the best Deputy Premier in the entire world right beside me.

Mr. Speaker, I get a lot of calls every day. The overwhelming amount of calls I had from front-line health care workers, from nurses, from doctors across this province said, “Thank goodness you got rid of the LHINs.” That’s all I heard about, is getting rid of the LHINs.

The minister is getting rid of the LHINs, making sure we end hallway health care and getting rid of the 1,200 people who line up in the hallway every single day in this province.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Patients in Ontario have seen big plans before under Conservative and Liberal governments, and they’ve seen the same plans lead to cuts, closures and creeping privatization.

The Premier has brought back many of the same Conservative operators from the Mike Harris era and is even paying his personal friend and former PC Party president $350,000 a year to serve as his health czar.

Why should families believe the government when they claim that this time things are going to be different?

Hon. Doug Ford: To my great Minister of Health.


Hon. Christine Elliott: Well, things are going to be different. The reason why we are going through this transformative change is for patients. It’s for patients, families and their caregivers, to make sure they get the coordinated care that they need.

They’re not getting that now. Our system is fragmented. Providers are being paid out of different funding envelopes. They have different purposes. They have different goals. What we are bringing forward through The People’s Health Care Act is a way to connect the providers so that they can provide that integrated care to Ontario’s patients. That is what they deserve and expect. We promised them that we would deliver that, and that is what we are going to do.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.

Restart the clock. Final supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: The government’s new health bill includes plans to collapse world-renowned agencies like Cancer Care Ontario into one new mega-bureaucracy. Internal documents from the ministry warned of potential service disruptions, when agencies like Cancer Care Ontario are already doing a stellar job.

Why would we do that to patients? Why is the government scrapping an agency that already works for people?

Hon. Christine Elliott: In fact, that is incorrect. The agencies are not being collapsed. Cancer Care Ontario is going to continue to do the great work it does—and I would agree with you that they are world-class in managing cancer care and renal indications.

But we can learn from that. We can learn from that and use that model for other chronic disease management strategies. We need to do that for diabetes, for example, and in mental health and addictions, it’s arguable that there isn’t any structure right now. We can use that model to create those chronic disease management strategies that we need across the board.

Health care

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also to the Premier of the province. During the last election campaign, the Premier said he would “leave no stone unturned” when it came to privatizing public services. The new health bill will open the door to unprecedented levels of new private, for-profit health delivery.

My question, Speaker: How many new private, for-profit services will the Premier accept under this new plan?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Health.

Hon. Christine Elliott: What I would say to the leader of the official opposition is that that is absolutely incorrect. If you take a look at The People’s Health Care Act, there is no indication of privatization. We are not moving in that direction. We are not bringing things open for private health care delivery in our public system. What we are doing is making sure that we strengthen our public health care system.

As the members opposite should know, you indicate in a bill what you are going to do. You don’t talk about all the other things that you aren’t going to do. We are not moving forward with privatization. We are strengthening our public health care system. I think the people of Ontario need to know that.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.

Start the clock. Supplementary?

Ms. Andrea Horwath: While the Ford government insists that this is a completely different bill from the version that leaked weeks ago, it contains the same concerning provisions encouraging more for-profit providers into our health system. The one change is a new preamble that actually references public funding, but makes no mention whatsoever of the principle, straight from the Canada Health Act, of public delivery of health services.

Why is there no commitment to not-for-profit public health care delivery in this bill?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. I’ve got to ask the government side. I have to be able to hear the person asking the question. I ask them to come to order.

Start the clock. Response, Minister?

Hon. Christine Elliott: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In fact, the legislation entirely talks about the public delivery of health care, strengthening our public system.

With respect, I would say that what the leader of the official opposition is doing is fearmongering and scaring people about something that doesn’t actually exist. We are strengthening our public system of health care, plain and simple. The end.

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

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Oh, Speaker, it will be the end, all right, if our health care system becomes like Kathleen Wynne’s Hydro One system. It will be the end for that government, is what it will be the end for.

Ontario families want to know that they can get quality health care when they need it and without having to pad the pockets of for-profit companies. That’s what people value in this province. They don’t want their public health dollars padding the pockets of for-profit health delivery companies. Yet this government seems to be following the exact same path we’ve seen before, laying the groundwork for cuts, closures and creeping privatization.

Why should families believe that this time it’s going to be any different?

Hon. Christine Elliott: Mr. Speaker, again, through you: I would say that the leader of the official opposition doesn’t want to accept what is obvious. We are strengthening our public health care system. I want to say to the people of Ontario, because they need to hear it from me directly, that you will continue to pay for your health care services using your OHIP card. That will not change. That is what we’re going to do. What we are going to do is make the patient experience better.

If I can give you an example of what’s happening now: If people are being discharged from hospital following surgery but they require home care, right now, they often don’t know who’s going to provide the care, they don’t know what kind of care is going to be delivered or when they’re going to receive it. When the home care provider arrives at their home whenever, they often don’t know anything about the patient’s condition.

Well, that has to change and that is going to change under our new system. By the time patients leave—

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

Autism treatment

Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is to the Premier of the province. After weeks of dodging and delaying, the Ford government finally released details of their plan for children with autism and their families, and it confirms what families had feared, Speaker. Two parents, each earning minimum wage, will make too much money to qualify for full support under the Premier’s autism plan. A family earning an average household income could be expected to cover as much as $76,000 a year in therapy costs for their child.

How does the Premier expect a family earning $90,000 a year to pay for $76,000 worth of treatment?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Hon. Lisa MacLeod: It’s my pleasure to rise today to talk about Ontario’s new autism program. Our government for the people is committed to eliminating the 23,000-long wait-list for families of children with autism seeking support through the OAP. Unfortunately, the NDP doesn’t want to see those children get off that wait-list, and that is actually quite despicable.

Our goal is to clear the wait-list in 18 months and improve access to service for those 23,000 children. A sliding scale has been developed using gradual increments of approximately 1.5%. In year 1, the government will be using family net income budgets from families’ notices of assessment to calculate childhood budgets, to provide family support as soon as possible. For example, if a household income of the child entering the program of two is $80,000, the maximum childhood budget available would be 86.5% of the $140,000, which equals to $121,000, which is $121,000 more than they get today.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. The member for Waterloo will come to order. The government side will come to order.

Start the clock. Supplementary.

Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, this plan is a betrayal of children and parents who need support. They were promised it by this government, and they know they’ve been betrayed. Instead of providing the help that these families need, the government has threatened professional groups, they’ve frozen waiting lists while denying that that freeze actually existed and they’ve claimed endorsements from parents who actually hate their plan.

At what point will the Premier fire this minister and start on a new plan that actually works for children and families?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.



Hon. Lisa MacLeod: As I mentioned, our motivation is to clear the wait-list of 23,000 children who are not receiving support in the province of Ontario. That’s three out of every four children. That’s why we’re investing a record investment of $321 million to clear the wait-list by doubling the diagnostic hubs and by ensuring that we can provide direct support financially to parents.

I have a quote that came out in December of 2007 and I want to read it: “When is this government going to actually deliver on funding to clear the waiting list for those children and the families that need autism services in the province of Ontario?”

Do you know where that came from? The leader of the official opposition. Today we’re clearing the wait-list. She should be standing up there applauding. The question that she asked was in 2007, of the government that she supported 98% of the time, the Liberals, but this time, when we’re clearing the wait-list, it’s not good enough for her. Why isn’t it good enough for her?

Health care

Mrs. Amy Fee: My question is for the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Our government committed to the people of Ontario during the election campaign that we would fix our public health care system. Ontarians across this province have been waiting far too long for improvements to our health care system. That is why, yesterday, I was so excited to hear the Minister of Health deliver our government’s long-term plan to fix and strengthen our public health care system, by focusing directly on the needs of Ontarian patients and families.

Mr. Speaker, could the minister please update the members of this Legislature on how our plan will benefit patients in Ontario?

Hon. Christine Elliott: I’d like to thank the member from Kitchener South–Hespeler for her question and for her great work on many, many fronts. Thank you.

This is an important issue. As we all know, our health care system is facing many problems. Patients and families are lost in our health care system, falling through the cracks and waiting too long for care. This has a negative impact on the health and well-being of patients and their loved ones both physically and mentally.

Right now, care is fragmented, particularly at transition points, for example from hospital to home care. Patients, families and caregivers experience frequent gaps in care and have to reiterate their health care concerns over and over and over again because of a lack of digital tools and care continuity.

It is clear that the value of our health care system is locked away in silos. Most frustratingly, Ontario is home to some of the best doctors, nurses and care providers in the world, but they haven’t been given the tools to do their jobs properly—

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

Mrs. Amy Fee: Thank you, Minister, for that response and all the work that you’re doing. I am so proud to support your plan that strengthens, again, our public health care system. My constituents in Kitchener South–Hespeler are certainly going to benefit from patient-centred care going forward.

Speaker, to me it is unacceptable that 1,000 patients every day across this province are accessing health care in hallways. I know that strengthening our publicly funded health care system will benefit both patients in Ontario and health care providers.

Could the minister explain why else it is critical that we move forward with this plan to strengthen Ontario’s public health care system?

Hon. Christine Elliott: Thank you again to the member for the question. I do want to make it crystal clear to the people of Ontario that our government is 100% committed to strengthening our public health care system. That’s why throughout our government’s process of developing our vision for our health care system, I want to say directly and very clearly to every legislator in this House and to the people of Ontario, our primary objective has always been and will always be strengthening our publicly funded health care system and making our system better for patients, families and their caregivers; that means, for the people of Ontario, continuing to use your OHIP card for services, as you have always done. That will continue.

I’m pleased to say that, if the legislation is passed, we will finally be able to build a coordinated public health care system around the needs of the patients of this great province.

Government accountability

Mr. Taras Natyshak: My question is to the Premier. My question is about the Premier’s personal pleasure wagon and his lack of respect for taxpayers in general.

Yesterday, the government House leader made an extraordinary claim: He told reporters that the Premier asked the OPP to secretly spend over $100,000 on a souped-up man cave on wheels. Why, Speaker? Because—get this—he wanted to save money for the public.

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but the Premier already has a fleet of full-sized SUVs at his disposal 24 hours a day. So can the Premier explain how equipping a van with a mini fridge, a 32-inch television with a Blu-ray player and a leather power-reclining sofa is a cost-cutting measure for the taxpayers of Ontario?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker, I know it’s important to the opposition to talk about a van, but let me tell you something about that. Mr. Speaker, I requested a used van that is one third the cost of the regular suburban. I’m the only Premier in history that refuses to use the Premier’s plane, the King Air, that costs the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. I prefer to drive around and talk to the people about things that matter: about creating jobs, lowering taxes, making sure we’re lowering the heating costs, lowering gas prices, creating more jobs out there than we can even—employers need more people. We don’t have enough people for all the jobs we’ve created. We created the environment for 43,000 jobs last month.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members, please take their seats. Order. Government side, come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government side will come to order.

Start the clock. Supplementary.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: The fact is that the Premier knows that the people of Ontario shouldn’t be paying for the electric reclining couch in his van. That’s why he asked that the costs be moved off the books, that’s why his staff were using personal emails instead of government accounts, and that’s why Brad Blair, the acting commissioner of the OPP, said no way, not on his watch—which might explain why the Premier’s preferred candidate for OPP commissioner, Ron Taverner, was in the news for this story defending the Premier’s choice of a personal pleasure wagon.

When the Premier said he wanted new leadership at the OPP, is that what he meant?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members, please take your seats.

I recognize the Premier.

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker, I think I answered the question last time he asked me. But, again, do you know what the people of this province care about, including people from Essex? People from Essex don’t realize their MPP voted to increase taxes, increase gas prices, making sure it puts more of a burden on the backs of the taxpayers.

Our government is for the people, Mr. Speaker. We’re reducing costs. We’re taking the burden off families. We’re making sure that they can get from point A to point B at a lower cost, because we got rid of the cap-and-trade carbon tax to lower gas prices. Everyone that received a heating bill in this province saw a lower cost on their heating bill because of our government. The people that are getting their cheques every single week are seeing less being taken off from the government.


International trade

Mr. David Piccini: My question is for the Premier. Last week, I know the Premier had the opportunity to travel to Washington to bring our open-for-business message to our largest trading partner. I know that during the trip the Premier had the opportunity to share the work our government is doing to make Ontario open for business and open for jobs.

Since we were elected, this Premier, this government, has been laser-focused on the regulatory burdens affecting business, on lowering taxes and on scrapping the Liberals’ disastrous cap-and-trade carbon tax. Could the Premier please outline for the House the important work that is being done to let our largest trading partner and to let the world know that after a “closed” sign on the border, after a disastrous 15 years, Ontario is once again open for business and open for jobs?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker, we had a fabulous trip to Washington. We went down and told the world and our largest trading partner that Ontario is open for business and open for jobs. When I talked to the numerous governors and ambassadors, they were just so thankful. We also met with a group of Fortune 500 companies that have investment in Ontario, and every single one of them said, “Thank God your government got elected, because now we get to expand in Ontario and create more jobs.”

Our biggest issue here in Ontario: We have created so many new jobs, we don’t have enough people to fill these jobs. That’s the problem. And we’re going to continue creating prosperity, growth and wealth in this province, the likes of which this province has never seen before.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary.

Mr. David Piccini: Thank you to the Premier for that response. It’s refreshing to members—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek, come to order.

Mr. David Piccini: It’s refreshing that after 15 years, we have a Premier that understands business. I know that the during the trip, the Premier, along with the Premiers of New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, called for an end to American steel and aluminum tariffs. These tariffs have been hurting Ontario workers and Ontario businesses, and they are also hurting American workers and American businesses. In fact, over 16,000 people work in the steel and aluminum industries, including workers in that nagging member’s riding, and they want an end to these tariffs.

Could the Premier please outline for this House what our government is doing to get these disastrous tariffs lifted?

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker, we had a great meeting with Ambassador Lighthizer, who is controlling the trade deal. What a positive, positive meeting. He wants to sign the deal. I’m confident that he’ll sign the deal with our federal government. We’ll get rid of these tariffs.

But what I told the Americans down there, our largest trading partner: We’re the number-one customer to 19 states. We do more trade with 19 states than any other region in the world. We’re number two to nine other states. If we were a standalone country, we would be the US’s third-largest trading partner, with $350 billion—a two-way trade.

I had great conversations with the Michigan governor, Governor Whitmer. We just hit it off. Together, we will create tens of thousands of jobs, right across all sectors, because Ontario is open for business.

Mr. Paul Miller: Come down to Hamilton. I’ll give you a tour.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. The member for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Government side, come to order. We’re not even halfway through question period.

Start the clock. Next question.

Ontario Provincial Police

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Speaker. through you to the Premier: The Premier’s OPP security detail are highly trained professionals, trained literally to take a bullet for the Premier, yet court documents show that the Premier berated these officers, demanded special treatment and control over this detail, saying “It feels like I’m getting” effed “around by the OPP, and I’m getting more pissed off.”

Can the Premier tell us what it was—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’d ask the member to withdraw.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Withdraw, Speaker. “It feels like I’m getting” bleeped “around by the OPP, and I’m getting more and more” bleeped “off,” if that makes any sense.

Speaker, can the Premier tell us what it was that he didn’t like about his highly trained OPP officers, trained to literally protect his life?

Hon. Doug Ford: I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I have the best OPP detail in the world. I love my detail. I love the police. Unlike the opposition that runs around with signs bleeping the police, the police, no matter where they are in Ontario, know that this government supports the police, supports the OPP.

You know, my friend from Essex should be apologizing to my detail that I’ve worked with for seven, eight months. They’re part of the family. I love them, and I’m sure they feel the same way.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Speaker, we know that the Premier would love to relive the glory days of operating out of the back of a van, but the OPP have better things to do than take verbal abuse and hide the cost of his personal pleasure wagon.

Court documents also reveal that the Premier didn’t even know the name of the OPP commissioner, and he only bothered to learn it because he felt his personal needs weren’t being met. Evidently the new Premier’s top priority in his first meeting with the OPP commissioner wasn’t public safety, and it wasn’t supporting our front-line commissioners and officers; it was looking out for number one. It was meeting the personal needs of Doug Ford. Speaker, is this the Premier’s vision for policing in our province?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members, please take their seats.

I’ll remind all members that we refer to each other by our riding name or by our ministerial name, if applicable.

Premier, respond.

Hon. Doug Ford: Through you, Mr. Speaker: Do you know something? I’m going out on a limb. I’m speaking for my detail. They’re disgusted right now. They’re disgusted. If they could run in here right now, each and every one of them would be standing shoulder to shoulder with me. I think they’re incredible. They do an incredible job, and I appreciate the work they do.

My friends, what people want—and I’ll tell you what the OPP want, because they have heating bills. They have gas bills that they have to pay. They love this government. The police love this government. They love Bill 175, that we’re getting through, to actually stand up for the police. I look forward to the opposition voting with us when it comes to police issues, police matters. But guess what, Mr. Speaker? They voted against everything when it comes to the police. They don’t like the police. They hate the police.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock. I’m going to ask the Premier to withdraw.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. I’m going to ask the Premier to withdraw.

Hon. Doug Ford: Withdraw.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Start the clock. Next question.


Mr. Mike Schreiner: My question is for the Premier. Three years ago, when the Liberal cash-for-access story broke, Conservative MPPs hammered the government of the day. Ultimately, all parties supported fundraising reform. But tonight, the Ford government is bringing back cash-for-access. Media reports allege the government is pressuring lobbyists to sell $1,250 tickets to the Premier’s swanky dinner or lose access.


Mr. Speaker, I’d like to ask the Premier: Will the government agree to close the loopholes they opened last year that allowed deep-pocketed insiders to buy access to events with the Premier?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The question is being put to the Premier.

Hon. Doug Ford: Actually, we have done more spaghetti dinners at $25 around this province. We’re coming to a location close to you out in Guelph to talk to the people over a $25 spaghetti dinner.

I’m going up to Muskoka on Friday for a $25 spaghetti dinner to talk to the real people. I encourage everyone to come out Friday to listen to the great things that this government has done for the common folk.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Mr. Mike Schreiner: Mr. Speaker, I’m afraid the government has forgotten what they said in opposition. Cash-for-access is bad for democracy. A $25 spaghetti dinner is not the same as a $1,250 cash-for-access event.

Having to strong-arm lobbyists to sell tickets is wrong. We can’t allow big money to have a bigger voice in our government than, let’s say, children with autism or endangered species or others who can’t afford to write a $1,250 cheque.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier: Will the government work with all parties in this House to fix the fundraising rules so we can have $25 spaghetti dinners but not have $1,250 cash-for-access events?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. Premier?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Hon. Todd Smith: Speaker, we have a lot of people here from Kitchener-Waterloo. I know recently the Premier was in Waterloo region and had one of those famous spaghetti dinners for 25 bucks. Over 200 people showed up; they couldn’t get them all in the building. He’s a very popular Premier, if people are going to come.

We changed the fundraising rules. As you may remember, the previous Liberal government was doing $10,000-a-plate corporate donations. Guess who got the wind turbine projects? Guess who got the solar projects? The companies that gave big money to the Liberal government.

These are personal donations that these people are going to be making to come to our event tonight. I know they’re going to enjoy hearing from the Premier.

Tune in on the livestream, member from Guelph, and you’ll enjoy it too. It’s a great message for Ontario: We’re open for business. We’re open for jobs.

Health care

Ms. Christine Hogarth: My question is for—and let me echo our Premier—the great Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Mr. Speaker, our government for the people was left with a health care system on life support. That is why, on behalf of the moms, the dads, the aunts, the uncles, the young people, the teens and the seniors in my riding of Etobicoke–Lakeshore, I am proud to support our government’s plan to strengthen Ontario’s health care system. Fixing the broken health care system the former Liberal government left us with was a core campaign promise, which our government is delivering on.

Mr. Speaker, could the minister please inform the members of this House how our plan will finally create a health care system that works for the people?

Hon. Christine Elliott: I would like to thank the member from Etobicoke–Lakeshore for her question and for her support.

Yesterday, I was proud to announce our plan to strengthen and fix our public health care system. As the member stated, our promise to fix our system is a commitment we do take very seriously. We have to do more to ensure that high-quality care is there for Ontarians when they need it and where they need it. We know that too much time and attention is spent on maintaining a siloed and fragmented system. Far too many people believe it is the patients’ or the families’ job to navigate through a very complicated system during a very emotional and difficult time in their lives. That’s why we are building a public health care system centred around the patient and redirecting money to front-line services, where it belongs, to improve the patient experience and provide better and more connected care.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Ms. Christine Hogarth: I thank the minister for her response. Public health care has, for many decades, been a cornerstone of health care in Canada and in Ontario. Knocking on doors, people in my riding of Etobicoke–Lakeshore have made it clear that public health care is important to them. I’m glad to hear that we are acting on a key campaign promise to end hallway health care in Ontario and that strengthening our broken health care system remains a top priority for this minister and this government. Mr. Speaker, could the minister please confirm the government’s commitment to the public health care system in Ontario?

Hon. Christine Elliott: Thank you again to the member. Throughout many years, I have seen the need to strengthen and fix our public health care system: during my years as health critic for the official opposition, as Ontario’s first patient Ombudsman, and now in my role as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. I have heard from literally thousands of Ontarians—patients, families and caregivers and our dedicated health care providers.

From these thousands of hours of conversations, I have heard your collective refrain: Our system is in need of transformational change. We are past the point of simply tinkering around the edges of our health care system. We need to make this change for the people. That’s why The People’s Health Care Act has been introduced, and, if passed, that will allow us to strengthen and fix our public health care system.

Autism treatment

Ms. Marit Stiles: My question is for the Premier. Yesterday, I asked the Minister of Education what plans she has put in place to support children with autism spectrum disorder in schools when funding for autism services expires on April 1, and she couldn’t answer.

Premier, I have a letter here from the Halton District School Board chair, who is calling on the government to provide them with a plan and funding to ensure that proper supports are in place for their classrooms. This letter speaks of the rising needs and says that changes to the Ontario Autism Program will make this situation, their situation at the board and others, absolutely untenable.

When will the Premier direct his minister to stop ignoring the impacts of her government’s failed autism policy, listen to school boards, educators and parents, and show us a plan that gives students with autism the supports they deserve?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Education.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m pleased today to stand and remind the member opposite exactly what I said yesterday, because it’s a fulsome, sincere answer. We started months ago addressing what kind of supports students need to ensure that their learning environment is safe and supportive. As I said, going back to July last summer, I was appalled at the manner in which there was disparity amongst school boards. Not one school board had the same policy when it came to companion dogs. Do you know what? As our Bill 48 works its way through the system, I’m pleased to say that in the region of Waterloo, a child with autism went to school for the first time yesterday with his companion dog. That’s what we’re doing in Ontario. That’s what we are taking very seriously. We have to make sure that our children with autism feel supported, and our government stands with them.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Ms. Marit Stiles: Again to the Premier: All of those things that the minister has spoken about until now are programs that were developed under the previous government. Nothing new exists today. And I’m sorry, but with the greatest of respect, we can’t ensure that every child with autism is going to have a companion dog with them when they go to school after April 1. That is not an answer.

Speaker, in a letter to the minister, the chair of the Halton District School Board said, “We fear that the short notice of program change, coupled with the lack of an implementation plan from the ministry (with associated new funding), will not allow for the ‘safe and supportive classrooms’ that you have stated you are committed to.”


She goes on to note that the Halton board already spends $20 million more than they get for special education supports, and that as of February 25, the staff at the school board have received no plans, no funds and no direction from the ministry.

Mr. Premier, time is running out. When will your minister act?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I think it might be appropriate to remind all members to make their comments through the Chair.

Minister, response.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I have to remind the member opposite that yesterday I shared in this House that we have given school boards across this province $3 billion for special education needs—$3 billion. In addition to that, we have extended our pilot project where we’re working with 19 school boards dealing with children with autism—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Davenport, come to order.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: We can learn from the people in the classroom. That extension of the pilot project was very, very important.

Over and above that, we are working very diligently with our school boards and with our ministry to make sure, again, that students feel safe and supported.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Davenport, once again, come to order.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: There are going to be so many more details coming in the weeks to come.

Ontario economy

Mr. Stephen Lecce: My question is to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. This government is pro-manufacturing, pro-energy sector and firmly pro-pipelines. Yesterday, the minister represented our economic interests and fought to defend the livelihood of thousands of workers across this province by speaking against Bill C-69, the federal Liberal anti-energy, anti-pipeline bill at the Senate.

In Canada, and especially in Ontario, energy infrastructure and mining play a huge role in the daily lives of so many of our communities. They are massive employment centres in our economy, especially the manufacturing sector, which produces pipelines right here in Ontario and creates jobs for our young people, our skilled trades and our Indigenous people.

Can the minister outline how he is standing up for energy workers in this province by opposing the federal Liberals’ job-killing legislation?

Hon. Greg Rickford: I had an incredible opportunity to speak to a packed room, one of the largest rooms in a Senate committee in a very, very long time, and took a firm stand and sent a clear message that Ontario is open for business.

You know, that catchy tourist phrase on our old signs that said “More to Discover,” after a decade and a half of darkness, meant more taxes to discover, more red tape to discover, more government to discover, Mr. Speaker. So how could it be that we would stand idly by and watch Bill C-69, which represents a significant intrusion by the federal government on our ability to move major pipeline projects forward, open new mines and our ability to develop, refurbish, enhance and expand our nuclear assets?

We’re not having anything to do with that, Mr. Speaker. Industry leaders were there. Provincial leaders were there. Ministers from across the country are poised to send a clear message that Ontario is not fine with Bill C-69.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Mr. Stephen Lecce: The minister and our government recognize the interconnected reality that prosperity and economic growth in the west means jobs and growth here in the east. I know that the minister is concerned that Bill C-69 will undermine pipeline expansion, nuclear development and new mining operations in this province and manufacturing jobs across the GTA and across this province.

The minister explained how interprovincial energy infrastructure projects like pipelines are essential for Canada to compete in the global marketplace. Between Prime Minister Trudeau’s carbon tax and Bill C-69, Liberals are making it virtually impossible to build new and replace existing pipelines, to expand mining operations from the north to manufacturing here in the south.

I am proud that our government is fighting for a stronger Ontario economy within a strong and prosperous Canada. Minister, can you affirm today that you’ll continue to stand up against Justin Trudeau’s job-killing agenda?

Hon. Greg Rickford: I appreciate the question. I also spoke, in addition, against Bill C-69, the implementation of clean fuel standards and the carbon tax—I called it the triple layer cake—which represents some of the most significant energy costs that we have seen a very long time.

To sit there at that committee and get grilled by members of the Senate and complimented by an Indigenous Senator, who applauded Ontario’s recent efforts to have Indigenous communities take leadership on environmental assessment projects, on major resource projects and the legacy infrastructure to support them—an independent senator who recognized that Ontario was mobilizing quickly to move forward with building resource projects.

Mr. Speaker, the integrity and safety of our nuclear assets are on the line with Bill C-69. We ask the New Democratic protesters to join Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec. Get with the times and fight—

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


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Stop the clock.

Start the clock. Next question.

Autism treatment / Traitement de l’autisme

Mr. Jamie West: My question is to the Premier.

I’d like to tell the House about my young constituent Manon from Sudbury. Manon is just five years old and has been on the wait-list to receive IBI therapy for two years. Manon will require between 20 and 40 hours of therapy per week, costing approximately $55,000 to $75,000 a year. Manon’s mother, Josée, is not tempted by a $5,000 cheque. She would rather wait for a program that adequately and equitably supports her daughter’s individual needs. Monsieur le Président, elle préfère attendre.

Premier, why won’t this government provide Manon and her family the support they desperately need?

Hon. Doug Ford: Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

Hon. Lisa MacLeod: It’s my pleasure to respond. As you know, my parliamentary assistant, Amy Fee, and I travelled across this entire province talking to families who were struggling on the wait-list and who were in the program. It appears that in Manon’s case, Manon would probably be on the wait-list for a very, very long time without changes to this program—which is what our motivation is: to clear the wait-list in 18 months of the 23,000 children who were being denied service by their Ontario government.

That’s why we’re putting forward a plan that will double the investment into the diagnostic hubs and that will ensure that there is a direct responsibility and a direct fund to mothers and fathers so that they can get the services that they believe their children need, whether that’s behavioural support, technological aids, caregiver training or respite.

Speaker, let me be very clear: Manon is on our mind, and that’s why we’re making the changes to this plan, so Manon can finally get service—

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

Mr. Jamie West: Manon needs $55,000, not $5,000, so thoughts and prayers won’t cut it.

Back to the Premier, who supports autistic families 1,000%: Tous les enfants atteints d’autisme méritent d’avoir accès à des services qui répondent à leurs besoins thérapeutiques dans la langue officielle de leur choix.

But this government’s changes to the Ontario Autism Program, which cut the direct-service option for families, means that for children like Manon—it will be incredibly difficult to get the therapy she needs in French. Manon’s parents kept Manon on the wait-list, hoping to get her IBI therapy from a French-language service provider, but this government’s plan has ripped away all hope of that.

Mr. Premier, why is the government penalizing francophone families?

Hon. Lisa MacLeod: That’s not the case at all. I understand that there has been a lot of misinformation on the other side, and it has been perpetuated by the official opposition, and I believe it’s irresponsible. What would they have me do? Continue—

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the minister to withdraw.

Hon. Lisa MacLeod: I withdraw.

What would the opposition have me do? Continue for the next four years to ignore the three out of four children who are denied service? What would they expect me to do? To allow the bankrupt system I inherited to go insolvent? What would they have me do?

They’ve not come out with a credible plan themselves of what would they do, with the exception of yelling over me, heckling, and providing false and misleading hope to the parents of the people of—


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I’m going to ask the minister to withdraw.

Hon. Lisa MacLeod: Withdraw.

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

Road safety

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation.

Our government for the people’s number one priority is keeping the people of Ontario safe, whether it be at home, at work or during their commute. This is why we’re committed to ensuring that the people of Ontario have a safe and efficient highway network.

However, we all have to remember that we have to work together to keep our highways among the safest in North America. My riding of Brampton West has many trucking companies that travel our roads and highways daily, weekly and year-round. It is important to these employers, employees, friends, families and all Ontarians that we continue to lead the way on truck safety standards and enforcement.


Can the Minister of Transportation inform the House on some of the recent measures our government for the people is taking to keep our roads and highways safe?

Hon. Jeff Yurek: I’d like to thank the member from Brampton West for this question and his continued advocacy for his constituents and for Ontario as a whole.

Our government is committed to continually growing our economy and creating jobs across Ontario. Just recently, the government announced the red tape reduction bill. We took action because too many Ontarians were battling the regulatory requirements that were inefficient, inflexible and out of date.

Recently, I announced two new plans to cut red tape for commercial carriers by using technology for both pre-clearance and pre-screening. Pre-clearance technology will allow a driver to use an app that transmits data from the truck. When approaching inspection stations, information is now cross-checked against the Ministry of Transportation’s databases. Then this app will let the driver know whether to bypass the station or to go in. It saves time and it saves money.

We’re introducing this technology right across the province. This new technology will allow drivers to get information visually and audibly in a way that’s consistent with our distracted driving laws.

I’m going to have more in the supplemental.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Mr. Amarjot Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, through you, thank you to the Minister of Transportation for the great response. I’m pleased to hear that our government for the people is finding better and smarter ways to enhance truck safety across Ontario and continue to keep our roads and highways among the safest in North America. I know my community of Brampton West will be very pleased with this announcement.

With the red tape reduction measures, this government is getting out of the way of Ontario’s job creators. We’re lowering business costs and making Ontario more competitive. That’s an important part of our plan to grow the economy, help small business expand and ultimately create jobs. We’re removing obstacles to investment, growth and job creation in over a dozen sectors, including the trucking industry, tech, the auto sector, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and food processing.

Can the minister tell us more about his recent announcements to enhance truck safety in Ontario?

Hon. Jeff Yurek: Thanks again to the member from Brampton West for that question. Our government recently announced that we’ll be improving road safety by allowing enforcement officers to focus their efforts on higher risk or unknown vehicles. We’re going to use technology for pre-screening to speed up inspections. Data can be collected automatically with readers, sensors and imaging to help enforcement officers to identify potential issues more quickly.

As well, we recently proposed changes to the Highway Traffic Act to give commercial drivers the option of using an electronic cab card. This makes it easier to confirm driver credentials and reduce paperwork.

All of these efforts will keep safe trucks on the road, helping carriers save time, money and fuel costs. Ontario is a leader in truck safety standards and enforcement. I encourage all carriers to sign up for the pre-clearance program so they can take advantage of its cost-saving benefits, and saving time.

We want to let the trucking industry know, we want to let the opposition know, that Ontario is open for business, and we’re going to carry trucking along.

Ambulance services

Ms. Catherine Fife: My question is to the Minister of Health. In early December, your ministry suddenly moved the Cambridge ambulance communication centre to Hamilton due to staffing shortages, but this staffing problem wasn’t new. In June, managers were told by your ministry staff that Cambridge was headed toward a staffing crisis. To the front-line workers, it appeared that nothing was being done. Workers continued to leave because of stress.

The relocation was supposed to help. Instead, it made things worse. Hamilton dispatch was not equipped with auto-locate technology, and an ambulance was sent to the wrong location. First responders lost precious minutes before they arrived to provide care for a patient without vital signs.

Why did the ministry make this matter worse by moving Cambridge dispatch to Hamilton and not providing the necessary tools to prevent this crisis?

Hon. Christine Elliott: I thank the member opposite for the question. It is something that we are certainly aware of. I have been made aware of this, as the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. The situation was very unfortunate, but we are working to modernize and strengthen our system, and changes are going to be coming forward shortly to make sure that patients don’t fall between the cracks. We want to make sure that people are safe in transportation, safe in their health care and safe at every step along their health care journey. Thank you for raising that; I assure you that we are continuing to work on that.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Ms. Catherine Fife: Mr. Speaker, health care ultimately is about people. Since this crisis, the ministry has done almost nothing to address the underlying issue of staff retention. In fact, it took this ministry six weeks to even post for the new positions, and there appear to be no plans to address the wage gap between dispatchers, which leads to high staff turnover.

Minister, front-line workers deserve so much better than this. The region of Waterloo, which is here today, has stepped up and is ready to do just that. They have said that they have the dedicated space and they have the dispatch experience.

Minister, will you accept the region’s offer of taking over operational control of the Cambridge ambulance communication centre, because it is in the best interest of our community as a whole?

Hon. Christine Elliott: I’d like to thank the member for the question. She is correct: Ultimately, this is about people. It’s about patients, it’s about providers and it’s about providing the best possible quality service to them—and safety. Safety is the first and foremost issue for me as minister, and is something that we are looking at seriously.

We are looking at the appropriate health mix across all of the stages in our health care system: in hospitals, in long-term-care homes, in home care settings, in ambulance situations and with paramedics—all of the people who provide health care in Ontario. We are looking to modernize our system and bring it up to date, to bring our technology into the 21st century. That is what we are trying to do with The People’s Health Care Act. That is our priority. If passed, we will move into the 21st century with our technology, with our communications, with our digital tools and with the people in the system. That is what this is all about.

Executive compensation

Mrs. Daisy Wai: My question is for the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. The people of Ontario elected our government because we promised to clean up the hydro mess left behind by the Liberals. We promised that we will restore accountability to our electricity system after 15 years of ideologically driven policies. These policies led to higher hydro rates for families and businesses, while insiders in the energy sector got rich.

This is completely not acceptable for our government, Mr. Speaker. This is why during the election, our government promised to address and renew the governance structure at Hydro One.

Can the minister please tell the members of this House what steps our government took to restore transparency and accountability at Hydro One?

Hon. Greg Rickford: I want to thank the member for Richmond Hill for her great work on behalf of her constituents, and the work that she has been doing with all of our caucus colleagues in cleaning up the Hydro One mess that we inherited. We endeavoured to deal with an inflated, distorted salary and compensation framework for both the CEO and the board.

We did this through the passage of the Hydro One Accountability Act. It required the board of directors at Hydro One to establish a new compensation framework for the board, the CEO and other executives, a framework that would give 47.4% of Hydro One’s shareholders, otherwise known as the people of Ontario, a say in how this would roll out.

Mr. Speaker, we’re very pleased that we’re standing up for the people of Ontario, cleaning up the Hydro One mess and moving forward.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Supplementary?

Mrs. Daisy Wai: Thank you to the minister for answering my question. Public accountability is a critical component of this legislation. My constituents in Richmond Hill and I would like to congratulate the minister for the leadership he showed on this file early on in our mandate.

I know that after months of consultation, the board of Hydro One put forward a framework that was not acceptable to the minister and our government. This is why the minister stepped in and issued a directive last week to bring the framework in line with the expectations of Ontario taxpayers. Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell the members of this House the details of this directive?


Hon. Greg Rickford: Of course, we take this issue very, very seriously, and that’s why we issued a directive for the new CEO compensation framework. It required the total compensation for the new CEO not to exceed $1.5 million, executive compensation not to exceed 75% of the CEO’s salary and that board compensation would not exceed $80,000.

Mr. Speaker, most recently, we’re confident that Hydro One’s board wants to and will work with us to ensure the framework reflects the terms that we’ve discussed and issued, and we look forward to working together to deliver results for the people of Ontario. We believe Hydro One’s best days are ahead. We believe the best days of the Ontario taxpayer, the people of Ontario’s best days, are ahead when they have more affordable energy in Ontario.

Sexual assault crisis centres

Ms. Suze Morrison: My question is for the Attorney General. For months, the Attorney General has dodged questions about promised funding that has been withheld from rape crisis centres across Ontario. Yesterday, this minister flatlined funding that was less than what the rape crisis centres had been promised.

Speaker, in the last few years, these centres have seen an increase in demand, some as much as 300%. As stigma decreases over seeking support for sexual violence, it is our responsibility to make sure that support is there for survivors who need it. Survivors across this province deserve stable, predictable funding so that service organizations can support them. Why is the minister cutting funding to rape crisis centres, and why does the minister think it is acceptable to abandon survivors seeking support for sexual violence?


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members, take their seats.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Toronto Centre, come to order.


Ms. Suze Morrison: You think sexual assault is a joke?

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Toronto Centre, come to order.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Order. Order. Order.

The Attorney General.

Hon. Caroline Mulroney: Let me be clear: The people of Ontario and our government believe very strongly and have zero tolerance for violence and sexual assault against anyone. That’s why our government committed to guaranteeing funding and increasing funding to sexual assault centres, unlike the previous government that made a series of unfunded election promises on the eve of an election.

Mr. Speaker, our government will work very hard to support victims of sexual assault and violence in the community. We will be working directly with organizations in the victim services space to make sure we are providing the supports and services that we need. It is a guaranteed funding that we are proceeding with, unlike the Liberals, who had 15 years to support victims and the service providers that helped them instead of spending billions of dollars on their various propositions. For these services, we are guaranteeing funding and investing additional funds to support sexual assault centres in this province.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): That concludes question period for today.

Private members’ public business

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): I beg to inform the House that, pursuant to standing order 98(c), a change has been made to the order of precedence on the ballot list for private members’ public business, such that Ms. Stiles assumes ballot item number 63 and Ms. Sattler assumes ballot item number 65.


Mr. Wayne Gates: I’d like to welcome Kate Robinson and Luca DiPietro—I love that name—from Niagara Falls. They’re here participating in the model Parliament.

Ms. Peggy Sattler: I’d like to say a special hello to Eddy Avila, who is here with OUSA but is originally from London. Welcome, Eddy.

Mr. Sam Oosterhoff: I would also like to welcome to the Legislature today Ethan Zulauf and Martin Svilus, who are also here with the model Parliament and are from my riding of Niagara West.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): There being no deferred votes, this House stands in recess until 3 p.m.

The House recessed from 1145 to 1500.

Members’ Statements

Indigenous programs and services

Mr. Guy Bourgouin: I rise today to speak about a problem that adults with disabilities face in Moose Factory. Last week, I had the honour and the pleasure to visit the Billy Bayou Program, a community-based program dedicated to improving the quality of life of adults and young adults with intellectual disabilities who are members of the Moose Cree First Nation.

The program is run by five incredible staff, with financial assistance from the Moose Cree and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. The love and commitment of their staff is beyond words, Mr. Speaker. The participants are all 21 years or older and have no other program offering at their disposal but Billy Bayou. As their parents age and try to keep up with their other responsibilities, Billy Bayou is the heart and soul of their lives.

Sadly, the ministry has not lived up to its funding promise. On January 17, the ministry informed the program that the contract would be terminated because your government’s focus is on reducing the province’s deficit. It means that as of March 31, the program risks disappearing.

The closure of the Billy Bayou Program would be devastating for these high-needs people, their families and the Moose Cree community. I invite the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services to travel with me to Moose Factory to see it with her own eyes. Otherwise, I would be more than happy to meet with the minister to provide a solution to this matter.

Waterloo Region Advocacy Day

Mr. Mike Harris: Today is Waterloo Region Advocacy Day here at Queen’s Park. From day one, MPPs Amy Fee, Belinda Karahalios and I have hosted multiple ministers and parliamentary assistants in our region. This includes the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, to announce the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act provision for fair and open tendering; the President of the Treasury Board’s visit to the Communitech Hub; and the Minister of Infrastructure to open a bridge in Wellesley township.

The list goes on, Mr. Speaker, but I want to highlight one visit in particular. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to invite the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to sit down with local mayors and CAOs. In two meetings, first with the rural townships of Wilmot, Wellesley, Woolwich and North Dumfries, and then with the region of Waterloo and the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, the minister engaged in a fulsome discussion on multiple issues, including the regional review, the Golden Horseshoe growth plan and affordable housing. They were encouraged that they had a municipal affairs minister with real experience as a mayor and CAO, one who understands the constraints of municipal budgets and particularly the burdensome regulatory process for project approvals from Queen’s Park.

I will continue to stress that Waterloo region, with its incredible rural and urban diversity and resolute pioneering spirit, should be encouraged to continue to be a provincial leader and raise Ontario to the next level.

Indigenous affairs

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Mr. Speaker and colleagues, today I want to outline the notion of jurisdictional ambiguity. Most First Nations are keenly aware of this. In fact, we’ve had to survive its consequences over many generations. Given conversations in the House recently, particularly those about Cat Lake First Nation, I’ve come to realize that my colleagues across the floor either don’t know about this notion or, when they do, simply do not care.

Jurisdictional ambiguity came to light when a little boy named Jordan Anderson from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba was left to suffer in the hospital. From birth until he died at the age of five, neither the province nor the federal government felt it had the constitutional responsibility to provide Jordan with care at home. Jordan and his family waited for the care at home that never came.

Like Jordan, children and youth and elders in Cat Lake First Nation currently require health care by both levels of government. Instead, we argue about responsibility. We are told by the government, “I called the chief yesterday,” or “We are working towards a solution,” or worse, “We’ve implored the federal government to act immediately because this is their responsibility.”

It is time to move past jurisdictional ambiguity, because the consequences of our complacency will result in health deteriorating or lives lost.


Health care

Mr. Sheref Sabawy: Through the completion of the Credit Valley Hospital redevelopment project in my riding of Mississauga–Erin Mills, our government has shown its commitment to improving health care for all Ontarians, and giving our front-line workers the resources they require and need to provide the ultimate and optimal care.

The Premier, Minister of Health, Minister of Infrastructure, along with my fellow PC colleagues and myself, joined Trillium Health Partners for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 23 of last year.

Our government has made a promise to make mental health a priority, and we have already taken immediate actions. We are investing in Credit Valley Hospital $542,080 to help those in need of mental health and addictions treatment.

I was pleased to go in person to the Credit Valley Hospital and see the new mental health beds added in the emergency, and let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, they were definitely needed.

Also, our Minister of Health and Long-Term Care made an announcement in January regarding investments in hospital upgrades, repairs and maintenance. As part of that investment, Trillium Health Partners have received more than $4 million to ensure their facilities continue to meet the health codes and to maintain a safe environment at their hospital sites.

I want to congratulate Trillium Health Partners, the CEO Michelle DiEmanuele, and all of the team on their great work ethic and how efficiently they continue to operate and plan to help end hallway health care and provide a patient-centred experience.

Josephine Mandamin

Mr. Michael Mantha: I want to talk about Josephine Mandamin, a well-known elder and a water protector from Wikwemikong First Nation, who has recently passed on to the spirit world at the very young age of 77.

In 2003, she was the co-founder of Mother Earth Water Walk. She also eventually walked across and along all the shores of not one, not two, not three, but all five of our Great Lakes, for a total distance of 17,000 kilometres.

Josephine leaves behind her husband, eight children, 13 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.

Josephine inspired Autumn Peltier, who is also a water protector in the midst of us.

Josephine served as the head of the Anishinabek Women’s Water Commission—along with the Water Walk group, received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation.

Sometimes there are certain individuals who grace us with their presence and are amongst us and we don’t pay enough attention to what they’re doing for all of us. They walk in silence, but they walk with a cause.

I have to say that I am very proud to have known Josephine, but I’m also proud that Josephine has touched Autumn Peltier, and Autumn Pelletier will be taking up her cause, will be taking up her journey, and will be taking up her quest in protecting our waters for all across this world.

Events in Glengarry–Prescott–Russell / Événements divers à Glengarry–Prescott–Russell

Mlle Amanda Simard: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight milestone celebrations in my riding.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the township of Alexandria, one of the historical pillars of the province of Ontario. The evening’s gala was the culmination of two years of work. A big thank you to the organizing committee for their dedication to this great event.

J’ai également le plaisir de souligner le 125e anniversaire de la Fromagerie St-Albert, qui est l’une des plus vieilles coopératives au Canada et la plus ancienne coopérative francophone au pays. Elle continue d’opérer à plein régime depuis plus de 100 ans et assure que nos poutines soient bien garnies de fameuses « curds ».


Today I celebrate my 30th birthday, and there’s no place I’d rather be than here, representing the great people of Glengarry–Prescott–Russell. I want to thank my staff for all the balloons in my office today, especially the ones that say “22,” because hopefully I still look like that; also for the flowers from my very special friends in Ottawa—they know who they are—and to all my constituents who have been writing and calling. Ça me fait vraiment chaud au coeur. Vous n’avez aucune idée à quel point je l’apprécie.

Ontario Parasport Games

Ms. Lindsey Park: On Friday, February 8, I, along with my Durham region colleagues and the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, had the pleasure of attending the opening ceremony of the Ontario Parasport Games at the Abilities Centre in Durham region. The Ontario Parasport Games promote public awareness of parasports and showcase Ontario’s best athletes. During the games, people of all abilities had the opportunity to compete, show their skill and demonstrate sportsmanship.

I want to thank the games’ organizing committee and the hundreds of local volunteers who made the games possible and even knit special “Durham Region 2019” toques for the games. Thank you for making the games a great success.

The games are delivered through a partnership between host municipalities and through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. They are an opportunity for all of us to demonstrate our commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, and I’m proud of the strong legacy of parasport leadership in Durham region.

The Abilities Centre, spearheaded by the late Honourable Jim Flaherty and our incredible Minister of Health and Deputy Premier, Christine Elliott, along with the region of Durham, has been on the cutting edge of providing support and opportunities to people of all abilities. To quote one of the taglines of the 2019 parasport games, “When we all play, we all win.”

Sports and recreation infrastructure

Mr. Paul Miller: The official website for tourism, culture and sport states that it is responsible for championing participation in sport and recreation activities across our great province. If this were indeed the case, the big debate within the ministry would be focused on more than just Ontario Place’s future as a casino or condos. All the while, the people of my riding, particularly the people of Stoney Creek and Winona, are having to pack their kids into minivans and drive as far as the GTA to ensure that they can continue to remain active in sports during the winter months.

It was December 4 of last year when I first officially asked the minister and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport to sit down with me to have a serious discussion about the issues of Players Paradise being sold to another private firm and turned into a marijuana production facility. I made the issue abundantly clear. The people of my riding were losing their only climate-controlled, year-round indoor sports facility in the region, and there are no plans to fill that massive void in recreation space. No one from the ministry has gotten back to me. Put simply, athletics, exercise and sport are now more difficult to obtain in my riding than ever before.

At a time when public service announcements, daily tweets and media releases remind the people of this province of the importance of daily exercise, our government has no answer to the public’s demand for a space where they can stay fit and have fun. No one should have to drive from Hamilton to Toronto for their child to play soccer, just as no senior should be expected to commute to the other end of our city to take part in a fitness program inside a climate-controlled facility. It is time the provincial and federal governments step up to the plate and help our community. I’m sure the minister will get back to me very soon.

International Women’s Day

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: Next Friday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. This is a time to take the opportunity and reflect on the hard-fought progress of women and the men who have supported them towards real gender equality.

My team and I, along with local city councillors, have a long day of events planned all across Carleton to celebrate the occasion. Rideau-Goulbourn councillor Scott Moffatt’s team and I will be starting off by hosting a breakfast reception from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. that morning at Danbys Roadhouse restaurant located in the beautiful town of Richmond, just steps from my constituency office. Then you can join me for lunch in Stittsville at local Legion Branch 618 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Afterwards, I’ll be heading over to Metcalfe to enjoy high tea at the city of Ottawa Client Service Centre with Councillor George Darouze from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Finally, I will be ending my day with some appetizers at the Rideauview Community Centre in Riverside South from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., joined by Councillor Carol Anne Meehan. These events are free and open to the public. I encourage everyone to join me.

I’m looking forward to this important day, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to ask all members of the assembly to join me in acknowledging all of the amazing women across the province who continue to inspire us. To learn more about my events, you can go to my website, goldiempp.ca.

Family violence

Mr. Deepak Anand: Mr. Speaker, violence against women and girls is one of the most common violations of human rights. On one hand, none of us—and I really mean it, none of us—have experienced life without a woman. On the other hand, just in Canada alone, violence claims the life of a woman or a girl every two and a half days. Sadly, 44% of those lost lives happen here in Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, I am fortunate to have Interim Place as an organization in my riding of Mississauga–Malton devoted to helping women and children who face violence. The organization provides shelter, counselling and advocacy, and acts as the lead agency of the Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse. Since 1984, Interim Place has helped over 42,000 women and children. In 2018 alone, they safely sheltered 155 women and 98 children, and responded to 1,700 crisis calls, supporting 485 women and 275 children trapped in abusive relationships.

We know how devastating and real this issue can be. The recent murder of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar—again, from my riding—shook me deeply. As a parent of a young daughter, I am concerned. If violence against women has to stop, we all need to play a role in speaking up and speaking out against violence.

I’d like to thank Sharon Floyd, who’s here, Rebecca Rogers, and all the staff and board members of Interim Place for the amazing work they do.

Because of the high demand for service, Interim Place is raising funds by hosting its Annual Rays of Hope Gala on Saturday, March 2, at Lakeshore Convention Centre. I will be attending, Mr. Speaker, and I’ll request other members to join me in supporting the women and children who access Interim Place’s services by attending, and helping to spread the word about this Rays of Hope Gala.


The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order, the member for Hamilton East–Stoney Creek.

Mr. Paul Miller: Speaker, it’s my privilege to introduce Nick Bantin. Nick is visiting me here from London, England. He’s a businessman from beautiful London, England.

Mr. Deepak Anand: Point of order, Speaker.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Point of order, the member for Mississauga–Malton.

Mr. Deepak Anand: I’d like to introduce my young MPPs for the model Parliament: Zalekha Rehman, Anindita Ponkshe and Yahya Rao, all from Mississauga–Malton. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Member for Mississauga–Streetsville on a point of order.

Mrs. Nina Tangri: I’d actually like to welcome, from my riding of Mississauga–Streetsville, at the model Parliament today—their names are Adam Holan and Emerson Ramos. Welcome to Queen’s Park.

Reports by Committees

Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills

Mr. Kaleed Rasheed: I beg leave to present a report from the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills and move its adoption.

The Clerk-at-the-Table (Ms. Tonia Grannum): Your committee begs to report the following bill without amendment:

Bill Pr5, An Act to revive Dundas Valley Masonic Hall Inc.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.

Report adopted.


Statements by the Ministry and Responses

Anti-bullying initiatives / Prévention de l’intimidation

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: I’m very pleased today to stand in this House to recognize Pink Shirt Day. As many of you know, a safe and supportive school environment is essential for every student to succeed not only in the classroom but in life as well. That is why today thousands of students and educators across this province will be recognizing Pink Shirt Day.

Pink Shirt Day was first inspired in 2007 by David Shepherd and Travis Price, two high school students from Nova Scotia. When they learned their peer was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt, they decided to take action. They bought pink shirts and handed them out to their fellow students to wear to school and show their support for their classmate. The next day, many students at the school were wearing the shirts. When the teen who had been bullied arrived at school, he was overwhelmed and touched by his peers’ show of support. Their actions demonstrated that bullying was unacceptable at their school. That message was heard not only throughout Nova Scotia but across Canada. Now, in many jurisdictions, Pink Shirt Day is held every year so that we can speak out against bullying in schools, communities and workplaces.

Mr. Speaker, we can all agree that bullying in any form, towards anyone, is unacceptable, whether it is physical, verbal, social, written or cyberbullying. I want to thank our educators, students and school communities for their leadership and commitment in creating school environments that ensure students are supported and accepted. I also want to thank organizations across the province that do such important work in the community to support our students. The Ministry of Education continues to partner with Kids Help Phone so that young people can have access to resources, counselling and a friend 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In addition, every school in Ontario must have policies to prevent and address bullying, as well as bullying intervention plans. That intervention plan is so, so important, and I applaud all the initiatives, such as little things like a buddy bench.

Every day, schools across this province are taking action to create environments where every student can thrive and succeed. We know that students cannot properly focus on their studies if they do not feel safe or welcomed at school. Research has shown that bullying and intimidation have an immediate impact on students’ well-being and their ability to succeed in school. That is why Pink Shirt Day is so important.

Everyone has a part to play in creating a positive school climate and taking actions to promote healthy and respectful relationships. Speaker, I encourage every member in this House to recognize Pink Shirt Day today, go on to your social media channels, and absolutely let people know that we do not accept bullying in the classroom or in our communities. For those wearing pink today, as I look around the House, I thank you very much.

Interjection: Pink is cool.

Hon. Lisa M. Thompson: Pink is cool, absolutely. Today and every day, Speaker, let’s come together and make a difference in the lives of Ontario students, children and families.

The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Responses?

Ms. Marit Stiles: I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the official opposition to recognize Pink Shirt Day in Ontario. Across the province, schools and communities are a sea of pink as people show their commitment to ending bullying, like the students at Migizi Wazisin school in Long Lake #58 First Nation, who are holding a full celebration with special artist-designed shirts that say, “Anishinaabe—Strong and Kind.”

Aussi, à l’École secondaire Toronto Ouest dans ma circonscription de Davenport, des élèves prennent part à diverses activités pour la Journée du chandail rose.

By now, we are all familiar with Pink Shirt Day’s origins in Nova Scotia, in a little school, when a simple act of solidarity and support for a fellow student helped start a national conversation about bullying. Today, Pink Shirt Day is recognized around the world, a testament to the strength of its message that with courage, compassion and solidarity, bullying can be stopped.

Speaker, part of showing that courage is to recognize the roots of bullying and the prejudices, biases and fears that are all too pervasive in our society. Homophobia, transphobia, racism, ableism and misogyny are the forces that drive bullying in our schools, just as they drive discrimination and violence in our communities. Those forces must be named and confronted as part of our efforts to end bullying.

This year, the focus of Pink Shirt Day is cyberbullying. The intimidation, threats and harassment that define traditional bullying take on a particularly sinister edge with cellphones and social media. As many of us here can attest, our phones and devices can become like a part of us. They’re our direct link to our families, our colleagues and our friends.

For young people, social life happens as much online as it does at school. That means it can feel like there is no escape from a bully with your phone number or social media handle. The very nature of social media means that malicious rumours can spread throughout the school community in the blink of an eye, and the availability of cellphone cameras means that incidents of exploitation are on the rise. That’s why the awareness raised by Pink Shirt Day is so important, and I am so pleased to see so many of us in this chamber participating.

But I want to challenge all of us here in this place to take that solidarity and turn it into action so we can eliminate bullying and cyberbullying wherever they appear. Let’s start by giving children the tools they need to protect themselves from cyberbullying and online exploitation by returning those topics to the curriculum in our schools.


Ms. Marit Stiles: That’s right. Let’s build greater understanding and respect for one another by finally restarting the Indigenous curriculum writing sessions. Let’s make sure that our schools have the mental health workers they need to support students when they’re in crisis and let’s commit to investing in our schools and building strong communities around them that all kids feel part of. Finally, let’s listen to students and hear what they need to feel supported at schools. After all, let’s not forget that it was students who took matters into their own hands to start Pink Shirt Day in the first place.

Speaker, the origins of this day show us that a small but positive gesture can have a big impact on someone experiencing bullying. Seeing that act of kindness amplified across a whole school, province and country can help bring about lasting change. I want to commend all of the students, teachers and school leaders across our province who are stepping up today to take a stand against bullying. Thank you. Meegwetch.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further response? I recognize the member from Guelph.

Mr. Mike Schreiner: It’s truly an honour to rise today in this House to recognize Pink Shirt Day and to join my colleagues in this Legislature to speak out against bullying in all its forms. It is so inspiring to see the amount of pink being worn in this House today, to see all the social media posts with people wearing pink and especially to see so many young people standing up and speaking out against bullying. It’s inspiring, what a few students can do.

I just want to recognize what David Shepherd, Travis Price and the students in their school did in 2007: to have the courage, when they saw one of their classmates being bullied, to wear a pink shirt in solidarity and say that nobody in our school should be treated like this and, as a result, to launch an international movement of people willing to stand up and speak out against bullies.

Mr. Speaker, we have certainly not eliminated bullying, but I think initiatives like Pink Shirt Day have made a real difference in our schools and in our workplaces to create a culture of support, compassion and togetherness. I want to thank everybody across Ontario who work so hard, day in and day out, whether it’s Pink Shirt Day or not, to create safe, healthy and welcoming spaces in our schools and in our communities.


If the House will indulge me to get a little personal, Mr. Speaker, I don’t oftentimes talk about my children, but I want to spend a moment to talk about my daughter who is in university right now. When she was in middle school, she and her students recognized the importance of standing up for people who are transgendered, and to say, “We are going to stand up and we are going to fight for safe washrooms,” so that nobody in their school would feel uncomfortable with the pronoun with which they identified themselves or the washroom they chose to use to be safe. It resulted in the first transgendered washroom in a public school in Ontario.

I know so many of you are proud of the things your children do, but it’s one of those moments that, as a father, warms your heart when you see your daughter and her classmates take a stand like that and make a real difference in people’s lives.

Mr. Speaker, we can’t forget the role that we as legislators play in combatting bullying and discrimination. Whether it’s by supporting a gender-inclusive sex education curriculum or by promoting acceptance of refugees and newcomers, of people of all backgrounds, Ontario is a welcoming place. With children so exposed to so many messages, particularly on social media, it’s more important now than ever that we, as parents, educators and legislators, encourage our children to choose kindness over hate, to choose compassion over judgment and to choose understanding over prejudice, and that we provide them with the tools and the information they need in their curriculum to make those choices.

Mr. Speaker, I’m going to issue a challenge to all my colleagues here in the House today, inspired by the students leading the way on Pink Shirt Day. There are days in this House when I don’t feel like we live up to the spirit of Pink Shirt Day. I’m just going to challenge myself, and I’m hoping to challenge my colleagues, that we model the behaviour that we want our children to have and to grow up and learn how to act, and that the next time we heckle or bully or try to shout down somebody else in this House, we remember Pink Shirt Day and that we make every day Pink Shirt Day in this Legislature. I think we owe it to our children to set that kind of example for them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you, sir, and thank you to all the members who wore a pink shirt or a pink tie today. For those of us who are prevented from doing so, it doesn’t mean we can’t wear pink socks.

Just before I call for petitions, I want to say that I too have a member of the student Parliament here today. Kurtis Hengl Lachance is here from the riding of Windsor–Tecumseh. Welcome to Queen’s Park, along with all of your colleagues.


Child care workers

Mr. Joel Harden: It is my great honour to present 689 signatories to the following petition from the great riding of Ottawa Centre:

“Petition to Maintain the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for Registered Early Childhood Educators and Child Care Workers in Licensed Child Care.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant provides $2 per hour in wage support to many registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant supports staff recruitment and retention in licensed child care, increases income security among registered early childhood educators and child care workers, and begins to recognize their contributions to Ontario communities;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps close the gender wage gap;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps keep parents’ child care fees from rising;

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

“Maintain the $2-per-hour provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care.”

I want to thank Christie Saikaly from my riding for leading this petition, and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. I will give it to page Shumyle for the Clerks’ table.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further petitions? The member for Toronto-Rosedale. I’m sorry—St. Paul’s.

Child care workers

Ms. Jill Andrew: I like Rosedale too. Toronto–St. Paul’s, that’s me.

“Petition to maintain the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for Registered Early Childhood Educators and Child Care Workers in Licensed Child Care.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant provides $2 per hour in wage support to many registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant supports staff recruitment and retention in licensed child care, increases income security among registered early childhood educators and child care workers, and begins to recognize their contributions to Ontario communities;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps close the gender wage gap;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps keep parents’ child care fees from rising;

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

“Maintain the $2-per-hour provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care.”

I proudly affix my signature to this petition and hand it over to Pyper for tabling.

Arts and cultural funding

Mr. Jeff Burch: It’s my pleasure to present this petition to restore arts funding and the Indigenous Culture Fund at the Ontario Arts Council.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario government has cut its level of base funding to the Ontario Arts Council ... by $5 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year, from $69.9 million to $64.9 million;

“Whereas the Ontario government has also cut its funding to the Indigenous Culture Fund ... at the OAC by $2.25 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year from $5 million to $2.75 million;

“Whereas the ICF will not accept new grant applications this year while the program is under review, entailing the layoff of Indigenous staff in permanent positions;

“Whereas the arts are essential to the quality of life, cultural identity, social and community well-being, creativity, innovation, and economic prosperity of Ontario;

“Whereas the ICF was part of the Ontario government’s response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada;

“Whereas the ICF supported traditional culture, languages, teachings, protocols, knowledge, youth and elder-led and engaged community cultural projects;

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

“(a) Restore OAC’s funding to $69.9 million this year and maintain this level moving forward;

“(b) Restore the ICF’s funding to $5 million this year, retain all ICF staff positions, and commit to funding the ICF at this level in the years moving forward.”

I affix my signature and hand it to page Anika.

Child care workers

Ms. Sara Singh: I’m proud to present this petition to the Legislative Assembly entitled “Petition to Maintain the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for Registered Early Childhood Educators and Child Care Workers in Licensed Child Care.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant provides $2 per hour in wage support to many registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant supports staff recruitment and retention in licensed child care, increases income security among registered early childhood educators and child care workers, and begins to recognize their contributions to Ontario communities;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps close the gender wage gap;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps keep parents’ child care fees from rising;

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

“Maintain the $2-per-hour provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care.”

I’m happy to affix my name to this and send this off with page Alyssa.

Injured workers

Mr. Michael Mantha: It was great meeting up with Will Noiles this afternoon, from the injured workers’ group, who presented me with several petitions.

“Petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas about 200,000 to 300,000 people in Ontario are injured on the job every year;


“Whereas over a century ago, workers in Ontario who were injured on the job gave up the right to sue their employers, in exchange for a system that would provide them with just compensation;

“Whereas decades of cost-cutting have pushed injured workers into poverty and onto publicly funded social assistance programs, and have gradually curtailed the rights of injured workers;

“Whereas injured workers have the right to quality and timely medical care, compensation for lost wages, and protection from discrimination;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to change the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to accomplish the following for injured workers in Ontario:

“Eliminate the practice of ‘deeming’ or ‘determining,’ which bases compensation on phantom jobs that injured workers do not actually have;

“Ensure that the WSIB prioritizes and respects the medical opinions of the health care providers who treat the injured worker directly;

“Prevent compensation from being reduced or denied based on ‘pre-existing conditions’ that never affected the worker’s ability to function prior to the work injury.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this petition, affix my name to it and present it to page Michelle to bring it down to the Clerks’ table.

Child care workers

Ms. Marit Stiles: It gives me great pleasure to introduce this petition, which includes 307 signatures from across the GTA, on behalf of constituent Zahra Andan. It reads as follows:

“Petition to Maintain the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for Registered Early Childhood Educators and Child Care Workers in Licensed Child Care.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant provides $2 per hour in wage support to many registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant supports staff recruitment and retention in licensed child care, increases income security among registered early childhood educators and child care workers, and begins to recognize their contributions to Ontario communities;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps close the gender wage gap;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps keep parents’ child care fees from rising;

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

“Maintain the $2-per-hour provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care.”

I’m very pleased to affix my signature to this petition, as I support it. I’ll hand it to Shumyle, our page, to table it with the Clerks.

Indigenous affairs

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: On behalf of my constituents of Parkdale–High Park, I’d like to table this petition.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas Ontario is situated on the traditional territory of Indigenous peoples, many of whom 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” such as the “TRC summer writing sessions;

“—support Indigenous communities across the province” through “cleaning up Grassy Narrows.”

I think we should also add “restore the Indigenous Cultural Fund” here. But in any case, I fully support this petition and will be affixing my signature to it.

Arts and cultural funding

Ms. Jill Andrew: This is a “Petition to Restore Arts Funding and the Indigenous Culture Fund at the Ontario Arts Council.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the Ontario government has cut its level of base funding to the Ontario Arts Council ... by $5 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year...;

“Whereas the Ontario government has also cut its funding to the Indigenous Culture Fund ... at the OAC by $2.25 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year...;

“Whereas the ICF will not accept new grant applications this year while the program is under review, entailing the layoff of Indigenous staff in permanent positions;

“Whereas the arts are essential to the quality of life, cultural identity, social and community well-being, creativity, innovation, and economic prosperity of Ontario;

“Whereas the ICF was part of the Ontario government’s response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada;

“Whereas the ICF supported traditional culture, languages, teachings, protocols, knowledge, youth and elder-led and engaged community cultural” revitalization “projects;

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

“(a) Restore OAC’s funding to $69.9 million this year and maintain this level moving forward;

“(b) Restore the ICF’s funding to $5 million this year, retain all ICF” Indigenous “staff positions, and commit to funding the ICF at this level in the years moving forward.”

I proudly affix my signature to this and table it with page Martin.

Child care workers

Ms. Sara Singh: I’d like to present this petition on behalf of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. The petition is entitled “Petition to Maintain the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for Registered Early Childhood Educators and Child Care Workers in Licensed Child Care.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant provides $2 per hour in wage support to many registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant supports staff recruitment and retention in licensed child care, increases income security among registered early childhood educators and child care workers, and begins to recognize their contributions to Ontario communities;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps close the gender wage gap;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps keep parents’ child care fees from rising;

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

“Maintain the $2-per-hour provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care.”

I’m happy to affix my name to this and send this off with page Daniel.

Child care workers

Ms. Bhutila Karpoche: “Petition to Maintain the Provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for Registered Early Childhood Educators and Child Care Workers in Licensed Child Care.

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant provides $2 per hour in wage support to many registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant supports staff recruitment and retention in licensed child care, increases income security among registered early childhood educators and child care workers, and begins to recognize their contributions to Ontario communities;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps close the gender wage gap;

“Whereas the provincial Wage Enhancement Grant helps keep parents’ child care fees from rising;

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

“Maintain the $2-per-hour provincial Wage Enhancement Grant for registered early childhood educators and child care workers in licensed child care.”

I fully support this petition and will be affixing my signature to it.

French-language services / Services en français

Mr. Michael Mantha: “Let’s stand up for our rights / Ensemble, résistons!

“To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

“Whereas the government’s decision to cut the French Language Services Commissioner and to cancel the francophone university in Ontario hurts Franco-Ontarians; and

“Whereas Franco-Ontarians are fighting to uphold their rights to access services and education in their language; and

“Whereas Franco-Ontarians are an important part of Ontario, and deserve to have their constitutional language rights upheld and protected;

“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to:

“Restore the French Language Services Commissioner and the francophone university.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this petition and present it to page Michelle to bring down to the Clerks’ table.

Orders of the Day

Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019 / Loi de 2019 sur la refonte complète des services de police de l’Ontario

Resuming the debate adjourned on February 26, 2019, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:

Bill 68, An Act with respect to community safety and policing / Projet de loi 68, Loi portant sur la sécurité communautaire et les services policiers.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We’re going to start on the government side, with the member from Carleton.


Ms. Goldie Ghamari: When I last left off yesterday, Mr. Speaker, I was talking about how the current existing system, which would have been made even worse under the previous Liberals’ legislation, is completely broken and has weakened the public’s trust in police. Seemingly based on the notion that police are always wrong, it was confusing, it was unaccountable and it was plagued by delays. It doesn’t work for the police, and it certainly does not work for the public.

Our proposed bill restores trust in police oversight by stripping away the bureaucratic layers that were weighing down the oversight process. It will present a system that both our hard-working police officers and the people of Ontario can easily understand and access. That’s why we are creating one window for public complaints, we’re reducing duplication and we’re better focusing the mandate of the Special Investigations Unit.

The current Special Investigations Unit investigation process forces many police officers to go through months-long or sometimes even years-long investigations, and oftentimes unnecessarily so. Many police officers have been forced to go through this process even when they had no contact with an individual. Police officers who are unsuccessful at talking someone out of committing suicide are automatically treated like a suspect instead of being treated like a good Samaritan trying to help. If a police officer is responding to a violent crime and attempts to perform CPR but is unable to save the person’s life, then again they are treated like a suspect instead of as a first responder who was simply trying to help.

These types of standards are completely unacceptable and fly in the face of our basic tenet of fundamental justice: that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That must and should include Ontario’s police officers.

Our legislation, if passed, will focus the mandate and strengthen the independence of the Special Investigations Unit. It would remove the ability of the SIU to investigate criminal conduct that does not fall within its mandate, and this would allow the SIU to focus on its core mandate.

This bill also removes the ability of the SIU to investigate civilians who are suspected of being involved in criminal conduct resulting in an incident in concert with an officer, leaving the police the ability to investigate such situations.

It establishes the SIU as a provincial agency accountable to the Attorney General in a separate statute. That is a first of its kind, Mr. Speaker, because prior to this legislation, the SIU was not accountable to any official or any governing body.

This new act would also make “officials,” a term which includes police officers, special constables employed by the Niagara Parks Commission, and peace officers with the legislative protective services, subject to SIU investigation.

It clarifies the SIU’s existing ability to make preliminary inquiries in order to determine as early as possible whether an investigation is even required.

It would also require the SIU to explain delays every 30 days past the 120-day mark of an ongoing investigation.

Our legislation, if passed, is intended to focus investigative resources where they are needed most: on criminal activity.

Effective and fair police oversight will result in a far stronger community safety partnership between the police, the government and the people. It is time that government respected the work done by our police officers, not just with words but with actions. That is exactly what this proposed legislation will do.

The proposed legislation will make decision-making more transparent, and it will also improve training.

It mandates public consultations for Lieutenant Governor in Council regulations made under the new policing and police oversight legislation.

As an early response to Justice Tulloch’s report on street checks, we will mandate systemic racism, Indigenous, diversity and human rights training for police service board members, new special constables and new police officers.

The proposed legislation also requires police service board members to successfully complete basic training on roles and responsibilities before they are even eligible to exercise powers and perform duties.

It is important to note that our legislation will maintain First Nations policing provisions to provide First Nations with the ability to opt in to Ontario’s policing legislation.

A key piece of the proposed legislation is that it strengthens the role of the Inspector General of Policing by establishing the role within the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to monitor, inspect, and ensure compliance with the act and its regulations.

Under the Police Services Act of 2018, the appointment of the inspector general was left completely open-ended, with no specified term or term limit. We are correcting this oversight by proposing a term of five years, after which there will be the option for one renewal for another five years. By introducing fixed-term renewals, we are strengthening the independence of the inspector general while at the same time ensuring that there will always be room for renewal and a diversity of perspectives by giving other qualified individuals an opportunity to serve.

In addition to this, it empowers the inspector general to receive and to review policy and service complaints. The proposed legislation would also allow the inspector general to impose remedies for board member misconduct under the Community Safety and Policing Act, as opposed to assigning this function to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Our proposed legislation addresses serious concerns with the extreme discipline provisions of the previous government’s Bill 175. Our police officers are highly trained and highly skilled professionals with the utmost integrity. As such, they don’t have a problem being held to such a high standard. What is a problem, however, is when that standard is based on the presumption of guilt instead of the presumption of innocence. This undermines the trust between the public and the police. The disciplinary and professional misconduct provisions in the previous legislation were overly punitive and weakened procedural fairness. The disciplinary framework must be balanced and fair. Take that away, and we will allow for the possibility of police officers becoming more risk-averse when performing their duties, which would in turn undermine public safety. This is an outcome that none of us want. The Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act would, if passed, hold police officers accountable based on a burden of proof known as “clear and convincing evidence,” which is part of the current Police Services Act. Our changes will continue to hold police to a high standard while building in the principle of fairness and ensuring due process for police.

Our proposed legislation would give the public confidence that core policing functions will always be performed by trained professionals who are subject to policing legislation and oversight. Could you imagine, Mr. Speaker, being in a situation where you are forced to pick up the phone to call 911 and, instead of having a police officer respond to the call, having a private company show up at your door? That is exactly what many people were concerned about with the previous government’s legislation, which allowed some policing functions to be outsourced. Our proposed legislation will ensure that this never happens, and we will do so by stipulating that police functions which meet the following two standards must be provided by members of a police service. The first standard is police functions that are emergency responses, maintaining the public peace and law enforcement, and the second is any function that requires the exercise of powers of a peace officer or a police officer. Our government for the people has listened to the concerns of Ontarians and, as always, it is putting the people first.

This government is also enhancing public safety and improving service delivery through amendments to the Coroners Act. These changes include requiring that all items seized during a coroner’s death investigation are offered for safekeeping to a member of the police service. This will ensure that such items are kept in the most secure location possible.

This legislation, if passed, would help the Office of the Chief Coroner recruit stable candidates, thus ensuring effective services across the province by removing the requirement for regional coroners to be resident in the area named in their appointment.

These amendments would also create a new investigative screening provision that would allow coroners to have access to more information, particularly medical records, in order to ensure that decisions to investigate deaths are based on a complete picture of the deceased person’s health history.


This legislation, if passed, will also make amendments to the Mandatory Blood Testing Act in order to better support victims of crime, first responders and others who are at risk of coming into contact with the foreign bodily substances of others, as well as provide them with peace of mind.

The most fundamental responsibility of government is to ensure the safety and security of the people. Despite this, the Liberal government passed Bill 175 before the last election, one of the most anti-police pieces of legislation in Canadian history. It was a complete disaster.

That is why our government for the people introduced the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act as an important part of our promise to stand up for victims, to hold criminals accountable for their actions, to make Ontario safer and to restore respect and dignity back into the profession, the profession where men and women are putting their lives on the line every day to ensure our safety and our security. This government is improving transparency, training and governance; enhancing oversight; and restoring respect and fairness for the police.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank both the Attorney General and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services for introducing this really important piece of legislation. Not only does it speak to police officers across Ontario, but myself, personally, having represented police officers in the past and having to deal with sections of the Police Services Act and the inherent unfairness in the act as it was, along with the changes from Bill 175, I’ve had a clear, in-depth look into this. It was completely unfair. Everyone was complaining about it. There was no sense of due process, and it was just a nightmare for everyone involved.

Mr. Speaker, once again, I am pleased to support this bill. I’m happy to speak to it and I look forward to engaging in some meaningful conversation and debate with my colleagues on the other side of the House. But at the end of the day, I hope that we can get their support for this bill and discuss it further. At the end of the day, the goal is to make sure that Ontarians are safe and secure, and I really feel like this bill does that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Michael Mantha: It’s always a privilege to take my place and rise on behalf of the good people of Algoma–Manitoulin and to talk to Bill 68. Let’s be clear: We all want our children to be safe. We all want to have our communities to go to and from and feel that sense of security. Also, what I can agree with the previous speaker on is that the Liberals’ attempts as far as what they did under Bill 175—really, there were a lot of problems that were contained within that piece of legislation.

I’m a little bit surprised, as far as seeing this coming from this government, where it came out with this “grandioso” announcement, where you see a lot of similarities. Actually, some of the stuff that was in Bill 175 has been recycled and basically verbatim put into this piece of legislation.

These are some of the concerns that I have in regard to what this government is proposing. The bill scraps the Ontario Civilian Police Commission. That undermines the faith of the public. It also makes SIU reporting a secret. That also undermines the faith that people have in regard to what police are doing.

The other thing that really is bothersome with the speaker who just spoke on this bill is: When I hear somebody defending a particular matter that we know is sensitive—and let’s talk about those core jobs, those core duties and those core services when it comes to police—that really bothers me, because you spend so much time explaining that nothing is going to happen to them, but when you look at this legislation and the wording that is there, there is plenty of ambiguity to start introducing the privatization of those services. I do know that your friends within the police associations are very concerned with that. They need a lot of enlightenment with regard to what the particular language that you have introduced in this legislation means, because you have opened up the door for the privatization of those services. I believe that the police should do police work.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Randy Pettapiece: I’m very pleased to rise and speak to an excellent presentation from the member from Carleton. I listened with interest to a number of things that she brought out in her presentation, and I’d like to focus on maybe just one thing.

Policing, for the most part, can be a very rewarding career. Most of us know a member of a police service, and I think what we may hear in conversations with those individuals is that they only want to be treated fairly. They are in a position of having to make snap decisions, quick decisions, in the heat of the moment at times. It’s a daunting task. They want to be correct in those decisions because they can deal with the lives of people, and it happens in a hurry. When that happens, they want to be treated fairly in these investigations, and they don’t want them to go on for years and year and years.

The police deserve our gratitude and respect, and not our suspicion and scorn. That’s why our government for the people is providing the police with the tools, resources and support they need to do their jobs. I think that’s something that any of us can ask in whatever position we are in in life, and certainly our police forces fall into that category.

It’s a job that can be stressful but also, as I said before, very rewarding. I think those who make careers in policing enjoy their jobs and want to do the best jobs that they can, and we need to support them in that way.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Ms. Jill Andrew: I’m honoured to stand and speak to government Bill 68.

First, I’d like to say that what we want is for our communities and for our youth, particularly vulnerable people, to feel safe and to be cared for.

I remember meeting one of the first police officers that I had a chance to actually have a conversation with; I believe I was in grade 4. It was an excellent experience and one where I, even as a child, left that conversation feeling pretty darned safe and in good hands.

I’m very happy to hear the government mention that their bill recognizes the need for training around diversity, multiculturalism etc. The concern I have is, this training appears to be for new police service hires, and I wonder if the government is open to having training for all police officers.

Furthermore, not only is training important—equity training; anti-oppression training, if I may say that; even if I go as far as saying anti-Black racism training as well—but what I would say is, it’s also important that we look at ways to build trust. Training is one thing, but we also need to build trust in diverse communities. In doing so, I think a great way to really establish that you want to create a better community relationship would be to end carding, quite frankly.

Bill 68: I was looking through it, and it is quite a meaty bill. Nowhere did I see the bill state clearly and explicitly that carding will be banned and identification will be shredded. That’s what we need.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Vincent Ke: It is my honour to rise and speak on Bill 68, the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act. If passed, this bill would support our government for the people’s commitment to fix Bill 175.

Bill 68 will ensure that the security of the people is the government’s fundamental responsibility. Before the last election, the Liberal government passed the most anti-police legislation in Canadian history. Bill 68 will restore fairness and respect for police, enhance oversight and improve the governance, training and transparency of our police services.


Here is one example: With Bill 175, if complaints against the police are under review by the OPCA, this organization must give the complainant a status update on the file every 60 days in the event that the complaint is not completed in one year. Our Bill 68 will make this update every 30 days if investigations are not completed in three months.

Bill 68 will make Ontario safe, stand up for the victims and hold criminals accountable for their actions. We made the promise; we also kept the promise.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We now return to the member from Carleton to close off this portion of the debate.

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: I’d like to first of all thank the member from Algoma–Manitoulin, the member from Perth–Wellington, the member from Toronto–St. Paul’s and the member from Don Valley North for their very thoughtful and insightful comments on this bill.

With respect to the comments made by the member from Algoma–Manitoulin about comments or things he’s heard within police associations, I’d just like to remind everyone that when the previous Liberal government introduced Bill 175, it was a disaster. Police associations were constantly speaking out against it. Even as late as March 8, 2018, when the previous Liberal government made some amendments to Bill 175, the Police Association of Ontario issued a news release—a media statement, essentially—saying that even those revisions were not helpful and that the entire legislation was just very hastily thought up and hastily passed. And not only did it not do anything to protect Ontarians or to modernize policing, it in fact made it even worse because, just by virtue of outsourcing certain police functions, there would be no oversight or accountability for those private companies that would theoretically be performing these police functions.

Again, I’m very confident in our bill. I’m very happy with the way it’s working out. I think it would be a disaster to outsource any police function. We’re a democracy. It’s important to make sure that use of force is strictly governed, and we can only do that when we have a public entity that is accountable to government.

With that being said, Mr. Speaker, thank you, everyone, for your comments, but I’m very happy with our current bill.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Pursuant to standing order 47(c), I am now required to interrupt the proceedings and announce that there have been more than six and a half hours of debate on the motion for second reading of this bill. This debate will therefore be deemed adjourned unless the government House leader specifies otherwise.

I recognize the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Hon. Steve Clark: The government would like debate to carry on.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We’ll continue. Further debate? I recognize the member for Essex.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thanks to my colleagues for the warm welcome. It’s a pleasure to join debate in the House. Thanks to the minister for continuing debate on this bill. We have not seen that happen as of late. It has been bills tied to a rocket ship in this place through closure motions. But I’m happy to join the debate today. I appreciate the comments so far, and I’m learning.

Let’s say that, from the outset, I don’t think there’s a more important function for us as legislators than to ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens of this province. It should be and has to be our paramount concern. Everything aside from that is certainly important, but if we can’t ensure the safety of our public on a day-to-day basis, then we’re not doing our job. With that being the impetus of our work in this place and, I think, the thrust of this bill, I’m happy to learn about the government’s motion here, the government’s initiative, and to add some critical thought to it and debate to it.

This is such an important issue. I think that this bill potentially needs to be travelled when it does, and if it does, reach the committee stage, because the nature of policing in our communities is different from community to community. The needs are different. The challenges are different. The logistical challenges, the resource challenges, the demographics of our regions are different. Therefore, the demands are going to be different on not only police services but also on the civilians who rely on them. So I would urge the government to take this bill, travel it—let’s go talk to the people. Let’s have broad consultation, because we need to get it right.

We obviously know we need to get it right because this is a bill that is born out of the need to reform Bill 175 from the previous government—that wasn’t so long ago; I can recall debating the bill. Unfortunately, I see some resemblance to Bill 175. I don’t know whether that was on purpose on the part of the government or something that they missed. We certainly see some similarities that are concerning—different in their language, but the same in their motivation and the ultimate mechanics of what that legislation does.

Speaker, before I get into it here, I want to tell you that New Democrats support and appreciate the service that our front-line police officers perform each and every day in our communities. They’re our superheroes. They are there when we call them. When there is a disaster, when there is danger, they run in and we run away. That is a constant. They are duty bound to perform that service for us, and they have earned our ultimate respect and support for the work they do on our behalf.

I have family members, as many of you do, who are front-line police officers. I’m very proud of them. I’m proud to see them in the service, and I’m proud to see them representing our communities. Thankfully, I’ve had limited interaction with our police throughout my life, but I’ll tell you one story about a cop going above and beyond. This might put a focus on what the work is that we need to do here. It’s a good story. It has a good ending, thankfully.

When my wife and I had our first child, Airika—she was maybe six months old, and Jenny was driving my mom’s car, which was a Nissan Maxima. It had this weird automatic window mechanism. It had a mind of its own, suffice to say. On the hottest day of the year that summer—you can imagine—Jenny got out of the car and sort of closed the driver’s side door and went to take Airika out of her baby seat in the back seat, and that car was locked. It was jam-packed, and the keys were in the ignition, of course. So Jenny called me right away on my cell. She said, “Oh, my God, Airika is locked in the car.” It was 105 degrees Fahrenheit at the time. “What do I do?” I was away, so I couldn’t be there. I said, “Call the cops right now.” In under two minutes, a cruiser pulled up to my mom and dad’s driveway. Out of this cruiser walked this massive OPP officer. I’ll give him a shout-out right now. His name is Trevor Davies. Trevor has to be six-foot-six. He is built like a warrior. He is massive. I work out at the gym, and he embarrasses me at the gym, but he’s great to see. He’s a great specimen, imposing, but he’s the epitome of the gentle giant. He walked out of the cruiser, and Jenny said, “My daughter is locked in the car.” Trevor said, “No problem.” Jenny thought he was going to rip the door off of the car, because he probably has the strength to do that. But Trevor grabbed his duty baton and cracked the window, unlocked the door, grabbed my daughter and took her out. Within minutes, she was in my wife’s arms again.

But here’s the kicker: Trevor then went into the back of his cruiser, into the trunk, grabbed a little teddy bear, and then gave it to Airika, and now she’s got this teddy bear. Who knew? Not only do they carry all the tools that they need to perform their job on their duty belt, but they also carry teddy bears as well.


It’s a great story, and I tell it often, because it does put an emphasis on what the connection is that we have with our community police officers, and the vital role that they play in making us feel safe, but also connecting us with law enforcement. I think that’s a focus that this government needs to have. It needs to prioritize that and maybe put some effort in, and allow those community police officers to enhance the connection that they have with some of our communities, because, unfortunately, some people don’t have the same interaction that I had, or that my family has had, with police.

I can tell you, Speaker, I’ve never been carded in my life—never. Why is that the case? I didn’t even know what carding was until I got into this place, but then we learned about a practice that is used to identify and to potentially target racialized communities for no reason. That’s not something that I think is appropriate, and it is something that has been proven not to be effective in terms of reducing crime or gaining information or intelligence. It’s something that harms communities, something that breeds distrust with our police officers. We don’t need that, Speaker. We can do better than that.

What we need to do is to give our police officers the tools to be able to have those wonderful interactions, to be able to do the outreach into communities, to quell the fear of police and to know that they are there to support them. Of course, there are important roles that our police officers have to play, and ones that call on them to see some ugly stuff and to deal with some treacherous situations, life-threatening situations. We have to understand the nature of policing and the nature of the work that they put themselves into on our behalf. What that also means is that we have to believe them. We have to trust that the duty that we charge them with is the duty that they walk into those scenarios with: to protect, to serve.

Speaker, some of the tools were not there in Bill 175. Some of the tools did put the onus on police officers to an extent that made them hesitant to enter into those situations, one of which, I would say, is the opportunity or the scenario in which a police officer would administer naloxone when someone was potentially overdosing on opioids. They fear repercussions from jumping into a situation like that because of the reprisals that existed under the previous legislation.

You can understand and you can sympathize that they’re just trying to do their best job, but if we are going to question them, in the heat and in the fog of—I mean, it’s commonly referred to as the fog of war, but in the fog of crisis—that they were doing something that was nefarious, that’s not the relationship we need to have, and it’s certainly not what police officers want.

Speaker, I see that the government is making some overtures in changing that. I know that there are reforms to the SIU. There are reforms to the time frame in which police officers are investigated under SIU complaints. That may or may not be adequate. I don’t know. I have to plead a little bit of ignorance here, because what I need to know, what we need to know, is if it works for police officers. That means we’re listening.

I may attribute this adage to Albert Einstein—I might be wrong—but when you’re talking, you’re telling somebody what you already know, and when you’re listening, you’re learning about something that you’ve never heard of before. I butchered that, I’m sure, but what we need to do is to listen and to learn. That’s why, again, I urge the government to take this bill on a road show through our communities. Talk to good cops like Trevor Davies. Talk to community members, so that they know what their experiences have been with police officers good and bad, and let’s make sure that this bill actually reforms those police services in the act adequately, so that our front-line officers have the tools.

I’m not sure if you’re getting it right, because on the surface, it looks like a lot of this is similar to Bill 175. If that’s what you’re saying, if you can perform the same thing with different words, then that is what effectively I think you have achieved here.

One of the things in the previous bill, Bill 175, that I know I was incredibly critical of, because I was the critic at the time, and that our party was incredibly critical of was the provisions which allowed the privatization of policing services.

I heard the previous speaker, the member from Carleton. She spoke pretty forcefully, and she was clear that there was no ability to privatize any police functions in this bill. We take exception with that, because of the change in the language, and I’m going to get into the nitty-gritty here of the bill.

Bill 175 had the opportunity for privatization and contracting out of certain police services. Bill 68, section 14: “If the regulations so provide and subject to subsection (3), a police service board or the commissioner may provide a policing function in an area for which the board or the commissioner has policing responsibility by entering into an agreement with a prescribed entity to have the entity provide the policing function in the area.”

Speaker, by my layman’s eyes, that is effectively the same privatization provision that existed in the previous bill, Bill 175, just different words and maybe a longer run-on sentence. Maybe they have eliminated the specific policing duties that were previously identified in Bill 175, which were crime prevention, crime scene analysis, forensic ID and canine tracking. There was also another one in surveillance that wasn’t listed in my notes, but I know it existed.

Here is why it’s so concerning: Not only are we outsourcing and privatizing good policing jobs—people who have been trained, people who are duty-bound, people who have taken an oath to serve our public, people that have committed their lives, and will commit their lives, to us in the duty of their job—and not only does this allow that creeping privatization but, similar to Bill 175, there is nothing explicit in this bill that says that a foreign entity could not provide the policing function in that area.

I hope members understand this. I’m being as impartial and non-partisan as I can. This is serious stuff. There’s a door that is open to some of these functions. Whether you agree that they are policing functions directly or not is aside from the point. I tend to believe that they are policing functions.

Forensics: I don’t want to outsource that. I want a police officer to do that. Crime scene analysis: That shouldn’t be Garda security. That should be a duty-bound police officer. You have to realize that that is a window or a door, a massive opening, to privatization, just in different words.

I understand where it has come from. The pressures on this government from outside lobbyists like GardaWorld, which appeared at committee for Bill 175 when it went through the process—I remember it clearly. They sat there and talked about all the benefits that outsourcing police services would bring to the treasury and to municipalities. “If we can just get rid of canine tracking or forensics, you’re going to save a whole lot of money.”

Well, guess what? This is something that can compromise a case. If you don’t have those professionals—crime scene security was one that I recall as well. Securing a crime scene after an investigation has taken place at the crime scene—the previous bill, Bill 175, allowed for the potential for private companies to guard the crime scene.

Imagine a house that has just had a murder in it. Now the police leave the scene and it’s Garda security. No offence to Garda security, but, Speaker, I believe they are not as trained and not at the same level. I know they do a good job for banks and ATMs and all the other aspects, but they have their own role. I want a sworn officer on those scenes because I know a sworn officer is going to do the job that we need.


Again, I’ll return back to the point that scares me to no end, Speaker. In an era where we see foreign actors playing a role in all manner of civil society, not to mention our democratic process—we certainly have seen that play out in the United States, and there are fears that it has the potential to play out here. Cybersecurity, all manner of security: When we see that as a new threat, why wouldn’t we explicitly—it’s just a couple of extra words—outline and highlight that no foreign providers—I mean, if you’re going to privatize, that’s up to you; that’s your onus. But here’s my amendment at committee that I’ll try to do as a last resort: Please ensure that they have to be at least Canadian entities. Don’t let foreign actors come in and provide these services, multinational conglomerates that are, again, not entrusted with the same duty and oaths that we require of our front-line police officers.

Speaker, the bill has a lot of moving parts. It tinkers around the edges with some; it makes some substantial changes to others. The issues around First Nations are something that I think are positive steps forward, the training there. My colleague Jill, whose riding is Toronto–St. Paul’s, raised the issue around anti-oppression training and sensitivity training for all, not just new recruits. That’s something that would be easily mandated as well. I think that’s a positive step forward.

The nature of crime and criminality in our communities has changed. We understand that the nature of policing has also changed and the rules around policing have to change. It was the impetus for Bill 175. It had been 25 years, I believe, prior to that bill coming forward that there were any reforms. But I have not seen any government tackle some of the systemic issues that create crime in the first place: poverty, housing, homelessness, adequate jobs, education. I’ve not seen anyone tackle those issues with the same sort of gusto with which the Premier claims to tackle every issue under the sun.

Talk to our front-line officers. Addiction, mental health issues: They’re saying we need help on those fronts. We need our governments to act as if we are at war with those issues. Let’s wage a war on poverty. Let’s wage a war on homelessness. You’ll see crime rates plummet, almost vanish. Let’s talk about equality. Let’s talk about the systemic issues of racism. Those are issues that we have the ability to address here that are in tandem with policing and the nature of crime and policing in our communities.

Speaker, 20 minutes goes by so quickly, but I do appreciate the time and I look forward to comments from my colleagues here in the House.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Ms. Andrea Khanjin: It’s interesting that we’re standing here today and we’re debating the introduction of the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act. It’s something our government had listened loud and clear to. The member was talking about talking with individuals and consulting. We made a promise to the people of Ontario, Mr. Speaker, to fix policing legislation that was broken by the previous government. Our government here in Ontario is dedicated to ensuring that the security of the people of Ontario is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of a provincial government. That is why we’re tackling this exact issue in Ontario.

We’re standing up for the victims, and holding criminals responsible and accountable for their actions. We are restoring fairness and respect for our police, enhancing oversight and improving governance, training and transparency, something that was lacking.

Our legislation is based on fairness and respect for our policing professionals. That’s why we are giving the public confidence once again that when they call 911, a trained, accountable officer will show up—something that wasn’t in the previous legislation. And I know the member opposite had touched on this issue as well.

The Attorney General and the Minister of Correctional Services have been instrumental in this legislation, and I want to thank them for their work on this file. We know that police deserve our gratitude and they deserve our respect. That’s why our government is providing police the tools, resources and support they need to do their jobs.

I would be remiss to miss thanking Chief Kimberley Greenwood, who is the ninth chief of police in Barrie at the police services. She is also the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. I want to thank her for her service and for her support on Bill 68, changes that she said needed to come. Thank you.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Michael Mantha: Again, on behalf of the good people of Algoma–Manitoulin, it’s always great to stand in my place and give some comments.

I want to thank the member from Essex. It’s always nice when we’re in the House and people talk about stories, in particular to legislation and to how it personally affected them. I know when I’m going to get my opportunity, I want to talk about an incident that happened with one of our finest off of Manitoulin Island and how he handled—I guess he recognized me and he wanted me to stop on the side of the road for some reason. He wanted to talk about why my nails were painted. That’s going to be an interesting story. I’ve shared that one in the past.

One day, there was a police officer who I noticed—it was a Facebook post and he was actually playing with kids in the sprinkler system in full gear. It was quite interesting, and I made a little bit of a contest.

It just goes to show you how our finest, how our OPP officers, are not just officers; they’re human beings who have a heart and who recognize when the opportunity is there to participate with their community. I always will give a shout-out to them.

Speaking about giving a shout-out, I want to give a shout-out. Although he doesn’t have a very good particular team that he cheers for, for the NHL, I want to give a shout-out to my friend from the OPP Jason Cull. We met a few years ago and we connected on a lot of issues. We enjoyed each other’s company, along with many of the OPPA who were there that night. I really want to commend the member because I, as he, didn’t have a clue when I first came here what carding was. I’m from northern Ontario. I should have known. But it was only through the discussions that we’ve had here that I did learn about carding: how individuals are affected by it, how Indigenous communities are affected by it and how marginal individuals are also affected by it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: I’m very happy to speak to this bill that I know both the Attorney General and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services worked so hard on. It’s something that was really important to the Premier as well, because this was one of our commitments during the campaign. It’s so important that we respect our police officers.

I think this is a great opportunity for the opposition members to really stand with our government and to show their support for the men and women who serve this province and this country. Sometimes we take for granted the luxuries that we have in this country. We know that if we’re ever in danger, a phone call will ensure that a first responder like a police officer, if we’re ever in need of help, will always be there for us. It’s about time that a government had their back. I know this piece of legislation that we’re introducing is going to do just that, and that’s why they are supporting our legislation. That’s why we worked with them and we consulted with them.

One of the main things we heard and that we wanted to make sure we fixed with Bill 175, termed as probably one of the most anti-police pieces of legislation that anyone had seen, was the fact that if you call 911, you didn’t know with the previous legislation if a police officer would answer. Our legislation is going to ensure that if you call 911, the person who shows up at your door will be a police officer.


This piece of legislation touches on so many different aspects that I can’t get into so quickly. But it was our commitment during the campaign to ensure that we stood up for our police, and I really hope the members opposite do the same. Support this bill, and stand up for the police.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Well, if you’re not in your right chair, I’m not going to recognize you. Nice try.

The member for Niagara Centre.

Mr. Jeff Burch: Thank you, Speaker. My apologies, and thank you for your patience.

I just want to, first of all, compliment my friend from Essex on good personal touches in his speech.

I also want to answer the member from Brampton South. It’s one thing to reach across the aisle and say, “This is your opportunity to support us.” But every once in a while, a bill comes forward—we all have different histories and backgrounds, and my background happens to be in law enforcement for 10 years of my life. I’ve worked in private security, contract security, personal security, years as an auxiliary police officer with the Niagara Regional Police Force, and five years as the president of a union local of over 2,000 security officers. So I’ve dealt with the issues of both police officers and security officers, and the difficulties that they have and the issues that they have. I’ve given hundreds of hours of my time as a volunteer and an auxiliary police officer.

When I come into this House and I hear a member say, “Come join us; do something good for police,” and then I come to question period and I have a Premier who yells across at me that I’m a police-hater, after I’ve given hundreds of hours of my time volunteering, helping police—

Interjection: Your leader.

Mr. Jeff Burch: Our leader doesn’t call people police-haters, okay?

That’s disrespectful, on the one hand calling us names and disrespecting our histories and our pasts, and then you say, “Well, join us. Join us, and we can all skip down the road as a happy family and support police.”

I’ve done the hard work supporting police. I’ve ridden in a police cruiser. I’ve made arrests. I’ve answered hotlines. People on that side of the House, not so much.

So, let’s remember that as we go forward, and not be hypocritical.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We’ll return now to the member from Essex to close off this portion of the debate.

Mr. Taras Natyshak: Thanks to everybody who joined and did a two-minute hit. I didn’t write down all your riding names, but I appreciate you so much. Thank you so much. Really, I do; I appreciate your comments, and I think that’s the way that this debate should go.

We did start to veer off with a little bit of heckling there, and it’s warranted because there has been some hyperbole from the government side, namely the Premier, who tries to paint us as police-haters—which is kind of gross, just saying that, in and of itself. If you guys are condoning that, then that’s on you. It’s on your conscience. To call us police-haters is kind of ridiculous. We support our front-line officers. They’re family members of mine; they’re family members of yours. We hope that you guys can get out of that rhetoric, because it’s not going to help.

We are offering some suggestions to you. One of the things that is a glaring omission in this bill—listen to this—is that Bill 175 had missing persons legislation in it. My colleague Catherine Fife, from Kitchener-Waterloo, has talked about it ad nauseam in this place. It’s important legislation. We hope that at committee, you take it and bring it back in.


Mr. Taras Natyshak: I don’t know if the member from Sault Ste. Marie is listening and agreeing with me on that, but we need that. It’s a clarion call for us to respond to concerns from parents who have lost loved ones, who need to have these tools to help find missing people or also find closure. It’s something that we can do.

Speaker, the aspects around privatization: I couldn’t have been any clearer. I hope that members, especially backbenchers, don’t take the spoonful of sugar they’re trying to feed you on this thing. Do your due diligence. Many of you have legal backgrounds. Take a look at the language. It is opening the door to privatization.

Again, this is on you. If you guys want to do that, by all means. But don’t let it ever be said that New Democrats didn’t warn you that you’re opening up the doors to privatizing police services, when it comes back to bite you when there are things that go wrong in the course of an investigation or in the service and safety of our communities.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate? The member from Sault Ste. Marie.

Mr. Ross Romano: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Ross Romano: And thank you to all of my friends.

When the member from Essex spoke for 20 minutes, I really appreciated a lot of the comments and the story. I can’t agree with what your friend seated behind you had indicated. I apologize; I don’t recall the specific riding name. And I don’t agree with the comments that you made in your closing comments.

The rhetoric does need to stop, and we need to focus on the people this represents. The COPS bill represents the cops. This is about the police. This is about the front-line officers. So, when you talk about the concerns that were raised a year ago—and, Mr. Speaker, just to clarify: I see nine minutes on the clock, but I believe this was for 20, so—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): No.

Mr. Ross Romano: No? I’m down to 10—all right.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): For a point of clarification, we’ve reached that part of the debate, have we not, where we’re in 10-minute rotations now and not 20.

Mr. Ross Romano: Great. That helps me out. I’ll speed my banter up.

We have to remember that the discussion last year—we all know—we don’t see any of the Liberal members in the House at this time, so we know that they’re not—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Excuse me. The member from Sault Ste. Marie well knows that he is not allowed to comment on who is in the House and who isn’t in the House. I would ask the member to withdraw that comment.

Mr. Ross Romano: I understand, Mr. Speaker, thank you.

There was a very, very significant concern, we all heard, with Bill 175. The concerns were significant. There was a concern with respect to a lack of consultation with police. There was a concern that police were being demonized, villainized, by that legislation.

I, too, would like to share some stories, as the member from Essex did. Our police on the front lines deal with people often at their worst. They see some of the things in life that a lot of us would not want to see on a daily basis. I remember, in my professional practice of law prior to entering into this position, a case I once had: a highway fatality case, where I saw pictures of a person who had lost their life. I remember those pictures stuck with me for many, many, many months after having seen them. Every time I heard of a case on the news of a fatality, those pictures—I got flashbacks. Every time I heard of anything to do with a crash or an accident, I got flashbacks to those photos. So think of the officer who responds on scene and has to be the first to see those things.

Think of the officer you call—in the profession, I made this mistake myself; we would refer to things as “routine traffic stops.” There is never a routine traffic stop for a police officer. They know every single time they put on their uniform and they go to work and they kiss their wives and their children, or their parents, their loved ones, goodbye, it may be the last time they ever see them.

Let that sink in for a moment when we talk about this rhetoric and this use of language that’s going on, because it was those police officers who were the first to complain about Bill 175. It was those police officers who were the first to say, “We never got consulted. We’ve been villainized. We’re afraid that our services are being privatized.” But it’s the police officers who are supporting this bill. Let that sink in for a moment, to my friends on the other side of the floor, before you use words like “political rhetoric,” because the front-line officers support this bill. The people you claim you’re defending and you’re worried about—it doesn’t sound like you’re standing up for them at all, given they’re supportive of this.

With respect to specifically some of the aspects of the privatization that Bill 175 created a serious risk of—Bill 68 specifically talks about, and our specific reference, as was mentioned by the member from Brampton South, I believe, was, when you call 911, a police officer is going to attend. We’ve specifically looked at ensuring that when performing police functions, a peace officer or a police officer will be responding to the call if they are performing duties of law enforcement, emergency response or anything in terms of maintenance of the public peace and any functions that require the exercise of the powers of a peace or police officer. So we are specifically ensuring that police officers are exercising police duties. That’s one of the reasons why they support this bill.


In addition, there were concerns raised in the past under Bill 175 with respect to the ministerial discretion that existed. Those types of aspects of this bill are now being resolved as per concerns raised by our police officers.

And we’re going to make sure that any types of disciplinary measures are dealt with by a centralized group, a one-window, one-stop for the complaints process—a more refined process, a better process than existed under Bill 175.

You’ll recall that under the former legislation, Bill 175, a number of concerns were raised by police officers about the automatic suspensions wherever they were engaged in the exercise of their duties and a death occurred. The member from Essex referenced the use of naloxone kits. Those are not automatic now. There is a process. There’s discretion. Chiefs will be able to review those types of processes.

The take-away, again, is that peace officers and police officers support this legislation. They support the measures that our government and our Minister of the Attorney General and our Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services undertook to ensure that their voices were heard—not voices of rhetoric, as is being suggested by members of the NDP—of course, our favourite line, as members of the government for the people.

There were concerns police raised with Bill 175 about excessive bureaucracy and red tape and the lack of any funding being given to these police agencies to be able to cover all these excessive duties, this extra paperwork that they were being required to do—all these extra steps. Are we a government that supports red tape? No, we’re not. We are a government that is putting an end to red tape. Through this legislation, we are ensuring that the red tape is out, and we are supporting our police officers and the municipalities that are funding the police agencies, because they can’t afford more cost. They can’t afford more bureaucracy, more red tape.

We believe in taking the money out of administrative offices and putting it on the front lines, and making sure that police officers have the tools and the resources they need to be able to do their jobs more effectively. We believe that police deserve our gratitude and our respect, not our suspicion and scorn. That’s why our government is ensuring that we provide our police with those tools and resources they need, making sure that they get better and more access to training programs and better governance models, and following Justice Tulloch’s report in making sure that they have access to more and better training to understand more of the social issues that are present that will also help combat crime and make our communities safer, make our police officers safer and make sure that we do a better job of promoting safety in our communities.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Jeff Burch: Earlier, I raised the question of asking the NDP to support their bill and then at the same time using the rhetoric of calling us police-haters, and then the member accuses me of using rhetoric, so I’m not exactly sure what to say to that. I guess I’ll move on.

First of all, I’d just like to congratulate union leaders across Ontario, police officers’ unions who have fought long and hard for their members. One of the concerns they’ve had—and I believe they will still have with this bill once they’ve gone through it—is that it really still opens the door to privatization. Of course, one of the large issues with the last legislation, Bill 175, was the opportunity for the privatization and contracting out of certain police services. From my area, Cliff Priest, president of the police association, called it a path to disaster.

Now, section 14(2) of Bill 68 says, “If the regulations so provide and subject to subsection (3), a police service board or the commissioner may provide a policing function in an area for which the board or the commissioner has policing responsibility by entering into an agreement with a prescribed entity to have the entity provide the policing function in the area.”

Then, it goes on to talk about special areas: “The person who operates the business or owns the special area shall enter into a written agreement with a police service board or with the minister with respect to the cost of providing adequate and effective policing in the special area.”

This points to the contracting out of police services. I’ve been talking to police unions and I’m going to continue to do that, and I think the member is going to find that some concerns are going to be raised from police associations about the contracting out that this bill allows.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. David Piccini: I just want to thank my colleague and all colleagues in the House for their comments today. A special thank you goes to Minister Jones and Minister Mulroney for listening to the police officers, for listening to our first responders.

I know, Mr. Speaker, when I first got elected some of the first meetings I had were with the Port Hope Police Service, the Cobourg Police Service and our OPP detachment. I had a really fond ride-along with the Port Hope Police Service the summer I got elected. Do you know what they said? There was a fundamental feeling, Mr. Speaker, that the previous government just didn’t listen to them. It’s not surprising, given they passed the most anti-police piece of legislation in Ontario’s history.

Mr. Speaker, it was important that we acted. It was important that those two ministers showed leadership, and that’s just what they did. That’s why we introduced the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Sorry to interrupt the member, but if the member is reading from an electronic device during his speech, he knows he’s not supposed to do that. You can close the laptop, if you would. Thanks very much.

Mr. David Piccini: Thanks, Mr. Speaker. It’s important we listen to the members of our police services on the challenges they were facing. If we look at what the previous act would have brought in—challenges when administering naloxone, challenges on the Danforth, six months of investigation to our men and women in police services.

One window to complaints: This is the way we’re heading; when you call 911, an assurance that a police officer will respond. This results from listening to the men and women after extensive consultation, putting their best interests first, ensuring that we listen to the leaders.

And boy, I have to acknowledge the leaders in my community: Cobourg Police Service chief of police Kai Liu, and also Port Hope Police Service chief of police Bryant Wood as well. Real leaders when it comes to tiered policing—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you. Questions and comments?

Ms. Marit Stiles: I’m very happy to be here commenting on Bill 68. I want to just comment on something that came up in the comments of the member from Sault Ste. Marie, who talked a lot about rhetoric on our side of the House. I find it kind of hilarious, considering the unbelievably hot rhetoric this government continues to use around this legislation and just about everything. Calling the previous bill the most anti-police legislation in the universe ever and then basically introducing similar legislation—I find that bizarre.


I also just want to point out that it’s quite rich when you look at what I think we’ve found in the last few days, which is a complete disregard and disrespect on the part of this government, and particularly this Premier, for OPP officers, and in the appointment of Mr. Taverner, I think we can all see that there is a lot of disillusionment among many in law enforcement in our province right now around this government. I just want to make that clear.

But I do want to say, there are many things that we need to be looking at together, that we could be doing, and I speak like this as a member from Toronto, where we’ve seen a really devastating increase in violence, particularly in gun violence in this city. We need to address the root causes of gun violence. We could be talking right now about increasing the funding and supports for mental health and addictions so police could focus on community safety, instead of people in medical crisis. We could be talking about giving the police the resources and training, as the member from St. Paul’s said, in order to do their jobs in de-escalation, in anti-oppression. We could be talking about ensuring that police work is done by police and not private for-profit companies, which this legislation continues to open the door for. We could be talking about enhancing transparency because that—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you very much. Questions and comments?

Mr. Sheref Sabawy: Safety and the feeling of being protected is a fundamental element of any family life. How will parents be able to focus on their job and/or their business if they are not feeling safe about their kids, who might be mobile to and from school or college or staying home alone while parents are minding their jobs to make a living and to secure a good lifestyle?

With responsibility, Mr. Speaker, comes authority. How can we ask our police forces to do a good job they are accountable to while we are not giving them the right tools to do so? Can we throw someone handcuffed in the sea and wonder why he can’t swim?

We have to worry about the safety of our men and women in uniform too. They have to be able to function while they know that the people and the government care about them and about their safety so that they can do a good job. We have to think of those men and women as brothers, sisters, friends, families, relatives, as part of our family, who actually leave their home every day not sure they will be able to come back.

With that in mind, we have to put ourselves in that position and think: What do we need to give them so that they can be able to function and do their job safely, accountably and capably?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We will return to the member from Sault Ste. Marie to close off this portion of the debate.

Mr. Ross Romano: I just want to re-emphasize here: I had the pleasure for a number of years in my professional career of working with police. Whether I did it from either side of the bench as a lawyer, I always saw fit to treat police with the utmost respect, because we can’t forget what it is they do for us. They keep us safe. They respond to some of the most severe and awful crises that a lot of people wouldn’t want to necessarily have to deal with. They see people in very, very difficult positions, and they deal with some of the worst types of crises that we will ever see and face. For that, they deserve our utmost gratitude and respect.

Bill 175 failed to do any of that. Bill 175 did a lot to villainize them. It’s not just that they deal with people at very, very difficult times in their life, but, as the member from Essex said, they often can present quite a compassionate human element in being able to do their job. We want to help them, and this legislation, from their perspective, helps them. Let’s not lose sight, when we talk about the rhetoric and these types of things, of the fact that those police that we all support despised 175, but they support Bill 68, and I hope the opposition will too.

Mr. Michael Mantha: Point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I recognize the member from Algoma–Manitoulin on a point of order.

Mr. Michael Mantha: Mr. Speaker, I just noticed on social media that last night on Jeopardy they referred to Marajó Island as being the largest freshwater island, on the Amazon River. I want it to be clear and on the record: The largest freshwater island is Manitoulin Island in my riding of Algoma–Manitoulin.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): I don’t know that that’s a proper point of order, or that Manitoulin Island is on the Amazon River. I believe I heard you say the largest island on the Amazon River, as opposed to—

Mr. Michael Mantha: The largest freshwater island in the world is on the Great Lakes, and it’s Manitoulin Island.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you. We’ll send a copy of Hansard to Mr. Trebek and maybe he’ll correct his record.

Further debate?

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: Remarks in Oji-Cree. That’s “police officer” in our language. It’s something to learn.

Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank you for this opportunity today to provide some input on the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act. I want to begin by saying that I share the concerns of everyone here. We all want the same thing: to live safely and to know that our communities are as safe as possible, particularly our children.

Where my concerns may differ is that I’m worried about how this new act will impact police services in my riding. I would like to share at this time some of the challenges we have in Kiiwetinoong riding. As you may know, the riding of Kiiwetinoong is geographically the largest riding in Ontario, at about 294,000 square kilometres, but it has the smallest population, approximately 32,000. Because of this, Speaker, we have many challenges when it comes to policing.

Within my riding, there are many ways of providing police services to the communities. Policing is provided by a mix of police service organizations. The Treaty Three Police Service serves 28 First Nations in the Kenora area. The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service serves 34 First Nations in northern Ontario, mostly fly-in communities. The Lac Seul Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police provide services to other communities within my riding.

Mr. Speaker, further, the communities these police departments serve are a mixture of First Nations, municipalities and unincorporated territories. First Nations and mainstream police provide services very differently. In First Nations policing, you will see communities with no coverage or radio support. You will see that when we talk about 911, there is no access to 911. There is no ambulance service in the communities as well. We only have Ornge, which has to fly in. There are no permanent accommodations for officers in these communities. That’s why we have a housing crisis. Housing is very limited. Not only that, we also have substandard equipment. There is also high turnover of officers in these services, as the supports for them are not there.


Historically, First Nations policing has not been given the proper legislative recognition. In the past, it has been seen as a government program, financed federally and provincially, but has not been provided with the funding and support needed to match the needs of the communities they serve. Proper legislation should be making First Nations policing an essential service and bringing it to the same level as other police services within Ontario.

First Nations policing and police services should not have to work without operational radios or access to proper investigative services, as they do now. Officers should not be on call for days on end, working alone without a partner, while they’re operating in detachments that resemble trailers. If you remember back on January 8, 2006, in Kashechewan, there were two prisoners who burned to death at that time.

If you came to my riding and spoke with the police officers working on First Nations, they would tell you about circumstances far worse than these. I would like to remind the government that equity in policing services is needed. Funding facilities and equipment for First Nations should match what is available to other citizens of this province.

I also would like to remind the government that police services need to be culturally responsive to the people they serve. They should be engaging and obtaining input from communities to best meet these needs. Did you know that if there is a death in a community, the coroners do not travel up north?

I’m thinking that hopefully this will help with the issue of overrepresentation of First Nations people in the justice system. In 1991, the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry stated that First Nations are over-policed, yet under-protected. This refers to the overrepresentation of First nations people in the justice system overall, including policing.

There are many reasons why First Nations are overrepresented in the justice system, and most come from the legacy of the residential schools and the intergenerational trauma that was the result. An example is also the Ralph Rowe victims. Ralph Rowe is a former Anglican minister and also a Boy Scout leader who abused 500-plus boys in northwestern Ontario.

What we observe is that this overrepresentation leads to situations where police services off-reserve, like those in Sioux Lookout, end up dealing with large numbers of offenders made up largely of First Nations people, Indigenous people. The issue of substance abuse and misuse contributes to the rise of crime and punishable offences appearing before the court.

There is a lack of local mental health and addiction treatment resources, which means that there is an overreliance on the criminal justice system. Of course, there are emergency housing issues that come, and holding cells to be used as a place to remedy these largely housing security and addictions-related issues.

Sometimes there are people who describe this condition as being a “charge factory,” where they have stated that they too require larger police forces and judicial supports as a result. The Ontario Provincial Police have stated that of the 324 communities that have contracted the OPP to provide their policing services, the top two communities in terms of calls per service are located within my riding. I hope that the consultation for this act will take into consideration the special circumstances that exist within Kiiwetinoong.

My colleague the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services has stated that the First Nations policing provisions, as laid out in the previous Police Services Act from 2018, would be adopted, providing First Nation communities with greater choice in how their policing services are delivered.

First Nation leaders in Ontario support the creation of First Nations policing service boards. However, the government needs to ensure that these police service boards are given the control and the resources they need to operate successfully across all First Nations in Ontario and for the citizens of Kiiwetinoong.

Thank you for listening. That’s all I have for now. Meegwetch.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Deepak Anand: It’s a pleasure to speak on the government’s proposed Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019. Ensuring the security of people is government’s most fundamental responsibility.

Talking about my riding of Mississauga–Malton, Mr. Speaker, ever since I got elected, there have been many incidents. Some of them are New Rana Jewellers and Ashok Jewellers: In the daylight, there was a robbery that happened in these places, and in one of the mattress stores, a cellphone store—and the list goes on.

Mr. Speaker, my riding has Acorn Place as well; it’s well-known. There have been three shootings in the last month at Acorn Place, so definitely, Mr. Speaker, there is a need for something to be done.

Mr. Speaker, trust and confidence are the two important characteristics of effective policing policy, and the people of Ontario must trust the police to keep our communities safe. The police officers in turn must have the confidence that they are supported in their jobs by the people they serve and the government—those people have elected them.

Both trust and confidence have been eroded by the previous government’s Bill 175. What we’re doing: Our government introduced the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act so that the legislation is a key part of our promise to make Ontario safe, stand up for victims and hold criminals accountable for their actions. That’s why our government is restoring fairness and respect for policing and enhancing oversight and improving governance, training and transparency. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Ms. Jill Andrew: I just wanted to share some facts based on the Ontario Human Rights Commission interim report on racial profiling. Between 2013 and 2017, a Black person was nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fatal shooting by the Toronto police. Despite representing only 8.8% of Toronto’s population, Black people made up approximately 30% of police use-of-force cases that resulted in serious injury or death, 60% of deadly encounters with Toronto police, and 70% of fatal police shootings. What this says to me is that we’re living in a time where some communities, as opposed to others, just aren’t feeling as safe, possibly as respected, as represented and as comforted by our police services as they should.

I do believe that we can change this. I do believe that, at the heart of most police officers, they are there to serve and protect every single one of us, and I do believe that they leave their homes, like we do every morning, with that intention. However, sometimes things go drastically wrong, and in order to deal with and address what goes drastically wrong, we need to have equity training. And we need that training to emphasize anti-Black racism, and we need that training to involve community. So what I would ask is that the government consult with community, especially communities that have had problematic histories and contemporary experiences, and let’s make this province exactly what it should be, and that’s better.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Ms. Goldie Ghamari: I listened with great interest to your speech, and I just wanted to respond directly with respect to your comment about First Nations boards. I noticed that in the previous legislation, there was actually nothing there that mandated or even gave an opportunity for First Nations communities to create a board. However, in this particular act that we are presenting, if you refer to section 32, there’s actually a whole section on First Nations boards. It specifically says, in section 32(1), that “a band council of a First Nation may request that the minister constitute a First Nation board to provide adequate and effective policing in a First Nation reserve or any other specified area.”

I would encourage you to read through that section. I’d be happy to discuss that with you, as well, and see if what is being done there is adequate or is speaking to your concerns. I think one thing with our government and our legislation is that we are looking to fix the loopholes and figure out what the gaps are, and I think the fact that in the previous Liberal legislation there was no mention of First Nation boards or even the possibility to create one—I think now that we actually have it in there and we have a whole process, I think that’s taking a lot of steps forward in working with all communities all across Ontario. I would welcome hearing your comments on that section in particular.

Thank you again. It was a really informative speech and I enjoyed listening to it.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Ms. Sara Singh: It’s an honour to rise here today to contribute to the debate. It’s been an interesting one. I think that, on both sides of the House, we agree that we need to restore trust and accountability within our police service, and I think this piece of legislation is a step in the right direction.

However, as we’ve been discussing and pointing out, there are several aspects that are still very concerning to us. To me, personally, I actually sat through a number of the hearings with Justice Tulloch in our community in Brampton, and a number of people raised concerns about the SIU. Particularly members of the community and those from racialized communities had very real concerns about how to address the issues that they were having with police or interactions that they were having with police to a board that was essentially comprised of retired police service members. So there wasn’t an opportunity for them to go to an independent body that was made up of, let’s say, community members and other civilians to address their concerns. They were essentially going to the police when they needed to complain about the police. So it’s still concerning that this piece of legislation isn’t actually empowering the community to have more voice in that process, to ensure that, in fact, those concerns were being heard and being addressed effectively.

I was shocked to learn through these consultations that perhaps only 2% of the cases that were referred to the SIU were actually heard by the board and actually addressed. That’s 2% of cases that, again, police officers were deciding were of importance. What about all the other cases that were brought forward and not given the time of day? It’s concerning.

This piece of legislation doesn’t actually, again, put in place more empowerment for community, which is something that I think is essential to ensure that accountability that we’re looking for, to make sure not only that the police’s voice is heard but that the community is empowered to work with those police service officers as well.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): We’ll return to the member from Kiiwetinoong to close off the debate.

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: The cost of providing a program, the cost of doing business, the cost of providing these types of services, such as police services, is very different from providing that service, say, in Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay or Toronto. When we talk about remoteness of the communities, it’s very different. I think that’s where the proper resourcing needs to come. It’s not just legislation, but the resources have to come with it. That’s very critical, to make sure that the resources are there.

One of the things I always talk about for anything that’s on-reserve, on First Nations, is the jurisdictional ambiguity. Sometimes, the governments tend to play this jurisdictional Ping-Pong on the services, programs, funding, on the people’s lives when we talk about First Nations on-reserve. We have to step away from that as a government. I mean, within my riding, I have three treaties: Treaty 5, Treaty 3 and Treaty 9. I know Ontario is a signatory to—where I come from, it’s Treaty 9.

There is racism within that system. I know with the SIU investigations and missing persons legislation—perhaps, I believe, those are missing. I know within my riding over the last 15 years and in Thunder Bay, we’ve lost young men, young students who come to Thunder Bay. Who is going to be able to respond to that if there are improper investigations?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate? The member from Cambridge.

Mrs. Belinda Karahalios: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Please note that I’m sharing my time today with my seatmate the member from Kitchener South–Hespeler.

Today, I proudly rise to speak to Bill 68 and to say that our police officers and the policing community across Ontario deserve our respect for their heroic work. Every day, they risk their own safety in my riding of Cambridge and across our entire province. We know that they have our backs, and it’s about time that we have theirs as well.

Under the previous Liberal government’s disastrous Bill 175, they showed us that they didn’t support the men and women in Ontario’s policing community. In fact, they showed us the exact opposite. Bill 175 actively undermined policing efforts and the public’s trust in police officers. Unfortunately, the Liberals sought to break that trust and treated police officers as the subjects of suspicion and scorn.

I’m proud to be part of a government that believes we should treat police with respect and fairness. Our proposed legislation, set out in Bill 68, makes good on our promise to Ontarians during the last election to fix policing legislation that the previous Liberal government watered down. Our goal is to enable an environment where police can continue to keep us all safe, stand up for victims and hold criminals accountable. In court, we are all presumed innocent until proven guilty, but under the Liberals’ Bill 175, our police were presumed guilty until proven innocent.

I think back to last summer. It’s still quite hard to think about, Mr. Speaker, but I want us to take a moment to consider and remember the Danforth shooting on the night of July 22, 2018. It was a tragedy that shook all of Ontario, and we need to think about it because this serves as an example as to why we need to trust our police officers. In the chaos and confusion where two people were killed and 13 wounded, there were two police officers who risked their personal well-being to prevent the shooter from killing more. For their life-saving actions, these two officers spent six months under investigation by the SIU. It took months of being scrutinized just for doing their job. How is that fair? How is it respectful to those two heroes on the Danforth or the countless other heroes in our police services? It is not fair at all.

Many in Ontario’s policing community have long advocated for changes to assist front-line officers and other police personnel in creating opportunities that will enhance public and officer safety. Our proposed legislation is something our police services need and are thankful for.


In fact, Rob Jamieson, the president and CEO of the Ontario Provincial Police Association, said this about the previous Liberal government’s plan: “Unfortunately, challenges in the ... legislation make it more difficult for the police to do their jobs.” In comparison, Mr. Jamieson said this about our proposed legislation: “The changes proposed by the government today intend to empower police across Ontario to ensure community safety.” That is exactly what we’re doing. We are standing up for those who protect the public.

It’s also worth mentioning that the previous Liberal government’s Bill 175 had the potential to privatize a number of police services which most Ontarians expect a police officer to fill. Imagine this: You call 911, under the Liberals’ plan, and someone other than a police officer could show up at your door. Is that what we want? Absolutely not. However, if our government’s legislation is passed, we will ensure that in an emergency, a trained police officer will answer that call. My constituents in Cambridge and every person living in Ontario deserve to be secure in knowing that when they call for help, it is a trained police officer who answers that call.

Mr. Speaker, oversight is important, and police will be the first to say that public trust is needed for them to do their jobs and to do their jobs effectively. Effective oversight is key in enabling trust. It is unjust to give our officers the tools to try and save someone’s life, and to then turn around and penalize them when they do use those tools. We believe in protecting police officers who are trying to save lives. The legislation we’re putting forward is based on this same principle. The police should not be punished for keeping us safe. The previous Liberal government’s legislation did not even pay lip service to the principle of fairness or due process for police officers.

Before I conclude and pass the remaining time to my colleague the member from Kitchener South–Hespeler, I would like to thank all regional police officers, members of the OPP and, of course, our peace officers in the Legislative Protective Service.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The member for Cambridge did say she was sharing her time. I recognize the member for Kitchener South–Hespeler.

Mrs. Amy Fee: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member from Cambridge, my seatmate, for sharing her time today.

This bill is critical to restoring the relationship between the Ontario government and our hard-working men and women who serve the people of this province as police officers every day. That relationship was destroyed by the previous Liberal government when they introduced Bill 175. That bill was a huge step backwards. It sent shockwaves through police forces across our province, as all sense of respect and trust for our officers appeared to be lost.

As a response to that Liberal legislation, our government ran on a promise to repair the damage that it had done.

To highlight just how out of touch that bill was, at the time the Police Association of Ontario spoke out, saying, “Unfortunately, contained in this legislation are some elements that ... severely undermine the efficient and effective provision of policing around the province.”

It was the most anti-police legislation in Canadian history, and was a disgrace to our officers, who are putting their lives on the line every day. That is why we put a pause on that legislation and decided to implement the Comprehensive Police Services Act.

While there are many examples of concerns that became a reality with that Liberal legislation, there were a few that were quite concerning to me. One in particular that we fixed in the fall, when we put that pause on, was that the Liberals thought it was appropriate to have any officer who attempted to save a life with naloxone automatically subjected to an investigation by the SIU.

I don’t know how you would feel, Mr. Speaker, if a loved one or a friend needed that support from a police officer. I wouldn’t want that police officer to ever have even a second of pause to stop and worry about having to try and save a loved one’s life.

Another concern that we’re working on fixing with this bill is ensuring that officers who are not successful at preventing someone from committing suicide are also not automatically subjected to a Special Investigations Unit investigation.

Getting a call to try and support someone at the darkest or lowest point in their life, when they’ve reach a point of wanting to take their own life, is already something that is extremely stressful and emotional for our officers, and if they’re not successful at saving that person’s life, they should not be automatically subjected to an investigation. By the Liberals making that investigation automatic, it affected not just the morale of our officers, but burdened them with extra stress and fear at a time when they absolutely need a clear head, to be able to focus on that individual who is in crisis.

The previous government’s legislation was not only unfair; it was disrespectful to our police officers. If passed, our legislation will make the disciplinary process fair to our police officers, and they will no longer be treated as if they are guilty until proven innocent.

Bryan Larkin is the police chief in Waterloo region, where my riding of Kitchener South–Hespeler is located. He told our local paper, the Record, that he welcomes the change that would no longer require police services to notify the SIU if someone dies despite an officer’s best efforts to provide medical assistance.

I think it’s clear that the previous government’s legislation was, sadly, disrespectful to our police officers, who are risking their lives to protect us. That’s why with Bill 68, if passed, we will move to ensure that they know they have the trust of this government and the communities that they protect. That trust is essential for them to do their jobs. Unfortunately, that effective oversight piece that is key to creating that trust for them was completely shattered by the Liberals. That is why we are working so hard on this bill, with Minister Jones and our Attorney General, to ensure that we gain the respect of our police officers across this province.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Ms. Jill Andrew: It’s my pleasure again to rise to discuss Bill 68. I wanted to make a comment, actually, to the Conservative member from Carleton.

Earlier, when I spoke today on this bill, you said, about several members, that our comments were thoughtful and insightful, and that you appreciated that.

I want to say on record that I’ve been listening to the debate, and not once has the word “carding” come up. No one on the other side has acknowledged or paid any attention to the fact that I have mentioned carding and that that needs to banned. That should be in Bill 68 if you are really interested in creating safer communities, if you are interested in creating healthy relationships, if you’re interested in making communities flourish. I really do believe that when we work with officers, when we engage with officers in our communities in a positive way, we can really flourish. So I’m wondering why not a single speaker on the Conservative side has mentioned the word “carding.” I won’t even talk about anti-Black racism, because, I don’t know, maybe that doesn’t exist on the other side, or maybe it’s not a term that anyone knows. But carding has not been mentioned.

What I would like to say is that this bill scraps the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, and for me, that was my first red flag. When you scrap something like that, what you’re doing is taking away transparency. You’re taking away someone’s ability to know. You’re making SIU reports secret—

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Thank you. Questions and comments?

Mrs. Robin Martin: I want to thank my colleagues from Cambridge and Kitchener South–Hespeler for their comments on this legislation. I agree, obviously, with a lot of what they had to say.

I had my ride-along with the police in my riding, in 13 Division, here in Toronto, just this past weekend. It was an educational experience, I have to say, being thrust into that kind of an environment, to see what the police have to deal with on a regular basis.

The first call in was gunshots reported in a place where, unfortunately, two people were very seriously injured less than a week before that. The police immediately jumped into action, and I was obviously protected and going along with someone who was supervising me, who was the supervisor on the shift. But it was very educational to go and see how the police have to deploy in response to such potentially life-threatening crises.


They were very professional about investigating the reports. It turned out that it was fireworks being let off in the marking of someone’s passing, apparently, a cultural practice with the community that was there. But it did bring up the level of tension and fear because of the possibility of guns being involved. So it did help me to reflect back and reflect on the incidents that my colleagues mentioned, like the Danforth shooting. I do think the provisions in our act, especially about not making police officers go through investigations automatically when they’re trying to help people or rushing to a crisis to respond, are very important.

I urge you to consider accepting the legislation and supporting it in that regard.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. John Vanthof: It’s always an honour to speak in the House, and today on Bill 68. I’m hoping to have a bit longer at a later date, but there are a couple of things I’d like to touch on.

The government has said several times that under this new legislation, when you call 911, it will be a police officer who answers the phone and a police officer who comes to the emergency. I don’t have a problem with that. I think that’s a good idea. But I have a question. In my area, there are lots of places where you can’t call 911, where 911 doesn’t exist. It’s not just in Kiiwetinoong; there are small towns in my riding where 911 doesn’t exist. So my question to the government on that issue is, does anybody care?

We have tried to get this fixed. We all talk about 911. Does anybody care? I would love to hear the government say, “We are going to make sure that everyone in this province has access to 911 so that when they call 911, it’s actually a police officer who answers the phone, identifies the issue and sends someone.” But there are many people in this province who don’t have 911 and who, because I haven’t heard anything about blanket 911, are likely never going to get 911.

It’s an example of how in many cases there are two Ontarios: the Ontario where everyone has a level of service, and an Ontario where we have a different level of service, where my 911 number—there’s a sign on our road and it says at the bottom, “For police service, call”—I used to know it, but 1-800 da da da da da. Not 911. We need to fix that.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Questions and comments?

Mr. Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria: Once again, I am very happy to speak to this and touch upon some of the points that members were making. I think what’s really important to understand here is that this piece of legislation, for the first time, will ensure that there is human rights training, training on systemic racism, training on Aboriginal issues, so that’s a first step. A lot of the suggestions that were included in Justice Tulloch’s report are incorporated in this piece of legislation. I would really hope that the members opposite have a look at and read through the legislation, because a lot of what Justice Tulloch had recommended is in here.

When we talk about police oversight, the law enforcement complaints agency that’s going to be created through this is actually going to make it easier. If you talk to the police, they agree that public confidence in the police is a very important factor in building trust, and they welcome this. They welcome the approach that our government has taken on this issue. I really hope that the members opposite have had a chance to read through this legislation, because what we have done is we have incorporated so many of those suggestions, and we have worked with our front-line officers to ensure that the mechanisms we have proposed will work and will also work for the people that they serve.

Once again, I want to reiterate the fact that it’s very important that we respect our police officers, we have their back, because they are out there every single day protecting us. We know that when we’re in danger, they’re only a phone call away. The government should be supporting them. I’m very happy to be serving with a Premier who does that, who made that commitment during the election time and is now fulfilling it with this piece of legislation.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The member from Cambridge will now close off this portion of the debate.

Mrs. Belinda Karahalios: I would like to thank the member from Eglinton–Lawrence, the member for Timiskaming–Cochrane, the member from Toronto–St. Paul’s and, of course, the member from Brampton South. Member from Brampton South: Thank you for your response. It was very thoughtful, and I think you gave a lot of clarity around everything.

I’m going to finish this off—just to add a local quote to the proceedings here. According to an article written in the Cambridge Times, a local newspaper in my riding, two Waterloo Regional Police officers found themselves being looked at by the SIU after trying but failing to revive a Cambridge woman who died. Because of the old and unfair rules, those officers were automatically subjected to an investigation by the SIU. That investigation was suspended because the evidence showed that the woman died before police even arrived, but this further proves the point that the process was unnecessary. There was no need to distrust the officers by putting them under a microscope.

Waterloo Regional Police chief Bryan Larkin made a good point in that same article, addressing our government’s proposed legislation, when he noted the fact that “average citizens are protected under the law if they try to save a life using ... CPR, naloxone” or any other means. He said, “Why shouldn’t it protect the police officers? Our front-line members should have the same protection as everyday citizens. It’s not about shirking responsibilities, I want to be clear. But we should have some common sense.”

You know, Mr. Speaker, I agree with my police chief with this statement. We know that community safety goes beyond policing itself, and so does our proposed legislation.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Further debate?

Mr. Jeff Burch: It’s a pleasure to rise and speak to this bill. Everyone in Ontario wants the same thing: to be safe and to know that their children will come home safe every night.

As I mentioned earlier, this is an area that’s quite important to me with my history, not only with security but with the Niagara Regional Police force and the auxiliary force in that area. It’s not mentioned in this bill, but I hope that across Ontario we continue to have a strong auxiliary force, which is citizens who volunteer in their local police detachments to monitor parades, go out on shifts with police officers. It’s a really important connection between the community and police forces that I think has helped with many of the issues we’ve talked about right across Ontario. And hats off to the Niagara Region Police Association and all of the police associations across the province, who do hard work representing their members and their officers.

One of the larger issues—and I’ve touched on it already—with the last legislative police reform, Bill 175, was the opportunity for the privatization and contracting out of certain police services. Cliff Priest, the president of the police association in my area, called it a path to disaster.

I would suggest that this legislation still keeps the door open to privatization and contracting out, specifically in section 14(2), which talks about, “If the regulations so provide ... a police service board or the commissioner may provide a policing function in an area for which the board or the commissioner has policing responsibility by entering into an agreement with a prescribed entity to have the entity provide the policing function in the area.” That clearly provides for contracting out of services.

Section 16(1) expands on that notice and discusses what are called special areas. I’ll just read a little bit of that: “If, because of the establishment of a business or for any other reason, special circumstances or abnormal conditions in an area make it inequitable, in the minister’s opinion, to impose the responsibility for policing on a police service board or the commissioner, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations designating the area as a special area.”


In that special area, Speaker, “The person who operates the business or owns the special area shall enter into a written agreement with a police service board or with the minister with respect to the cost of providing adequate and effective policing in the special area.”

Clearly, that speaks to the contracting-out of services.

What this means is that we’re giving boards the tools to contract out services that would typically be designated as a policing function. What constitutes special circumstances? What are the metrics? Which areas of policing can be contracted out? It’s not clear. But this is similar to the language that we’ve seen in collective agreements in other sectors, where core services are protected but other services are left open to contracting out.

Policing involves authorizing coercive power, and this power must be used responsibly, with accountability and proper oversight. The accountability of the business entity and those who are providing “the policing function,” as the legislation says, along with the regulations that would govern them, are not outlined in the bill.

In Canada, we know that public police are required to follow procedures to ensure that suspects’ rights, which are enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are protected. A violation of these rights can mean that some evidence is not permissible in court. The charter applies to government actors; the charter does not apply to private businesses. So what does this mean when a private business enters into a written agreement with a police services board or the minister? Ross McLeod, a security company owner and author of a book called Parapolice: A Revolution in the Business of Law Enforcement, outlined that the private policing business has distinct advantages over public police because, in his view, private police are not bound by the charter—a scary prospect. This raises the concern that there could be a situation where private police officers would be able to breach the charter for statements. What does that mean for the judicial process? Suddenly, we have a system that’s infiltrated by the values of profit and efficiency over integrity and accountability.

Speaker, a research report prepared for Public Safety Canada outlined that private police have expanded in recent years, but Canada is lagging behind other countries in tracking their activity. There is little or no governance or oversight of private security firms in Canada, no mechanisms that require standardized reporting by private security firms, and only minimal standards in place for licensing, training and discipline of the various positions within the private security industry. The report outlined that this has led to a number of consequences; largely, the inability to ensure that private security companies are not vulnerable to organized crime, or unethical or illegal behaviour. This is the danger of private security or private policing replacing public policing, which I believe this bill still leaves us open to.

I want to speak for a moment about the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, which my friend from Toronto has alluded to. This bill scraps the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, and there are concerns in the community—let’s be honest—that this might end up undermining faith in the police. For those watching at home, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission is an independent, quasi-judicial agency which hears appeals, adjudicates applications, conducts investigations, and resolves disputes regarding the oversight and provision of policing services.

In Thunder Bay, which has been mentioned earlier, a police services board was disbanded after a report commissioned by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission found that relations between the force and the city’s Indigenous community were in a crisis that constituted an emergency. The report identified that the issues in the city were “not the result of behaviours by individual racists” but rather were “indicative of a broader, deeper and more systemic level of discrimination in which an unacceptable status quo is viewed as the normal state of affairs....”

The Ontario Civilian Police Commission allows for issues like this, Speaker, to be investigated and acted upon, ushering in a greater level of accountability. We have to ask: What would have happened in Thunder Bay if that were not there, and what are the consequences moving forward? These are serious issues.

Also, with respect to SIU reports, having public SIU reports strengthens the public trust in the accountability of police. The SIU is called in any time there is an interaction involving a police officer that results in serious injury, death or allegations of assault.

We have a bridge in Niagara that has become an issue for those contemplating suicide, Speaker. In January, a Niagara regional police officer received a call about a man sitting on the bridge. When the officer arrived, the man went over the bridge of his own accord. There was no time for that police officer to interact with the individual in any way, and thus the investigation was terminated. Without the public information resulting from this investigation, the public only has the headline, “SIU Called for Sudden Death Investigation at Burgoyne Bridge.” Policing is a difficult job. The SIU protects the public and police by ensuring these incidents are investigated and reported.

I don’t have much time left. I would have liked to touch on the issue of naloxone. While there are many changes to SIU reporting that are disagreeable, the measures that were taken to remove the requirement for an SIU investigation when police officers administer naloxone are welcome and overdue. The opioid epidemic has hit communities across the province, and my community of Niagara has been hit particularly hard. Due to the increase in opioid overdoses, all of the Niagara Regional Police Service’s front-line officers will soon carry it. Those with the correct training began carrying Narcan nasal spray this January.

So there are parts of this bill, Speaker, that are good, that we agree with, but there are parts that we have serious concerns about, and of course the contracting-out is at the top of that list.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The unfortunate case has arrived again that we are out of time for further debate on this. Questions and comments will continue at a future date, when this bill is brought back.

Second reading debate deemed adjourned.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): Pursuant to standing order 38, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.

Adjournment Debate

Indigenous health care

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The member for Kiiwetinoong has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to a question given by the Minister of Indigenous Affairs. The member will have up to five minutes to state his case, and the minister’s parliamentary assistant, the member from Sault Ste. Marie, will have five minutes to respond.

I turn now to the member from Kiiwetinoong.

Mr. Sol Mamakwa: I’m here this evening to ask the government once again what it plans to put in place to help the children, families and elders living in Cat Lake First Nation during their time of crisis.

My colleagues in the NDP and I have asked the question several times these past few weeks and have never received a concrete answer: no plans, no ideas, nothing I can talk about to Chief Matthew Keewaykapow—who is, by the way, one of my constituents—to let him know some relief is coming. What we’ve heard are responses like, “This is a top priority. We are working in a coordinated manner with all of our stakeholders. We are profoundly disappointed in the federal government.”

The chief and I spoke yesterday morning, and what I hear as well is—I’ve lived and worked as a nurse in Cat Lake over a number of years, so I know the problem first-hand. None of these are concrete or tangible. So I ask again: On January 16, 2019, Cat Lake First Nation declared a housing emergency due to black mould. A recent housing report declared 87 out of the 128 homes uninhabitable. I still want to know how the government plans to honour Ontario’s obligation to Cat Lake in relation to the crisis in the community.

Supplementary to that question, however, I want to ask this question to the government: As a signatory to Treaty 9, does your government have a legal obligation to Cat Lake and all other First Nations in this territory? Yes or no?


In the second part of my question, I separated the housing crisis from the health and mental health crisis. While poorly constructed housing is the source of the problem, I had noted that poor health had become so endemic in the community, because of the mould, that an average of one person every three days was being medevacked out for health care. That was two weeks ago. These stats are likely higher today.

I mentioned, too, that I visited Cat Lake to see the state of the community for myself. What I saw was something no parent or person would want to see. I saw children, babies, covered in rashes, and elders who had serious lung infections, all of them trying to survive in conditions that are unimaginable—unimaginable at the worst of times, but more so because we live in one of the richest countries in the world, with a standard of living within the top 20 globally.

One parent told me about their 12-year-old daughter. The rash on her face and neck was so bad that she wouldn’t leave her bedroom. Her mother told me that this young girl was being traumatized mentally by this condition as well. She had asked her mother recently to ensure that when she dies, she not be laid to rest in an open casket. She said to her mom, “I do not want anyone to see me like this.”

Let’s be clear: The crisis in Cat Lake is not simply a housing crisis, as this government likes to characterize it. The mould crisis is a health emergency compounded further by a mental health emergency. What more will it take for this government to act, to ensure that all residents of this province are safe, including First Nations living on-reserve?

Public health in First Nations communities is a responsibility of both levels of government. Earlier today, I talked about the jurisdictional ambiguity that First Nations face when it comes to receiving funding for basic services—services related to public health such as for the mould crisis at Cat Lake.

After hearing this government’s responses and the position that they have taken on Cat Lake, waiting on the federal government to respond, I wanted to warn my colleagues about what lies ahead if this inaction continues. Without concrete action, we risk the continued deterioration of health care, and lives lost in First Nations communities across the Far North. Meegwetch.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): The member from Sault Ste. Marie will have five minutes to respond.

Mr. Ross Romano: Meegwetch and thank you to the member from Kiiwetinoong. Chi meegwetch to you for the question. Aanii. Boozhoo.

Remarks in Oji-Cree.

The situation that has been addressed in Cat Lake is clearly a very serious one, and one that the minister, Mr. Rickford, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, takes very seriously. I know you’re aware that he has spent a lot of time in that very community of Cat Lake. He spent a significant period of his career as a nurse in a number of First Nations communities in the Far North, and knows first-hand a lot of the challenges that are present in so many communities throughout the north and far northern parts of our province.

I want to reassure the member and all the members, and the members of the community of Cat Lake, that the minister has an open line of communication with Chief Matthew Keewaykapow. He spoke with him again this week, and they have discussed our role in the much-needed help to Cat Lake First Nation.

Mr. Speaker, we were deeply saddened to hear about the tragic loss of Nashie Oombash. I want to take a moment at this time to really give some thought and consideration to her. I’m just going to take a moment, right now, Mr. Speaker, in my time, of silence for Nashie.

The House observed a moment’s silence.

Mr. Ross Romano: We can’t forget the significance of the loss to her family, her community and all those affected by that tragedy.

Mr. Speaker, we continue to offer our support to Cat Lake. As indicated, I know our minister has spent significant time in that community. Our government has funded an infectious disease specialist to conduct a full medical assessment of the community. Additional nurses have been deployed in the community to provide the care people desperately need throughout this difficult time. We have offered to Chief Keewaykapow our support in the event that there were to be the need of an evacuation. Our government is prepared to be there to assist.

As was noted by the member from Kiiwetinoong, the federal government needs to act. In speaking with the minister, I know that he has been in contact with his federal counterpart and will continue to discuss and to look towards ways that we can provide joint resolution to the people of Cat Lake First Nation. We’re prepared to work with the federal government in ensuring that we can meet the needs of Cat Lake.

Mr. Speaker, in an urgent time such as this, the people of Cat Lake are counting on the government to act, and we are prepared to do so. I stand here now to say that we are committed to continuing open dialogue with the community and other partners to make a direct, meaningful difference in the lives of the people of Cat Lake First Nation during this very difficult time.

I say meegwetch for the opportunity to speak. Chi meegwetch to the member for the question.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Percy Hatfield): There being no further matter to debate, I deem the motion to adjourn to have been carried. This House stands adjourned until 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The House adjourned at 1808.